Universal Orlando's 10 Best Snacks and Desserts

  • 01 of 11

    Honorable Mention: Butterbeer Soft Serve

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    ••• Arthur Levine

    You are bound to develop a serious case of the munchies after experiencing the wild and wonderful rides at Universal Orlando. In between surviving an amazing adventure with Spider-Man and getting turned into a Minion, you are going to want to refuel and you will crave something sweet. Fortunately, the resort's two parks, CityWalk complex, and hotels offer plenty of great things on which to munch. In fact, there are so many decadent and delightful goodies, you'll be thanking me for narrowing down the list to the top 10 best snacks and desserts.

    This is not a random list based on my personal preferences. I had help identifying the picks from a panel of expert judges. Find out which travel and food writers participated in the survey at the Best Universal Orlando Dining feature. Thanks to the judges, I've also compiled lists of reasonably priced restaurants in a rundown of Universal Orlando's top ten best quick service restaurants. If you are seeking something more...MORE substantial, head over to my countdown of Universal Orlando's 10 best table service restaurants.

    Before we get to the best munchies, "desserts and snacks" refer to (mostly) sweet items sold at food carts and stands as well as great meal-enders offered at quick-service and table-service restaurants. It also includes beverages, which have become a Universal specialty. In fact, if you know anything about the resort, you probably have already figured out which item sits at the top of the list of the best snack items -- and yes (spoiler alert), it is a beverage.

    Also, the survey was conducted in early 2014, before Diagon Alley, the second Wizarding World of Harry Potter land opened. A bunch of new items that the resort introduced were therefore not included in the survey. Among the delicious additions to Universal's menus are Fishy Green Ale (a minty drink laced with bubble tea-like blueberry-flavored bobas) and two heavenly desserts at The Leaky Cauldron restaurant: Chranacan (mixed berries in a custard topped with oats) and, Chocolate Cream, which is served in a cute canning jar and is topped with a luscious cherry sauce.

    But the hands-down dessert winner in the new Potter land is an ice cream treat to die for. It is so good, it probably deserves to be ranked among the top 5, and possibly at number 2. Until I reconvene our panel of judges and reconsider all the sweet stuff at Universal, let's give this an honorable mention. But trust me, you have to add this to your must-eats when you visit the parks.

    Honorable Mention: Butterbeer Soft Serve

    • Served at: Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour
    • In Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida​

    Oh, my goodness. Whatever crazy-wonderful concoction of butterscotch and other delicious ingredients Universal whipped up for its butterbeer drinks has been reformatted for soft serve ice cream. This treat wins on two fronts: The flavor is yummy, and the texture and creaminess of the ice cream are superb. I'd rank this among the best soft serve I've had anywhere -- not just at theme parks.

    There are other soft serve flavors. They may be great. But where else would you be able to get butterbeer-flavored ice cream? The "Parlour" also serves hard ice cream, including intriguing flavors such as clotted cream, orange marmalade, and sticky toffee pudding. I sampled some of them, and they were quite good. The butterbeer soft serve, however, is, um, magical.

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  • 02 of 11

    Number 10: Duff Beer

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    ••• Arthur Levine
    • Served at: Moe's Tavern and the Duff Beer Brewery
    • In Springfield at Universal Studios Florida

    For years, you've been watching Homer Simpson and his pals kick back a Duff -- or 2 or 16. Now you can sample the Simpsons suds yourself. Half the fun is sidling up to the bar at Moe's Tavern -- a picture-perfect (toon-perfect?) replica of the Springfield bar -- and ordering a mug on draft. You could listen in on a Bart Simpson prank call on the old-school phone sitting atop the bar. You could also get a frosty mug o' Duff at the outdoor Duff Brewery beer garden.

    Here's the surprise, though: Duff itself is quite good. Specially brewed for Universal, it tastes like a fine quality craft beer. I realize that Duff Beer isn't sweet. But it is a treat. Among the judges professing their love for Duff is Robb Alvey of Theme Park Review and Seth Kubersky, travel and attractions journalist, Orlando Weekly and The Unofficial Guide.

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  • 03 of 11

    Number 9: Ice Cream Sundaes

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    ••• Arthur Levine
    • Served at: Schwab's Pharmacy
    • In Hollywood at Universal Studios Florida

    Back in the day, as legend has it, talent agents regularly discovered ingenues at the real Schwab's Pharmacy, offered them contracts, and turned them into movie stars. You won't find any motion picture scouts at the facsimile Schwab's (nor will you find any medications), but you will find gooey, scrumptious sundaes.

    Before Walgreens, CVS, and other corporate drug store chains overtook the industry, independent pharmacies like Schwab's used to have lunch counters and soda fountains. They would serve ice cream and other treats as well as dispense drugs. Seems odd by today's standards, I know. You can discover what's been lost by ordering a sundae with all the fixings at the mock Schwab's. One of the judges raising a spoon for the pharmacy's ice cream treats is Mike Collins, producer, and co-host of CoasterRadio.com podcast.

