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    • Taylor Strickland

      (IMPORTANT) What's next for our community   03/24/2016

      Today we're excited to announce the start of our new Facebook group: Universal Community by Orlando Informer. We're also announcing we're closing our forums. This is probably the hardest decision I've made so far with Orlando Informer. This week marks the 2nd anniversary of our forums. Monday will mark 2 years from when I first applied to work with Orlando Informer. I was entering a pool of over 50 applicants, didn't meet the requirements, and didn't think the odds were very high that I'd get the position of Forum Moderator. It never even crossed my mind that not only would I get the position, but that position and these forums would be the start of being able to do what I love as a fulltime job. At its core, our forums have always had two goals: A ) Help families receive specific answers to specific questions, feedback from folks who have been in their shoes, and help them maximize their investment into their vacation. B ) Build a community of people who love to visit Universal, with a foundation of respect and tolerance. I can speak for our entire team on our forums (both past and present), especially our Community Manager @Chuck Plagmann, when I say that we have devoted hours of time every day of the year working towards these two goals. We feel that we've made major strides towards both of our goals, but see the opportunity to help a significantly greater amount of people plan their vacation and add on to our established (and amazing) community. Unfortunately, as time goes on, forums like ours have a tendency to slow down and be replaced by social media. It's the cycle of life for forums. We believe that this Facebook group is the logical next step for our community. Our forums and the content within will remain browseable for the foreseeable future, however you will not be able to submit new content. Our Facebook group, Universal Community by Orlando Informer, will be curated by our same team that ran the OI Forums. @Chuck Plagmann and I will be on the group daily to provide insight and help families plan their vacation. @debi will be monitoring for any Special Needs questions. Our (very talented) authors, like @Marc N. Kleinhenz, will be on the group to talk about their latest articles and your feedback. Finally, @Park Beast will even be dropping by from time to time to talk about our weekly podcast. You can access our Facebook group by searching "Universal Community by Orlando Informer" or visiting UOR.community from any webbrowser. We know this is a substantial change from our forums, but are hopeful you'll be willing to give it a shot. Additionally, we're launching a Facebook group for Universal Hollywood: "Universal Community by California Informer" or visit USH.community. This is the end of the forums, but it is just the beginning of our community. One thing we consistently hear from members of our forums is how different our community is from some of the others found online. We are committed to maintaining this reputation in our Facebook group. I have met a countless number of people, many I call friends, from our OI Forums. I know real bonds (and even relationships) have resulted from the time spent on these forums. I'm looking forward to seeing these bonds develop and new ones form on our new outlet. Please know that this decision was not made lightly or without considering the amount of time many of you have spent on here. I fully believe this is the next step forward to growing our community and helping as many people as possible have the best trip to Universal. I'm looking forward to interacting with everyone for many years to come. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with feedback -- taylor [at] orlandoinformer.com See you on the Facebook Group, Taylor P.S., Unlimited likes on Facebook, you can thank me in advance.
laura.jane86

Restaurant reccomendations

13 posts in this topic

Hi All,

We're planning to visit to Busch Gardens for the first time during our honeymoon next year.  The idea is we drive over Sunday, visit Clearwater and St Pete's, and fingers crossed see an NFL game in Tampa, pending the 2016 schedule being released.  We'll stay at one of the Marriott's in the Tampa Bay area as I've got some loyalty points to spend.  Monday morning we're going to hit Busch Gardens for the day, then head back to Uni.  

My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer :)

Thanks in advance!

Chuck Plagmann likes this

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Hi All,

We're planning to visit to Busch Gardens for the first time during our honeymoon next year.  The idea is we drive over Sunday, visit Clearwater and St Pete's, and fingers crossed see an NFL game in Tampa, pending the 2016 schedule being released.  We'll stay at one of the Marriott's in the Tampa Bay area as I've got some loyalty points to spend.  Monday morning we're going to hit Busch Gardens for the day, then head back to Uni.

