Behind-the-Scenes, Dining, UOAP

UOAP Appreciation Days 2023 | Behind the Exclusive Menu

August 10, 2023
An arm in a white sleeve holding up a white plate. On the plate, there is a pile of potato wedges, on the left side of a burger sitting on a bottom bun. Under the burger is lettuce and tomato, and above it is a different meat, a melted cheese sauce, and two onion rings. The background is blurred and mostly brown.

Universal Orlando Resort loves its Passholders. They keep coming back to the parks day after day, finding new and fun things each visit, while also reliving their favorite memories. There’s something magical and comforting in knowing you can always come back to this one place you love and know so well.

But that magic extends beyond what the parks offer Passholders — Passholders bring magic into the parks too. The knowledge, love, and desire to keep coming back breathe life into the parks, and they wouldn’t be the same without Passholders.

To show the love and appreciation we have for our Passholders in a special, unbelievably Universal way, our talented Food and Beverage team has prepared an exclusive menu for Passholder Appreciation Days, which happen from August 15 through September 30.

Let’s get into some of the highlights of these offerings, and hear from the chefs behind the creations.

Zucchini Fritters | Mythos Restaurant at Universal Islands of Adventure

A photo of two zucchini fritters, fried good with crumbled cheese and herbs on top. One leans against the other, which sits flat on a white plate, which sits on a wooden table. Behind the fritters is a small cup of a creamy sauce, and a pile of various vegetables, notably tomatoes.

The name “Mythos” has a gravitas surrounding it that just makes your mouth water in anticipation, and the restaurant’s UOAP secret menu offering, Zucchini Fritters, certainly lives up to that reputation.

“We’re a Greek and Mediterranean inspired restaurant, so zucchini is a big part of that food,” says Islands of Adventure Executive Chef Jason Glus. “And we also want to do a vegetarian dish. So, when you put those together, you get a nice fritter.”

This result can only be described as immaculate. It’s crispy, but not too crispy. It’s flavorful, but not overpoweringly so. It’s not too big, but filling enough to leave you satisfied and wanting to order it again. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of zucchini typically, but I could eat these fritters all day.

2023 Passholders will truly be the firsts to try this dish at Universal, as Mythos Sous Chef Shaun Smith explains, “It’s something that you won’t find anywhere else in the park. It’s something new to Universal and to Mythos.”

Personally, I hope this won’t be the last time we see Zucchini Fritters at Mythos. Luckily, as Chef Jason explains, “There’s probably two or three menu items on our current menu that were previous Passholder items, like the lamb meatballs. So, we see how the feedback is with our Passholders. They have a big influence on some of our permanent menu items.”

Maloney Stack | Finnegan’s Bar & Grill at Universal Studios Florida 

A hand holding up a white plate of food in front of Finnegan's Bar and Grill. On the plate, there is a pile of potato wedges, in front of a burger sitting on a bottom bun, with a top bun leaning onto it. Under the burger is lettuce and tomato, and above it is a different meat, a melted cheese sauce, and two onion rings. The building behind the plate, to its left, is blurred, with a turquoise awning, and a red-bordered, blue sign above the awning with brown-ish lettering. There is another sign in front of the awning, directly behind the plate, which is a darker green with a gold and red border. There are other blurry brown buildings behind the first, and the sky is sunny.

Finnegan’s Bar & Grill is bringing back a fan favorite, offering Passholders the Maloney Stack. This burger, as the name suggests, is literally stacked. A half-pound, all-beef burger, topped with braised short rib, beer-battered onion rings and ale cheese sauce sits between two delicious buns, and comes with an order of wedge fries on the side.

Finnegan’s Restaurant Chef Chad Richardson describes the dish as, “something that would tide you over. You could be set with this one meal for the whole day.” He’s right about that. 

When I say this burger is big, I mean it is very, very big, and a bit intimidating, but classic and beloved. Think about it this way: if Finnegan’s is Universal Studios Florida, the Maloney Stack is Hollywood Rip-Ride Rockit

The dish was certainly a favorite among those who tried it during our exclusive tasting. No surprise here, after all, every item on the burger is house-made, according to Chef Chad, and each and every one works. According to our helpful taste testers, the onion rings gave the burger texture and crunchiness, and the beef was very juicy, being cooked just right.

Universal listens to its Passholders: “When our UOAP family gives us the feedback that they love a specific item, we like to return that item throughout the year, and kind of show our appreciation with the things that they enjoy,” says Chef Chad.

Peaches & Cream Stuffed French Toast | The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal CityWalk 

A close-up of a slice of brown, glazed french toast, topped with peaches, orange icing, green garnishes, and vanilla ice cream with orange shavings. Next to the french toast sits a chocolate-covered strawberry. The french toast and strawberry sit on top of a plate patterned with brown, rounded shapes, which is covered in powdered sugar. The background is blurred, and mostly dark gray with some white.

I have a massive sweet tooth, and The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen’s UOAP exclusive menu offering, Peaches & Cream Stuffed French Toast, hit that sweet spot perfectly. The dish, as the name indicates, is a stuffed french toast, with peach cobbler, citrus zest, and a chocolate-covered strawberry, all topped with vanilla ice cream.

When I first saw the plate, I thought it was too good to be true. Then, I tasted it, and I just couldn’t stop.

