Universal Studios Has A Secret Menu—Here's What To Order

Say the magic words and all will be revealed, from doughnuts to milkshakes.

You never know what you're going to get at Universal Studios, and that's especially true when it comes time to eat. Sometimes you're getting a meal prepared by Chef Toad himself in Super Nintendo World, and sometimes it's a Minions-themed lunch where every element is impressively shaped like Minions. The park excels at creating food that might actually scare you to death or infect you with a deadly cordyceps plague. And right now at Universal Studios Hollywood, there's a secret menu full of exclusive delights. It requires a code to access, but that code is simple: Just say "annual passholder."

Through March 13, Universal Studios Hollywood is offering secret menu items exclusively for passholders at four restaurants, both inside the park and at its surrounding CityWalk shopping and dining area. Before you dismiss the idea, take a look at the cost of USH passes—they're about the same price as a two-day ticket and include free parking and tons of discounts.

Given that I've made it my mission to try every strange and fascinating food the theme park can dream up, including a tiki drink served in an erupting volcano, I set out to try everything on the secret menu.

My first stop was Mel's Diner, a '50s-themed restaurant in Universal's Upper Lot. (Because the park was built to fit in and around Universal's working movie studio, it has some weird geography, including attractions on two separate terraced levels and some truly gravity-defying escalators connecting them.) At Mel's, there are two secret menu items: a strawberry spiral croissant and a cotton candy sparkling lemonade, both available at Jurassic Cafe on the Lower Lot in Jurassic World.

Universal Studios Hollywood was an early adopter of the viral spiral croissant trend, and there are other flavors of the confection around the park, but the strawberry version is the secret menu item. It's a spiral croissant cut in half and made into a cream puff situation, with strawberry whipped cream and fresh strawberries. I loved it. The fruit was perfectly fresh and California ripe, and the whole thing came off like a strawberry shortcake. Once the fillings were gone, though, I tossed the rest of the croissant. Plain, it paled in comparison.

Next came the cotton candy sparkling lemonade, something I would never order if not for journalism. To my disappointment (but probably as a boon to my overall health), the drink wasn't topped with actual cotton candy. Instead, the cotton candy flavor was blended into the sparkling lemonade, of which I took a trepidatious sip. It was... good? The cotton candy notes Were actually a nice complement to the lemonade, and if I weren't on my way to consume even more sugar, I probably would have finished the whole thing.

After a break from eating to take the unmissable Studio Tour (my favorite part of USH), I left the park to head to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, a steampunk-themed, mostly chocolate restaurant in CityWalk. The restaurant is known for its creative uses of chocolate in both sweet and savory dishes, and for its outrageous, cake-topped milkshakes. I walked up to the quick service milkshake counter inside.

"What's the secret milkshake?" I asked the server. "Strawberry bubblegum!" she answered gleefully, as though it actually might sound appetizing to me. It did not. But for journalism, I ordered one.

Again, I was totally surprised. The milkshake was all strawberry, and very good. The only bubblegum flavor came from colorful "bubblegum sugar" rimming the jar. I tasted a little bit and it wasn't for me, but it was easily avoidable.

Last up, I walked across the plaza to Voodoo Doughnut and asked for the secret menu item. "It's a crunchy doughnut," the cashier told me. Done and done. What she handed me was a doughnut filled with whipped cream, topped with cream cheese frosting and crusted with whole pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I'm not really a doughnut person, but this one might truly have converted me. The fresh, doughy pastry, combined with the savory cream cheese frosting and the crunch of the lightly cinnamony cereal amounted to a chef's kiss. Couldn't have been better. I took it home—with, let's be honest, a couple other Voodoo selections—and ate the rest for breakfast the next day. For the sake of tasting this one doughnut, anyone's annual pass purchase is entirely justified.