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Theme park recipes you can make at home: Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens share dishes

Even though parks are closed, you can bring the flavors of Dole Whips, bacon pretzels and cheesy sandwiches home.

For theme park fans who are missing their favorite attractions right now, the parks are sharing recipes to cook up some memories at home. What’s better comfort food than a grilled cheese sandwich or a Dole Whip?

Both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando’s official parks blogs have been sharing popular recipes in recent weeks. You can find instructions on everything from the greens egg and ham tots served in Seuss Landing at Universal to the Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets they dish out at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.

Walt Disney World recently revised its My Disney Experience app and added a new section called Now You’re Cooking With Disney Parks. The idea is that anyone can make some of the parks’ iconic recipes at home — an example of how attractions are trying to interact virtually with their fans during the coronavirus pandemic.

One recipe that caused a stir among Disney fans online is for a Frozen Pineapple Treat, described as “a blended delight inspired by the refreshing flavors of Adventureland.” Hmm. Sounds familiar.

Disney's Dole Whip is vegan and made without dairy. They shared a recipe for a similar treat recently. [Times (2011)]

Disney may not be calling it Dole Whip — you know, the iconic frozen treat for which people will drag the whole brood around the Magic Kingdom — but it sure sounds like that refreshing pineapple treat we line up for. The soft-serve makes just about every list of best theme park treats. It has a cult following in part because there are very few places to buy it at Walt Disney World.

Now you can make it in your own kitchen. But there is a catch: The directions are pretty vague. They just call for “a big scoop” of vanilla ice cream. No measurements and no instructions, other than blend it all. One reviewer found that the consistency of the mixture “seemed more like a smoothie than ice cream,” no matter how much more ice cream she added.

This particular reviewer on insider.com eventually stuck the blender in the freezer and let the mixture stiffen up enough to put it in a piping bag, to get that nice soft-serve consistency.

Also, as the Disney fans at nerdist.com point out, Dole Whips don’t have dairy and are a vegan treat. So you are still going to have to head back to the parks one day to get a true Dole Whip. But for now, this may be the next best thing.

The Bacon Pretzel Fury at Busch Gardens has two pieces of thick bacon threaded into a soft-baked pretzel on a stick. [Busch Gardens]

Busch Gardens created an instant hit in 2014 when it debuted the Bacon Pretzel Fury at its Twisted Tails Pretzels cafe. The quick-serve restaurant with craft beers and assorted breads and dipping sauces is located next to the Falcon’s Fury drop ride in Pantopia.

Busch Gardens sent us a recipe for the Bacon Pretzel Fury and modified it for the home cook, who might not have the same skills as park chefs when it comes to twirling homemade pretzel dough. The dough is threaded around two pieces of thick bacon and served on a stick. Go the easier route on making the pretzel, but don’t skimp on bacon quality.

On a recent work/school day at home, another dish caught my eye just as lunchtime rolled around: the grilled cheese sandwiches both Universal and Disney offered on National Grilled Cheese Day on April 12.

The Big Apple Grilled Cheese found at the Today Show Cafe at Universal Studios calls for thinly sliced apples, Swiss, pepper jack and cheddar cheese. And there’s an unexpected pop of flavor from plum tomatoes that you can roast in a toaster oven ahead of time and use for other sandwiches, too. My older son really liked the combination of sliced apples and cheese, but my younger one was put off by the presence of tomatoes on his grilled cheese.

Related: 5 ways theme parks will be different when they reopen

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the fairly new Toy Story Land has a quick-serve restaurant called Woody’s Lunch Box that serves elevated kid fare like a chocolate hazelnut Lunch Box Tart coated in maple fondant and candied bacon. And its Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich is downright decadent. The ooey-gooey mixture of provolone, cheddar and a cream cheese spread is studded with shredded Double Gloucester cheddar. But instead of butter, the bread is slathered with a mayonnaise-garlic spread that reminds me of those garlic knots you get in Italian restaurants. This was almost too rich. I couldn’t even finish half a sandwich.

The next day, I combined the two and came up with what I think is the ultimate grilled cheese. I used the garlic-mayo spread on the bread and made the sandwich with pepper jack, provolone and cheddar, with apple slices and the roasted plum tomatoes. It was like I had visited both parks in one day.