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  • 04 of 11

    Number 8: White Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding

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    ••• Universal Orlando
    • Served at: Emeril's
    • CityWalk

    After indulging in a New Orleans-inspired meal at the celebrity chef's restaurant, cap it off with a sinful slice of White Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding. A little sweet, a little tart, and a whole lot of mmmm, the calories are worth it. (You'll be doing plenty of walking at the parks anyway, right?)

    Judge Lyn Dowling, food critic and feature writer for Florida Today, puts Emeril's bread pudding at the top of her list of Universal's best sweets. "Other desserts are fancier. This is just plain good -- and complex as well," she says.

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  • 05 of 11

    Number 7: Brain Freezin' D'oh-Nut Sundae

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    ••• Universal Orlando
    • Served at: Lard Lad at Fast Food Boulevard
    • In Springfield at Universal Studios Florida

    We go from the complex, sophisticated bread pudding at Emeril's to the decidedly unsophisticated, super sweet treat known as the Brain Freezin' D'oh-Nut Sundae. The fine folks at Lard Lad take one of their gut-busting pink frosted donuts, slice it open, fill it with soft serve ice cream, and finish it off with your variety of toppings. Don't blame them if you get a brain freeze. It's not like they didn't warn you. D'oh!

    Big fans of the D'oh-Nut Sundae are judges Erik and Racheal Yates, editors of BehindtheThrills.com.

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  • 06 of 11

    Number 6: Chocolate Frogs

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    ••• Arthur Levine

    Food items that were referenced in the Potter books and movies, such as Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and pumpkin juice, are available for purchase at Universal's Wizarding World lands. Another popular treat in which park visitors can indulge is a Chocolate Frog. The solid hunk of milk chocolate -- yes, it is in the form of a frog -- comes housed in a lovely pentagon-shaped box and includes a "wizard card." Unless you have a major sweet tooth, eating an entire chocolate frog at one sitting might make you, um, croak.

    Someone who might be able to eat one at a single sitting: Dan Hatfield, owner and editor of OrlandoInformer.com, who rates Chocolate Frogs way up there.

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  • 07 of 11

    Number 5: Flaming Moe

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    ••• Arthur Levine
    • Served at: Flaming Moe's and Moe's Tavern
    • In Springfield at Universal Studios Florida

    One of the unique beverages on our list (and yet another Simpsons entry from the Springfield's Fast Food Boulevard), the Flaming Moe was inspired by an episode from the long-running animated series. Unlike the cartoon version, Universal's Flaming Moe is non-alcoholic. The fruity drink is tasty, but its real appeal is that it's actually flaming. I suppose smoking would be more accurate. Each drink comes with something that makes it bubble, fizz, and release puffs of smoke.

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  • 08 of 11

    Number 4: Strawberry and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

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    ••• Universal Orlando

    Another tasty treat that J.K. Rowling mentioned in her books is Strawberry and Peanut Butter Ice Cream. It may sound like a bit of an odd combination, but the two flavors meld nicely. It's a great way to end a meal at the casual restaurant, Three Broomsticks. Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com and one of the participating judges, is a booster of the dessert.

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  • 09 of 11

    Number 3: Chocolate Cauldrons

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    ••• © Arthur Levine.

    Shaped like cauldrons, the hollow milk chocolates are filled with green marshmallow. Green? Ewwww! They look weird, but they taste wonderful.

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  • 10 of 11

    Number 2: Lard Lad Donut

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    ••• Universal Orlando
    • Served at: Lard Lad at Fast Food Boulevard
    • In Springfield at Universal Studios Florida

    If the ice cream and other toppings in the Brain Freezin' D'oh-Nut Sundae get in the way, you can skip them and just go for the pink frosted donut. The pastry comes in a ridiculously huge size and is fairly engorged with grease (which I am reasonably sure is not, in fact, lard). It's way too sweet and heavy for my tastes, but many of our judges love 'em. Donut fiends Erik and Racheal Yates, editors of BehindtheThrills.com, put them at the top of their list.

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  • 11 of 11

    Number 1: Butterbeer

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    ••• Arthur Levine
    • Served at: Multiple locations throughout both Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter
    • At Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure

    Offered cold, frozen, and warm, butterbeer isn't just delicious, it's downright addictive. Since it was introduced, no trip to the Universal parks is complete without at least one cup of the heavenly treat. Sales of the beverage have to be making the goblins at Gringotts Bank happy.

    Nearly every judge included butterbeer on their top-10 lists, with most putting it at or near the top. Check out the accolades: Panel member Ashley Nichols of Theme Park Foodie says "As a butterscotch fan, I love the white and frothy topping that is poured over the frozen cream soda component." "An original and an Orlando classic," enthuses Lyn Dowling, food critic and feature writer for Florida Today. Dan Hatfield, owner and editor of OrlandoInformer.com claims that butterbeer is "...the drink that created the themed food and beverage category. It is...MORE the best snack you can order inside any theme park in the world."

    Whew! That's high praise for the sweet and frothy drink. But try a butterbeer for yourself, and you'll understand why the hype is for real.