My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer :)

Thanks in advance!

HI

The drive from Busch Gardens is about 90 minutes.  I am not that familiar with the dining in Lakeland.  Maybe some inputs from the forum community with suggestions.  Some of our UK friends like Denny's.  I am sure there is one along the way.  A google search would give you locations.  Or Taylor's favorite Keke's might be at one of the I-4 interchanges in the Lakeland area.

An alternative is to wait until you get to the Kissimmee/Disney area where there are many options.  And still have 15 minutes left to return to Universal.

Will you be returning later in the day/evening?  Some nicer restaurants may close by 9 or 10 PM, so consider that as well.

Talk to @MattLynch91 about going to a Buccaneer NFL game.  I am sure he will have some good information for you.

 

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Thanks @Chuck Plagmann Denny's is our back up plan outside of Lakeland if we don't find anywhere more unique as we do really like it there.  Whilst the hours for BG next year aren't released yet, looking at the same period last year I'm expecting the park to close at about 6pm so imagine we'll be eating around 7 / 8pm so hope most places would still be open.

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Thanks @Chuck Plagmann Denny's is our back up plan outside of Lakeland if we don't find anywhere more unique as we do really like it there.  Whilst the hours for BG next year aren't released yet, looking at the same period last year I'm expecting the park to close at about 6pm so imagine we'll be eating around 7 / 8pm so hope most places would still be open.

Along the freeway there are many chain eateries, if you want steak or the like there is Longhorn and Outback at Lakeland or an  Appelbee's. There is a Denny's but that would not be my stop for Sunday evening. I have never stopped for anything more than that, as Chuck says it is a 90 minute drive so I am in a hurry to get to the parks or home and don't spend too much time in Lakeland.

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My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer :)

Thanks in advance!

We're fans of Bob Evans Restaurants and eat there regularly. Clean, nothing fancy about their meals, just good food, decent menu and price and they serve breakfast all day. And there are 6 between Clearwater Beach and Universal. There are few places our daughter can eat because she can't chew and this restaurant chain goes out of its way to make her food, serve her drinks (uses a coffee mug) and brings more than enough napkins because she's messy due to her disability.

If you're heading back to Tampa at dinner time from Clearwater Beach, you'll have to drive on Gulf-to-Bay and there's one at the intersection of Belcher Rd. and Gulf-to-Bay. Actually, we Iive 2 miles north of this restaurant - it's brand new and really nice.

The next on is at Exit 10 on I-4. (Yep, been there, too.)

There is one in Lakeland off I-4 on 98.

The next is on south US 27 (also off I-4) 20 minutes or so west of the Disney exits. Since we do day trips to both Universal and Disney, we stop there on the way home and have for at least 15 years.

There are 2 on IRLO BRONSON HWY (otherwise known as US 192 in Kissimmee, one east and one west). We've eaten at both when staying off-property near Disney.

I've been eating at BE since they opened their first restaurants. Bob opened his very first one 5 miles from my grandparents' farm in Rio Grand, Ohio when I was young. He actually went to school with my mother and dated her best friend, who now lives in Orlando. She was invited to the grand openings at every one in the Orlando area when he was alive. His family is buried in the same little graveyard as my grandparents in Ohio.

And no, I don't get kickbacks or discounts! We just really like them because the food is consistent and we know we'll get a good meal.

Just my 2 cents....

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Hi All,

We're planning to visit to Busch Gardens for the first time during our honeymoon next year.  The idea is we drive over Sunday, visit Clearwater and St Pete's, and fingers crossed see an NFL game in Tampa, pending the 2016 schedule being released.  We'll stay at one of the Marriott's in the Tampa Bay area as I've got some loyalty points to spend.  Monday morning we're going to hit Busch Gardens for the day, then head back to Uni.

My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer :)

Thanks in advance!

