Butting up against the Men in Black’s modernist architecture is Springfield U.S.A., Home of the Simpsons, the setting of the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons. What started as just The Simpsons Ride and Kwik-E-Mart store was hugely expanded in 2013, with a fabulous re-creation of Moe’s Tavern, the Jebediah Springfield statue, and other cartoon landmarks.
Springfield, which has long been a de facto land unto itself but was still wedded to World Expo on park maps, officially gained its independence in 2016, in the theme park’s little-noticed answer to Brexit.
The Rides of Springfield
Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ’n’ Hurl is primarily eye candy for Springfield. Think of it as Dumbo with Bart’s sense of humor: Guests ride around in little flying saucers, while the alien narrators, Kang and Kodos, hold pictures of Simpsons characters. Make the characters speak and spin by steering your craft to the proper altitude. All the while, Kang exhorts you (loudly) to destroy Springfield and makes insulting comments about humans. Preschoolers enjoy the ride, while older kids and Simpsons fans crack up over the gags.
Twirl ’n’ Hurl rarely attracts the long lines that similar spinners at Disney do, but (like all rides in this style) it can be very slow loading. If you want to enjoy the jokes without the wait, you can easily hear them all from the sidelines. If you have folks who are hot to ride, get them on whenever there are 50 or fewer guests in line. Try before 11.a.m. It should take awhile for most guests to arrive in Springfield, especially with Diagon Alley, Transformers, and Despicable Me keeping guests busy elsewhere. Twirl ’n’ Hurl may stop running early on nights when Cinematic Spectacular starts before park closing, so as not to distract from the show.
The Simpsons Ride is another animated film coupled to a motion simulator. The ride is as much a satire of theme parks as it is a high-speed thrill ride through the Fox animated series that is now TV’s longest-running sitcom. Featuring the voices of Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), and other cast members, the attraction uses a visit to Krustyland—the absurdly unsafe amusement park owned by the show’s cantankerous Krusty the Clown—as an excuse to skewer Disney, SeaWorld, and even Universal itself.
The queue area and preshows involve Simpsons video clips (both classic and newly created) that help define the characters for guests who are unfamiliar with the TV show, and mock virtually every classic Disney attraction from The Haunted Mansion (here as the Haunted Condo, with “999 unhappy teen employees”) to Hall of Presidents (redone as Hall of the Secretaries of the Interior—wait time 0 minutes).
Not even ride-safety videos are spared: The Simpsons’s version is an outrageous gore-fest starring Itchy and Scratchy demonstrating how not to behave. The attraction itself recycled the foundations of Universal’s former Back to the Future ride; watch the queue video for a time-traveling cameo by Doc Brown.
It is a simulator similar to Star Tours at DHS and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, but with a larger curved screen—more like that of Soarin’ at Epcot. The ride vehicles hold eight guests in two rows of four. The story line has the conniving Sideshow Bob secretly arriving at Krustyland, the aforementioned amusement park, and plotting his revenge on Krusty and Bart for sending him to jail. Sideshow Bob gets even by making things go wrong with the attractions that the Simpsons (and you) are riding. While there are dozens of dips, turns, climbs, and drops during the ride, there are probably hundreds of one-liners and visual puns. Like the show on which it’s based, The Simpsons Ride definitely has an edge and operates on several levels. There will be jokes and visuals that you’ll get but will fly over your children’s heads—and most assuredly vice versa.
Food and Drinks at Springfield
On of our all-time favorite quick-service eateries at Universal Studios is the Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck serving chicken, fish, and beef soft-shell tacos. Capitalizing on the popular trend of food trucks, Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck is the first eatery guests encounter walking into Springfield, Home of the Simpsons, from the main gates. The truck is adorned with a huge taco on the front bumper and an even bigger Bumblebee Man head coming out of the roof. The theming continues inside the truck, as team members are dressed up in cute little bee costumes, complete with antennae on their hats.
Each of the selections is well done. While the guacamole and salsa seem to be off-the-shelf varieties, every other element tastes great. The quality is very competitive with the food at Moe’s Southwest Grill in CityWalk. Our favorite picks are the carne asada and the Korean beef.
At Moe’s Tavern, grab a Duff beer (regular or Duff Lite on draft or bottle; Duff Dry in a bottle only) or a Flaming Moe from this replica of Homer and Barney’s haunt from The Simpsons TV series. Filled with nods to the TV show, there’s a large photo op with Barney along with a working Love Tester. If you’re lucky and sitting by the red phone on the bar top, you just may happen to take a prank phone call.
The Flaming Moe is the first signature drink “experience” we have seen to date. Pricey at about $8 each, a Flaming Moe comes in a souvenir glass that does a good job of hiding dry ice via a separate compartment. The orange soda–tasting drink bubbles up with smoke billowing out, giving a really good representation of being on fire. The nonalcoholic Flaming Moe is sure to be a hit with the younger set when they see it for the first time.
On Fast Food Boulevard, you’ll find different eateries pulled straight from The Simpsons TV series. Guests dine on cleverly named selections from Krusty Burger, The Frying Dutchman, Flaming Moe’s, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Luigi’s Pizza, Lard Lad Donuts, and Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror.
Formerly the International Food and Film Festival, Fast Food Boulevard transformed quite possibly the worst food court in any Orlando theme park into one of the most fun. Besides the hilarious menus themselves (taste-tested by writers of The Simpsons TV show), Fast Food Boulevard contains items you can’t get anywhere else in the park, including a pulled-pork sandwich, tater tots, and seasoned curly fries instead of the normal fries served everywhere else.
Our favorites are the gloriously messy Clogger Burger, the tender fried calamari, and the chicken-and-waffle sandwich (with extra maple mayo on the side). And thanks in large part to Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror, Fast Food Boulevard also has several options, outside of the ever-present salad, for the vegetarians and vegans in your party. Note that this is a very popular spot for lunch, and a long line can develop. Guests queue inside and are released to the serving stations in small groups. Once you order and receive your food, pay at the cashier, and an employee will find an empty table for you. The process can take a while on busy days, and the televisions broadcast a loop of classic Simpsons clips that are maddeningly brief.
A wonderful addition to the Universal waterfront, Duff Brewery is an outdoor bar area with plenty of seating nearby to relax. It is part of the larger Duff Gardens, which, in The Simpsons TV show, is a theme park run by a beer-brewing company. The character of Duffman is available for photo ops, and there are hilarious topiaries of the 7 Duffs. The 7 Duffs (Tipsy, Queasy, Surly, Sleazy, Edgy, Dizzy, and Remorseful), a parody of Disney’s Seven Dwarfs, are the mascots of Duff Gardens.
In The Simpsons TV show, Duff, Duff Lite, and Duff Dry are all the exact same beer, but the Duff beers at Duff Brewery are completely different from each other. Duff beer is most equivalent to Yuengling, Duff Lite is closer to your standard light beer (like Miller Lite), and Duff Dry is a stout dark beer that can be compared to Guinness but has a strong coffee taste.
Duff beers are brewed exclusively for Universal by the Florida Beer Company, which also brews beers for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Because Duff Brewery is out in the open and in view of every guest, it can often attract a big crowd, especially on a hot day. There is plenty of seating at the bar and the surrounding area, which also is a fine place to enjoy Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular at night.
Simpsons characters meet at the exit of The Simpsons Ride, but you can also catch them when they are “on tour” near the entrance of the park.
Seth Kubersky in his book The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando covers all there is to see and do at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter here.