REVIEW: Mel’s Drive-In Reopens with the Big Bopper and Big Disappointment at Universal Studios Florida

Annie Wilson

REVIEW: Mel’s Drive-In Reopens with the Big Bopper and Big Disappointment at Universal Studios Florida

Mel’s Drive-In at Universal Studios Florida has finally reopened at Universal Studios Florida. The restaurant has been closed for refurbishment since last June and has gotten a brand new look inside. Along with the new look, the restaurant has gotten a brand new menu.

Mel’s Drive-In Review

Group photo of every menu item spread out on the table

Sock Hoppin’ Shakes

Vanilla Shake – $6.99

a vanilla milkshake with whipped cream and cherry on top and a red and white stripped straw

First up is the new-and-improved vanilla milkshake! This milkshake is a huge upgrade from the typical “milkshake” you can find in the parks. Previously, Mel’s only offered vanilla and chocolate shakes, but they had more of a soft serve type of consistency. Now, the shakes have become much creamier and full of flavor. The vanilla was absolutely fantastic. This is the kind of vanilla milkshake you would expect from a diner.

red and white striped straw in a vanilla milkshake with whipped cream

Whipped cream, cherry, and a cake-like crumble is added to the top of the milkshake. A red and white striped straw completes the shake. For vanilla lovers, this will be a favorite. We will be back for this one again and again. Not only are these shakes affordably priced, but they’re incredibly memorable and worth the visit to Mel’s. Skip the trip to the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and just get your shakes at Mel’s Drive-In from now on.

Chocolate Shake – $6.99

A chocolate shake with chocolate sauce drizzled on the inside

This chocolate shake impressed us right from the start. Again, these are a major improvement over the previous soft-serve type of shakes served before the closure. The inside of the cup is drizzled with chocolate syrup and the shake is topped with whipped cream, cherry, and Oreo cookie crumbles.

whipped cream, cherry, and crushed Oreos on top of a chocolate shake

We expected this to have an overpowering chocolate taste, but it was more like a black and white shake than chocolate. The chocolate flavor reminded us of chocolate pudding or chocolate mousse with whipped cream. It’s really hard to choose a favorite shake here, but if you like chocolate, you have to go with this one.

Strawberry Shake – $6.99

strawberry milkshake

The real star of the shake trio is strawberry. Quick service restaurants in the park offer chocolate and vanilla shakes, but none of them offer strawberry. Mel’s has changed the game by introducing this delightfully pink strawberry shake. Strawberry syrup lines the inside of the cup and there’s a fun strawberry shortcake topping. The topping on the whipped cream is similar to that of a strawberry ice cream bar.

A strawberry milkshake with whipped cream and cherry and a jukebox in the background

This was such a surprise! It was so delicious and creamy. The strawberry flavor was a bit like Nesquik or a creamy strawberry cheesecake. Drop what you’re doing and go to Mel’s Drive-In for a shake.

Mel’s Famous Burger – $12.99

A cheeseburger and fries in a basket with a black and white checkered paper

Mel’s Famous Burger feels a little bit like a repeat of our Halloween Horror Nights burger review. Mel’s might claim to be famous for their cheeseburgers, but there’s really nothing special about them. This is a beef patty with cheddar cheese, pickles, secret sauce, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted sesame seed bun. Spoiler alert. The secret sauce is Thousand Island.

The inside of a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and cheese.

This overcooked, dry burger was just disappointing. There wasn’t enough sauce to save this cheeseburger. We wish Mel’s had brought back the Peanut Blooder Burger from Halloween Horror Nights. That would have been a burger worthy of being “famous”.

Big Bopper Burger – $14.99

A burger with bacon on it in a basket with fries.

The Big Bopper would be disappointed that this burger was named after him. This beef patty with cheddar cheese comes topped with strips of bacon, onion rings, and barbecue sauce. This has so much potential to be good.

An onion ring and bacon strips on a cheeseburger

The burger, again, was overcooked, and the bacon was unappealing. The onion rings and barbecue sauce help this burger, but they just can’t fix it. This burger was probably made the day the music died.

Chili Cheese Hot Dog – $10.99

A hot dog with chili and chopped raw onions in a backet with fries

The chili cheese hot dog was surprisingly good after several disappointments. The 1/4 lb. 100% beef dog is sliced and grilled with chopped onions and chili cheese on a poppy seed bun. The raw onions add a nice crunch to the chili, and the poppy seed bun is a nice change from the standard bun. We would order this again but with the vegan chili instead.

