Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

Universal's Meal Deal is a real deal for Central Florida tourists

Universal's Meal Deal is a real deal for Central Florida tourists

Rate This
  • Comments 4

It's a complaint that probably dates back to July 17, 1955. Back to when the very first guest arrived at Disneyland and discovered that -- thanks to an Orange County plumbers strike -- that virtually none of the water fountains inside of that theme park worked.

Which meant that -- if that guest was thirsty that day -- they'd then have to plunk down a whole dime in order to purchase a Pepsi at one of Disneyland's restaurants.

Now, that may not seem like all that high a price to pay for a soda today. But you have to remember that -- back in 1955 -- the Federal Minimum Wage was only 75 cents an hour. And then when you consider that the price of general admission to "The Happiest Place on Earth" was a dollar ... Well, maybe you can begin to understand why Disneyland visitors might have thought that a dime was an awfully high price to pay for a Pepsi.

Mind you, the prices for many of the other food items sold inside of this Anaheim theme park back in '55 were also thought to be quite high. With hamburgers going for 35 cents, cheeseburgers for 45 cents, milk shakes for 35 cents and coffee for a dime!

Why, if you took your family of four to Disneyland back then, it might wind up costing you as much as five whole dollars in order to get them a decent meal inside that theme park. Which is why many families that visited Disneyland back then simply held off on eating while they were in the park. Opting instead to stop by Knotts Berry Farm on the way home and have a much more affordable meal there.

So you see -- even back in the 1950s -- people were already looking for more affordable alternatives to high-priced theme park food. Searching for clever ways to stretch their vacation dollars even further.

Well, the folks over at the Universal Orlando Resort have grown tired of listening to tourists complain about how high theme park food prices supposedly are. Which is why UOR has recently rolled out the Universal Meal Deal.

"So what's the big deal with the Universal Meal Deal?," you ask. Well, as the catchphrase for this in-park promotion none-too-subtly states, you can "Eat All Day Long."

Seriously.

The way that the Universal Meal Deal actually works is that -- upon entering the theme park for the day -- you can either purchase a one-park meal pass (Adults: $18.99, Children 9 and under: $8.99) or a two-park meal pass (Adults: $22.99, Children 9 and under $10.99). Universal then issues you an appropriately colored wrist band. And once that little beauty is on your wrist, you can then begin to chow down.

While you're wearing this wrist band, you then have the right to go through the line at these Universal Studios Florida eateries:

Louie's Italian Restaurant
Mel's Drive-In
International Food & Film Festival Food Court

... and grab one entrée platter and one dessert. Once you've finished eating that ... Well, if you're still hungry, you can just get back in line and grab another entrée platter and dessert. And you can keep doing this 'til the food begins leaking out your ears.

Mind you, the nice folks at Universal have set a few limitations on their Meal Deal program. For starters, your wrist band only entitles you to one entrée platter and one dessert per trip through the food service line. Which means no beverage, people. So if you're thirsty after downing all of those burgers & fries over at Mel's, you're going to have to pay for your soda separately.

Unless -- of course -- you're willing to cough up an additional $7.99. Which then entitles you to get a Meal Deal Sipper Cup. Which will then allow you to get unlimited soft drink fountain beverages at all of the participating Meal Deal locations. For the one day that you've paid for your Universal Meal Deal pass, of course.

Anyway ... Getting back to the limitations here: Children 9 and Under must order from the Kid's Menu. Most importantly (At least in Universal's eyes), sharing of food is NOT permitted. Probably more important to those folks who are actually taking part in the Universal Meal Deal program is the fact that food will be available right up until 30 minutes before the theme parks close for the night.

"So what is it like to try & eat your way around the Universal Orlando Resort?," you query. Well, my family and I recently spent the day over at UOR. And while we were visiting those two theme parks, we decided to give the Universal Meal Deal program a try.

Prior to entering Universal Studios Florida for the day, we purchased our wrist bands and Sipper Cups. We then headed straight over to Mel's Drive-In for a healthy American breakfast of bacon hamburgers & chili fries.

After allowing that food to settle for a bit, my family and I pretended that we were hobbits and hustled on over to the International Food & Film Festival Food Court for our second breakfast. Where I went through the line & helped myself to some really excellent fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

After walking around the park a little to try & work off some of those extra calories, we then wound up over at Louie's Italian Restaurant. Where we shared a pizza and ate some very tasty caesar salad.

Having now exhausted all of our opportunities for unlimited eats at USF, my family and I then decided to waddle on over to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure to see what there was to nosh inside of that theme park

Mind you, over at Islands of Adventure, the four restaurants that are taking part in the Universal Meal Deal program are:

Circus McGurkus Café Stupendous
Comic Strip Cafe
Captain America Diner
The Burger Digs

Our first stop at IOA was Circus McGurkus. Where we once again helped ourselves to burgers & fries. Then topped that load off with some nice big chocolate cookies.

This now being our fourth meal of the day, I have to admit that -- by this point -- my family and I were starting to slow down. In fact, it took us more than an hour to finally get out of that Suess Landing restaurant and then head on over to Marvel Island. Where we'd find our next feeding spot, the Captain America Diner.

I have to tell you that -- at this point in my family's experiment with all-you-can-eat theme park dining ... Well, do you remember what happened to John Hurt in "Alien"? Well, that's how I was feeling as I puffed & huffed across that theme park. Only -- in my case -- it wouldn't be a nasty little alien that would come bursting out of my chest. But -- rather -- an unending supply of burgers & fries.

So -- of course -- what do my family and I eat once we get over to the Captain America Diner? Even more burgers & fries.

As we sat on the restaurant's back porch, overlooking the lagoon (With me thinking -- what with all the hamburger that I had consumed that day -- I was now officially part cow), my family and I began debating about whether it would be wise to keep this experiment going. Whether it would be the smartest thing, health-wise, to try & grab an additional meal at both the Comic Strip Cafe and the Burger Digs.

I'll say this much. We actually did make it as far as Toon Lagoon. Where we did at least look at the food that the Comic Strip Cafe was offering.

But -- in the end -- my family and I finally decided that we'd had our fill. And given that we desperately wanted to avoid what had happened to poor old Mr. Creosote in "Monty Python's the Meaning of Life," we headed back to our car. Where we were pleasantly surprised to find that we still fit into those bucket seats.

Anywho ... I guess -- before I close out today's story -- that I should stress that all of the staff that we dealt with at the various UOR restaurants we visited that day could not have been nicer. As soon as they saw our wrist bands, these Universal staffers politely waved us past the cash registers. As if to say: "Your money's no good here."

Speaking of those wrist bands ... I guess that I should also mention where you can purchase them around the resort. These Universal Meal wrist bands are available for sale at all participating restaurants, the Universal Orlando Resort dining reservation carts, any of UOR's theme park ticket windows as well as the following stores:

Inside Islands of Adventure


The Islands of Adventure Trading Company
The Marvel Alterniverse Store

Inside Universal Studios Florida

Sahara Traders
The Universal Studios Store


FYI: For those of you who like to purchase your tickets prior to arriving at the theme park, you also reserve your Universal Meal Deal on line by clicking on this link.

Well, that about does it for today's story. Now -- if you'll excuse me -- I think I need to find some Pepto Bismol. Just thinking back on all the eating that I did during that day at Universal is giving me sort of an upset stomach.

As Jim likes to say ... Your thoughts?

Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post
Page 1 of 1 (4 items)