“It’s special for Passholders because it’s a very elegant dish,” says Toothsome Restaurant Chef Carlton Hull. “It’s very pretty, it’s colorful, it’s flavorful. And it’s not something that we will do for the regular, everyday menu because it has so many steps that are intricate. So, we keep this dish as an appreciation for Passholders so they see that we’re taking that extra step to go above and beyond.”

The french toast is cooked and stuffed to perfection, not being too difficult to cut but also having that chewy, buttery feel. The peaches are almost candy-like and offer a nice flavor base. The citrus isn’t overpoweringly flavorful, but offers a nice punch to the meal. And the ice cream just ties it all together. When you get that perfect bite, with ice cream, french toast, peach, and citrus, you’ll know what I mean.

“Passholders don’t want something that’s on-demand, they want to see what we have that’s special for them,” Chef Carlton explains. 

Sushi Burrito | The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar at Universal CityWalk

A person in a white shirt with vertical ridges with sparkly, light pink nails holds up a sushi burrito. The sushi is wrapped in a dark avocado roll on top of white rice, and stuffed with various vegetables and fish. The roll is held up over a white plate which has another roll, this one wrapped in orange-and-white paper, a cup of brown sauce, and a pile of chips with a red sauce on top. the plate sits on a brown table.

Burgushi, a standard offering from The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, was already unique. So how do you push that beyond into something fresh, but with the classic Cowfish touch? You make a Sushi Burrito.

The Sushi Burrito is exactly what the name suggests. It’s a sushi roll, molded into a burrito shape, so you can pick it up and take a bite. It’s stuffed with tuna and salmon, plantain chips, and avocado, surrounded in an avocado roll and rice. This dish certainly has a kick, so keep a glass of water nearby if you’re anything like me and have a low spice tolerance.

The dish also comes with chips and a nice sauce to dip both the burrito and chips into. Fair warning: the chips and sauce are almost addictive. I needed to push the plate physically away from my seat to stop myself from inhaling those crispy, crunchy nuggets of joy.

“When you bite into the Sushi Burrito, you get the crunch of the plantain, the avocado, the tuna,”  says Cowfish Restaurant Chef Dania Alvarez-King. “It makes you feel like you’re actually eating a burrito, but you’re eating it sushi-style. We’re giving the Passholders a fun experience. They’re always excited about the items that we create, and it’s so special that we’re actually taking the time and creating something new, thinking of what the Passholders want.”

Avocado Toast Burger | NBC Sports Grill & Brew at Universal CityWalk

A metal cup with circular dents filled with french fries sits on a brown board-like plate, next to a burger. Instead of hamburger buns, there are two pieces of toast, with seeds scattered along the crusts. The top piece of toast leans against the back of the burger, which sits on top of the piece of toast laying flat on the board. There is avocado spread under the burger, and lettuce, tomato, onion, and other vegetables on top of it. The tray is being held by a blurred person in a white shirt.

Though it’s no longer the football season, when this dish first debuted, you have one more opportunity to try the 49ers-inspired Avocado Toast Burger that was offered earlier this year for the Sunday Night Football-themed menu at NBC Sports Grill & Brew

“This dish was just too good to only have for three days,” says CityWalk Executive Chef Marcos Colon. “So who better to kind of test the quality of if something should belong on our menu than our Annual Passholders?” For him, Passholders are a “true north.”

The burger, which can be swapped out for a vegetarian option, is placed between two pieces of avocado toast, and served with either fries or tater tots. “If I can put avocados somewhere I’m gonna; it gives you a creamy texture,” says Chef Marcos. It’s also interesting, and mouth-watering, to think about a different type of bread than a standard hamburger bun with your patty.

“We’re taking our burgers to a different level and playing around with it,” Chef Marcos says.  

More offerings at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

A Chocolate Dipped Cannoli filled with chocolate chips and covered in powdered sugar sitting on a white plate, also covered in powdered sugar. Two halved strawberries and two blackberries sit next to the cannoli. Portofino Harbor is visible in the background.

Returning Passholders, rejoice, and new Passholders, get excited: the amazing dishes from last year’s UOAP exclusive menu from Universal Orlando Resort hotels are back.

Get excited to try, or revisit, the Locuritas (Spanish Cookies) from Strong Water Tavern at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, the Chocolate-Dipped Cannoli from Trattoria del Porto at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, and the Krab Rangoon from Islands Dining Room at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Just the knowledge that they are being brought back after a successful run last year should get your mouth watering — I know it did for me.

To learn more about some of the dishes, and the chefs behind them, check out last year’s UOAP Behind-The-Menu breakdown!

What dish from the UOAP exclusive menu are you most excited to try? Let us know on social media, or in the comments below!

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  • Reply Supraja Lakshmi N August 12, 2023 at 8:13 am

    This is a very tempting and mouthwatering article on the UOAP Appreciation Days 2023 behind the exclusive menu. You have revealed some of the delicious and creative dishes and drinks that are specially made for the Universal Orlando Annual Passholders. I appreciate how you described each item in detail and showed some photos of them. You also gave some information on how to access these exclusive menu items and where to find them.

    • Reply Digital Guest Communications August 12, 2023 at 8:55 am

      We’re so thrilled to hear that you’re looking forward to all of these delicious dishes! Make sure you take advantage of all the exciting benefits available during Passholder Appreciation Days, including exclusive Passholder Seating at Confisco Grill at Islands of Adventure and Lombard’s Seafood Grill at Universal Studios Florida! This will be available daily from 8/15/2023-9/30/2023 from noon until 30 minutes before park close.

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