Vegan Field Roast Chili Dog – $10.99

a vegan hot dog with vegan shredded cheese and raw onions on top in a basket with onion rings

The Vegan Field Roast Chili Dog is topped with three bean chili with lentils, hominy, chopped onions, and vegan cheddar cheese on a poppy seed bun. The vegan chili is packed full of flavor. It’s zesty and seasoned well, giving this vegan dog a bit of a kick.

The vegan hot dog with a bite taken out of it

This was a great vegan option on the menu. We liked the vegan chili better than the meat version. The beans and lentils and hominy give this a hearty and filling taste.

Crispy Chicken Fingers – $12.49

A basket of chicken tenders and fries

A staple of Mel’s has returned! These are flash fried chicken tenders served with choice of dipping sauce. Barbecue and honey mustard are free but ranch is $0.99. These are one of the best things on the menu.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich – $12.99

A fried chicken sandwich in a basket with fries in front of a small jukebox

This hand breaded chicken breast is served with lettuce, tomato, and avocado ranch on a sesame seed bun. The chicken is very thin and a lot of the size of this sandwich comes from the lettuce. This sandwich just tasted like lettuce. The chicken wasn’t terrible, but it was very forgettable and buried under lettuce.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich – $12.99

A large piece of lettuce sticking out from a chicken sandwich

Grilled chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, avocado ranch on a sesame seed bun is hard to mess up, but Mel’s succeeds.

The chicken breast inside the sandwiich

Yes, Mel’s has two terrible chicken sandwiches! There’s also this chicken sandwich with grilled chicken. This was so bland, we questioned whether we were going to survive until the next item.

Vegetarian California Cobb Salad – $13.99

A bowl of salad with a cup of dressing next to it

There are 3 different Cobb Salads available. There’s a vegetarian Cobb Salad, a grilled chicken Cobb Salad, and a crispy chicken Cobb Salad. They are all made with lettuce, apple smoked bacon, grilled chicken breast, green onions, egg, tomato, and blue cheese crumbles, with avocado ranch dressing on the side. We got the vegetarian version without chicken. This was just bad. It wasn’t very fresh and gave us airport grab-and-go salad vibes. Skip this one for sure.

Far-Out! Slices of Pie

3 slices of pie on plates

Strawberry Lemon Pie – $4.99

slice of pie with a yellow lemon filling and a pink strawberry topping, garnished with whipped cream and a strawberry slice

This is the best pie on the menu! The lemon is tart and perfectly complimented by the airy, sweet strawberry topping. The pie crust was amazingly fresh and crumbly. If you visit Mel’s, the shakes and pies are by far the best part.

Cookies and Cream Pie – $4.99

cookies and cream pie filling with a chocolate cookie crust and mini Oreo on top

The cookies and cream flavor is very light. We agreed this reminded us of the Hershey’s pie from Burger King. This isn’t the most amazing pie, but it’s delicious and a solid choice.

Apple Pie – $4.99 (a la mode – $5.49)

Slice of apple pie on a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Apple pie is just as classic as Mel’s. For an extra $0.50, you can get your apple pie a la mode. The warm apple pie has a thick crust and a sweet center. The ice cream makes it so much better.

Sensational Sides

Onion Rings – $5.99

an onion ring

French Fries – $4.99

Chili Cheese Fries – $6.99

a basket of fries topped with chili, shredded cheese, and raw onions

The fries served at Mel’s Drive-In are pretty good and can be ordered as chili cheese fries. These fries are cooked by humans, unlike the fries prepared by a robot at Circus McGurkus. Meaty chili and shredded cheese topped these seasoned fries. We actually preferred the vegan chili fries over these.

Vegan Chili Cheese Fries – $6.99

Fries covered with vegan chili and vegan cheese

The vegan chili is so full of flavor; we actually loved the vegan chili fries. Of all the savory menu items we would order again, these vegan chili fries top the list.

Overall, we were disappointed in Mel’s Drive-In. After menus like Circus McGurkus and Minion Cafe setting the bar so high, we expected more. Mel’s Drive-In has a great location in the park and an iconic look, but the menu is just your standard theme park food. The shakes are a huge improvement over previous offerings. The milkshakes and pies are the only reason to visit Mel’s. The food is mediocre and forgettable, unfortunately.

This will always be a popular spot to “die-in” during Halloween Horror Nights, so we’re excited to have it newly refurbished and open again. Listen to all of our thoughts in our review video below.

Mel’s Drive-In is located in the Hollywood section of Universal Studios Florida. Have you tried the new menu at Mel’s Drive-In yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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