The SATURDAY SIX Takes A Look At Some UNIVERSAL ORLANDO News and Notes

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at at some Universal Orlando News and Notes! That’s right, we are going to take a stroll around the Universal Orlando Resort and check out some of the recent events that have happened along with something that might just be happening this very minute.

# 6 – Honk Honkers Now Open in Seuss Landing

Back around Thanksgiving, Universal (re)opened* a new candy store in Seuss Landing that also offers gourmet cotton candy. While the opening of Honk Honkers went under the radar when it comes to big theme park news, the store became an instant hit with guests. The size of the cotton candy sticks true to Seussian fashion by being larger than life, providing a good value for the price of $6.95. However it is the amount of customization that really makes the store shine. The cotton candy itself comes in flavors (blue raspberry, pink vanilla, birthday cake, jolly berry, grape, and apple,) but you also have the option to add in a variety of mix-ins for 95 cents each (marshmallows, m&ms, Oreo cookies, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, and rock candy.) If that wasn’t enough to send your Thing 1 or Thing 2 directly into a sugar coma, for an extra two dollars (“two dollars!”) you can also get the cotton candy itself wrapped around a unicorn lollipop instead of the standard stick.

*Honk Honkers the store opened with Seuss Landing but has been closed for at least a decade. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Inside of Honk Honkers. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Honk Honkers cotton candy. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

A Team Member draws out cotton candy. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Mix-ins being, uh, mixed in. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
YES THE COTTON CANDY STICKS ARE THIS BIG. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
SATURDAY SIX Editor in Chief Megan Stump with a Honk Honkers cotton candy that dwarfs her head. (photo by an official resident of Whoville, Seth Kubersky)

Not that Seuss Landing needed even MORE candy, but Honk Honkers also offers a wide variety of store branded candy options, all fitting in with the Dr. Seuss theme. If that’s not enough, in Honk Honkers and throughout the land are Universal exclusive candies based on Seussian brands such as If I Ran The Zoo, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh The Places You’ll Go and more. This means that finally there are “chewy turtles” for that Yertle the Turtle super fan in your life.

Honk Honkers branded candy. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)
Honk Honkers branded candy. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)
Universal exclusive Green Eggs and Ham gummies available in Seuss Landing (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

# 5 – New Shakes and Merchandise at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

Back in November there was also a change at one of our favorite restaurants in CityWalk, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. Being “patient zero” for the insane milkshake craze currently taking over Orlando, Toothsome opened with a wide variety of next level bananas milkshakes and even wider variety of complaints from guests saying they had to wait too long to order them. Toothsome quietly dropped a couple of the shakes off the menu to speed up the process (including one of our favorites, the Cinnamon Fantasy loaded with pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.) In terrific news, Toothsome added three new milkshakes to the menu and they are just as bonkers as the other 8 currently available.

The new shakes are the Peanut Butter & Jelly (peanut butter ice cream, PB&J sandwich, strawberry sauce, crushed peanuts, a PB&J cupcake, and whipped cream,) Confetti Shake (vanilla ice cream, confetti cake, vanilla buttercream frosting, rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream) and Cookie Jar (vanilla ice cream, Oreo cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and whipped cream.)

Cookie Jar and Confetti Shake. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)

Toothsome also came out with a new line of merchandise based around the Penelope’s Apothecary Treats brand.  The designs are sharp, and the quality is there,  but if I were a betting man I would imagine that if Universal had an Outlet Store like Disney, these items would end up there sooner rather than later.

New Toothsome merchandise. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)
Toothsome plate. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)

# 4 – Fast & Furious: Supercharged Gift Shop Open

Those following the development of the new Fast & Furious attraction at Universal Studios Florida (such as our friends over at Inside Universal) report that the area looks completely done from the outside and believe that we could be close to a soft opening for the ride (which is scheduled to open in “Spring.”) The ride’s gift shop has been open for a while now, and has been adding in new merchandise every week. Like Disney with Avatar: The World of Pandora, Universal is opening this new attraction and needs to create a whole new line of merchandise as the Fast & Furious brand – despite being one of the top film franchises in the entire world – doesn’t have a huge toy presence for kids or hot selling apparel and other collectibles for adults.