Find more Universal recipes at blog.universalorlando.com/eat-and-drink. Find more Disney recipes at disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/topics/disney-recipes.

RECIPES

Busch Gardens Bacon Pretzel Fury

Prepared pretzel dough, from a local bakery, store-bought box mix or your favorite pretzel dough recipe

2 tablespoons baking soda

Thick-sliced cherrywood smoked bacon, raw or partially cooked but still pliable if you prefer crispier bacon

Melted butter

Coarse kosher salt

Roll strips of pretzel dough into long ropes, stretching out into strips approximately 36 inches long and 1 inch wide.

Fold one 36-inch strip of dough in half, leaving a gap between the two halves. Place 2 strips of bacon in that gap, so they line up with the dough halves. Braid dough around the bacon. Repeat with remaining dough and bacon.

Spray a sheet pan with nonstick spray. Place the pretzel-bacon braid onto a sheet pan and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare a baking soda water bath by mixing baking soda into 1 gallon warm water.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove one pretzel from the sheet pan at a time and soak it in the baking soda water bath for 5 to 10 seconds. Place pretzel bacon back onto sheet pan. Repeat with all pretzels. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and brush pretzel with melted butter, then sprinkle with coarse salt.

Source: Busch Gardens

Frozen Pineapple Treat

1 big scoop of ice cream

4 ounces pineapple juice

2 cups of frozen pineapple

Add ice cream, juice and pineapple to a blender. Start blending at low speed and increase to high speed until smooth. On a test, we found it easier to blend the pineapple first and then add the ice cream to get a smooth consistency.

Add mixture to a piping bag with a star tip. Push it out to create a classic swirl, or just scoop it right into bowls and serve.

Serves 4.

Source: Walt Disney World

Woody’s Lunch Box Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich

The Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich at Woody's Lunch Box cafe in Hollywood Studios has melted provolone and cheddar cheeses. [Walt Disney World]

For cream cheese spread:

½ cup cream cheese

½ cup shredded Double Gloucester or cheddar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

For the garlic spread:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic

½ teaspoon coarse salt

For the sandwich:

8 slices bread

8 cheddar cheese slices

8 provolone slices

Make the cream cheese spread: Combine cream cheese, Double Gloucester or cheddar, heavy cream and salt in food processor. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Make the garlic spread: Combine mayonnaise, garlic and salt in small bowl and stir until blended. Set aside.

Assemble sandwich: Lay out bread slices on parchment paper or large cutting board. Divide 2 slices of cheddar among 4 slices of bread. On the remaining 4 slices of bread, divide 2 slices of provolone.

Equally spoon cream cheese spread on the slices with provolone. Gently smooth cream cheese spread over each slice. Press cheddar side and provolone side together.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, until hot. Brush both sides of the sandwiches with garlic spread. Grill sandwiches for 2 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.

Serves 4.

Source: Walt Disney World

Big Apple Grilled Cheese at Universal’s Today Cafe

Big Apple Grilled Cheese from the Today Cafe at Universal Studios in Orlando is a fun twist on grilled cheese that combines the savory flavors of melted cheese and tomatoes with the crisp sweetness of apples. [Universal Orlando]

2 slices white bread

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 Red Delicious apple

1 slice pepper jack cheese

2 slices Swiss cheese

2 slices cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon Roasted Plum Tomatoes (recipe below)

4 thin slices Red Delicious apple

Butter 2 slices of white bread with softened butter. Remove the core of the apple and cut into 4 wedges. Thinly slice one wedge of apple and set aside. Make Roasted Plum Tomatoes and set aside.

Place bread, butter side down, into nonstick fry pan on medium heat. Begin to build the sandwich by laying the pepper jack and Swiss cheeses on one slice. Add the cheddar to the other slice. Allow the cheese to begin to melt from the heat below. Once the cheese begins to soften, place apples and tomato mixture on top of the slice with cheddar.

Using a spatula, flip the side with the pepper jack onto the other side and press for one minute. Ensure that both sides are golden brown, remove from pan and place onto cutting board

Roasted Plum Tomatoes

1 plum tomato

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut one plum tomato into quarters. Place onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper and a teaspoon of olive oil. Place into oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool down. Once cooled, chop tomatoes to desired size.

Serves 4.

Source: Universal Orlando

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