The CityWalk concept was first explored at Universal’s park in Los Angeles, which opened in 1993; when Universal Orlando expanded in 1999 with the opening of Islands of Adventure, CityWalk Orlando was part of that expansion.
The entertainment and dining area is not dissimilar to Downtown Disney, though there’s far less emphasis here on Universal-themed places and products and a much larger contingent of known national chains. Local teenagers flock to CityWalk on the weekends to take advantage of the spacious 20-screen movie theater and the adjacent eateries, while adults flock to the several nightclubs and music venues.
Clubs and Bars
While Downtown Disney has largely given up on the idea of nightlife, CityWalk still embraces it, and the variety of nightclubs has proven successful with both tourists and locals craving a safe and predictable entertainment environment. CityWalk’s Rising Star (8 p.m.–2 a.m. daily, $7, 21 and over Fri.–Wed., 18 and over Thurs.) is the most recent addition, and it takes the karaoke bar concept to a new level; instead of singing along to plinky-plonky backing tracks, singers mount the stage to be accompanied by a live band.
The Red Coconut Club (8 p.m.–2 a.m. Sun.–Thurs., 6 p.m.–2 a.m. Fri.–Sat., $7, 21 and over) was designed to capitalize on the ultra-lounge trend and emphasizes its fashionable atmosphere, VIP bottle service, and long martini list. DJs spin here, but dancing is best done at The Groove (9 p.m.–2 a.m. daily, $7, 21 and over), an enormous hit-driven dance club.
Fans of live music should check out the lineup at Hard Rock Live (open only for concerts, ticket prices vary, all ages admitted); the huge modern venue hosts well-known touring bands and comedians and occasionally features local music as well.
Although it sort of feels like an outdoor mall, there’s actually not all that much shopping to be done at CityWalk. However, if you want to get a tattoo—or just a tattoo-inspired T-shirt—Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company (11 a.m.–1 a.m. daily) has one of their three locations here; no, they don’t film Inked here.
The Endangered Species Store (11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) promotes a planet-in-peril theme by selling stuffed animals and eco-educational games and toys. There are also outlets for Fossil and clothing stores like Fresh Produce and Tommy Bahama as well as the Florida-based Quiet Flight Surf Shop.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition