I don’t know what took them so long, but Springfield is finally open at Universal Studios, Orlando. You can now visit Moe’s bar or the Duffs Brewery for a Duffs beer, light or regular. You can eat at Crusty Burger or Cletus’ Chicken Shack and have a giant Lard Lad Doughnut for dessert. The Quickie Mart has all your souvenir needs covered. You can play carnival games at Crusty Land and ride spaceships inspired by the Tree House of Horror octopus aliens, Kang and Kodos. Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck is even here.
The Simpson’s ride opened in 2008, but it has taken another six years to realize the full vision of Springfield. From the beginning the façade of the ride included carnival games, though non-operational versions. I always questioned why they didn’t make them actual games like the ones they have at the entrance of Islands of Adventure’s Toon Lagoon. Not that I ever play carnival games at the theme park, but it definitely adds to the atmosphere. It also seemed, to me, like there were a lot of people playing the games when I walked through. Better late than never I guess.
I went in Moe’s to take a look around, and it was spot on accurate to the show. There was even a Love Tester Machine and a giant Barney Gumble statue. I however opted to sit outside at the Duff Brewer to have the actual Duff beer. Brewed by the Florida Beer Company in Melbourn, Florida, exclusively for Universal Studios, Duffs has a stronger flavor. Unlike in the Simpsons, Duff and Duff light are definitely different beers. The bartender compared regular Duff to a Heineken which I detest because of the aftertaste. I decided to try it anyway, for the sake of this post, and found it to be a much better beer than advertised. It had a strong flavor but without the rancid aftertaste. To me it was more like Stella Artois. The barkeep compared Duff light to a Miller light, but I found that one to be more flavorful than that as well, more like a Yuengling light. For the kids they have a Flaming Moe which is a non-alcoholic “cocktail” (read orange soda) that bubbles and smokes, simulating the drink recipe Moe steals from Homer. The effect is created by a special cup with dry ice in a secret compartment in the bottom, but it is fun nonetheless.
The only let down was that, rather than being a collectibles shop, the Android’s Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop was just a façade for the bathrooms. There is a window with some faux Radioactive Man comics and a robot cutout, but no actual shop. They have some Simpsons comic books in the Quickie Mart, but it would have been better to see them displayed in the actual comic shop. If I had designed this area of the park I would have made the Quickie Mart a candy shop and the Android’s Dungeon a souvenir shop, but that’s just me.
There are plenty of picture opportunities in this part of the park. Chief Wiggins has crashed his police car into a fire hydrant in front of the Lard Lad building and the life-size Barny in Moe’s is posed for a portrait with you. The statue of Jebediah Springfield is prominently displayed in the center of town. Homer and family make periodic character appearances for photo ops as well.
All in all, Springfield is a late but great addition to Universal Studios — a must visit for Simpsons fans.