As with most theme park gift shops, the Custom Gear Shop for Fast & Furious: Supercharged has the requisite t-shirts, key chains, and branded drinkware. The items look sharp, but where Universal may catch lighting in a bottle is with an item we didn’t see coming, like Pandora’s banshee puppets. Similar to Disney’s super popular Droid Factory experience, where guests can build their own Star Wars droid, this gift shop offers a chance to build your own race car. With a variety of options available to make your own toy car, along with the add-on accessories like hazard cones, dirt jumps, and decals, this could be a huge boon to Universal’s bottom line if it takes off. It seems like Universal is already preparing for it to be a smash hit, as they have used SYNERGY to have similar cars available themed to other park brands including Jurassic Park, Transformers, and even Marvel’s Spider-Man. Forget bitcoin, if I could invest in the futures of this Build-A-Car being a huge hit they’d have all my money.

Fast & Furious: Supercharged. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)
Custom Gear Shop. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Sampling of merchandise. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
More merchandise. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Build-A-Car. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Action playsets are available. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Transformers car sets. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Spider-Man car set. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Jurassic Park car set. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

# 3 – Voodoo Doughnut Officially Announced

A regular SATURDAY SIX reader may be under the impression that we like donuts. This is incorrect. We, in fact, love donuts. We love them in the way many people love their family pet, or breathing. So imagine our happiness when Universal recently confirmed that the venue next to NBC Grill would be a Voodoo Doughnut. What Toothsome is to milkshakes and Planet Hollywood is to basically every food item, Voodoo Doughnut is to donuts. The Voodoo Doughnut location over at Universal Studios Hollywood has been a huge success, so it was a natural fit to join CityWalk in Orlando. Specializing in donuts that look like they came out of a fever dream, one thing I’m already looking forward to experiencing is the Coffin of Doughnuts. Served in an actual three foot wooden coffin, guests receive three dozen Voodoo donuts, or what I like to call “a good start.” Good news for vegans, Voodoo Doughnut also has a variety of vegan-friendly options available so watch your back Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC!

Voodoo Doughnut. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Voodoo Doughnut logo. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Voodoo Doughnut. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)
Seeing this menu, I know now how Moses felt when picking up The 10 Commandments. (photo by Jonathan Green of Inside Universal
How great is this?! (photo by Johnathan Green)
The Donut Coffin. (photo by Jonathan “Diglet” Green)
Voodoo Doughnut coffin (photo via Voodoo Doughnut)

 

# 2 – Gamma Tour at the Incredible Hulk Coaster

Universal has several great “secret” tours that many guests don’t know about. The most widely known – and loved – is the Immigration Room tour at Men In Black: Alien Attack. A new tour just came across our desk courtesy of intrepid Universal reporter Seth Kubersky and it’s located in Marvel Superhero Island. The Incredible Hulk coaster was already one of the most thrilling rides in Orlando, but the attraction got a much needed upgrade (including a full track replacement) in 2016. One thing that was a part of the upgrade was a completed overhaul of the ride’s queue. If there was one fault with Hulk it’s that it had one of the absolute worst queues in all of Universal, and looked even worse with all the amazing queue experiences at Universal that have come along since it opened.

The new queue for Hulk is a HUGE improvement but most people haven’t seen much of it because no one is allowed to bring anything into the queue. All phones and cameras must be stored before entering the queue. Taking away a camera from a theme park blogger is like taking away ocean water from a shark. Yes, we could have rioted – and it would have been well deserved – but instead we took the high road and instead enjoyed the new sound system on the ride. Unfortunately that meant we could only describe the queue to you, Dear Reader, rather than show you.

With the new Gamma Tour all guests can now see the new queue AND take pictures.

Lots of references here to important men in the history of the Hulk comic books including his creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Among other names here is a reference to Lou Ferrigno, the actor who played the Hulk on TV, and Peter David, writer of some of the greatest stories in the Hulk canon including one of my favorites: FUTURE IMPERFECT. (photo by Seth Kubersky)
Comic character references here, but also one for legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man. (photo by Seth Kubersky.
Here’s a reference to Len Wein, a longtime writer of the Hulk who also created the character of Wolverine in Hulk #181. (photo by Seth Kubersky)

# 1 – A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018

Taking place this very weekend is Universal’s A Celebration of Harry Potter (read Joe Matt’s Celebration Preview Guide by clicking here.) With special guests from the Harry Potter film series doing Q&As, guest experiences like the Sorting Hat, and all new merchandise, Potter fanatics would do themselves a favor making a pilgrimage to this annual event. At the Harry Potter Expo part of the Celebration, fans can visit exhibitions and shops based on various Potter related subjects such as the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, Scholastic (who distribute the book series), and the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. My personal favorite part of the Expo is visiting the section dedicated to MinaLima, the company which designed all the amazing artwork you see throughout the film series (such Rita Skeeter’s book cover along with the Mudblood propaganda posters seen in Deathly Hallows Part 1.)

