The SATURDAY SIX Takes a Stroll Through the Universal Orlando Resort to See What’s New

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a stroll through the Universal Orlando Resort to see what’s new! The month of March has been a Tale of Two Cities when it comes to Florida’s largest theme park resorts. Over at Disney, the company has been rocked by one major news story after another, all painting the company in a bad light. We’ll cover the details at the end of the month in the Theme Park Enjoyment Index, but if you could sum Disney’s month up in a phrase it would be “not great, Bob.” Meanwhile across town, the Universal Orlando Resort has been chugging along and – all things considered – has had a pretty amazing past week or so. Let’s check out some of the highlights, starting with…

# 6 – New Pressed Penny Machine in Jurassic Park

Long time readers of this fine blog series know how much we love our pressed pennies. A new machine showed up in Jurassic Park recently, located at the Jurassic Outfitters gift shop.

Pressed Penny machine. (photo by Hedgehog’s Corner)

Like many of the newer pressed penny machines, there is no need to bring your own coins as the machine itself provides the penny. Interestingly enough, all of the designs are branded Jurassic World, including a penny with the Jurassic World logo. Previously there was a machine in the gift shop which featured 3 designs, one of which was the famous Jurassic Park logo. That machine has been removed. On June 10th, the latest Jurassic World movie will be released and I’m wondering if we are going to see a transition from Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure to Jurassic World.

Pressed Pennies. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Pressed Pennies. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Pressed pennies. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Pressed pennies. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

# 5 – New Skill Game Prizes!!

Another thing in the theme parks that I love are skill games, however that comes with a caveat. For skill games to deserve placement in a theme park, they need to be well themed AND stocked with good prizes that are also themed to the land. At Universal, you can see the three types of skill game presentations. There is The Good (the insanely great skill games in Springfield USA), The Bad (the skill games in Jurassic Park which are well themed but have mostly generic prizes) and The Ugly (the skill games in Toon Lagoon which are neither themed nor have area specific prizes.)

Recently a new prize was added to the Jurassic Park skill games that is hopefully a sign of bigger things to come. A pillow featuring the popular Mr. DNA character has arrived.

Mr. DNA pillow. (photo by Hedgehog’s Corner)
Mr. DNA pillow. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

Bonus points for the Jurassic World logo on the back of the pillow.

Mr. DNA pillow. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)

Double bonus points for the tag also having a Jurassic World logo. This is an attention to detail you don’t see that often in the theme park world and is generally reserved for the more prestige brands like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Pandora: The World of Avatar, or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Mr. DNA pillow. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)

Meanwhile, over in Springfield USA, theme park’s best skill games area got even better with the addition of some new prizes, including a Bartman pillow.

Bartman. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

There was also a new pillow featuring The Simpsons family, including Homer in an absolutely incredible pose. I think that’s the exact face Len Testa makes five minutes before SAT 6 is scheduled to go up each week.

The Simpsons pillow. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

One of my all time favorite skill game prizes came back in stock. These Groundkeeper Willie plush may seem odd out of context, however…

Groundskeeper Willie plush. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

…they are based on the Groundskeeper Willies that you knock down with a baseball in his skill game. That is just AWESOME.

Skill Game. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

The Marvel Superhero Adventures Hulk toy also came out recently, but features some rather odd proportions including a head that’s way too big and a waist that’s way too small.

Hulk toy. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The picture of the Hulk on the top of the box seems like a completely different Hulk than the toy. Crazy.

Hulk. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The Wizarding World got some new items as well, including some new shirts. Love the Hog’s Head shirt.

Wizarding World shirts. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

A Hog’s Head coaster was also released.

Hog’s Head coaster. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

The latest film in the Fantastic Beasts series comes out this time next month, so most likely we’ll be seeing a lot of new merchandise supporting that in the near future.

Fantastic Beasts shirts. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Fantastic Beasts water bottle. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

For those of you weirdoes perfectly sane people who enjoy Metal Earth kits, a new one featuring Hagrid’s Motorbike came out. I will say this, the packaging on the WWoHP Metal Earth kits is fantastic.

Hagrid’s Motorbike Metal Earth. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

# 4 – Greatest Idea EVER in CityWalk

CityWalk is home to some of my favorite restaurants in Florida, and earlier in March – out of nowhere – an outdoor kitchen opened up featuring items from Cowfish, Antojitos, and Pat O’Brien’s.  To me, this was an incredible idea. A chance to sample something from three great sit down restaurants without having to invest the time or money into a full meal there.

CityWalk kiosk. (photo by Hedgehog’s Corner)

The kitchen was located directly near a Bel Air photo op in the main hub of CityWalk.

Bel Air photo op. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

Here is the menu.

CityWalk kiosk. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

There were tables set up nearby to eat your food.

CityWalk kiosk. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

The kitchen had display items showing what you could order.

CityWalk kiosk. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

Nobody is better at the nacho game than Universal Orlando. No one.