HI

The drive from Busch Gardens is about 90 minutes.  I am not that familiar with the dining in Lakeland.  Maybe some inputs from the forum community with suggestions.  Some of our UK friends like Denny's.  I am sure there is one along the way.  A google search would give you locations.  Or Taylor's favorite Keke's might be at one of the I-4 interchanges in the Lakeland area.

An alternative is to wait until you get to the Kissimmee/Disney area where there are many options.  And still have 15 minutes left to return to Universal.

Will you be returning later in the day/evening?  Some nicer restaurants may close by 9 or 10 PM, so consider that as well.

Talk to @MattLynch91 about going to a Buccaneer NFL game.  I am sure he will have some good information for you.

 

Hi,

As Chuck says, last year I went to a Buccs NFL game.

With regards to eating, we ate at a Chilli's for lunch before the game. Google Maps - This one to be precise :)

I'm not too sure on a place to stop on the way back, you could stop at the I4 junction with the 192. Plenty of nice places to eat.

But that is practically Orlando, so not really breaking it up ha!

Edited by MattLynch91

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Hi All,

We're planning to visit to Busch Gardens for the first time during our honeymoon next year.  The idea is we drive over Sunday, visit Clearwater and St Pete's, and fingers crossed see an NFL game in Tampa, pending the 2016 schedule being released.  We'll stay at one of the Marriott's in the Tampa Bay area as I've got some loyalty points to spend.  Monday morning we're going to hit Busch Gardens for the day, then head back to Uni.

My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer :)

Thanks in advance!

HI

The drive from Busch Gardens is about 90 minutes.  I am not that familiar with the dining in Lakeland.  Maybe some inputs from the forum community with suggestions.  Some of our UK friends like Denny's.  I am sure there is one along the way.  A google search would give you locations.  Or Taylor's favorite Keke's might be at one of the I-4 interchanges in the Lakeland area.

An alternative is to wait until you get to the Kissimmee/Disney area where there are many options.  And still have 15 minutes left to return to Universal.

Will you be returning later in the day/evening?  Some nicer restaurants may close by 9 or 10 PM, so consider that as well.

Talk to @MattLynch91 about going to a Buccaneer NFL game.  I am sure he will have some good information for you.

 

Hi,

As Chuck says, last year I went to a Buccs NFL game.

With regards to eating, we ate at a Chilli's for lunch before the game. Google Maps - This one to be precise :)

I'm not too sure on a place to stop on the way back, you could stop at the I4 junction with the 192. Plenty of nice places to eat.

But that is practically Orlando, so not really breaking it up ha!

I'm getting quite confused about the NFL dates now, the more I look the more confused I get!  We're looking at going on Sunday 6th March.  Is there likely to be a game on then? Or is it too early in the year for NFL?

If there's no NFL are there any other options MLB, NBA etc? Would like to experience the American sports culture in some way or other :)

MattLynch91 and Chuck Plagmann like this

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Hi All,

We're planning to visit to Busch Gardens for the first time during our honeymoon next year.  The idea is we drive over Sunday, visit Clearwater and St Pete's, and fingers crossed see an NFL game in Tampa, pending the 2016 schedule being released.  We'll stay at one of the Marriott's in the Tampa Bay area as I've got some loyalty points to spend.  Monday morning we're going to hit Busch Gardens for the day, then head back to Uni.

My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer :)

Thanks in advance!

HI

The drive from Busch Gardens is about 90 minutes.  I am not that familiar with the dining in Lakeland.  Maybe some inputs from the forum community with suggestions.  Some of our UK friends like Denny's.  I am sure there is one along the way.  A google search would give you locations.  Or Taylor's favorite Keke's might be at one of the I-4 interchanges in the Lakeland area.

An alternative is to wait until you get to the Kissimmee/Disney area where there are many options.  And still have 15 minutes left to return to Universal.

Will you be returning later in the day/evening?  Some nicer restaurants may close by 9 or 10 PM, so consider that as well.

Talk to @MattLynch91 about going to a Buccaneer NFL game.  I am sure he will have some good information for you.

