January 29, 2024, 3:29 PM ·

Universal Studios Hollywood has opened its second Nintendo-themed restaurant.

Located on the Upper Lot, across from Universal Plaza tower, Power Up Cafe serves Mushroom Kingdom-themed calzones and drinks. The eatery is in a soft opening now in advance of its official debut February 15.The menu includes a meat calzone, a veggie calzone, a pretzel (all $13 each), and popcorn ($7). Four themed drinks also are $13 each.I will have more to say about Power Up Cafe after a media event later this week. But for now, I tried the “Super Mushroom Calzone,” with pepperoni, sausage, Mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce. (That’s right – it’s mushroom-shaped, but there are no actual mushrooms in it.)I also selected the “Super Mushroom Fizz,” a lemon-lime soda with strawberry popping pearls. It also comes with a “Super Mushroom Power Up,” which is a mushroom-shaped flavored sugar cube that comes in a paper question-block box for you to add to the drink when you’re ready.(And no, before any smart-aleck comments, the drink did not include actual mushrooms, either.)The calzone offered a soft texture – not the crispy exterior I like on pizzeria calzones. That’s the price of the themed color and shape of these items, I suppose. The cheese is three slices that are melted enough to cling to the exterior of the calzone. Inside, it’s a homogenous blend of diced pepperoni and ground sausage that makes each bite consistent. Overall, the calzone filled me up and was tasty enough, though I would have liked a cup of marinara on the side to help add some needed moisture.The drink is just fizzy sugar with a hint of strawberry – not my thing, but sodas are a multi-billion-dollar business, so I recognize that I stand in a minority here.

Fast & Furious constructionExcavation continues on the site of Universal Studios Hollywood’s new Fast & Furious roller coaster. It remains strange to a long-time Universal visitor like me to walk around the plaza and see mountains in the distance rather than the Castle and Animal Actors theaters. But several cranes now tower over that void, as crews dig and reshape the Upper Lot’s hillside in preparation for vertical construction on the new coaster.We are still awaiting official word from Universal on an opening timeframe for the coaster, which is tipped to be named Fast & Furious – Hollywood Drift, but my money is on sometime in the summer of 2025. To save up to $69 on select one-day admission, and over $150 on VIP Experiences, check out our partner’s Universal Studios Hollywood tickets page.And to keep up to date with more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider’s weekly newsletter.

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