Nachos from Antojitos. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Crab Rangoon from Cowfish. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Esquites from Antojitos. . (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Esquites from Antojitos. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Mardi Gras Gumbo from Pat O’Brien’s. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Mardi Gras Gumbo from Pat O’Brien’s. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Bread Pudding from Pat O’Brien’s. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

Incredible, right?

The very next day the kitchen was gone. The very next day.

And just like that, it’s gone. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

# 3 – Poseidon’s Fury Reopens

One of the most underrated attraction finally reopened this past week with Poseidon’s Fury in Islands of Adventure. Poseidon’s Fury has been closed since last August, and once the walls came down the new paint job made the entire area really pop.

Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by Hedgehog’s Corner)
Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Colonnade at Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Love this shot at Poseidon’s Fury which shows the nearby VelociCoaster in action.

Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The area also looks fantastic at night.

Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 2 – Mardi Gras Tray

If you’ve been a regular reader of the SATURDAY SIX for the past several months, you’ve read my theory on Universal hiring away someone from EPCOT’s food festivals. I don’t know who this person is, but the monumental leap that Universal has taken in outdoor food kiosks in the last year – going from a complete afterthought to rivaling the quality we see at Food & Wine – tells me that they know what they are doing. My theory got bolstered this past week as Universal started offering an appetizer tray.  I’ve seen these for years at the Food & Wine and Flower & Garden festivals (and then not long after I saw them for 99 cents at the Disney Outlet Stores), but this is something I’ve never seen at Universal before.

Appetizer Tray. (photo by Hedgehog’s Corner)

One thing we found out pretty fast is that not all the cups sold at the Mardi Gras kitchens in Universal Studios Florida fit the tray very well.

This Carrot Cake Concoction cup is seconds away from tipping over. . (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Creole Crab Beignets – Cajun brown sugar dusted beignets, stuffed with creamy crab dip and scallions. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Trying to figure out a way to make this area useful if it doesn’t hold cups… (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

However, when we went back a different day and tried one of the newer color changing Mardi Gras cups, it fit into the tray perfectly.

Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze draft beer.  (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Rou Jia Mo – Braised pork, Thai chili peppers, mustard greens, cilantro in a soft griddled bun, (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Shrimp Laksa – Shrimp, tofu, chicken, hard boiled eggs, Asian noodles in a spicy coconut curry broth. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

Personally speaking, at 99 cents, these trays are great. For $10 it is hard to justify and before the week of their debut was over the price was reduced down to $7.

Mardi Gras Tray. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

# 1 –  Pat O’Brien’s on St. Patrick’s Day

This past week we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and UOR’s epicenter of St. Patrick’s Day celebration is in CityWalk at Pat O’Brien’s. Based off the original Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans, the location in CityWalk is a blast in general but they definitely take it up a notch on St. Patrick’s Day with special menu items and regular drinks on the menu made “green.”

Pat O’Brien’s. (photo by Scott Sanders)

Well technically a “bar,” Pat O’Brien’s is family friendly and fun for all ages. Especially if going during dinner hours of 5-7PM.

Special Pat O’Brien’s signage in CityWalk for the occasion. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Pat O’Brien’s. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Pat O’s Lemonade, Pinot Grigio, and Orange Blossum Pilsner, all made green for the day. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Gin Martini. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Dueling piano bar. For St. Patrick’s Day Paul and Joe were tickling the ivories. The guys take requests so the playlist included a wide range of songs including Sweet Caroline, Danny Boy, Oh What a Night, Devil Went Down to Georgia, Don’t Stop Believing, American Pie, Friends in Low Places, and – of course – Piano Man. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Now THAT is a head tattoo! (photo by Scott Sanders)

We are SO CLOSE to entering the Mardi Gras Tribute Store…

You may remember last week I wrote about the trials and tribulations of getting a SAT SIX on the Mardi Gras Tribute Store onto the schedule. This week I thought “screw it, I’m just putting it in at the very end.” But then a funny thing happened, I had about a dozen or so photos loaded into this very article and thought to myself, “no way. This stuff is too good to toss in as an afterthought!” I deleted most of the photos and NO MATTER WHAT we will have a dedicated Mardi Gras Tribute Store article in April. The store is incredible and the pictures from great photographers like @bioreconstruct, Hunter Underwood, and Hedgehog’s Corner needed to be seen in their full glory, and you know what, maybe there was a sign above this week that it was destined to be delayed because this very week Universal put on the large “MARDI GRAS” logo on the Tribute Store’s front door (which you can see below.) If I had done the article any time before this the door would have been blank.

Mardi Gras Tribute Store. (photo by Hedgehog’s Corner)
TMardi Gras Tribute Store. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Takes a Stroll Through the Universal Orlando Resort! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

6 Reasons We Love TOOTHSOME Chocolate Emporium

The SATURDAY SIX Celebrates the Grand Opening of the VELOCICOASTER

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.

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