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Universal Orlando opens a budget hotel and a restaurant that cooks with wood

Universal Orlando’s Summer of Openings keeps marching on as the park opens a new restaurant and hotel.

On Wednesday, the park added Bigfire along the CityWalk lagoon. It’s an open-fire cooking restaurant that brings the “nostalgia of long summer evenings at the lake,” Universal Orlando said.

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Kevin Kolczynski Universal Orlando Resort

Bigfire will open at 4 p.m. every day for dinner. The theme of the two-story restaurant is simple: relaxed evenings. Diners will see lots of cast iron, twinkling lights and camp lanterns.

In the middle of the restaurant is a custom wood-fire grill where chefs prepare dishes inspired by the style of open-fire cooking. Chefs match each dish to a wood species based on flavor, Universal said.

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Kevin Kolczynski Universal Orlando Resort

The park tweeted a series of photos of the restaurant’s many dishes on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Universal opened its seventh hotel, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort — Surfside Inn and Suites. The 750-room, surf-themed hotel will be the first in the park’s Value Category, targeting families on a budget.

Besides the standard resort hotel amenities, like two-bedroom suites and a surfboard-shaped pool, guests will get early park admission. A single-night stay ranges from $164 to $239 a night. A seven-night stay starts at $73 a night.

The hotel also features a Beach Break Cafe, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner inspired by food trucks, local joints and backyard BBQs. Most dishes are under $12 and there are grab-and-go options for guests who are heading to Universal’s theme parks.

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Breakfast pizza served at the Beach Break Cafe. KEVIN KOLCZYNSKI Universal Orlando Resort

Bigfire and Surfside Inn and Suites opened after Universal unveiled its new ride in Island’s of Adventure, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. The ride was plagued with maddening long lines at opening.

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Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.
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