Sad news today for fans of the Universal Monsters and adherent to kitsch as it has been revealed that the iconic Monsters Café at Universal Studios Orlando has met its maker… and it isn’t Dr. Frankenstein, either.

Landon McReynolds of Click Orlando has published that as of this morning, Universal Orlando’s Monster Café has been closed permanently ahead of an upcoming new dining experience.

Exterior of the universal Studios Florida classic monster eatery
A mournful howl sounded in Orlando today…

The Experience of the Monsters Café

The Monsters Café was a relatively simple restaurant that opened in 1998 in Universal Studios Orlando. The restaurant included food such as ribs and rotisserie chicken platters with the items bearing no real connection to the monster theme beyond names. A famous example of this was a towering soft-serve cone named after The Bride of Frankenstein.

The main appeal, however, was the embracing of the Universal Horror icons in the decore and theming of the restaurant. There were some fun, deep cuts, such as the presence of an Interocitor from This Island Earth (1994) set against one of the diner’s walls. This video of a walk-through now serves as one of the only ways for monster fans to experience the location.

Where else can you have some chicken in the presence of the Gill-Man?

Interior shot of the Monsters Café
The faux-stage lighting is a nice touch.

But if you expected to enjoy a fine dining experience amidst castle corridors and props, well, think again.

The Visitors Were Less-Than-Thrilled

That being said, the consensus from online reviews is that you were not necessarily paying for the food when you went to the Monsters Café. The restaurant had a troubling two-and-a-half-star rating on Yelp, for example.

One of the more positive reviews, from user Raegan L. opens with the following: “Finding semi-decent places to eat in the Universal parks can be a real struggle. But I think Monsters Cafe does a solid ‘okay’!”

In an incredibly neutral review by user Shannon B., she wrote:

Pro’s: ambiance is cool with classic Halloween music piping through, busts of well-known monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein), and portraits of old horror memorabilia (portraits of Bela Lugosi in costume). The staff was helpful and friendly, especially when I needed bbq sauce to help my pitiful rendition of rotisserie chicken.

Con’s: the half rotisserie chicken I ordered was dry and flavorless and the roasted potatoes were old and as wobbly as a newborn baby calf.

Perhaps I came here too late in the evening, but I will not come back here when visiting Universal again.

Indeed, it seems between the cost, the limited menu items, and the bland nature of the food, the restaurant didn’t have much going for it beyond the decor. How much of that was attributable to COVID-19 is hard to tell, but clearly, the Monsters Café had some issues.

It’s the Principle of the Thing

Though the food might have been outright mediocre, the outcry among the horror community has been swift. Some Tweets express some sadness about a strange bit of horror culture vanishing, while there are jokes as well.

Beware the Minions

Though Universal Studios’ publicists have declined to reveal what dining experience will be replacing the Monsters Café, online rumors are suggesting there will be a new restaurant themed after the Minions of the Despicable Me franchise from Illumination.

Given the restaurant’s proximity to the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction, this seems likely. Only time will tell, however, if the Minions will continue their assault on the horror community.

Minions from the 'Despicable Me' franchise
“We’re monsters too!”

So, how do you feel about the loss of this dining experience at Universal Orlando? Are you comfortable with this Universal Monsters erasure? I for one had never been, but I am absolutely livid now that I never will. It’s enough to make me want to rampage through a small Transylvanian village.

Your thoughts in the comments?

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About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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