 

Hi,

As Chuck says, last year I went to a Buccs NFL game.

With regards to eating, we ate at a Chilli's for lunch before the game. Google Maps - This one to be precise :)

I'm not too sure on a place to stop on the way back, you could stop at the I4 junction with the 192. Plenty of nice places to eat.

But that is practically Orlando, so not really breaking it up ha!

I'm getting quite confused about the NFL dates now, the more I look the more confused I get!  We're looking at going on Sunday 6th March.  Is there likely to be a game on then? Or is it too early in the year for NFL?

If there's no NFL are there any other options MLB, NBA etc? Would like to experience the American sports culture in some way or other :)

Yes, the NFL season is over with the Super Bowl on Feb 7.  But you are correct, the NBA and NHL seasons are in full swing.  Even the Indoor Arena Football season is starting.

The NBA Magic are in Orlando, and the NHL Lightning are in Tampa.  You could check the websites for possible games during your visit.

 

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Hi All,

We're planning to visit to Busch Gardens for the first time during our honeymoon next year.  The idea is we drive over Sunday, visit Clearwater and St Pete's, and fingers crossed see an NFL game in Tampa, pending the 2016 schedule being released.  We'll stay at one of the Marriott's in the Tampa Bay area as I've got some loyalty points to spend.  Monday morning we're going to hit Busch Gardens for the day, then head back to Uni.

My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer :)

Thanks in advance!

HI

The drive from Busch Gardens is about 90 minutes.  I am not that familiar with the dining in Lakeland.  Maybe some inputs from the forum community with suggestions.  Some of our UK friends like Denny's.  I am sure there is one along the way.  A google search would give you locations.  Or Taylor's favorite Keke's might be at one of the I-4 interchanges in the Lakeland area.

An alternative is to wait until you get to the Kissimmee/Disney area where there are many options.  And still have 15 minutes left to return to Universal.

Will you be returning later in the day/evening?  Some nicer restaurants may close by 9 or 10 PM, so consider that as well.

Talk to @MattLynch91 about going to a Buccaneer NFL game.  I am sure he will have some good information for you.

 

Hi,

As Chuck says, last year I went to a Buccs NFL game.

With regards to eating, we ate at a Chilli's for lunch before the game. Google Maps - This one to be precise :)

I'm not too sure on a place to stop on the way back, you could stop at the I4 junction with the 192. Plenty of nice places to eat.

But that is practically Orlando, so not really breaking it up ha!

I'm getting quite confused about the NFL dates now, the more I look the more confused I get!  We're looking at going on Sunday 6th March.  Is there likely to be a game on then? Or is it too early in the year for NFL?

If there's no NFL are there any other options MLB, NBA etc? Would like to experience the American sports culture in some way or other :)

Yes, March is the NFL off season. It will have just finished a month prior.

MLB doesn't start to April either, so you would have just missed that.

Saturday March 5th, Tampa Bay Lightning are at Home in the NHL/Ice Hockey at 7pm that night.

If interested the MLS normally starts that weekend too, which Orlando City play in. They may be at home opening weekend, but schedule not announced until January.

I hope that helps a little :)

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My question is, does anyone have any reccomendations for places to eat in the Tampa Bay area for Sunday night, and then (more importantly) we're looking for somewhere nice to stop for dinner on the way back to Universal to break up the drive a bit.  Looking at the Lakeland area as that seems about half way.  We don't want to detour too much off the I4 as the plan is to break up the drive, not make it substantially longer

:)

Thanks in advance!

Highway 98 in Lakeland has probably a dozen of the "usual suspect" chains within a mile or two of I-4--Olive Garden, Chilis, Hooters etc. Sonny's, a bar-b-que chain big here in Florida, might be a fairly unique and sort-of local choice. There are some good, less cookie-cutter places in Lakeside Village in Lakeland, but that is a bit more off the highway. I'd stick with 98, easy-off, easy-on. I want to say it's exit 32, which makes it an ideal half-way mark returning from BG.

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