The Saturday Six is a weekly look at the most interesting, most fun, and sometimes even the most outrageous things within the theme park world that we all love so much. Whether it’s checking out the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, playing the Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf in CityWalk, or eating at Springfield USA’s Fast Food Blvd, the Saturday Six is your personal guide to experiencing the very best Orlando has to offer
This week’s Saturday Six looks at the Top Six Food and Drink Items at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 23. Regular readers of this column know that we like food. Scratch that. We like breathing. We love food. Especially theme park food. Perhaps you’ve seen our article on the six most outrageous food items at Universal or its follow-up looking at six more outrageous snacks. Or maybe you’ve browsed through our look at the best items in Springfield USA’s Fast Food Blvd. Or perhaps you’ve chosen to look at our take on the very best signature drinks at Universal. Today we are going to look at the top six food and drink options at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 23 event. Once Universal Studios Florida closes to regular guests and reopens for HHN, a whole bunch of food and drink stands open up with it. Here is what we enjoyed the most…
(Remember, you can click on any picture to see the full size version)
# 6 – Fried Sweet Potato Chips
Located in the New York section of the park (or the Fall of Atlanta scare zone for HHN fans), you’ll run into the stand selling Fried Sweet Potato Chips as you’re queueing up for the Evil Dead house or on your long walk out of The Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City, or An American Werewolf in London houses. It was good to see waffle fries brought into the park, something that should be around all year. The two available toppings that are Applewood Bacon & Cheddar and Candied with Cinnamon and Marshmallow, the latter of which scares even me.
We went with the bacon and cheddar topping and found the serving size to be more than generous. While normally I prefer regular fries over sweet potato fries, the taste combination of the sweet potato and the toppings was definitely more flavorful than the regular fries would have been. It’s very filling, and – at $7.00 – it isn’t too bad a deal for the amount of food that you get.
# 5 – Twisted Taters
Twisted Taters are spiraled out potatoes which are fried, seasoned, and then stretched out on a skewer. This year there are four flavors available, including: Sour Cream & Chive, Garlic Butter, Seasoned Salt, and Salt & Vinegar. We tried both the Garlic Butter and Seasoned Salt varieties. It has become an annual tradition of ours to grab these (and a beer) over by the Lew Wasserman statue at the edge of the New York section of the park and begin our walk towards Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure stage show over in World Expo.
This is another item where I just don’t understand why it is not available to purchase during the rest of the year. It’s a great tasting snack that almost immediately forces you buy a drink because of the salt content. It’s easy to carry around and eat on the go while you walk the park and – because it is made out of a vegetable – Twisted Taters can give you the plausible deniability that you’re actually eating something semi-healthy. That’s a classic win-win scenario in my book. Each Twisted Tater is $5.00, but you may want to factor in the cost of a soda or beer because you’ll need one to go with it. Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival has wine pairings? Well, HHN has my exclusive Tater Pairings. I recommend a Yeungling with the seasoned salt Twisted Tater and a Miller Lite for the garlic butter.
# 4 – Pizza
For pizza to make a list of favorite snacks, it better be good pizza. I may be lenient on some other food items, but bad pizza is one of my bugaboos. I’m looking in your direction Pizza Predattoria. This particular HHN pizza kiosk is located across from the upcoming Diagon Alley as you leave the San Francisco area of USF and head towards World Expo. There are two types of slices available: cheese and pepperoni. The slices were humongous and very similar in size and taste to the slices served at Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Cafe, one of my favorite areas at either Universal park to have pizza. The $7.50 price per slice is steep, but you’re getting a big slice of good New York style pizza.
# 3 – Cheesesteak
The Cheesesteak stand is in Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone as you head down to the queues for The Walking Dead and La Llorona houses. We found the bread to be fresh and the toppings to be plentiful. The meat was seasoned perfectly, and it seemed that American cheese was used. The cheesesteak platter comes with fries and is $9.00. What’s nice is that it is one of the only places in the park where you can add on a Miller Lite draft beer for just $3.00 more. That was a great value. I think the cheesesteak would be a great item for Universal to incorporate into Duff Gardens in Springfield USA as it’s a great snack to get with a cold beer in a bar-type setting.
# 2 – The Dead Walker
Every year HHN has a signature drink, and this year it is the Dead Walker, which makes its return from last year’s event. Basically it’s part vodka, part fruit juice, and part Full Throttle energy drink. I’m much more of a beer person than hard alcohol, and this was sweet enough that I didn’t mind at all. The drinks are $10 each and come in a souvenir glass that lights up at the bottom. Refills are $7.00 each, and you can also use your glass to get cheaper refills on the various mixed drinks and draft beers throughout the park.
It’s actually a little surprising how few specialty drinks there are, considering how many Disney has available throughout its parks and resorts and especially how much Universal guests have taken to Butterbeer, Duff Beer, and the Flaming Moe. I had one of the worst drink experiences of my life when I tried the Doofenslurper over at Epcot, but a drink that is served in a laboratory beaker is a no brainer for a theme park that has Frankenstein’s monster in it. While Universal gets very high marks almost across the board for this year’s HHN, the creativity put into specialty drinks was almost non-existent.
# 1 – The Blood Sucker
Throughout the park you will see bloodied nurses standing around IV poles with blood bags on them. These bags are Blood Suckers are are a mixture of vodka, peach Schnapps, and jello. You eat them by sucking the jello out through the end, hence the Blood Sucker name. I could go through 10 of these a night, but at $7 a pop it’s best to spread them out.
Where Universal scores extra points here is presentation. I did see some janitorial workers that had some blood splattered on their uniforms, but for the most part the HHN employees had very little theming, except for the nurses selling the blood suckers. They stood out and then some.
See you next weekend for the latest edition of the Saturday Six! If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories and Merch! articles or head on over to the TouringPlans.com Podcast Network and check out Universal NOW! and Pardon the Pixie Dust.
Halloween Horror Nights takes place on selected nights from September 20th through November 2nd, 2013. For more information and to buy tickets: click here.