The brand-new Minion Land on Illumination Avenue at Universal Studios Florida has finally had its soft opening for guests, and the Unofficial Guides team has an opening day report on the essential things you need to know before visiting Universal Orlando’s latest offering.
On Saturday, June 17th, Universal Orlando opened the doors to the newly constructed shops and restaurants of Minion Land on Illumination Avenue, the new themed area formerly known as Production Central. Although the entire land still doesn’t have an official opening date yet (beyond “Summer 2023“), this soft opening allows guests to get a sneak peek at the new Despicable Me-inspired venues.
Here are five things to keep in mind if you’re planning to visit Universal Studios Florida’s Minion Land in the upcoming weeks:
#1: Villain-Con is Not Open (Yet)…
Villain-Con Minion Blast is the centerpiece attraction of the new Minion Land, or at least it is going to be. This interactive attraction—which uses a moving walkway (rather than a conventional ride vehicle) to convey guests past scenes they can shoot at—still remains behind construction walls for now.
The word is that employees are currently training and testing inside the ride, which could mean we’ll see “technical rehearsal“ previews to the public in the coming weeks, but it may not officially debut until August.
While we eagerly await our first opportunity to audition for the Vicious 6, in the meantime there is a way to get a glimpse inside the Villain-Con building.
#2: …But Villain-Con’s Exit Gift Shop is Open
While you can’t yet exit through the gift shop at Villain-Con, you can enter through it because the Evil Stuff store at the end of the attraction is currently in operation.
In the rear corner of the store, you can spot the door through which future riders will emerge.
The best reasons to visit Evil Stuff right now are the adorable statues of Minions cosplaying as their favorite bad guys.
If you’re looking for a practical and inexpensive souvenir, look for the reusable Villain-Con tote bags at the checkout counter.
#3: None of the Sweets at Bake My Day Are Vegan…
With a giant pink cupcake on top, the Bake My Day sweet shop is certainly the most eye-catching new shop on Illumination Avenue.
The inside is equally sweet, from the brightly striped walls to the unfortunate Minion glued to the ceiling.
The shop stocks an array of snacks, as well as snack-themed merchandise, and the display case is filled with tempting treats that are almost too cute to eat.
Unfortunately, if you are avoiding animal products, at this time there are no vegan-friendly options featured at Bake My Day. Instead, you’ll need to take a few steps farther down the block.
#4: …But there Are Plant-Based Options Outside
The sleeper hits of Minion Land might be the three walk-up snack kiosks. At this writing, one is still under construction, but the other two are doing brisk business, and both offer some solid plant-based offerings.
Freeze Ray Pops features signature Minion (banana) and Gru (Nutella) popsicles, as well as a variety of more conventional flavors. All of them are vegetarian, and four flavors—cotton candy, lemon mint, coconut, and blueberry lemonade—are vegan.
Right in front of Minion Cafe is the popular Pop-Na-Na stand. Both the regular popcorn and banana-flavored popcorn sold here are plant-based; the same can’t be said about the signature drinks, the purple berry PX-41 Punch and its yellow banana Antidote.
#5: Minion Cafe Is Mobile Order Only…But it Works!
Finally, if you aren’t already full from your stroll down Illumination Avenue, it’s time for a real meal at Minion Cafe. After just a taste, we can already predict that this location will be far more popular with Universal patrons than the Classic Monsters Cafe it displaced, both for its entertaining ambience and the value of its diverse menu.
In order to dine here, you’ll want to open Universal’s app and use the Mobile Order feature; there is one register inside for guests without smartphones, but the cafe strongly encourages guests to use the online system. Fortunately, while we’ve had issues with Universal’s Mobile Order in the past, it worked perfectly for us on the first try at Minion Cafe, going from outside to eating in just over 15 minutes.
After placing your mobile order, an employee will cheerfully greet you “Bello“ and seat you in one of three sections inside Minion Cafe, each with a different theme.
The center is the kitchen, where a Rube Goldberg-esque statue (sadly static) of Minions making your meals towers over surrounding tables.
To one side, you’ll find the Minions’ living quarters, with some of their favorite toys and trophies lining the walls. You can hear a soundtrack of Minion-performed pop songs playing on the speakers throughout the space.
On the opposite wing is the Minions’ break room, where they goof off from doing work. Be sure to check out the oddball belongings stuffed into their lockers and the Easter eggs tacked to the bulletin board.
Best of all, besides being delightfully decorated, Minion Cafe is also a delicious addition to Universal’s uneven dining lineup. The menu blends a variety of genres, from Asian fusion to American comfort, giving them comical presentations that are Instagram-worthy.
A prime example is Otto’s noodle bowl, an udon soup with boiled egg, pork, and charred corn. All the ingredients were very good (with the exception of the watery “tonkotsu“ broth), but it’s the table-side plating that really sets this dish apart, as you can see below:
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