For Potterheads, this is their version of the old Star Wars Weekends that Disney used to hold except there is even more stuff to check out. While everything is included with daily park admission, there are perks to being a Celebration package holder, including the ability to see the debut of The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.

SATURDAY SIX’s own Megan Stump moments before being sorted into Gryffindor. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort)
New merchandise for this year’s Celebration. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
2018’s Celebration card feature’s Bertie Bott. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Last year’s Celebration card was Gilderoy Lockhart (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
2018 Celebration exclusive wand. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
2018 Celebration print featuring the Knight Bus. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
A stunning collection of Harry Potter cosplayers including a Death Eater, Luna Lovegood in her Quidditch cheering outfit, and a Golden Snitch! (photo courtesy of the Facebook photography group Papanotzzi) and Gary Snow.)
A Wizarding World cosplayer dressed up as Jacob Kowalski from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Meg and Ann Marie cosplaying as Viktor Krum supporters (echoing Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).
“Whether you come back by page or the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” – JK Rowling
The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle. (photo by a Texan who goes to Disney and Universal more than people who actually live in Orlando, @braindud92)
Oooooooh, so pretty! (photo by the hero the theme park needs right now, but not the one it deserves, @bioreconstruct)
If there’s a large surface in a theme park in Orlando, something is going to be projected onto it sooner or later. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Boom! (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Honorable Mention – The new Tervis Tumbler

“It’s indescribably beautiful!” – A Christmas Story

HC
HC

So there you have it: Some News And Notes Around 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 Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

A despicable human being,
onewithout a shred of decency or soul.
Also pictured, a Death Eater.

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

6 Reasons We Love FRONTIERLAND in the Magic Kingdom

6 Reasons We Love SUESS LANDING at Universal

6 Reasons We Love JURASSIC PARK at Universal

6 Reasons We Love PORT OF ENTRY at Universal

SATURDAY SIX Investigative Report: Disney PET PEEVES

The SATURDAY SIX Uses Disney Villains To Explain Theme Park Blogging

Movies and TV Shows Filmed at the Universal Orlando Resort

Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, the bio-est of reconstructs @bioreconstruct, co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando Seth Kubersky, Universal SUPER Shopper @HedgehogsCorner, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with goofballs co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde , while fellow Potterheads may enjoy Meg’s work on the Central Florida Slug Club.

FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2018 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!

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6 thoughts on “The SATURDAY SIX Takes A Look At Some UNIVERSAL ORLANDO News and Notes

  • January 27, 2018 at 9:35 am
    Permalink

    FYI: the cotton candy prices have gone up since the store opened. Last Saturday we paid $6.95 for a paper cone, while the unicorn horn (i.e., lollipop) option was $8.95. Mix-ins are still 95 cents each.

    Reply
    • January 27, 2018 at 10:11 am
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      Thanks Jay. That one is on me as I was looking at an old photo when I should have looked at the TouringPlans menu page for Honk Honkers. It did allow me to make a Better Off Dead reference when making the change in the article though, so it was worth it.

      Reply
  • January 27, 2018 at 2:02 pm
    Permalink

    In addition to Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk, there’s also a listing for Bill Bixby, who played Bruce Banner.

    Reply
  • January 27, 2018 at 10:58 pm
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    Minor correction – it’s *Jacob* Kowalkski.

    Reply
    • January 28, 2018 at 10:05 pm
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      Fixed! Meg actually had that cosplayer’s business card which correctly identified the character, which I promptly ignored.

      Reply
  • January 29, 2018 at 1:51 pm
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    We were at IOA earlier this month, and the line for the cotton candy at Honk Honkers made the line at Pteranodon Flyers look like warp speed. There was one guy making these massive cotton candy cones by hand, which took at least 5 minutes per cone. Even a relatively small-looking queue lasts forever, so be prepared.

    Reply

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