Portland-based Voodoo Doughnut opened last weekend at Universal’s CityWalk – the shopping plaza that surrounds Universal’s two theme parks, and it’s serving as some stiff competition. This is the first of the shops that has made its way east of the Mississippi River. “It’s going to be a donut palace,” laughs Tres Shannon, one of the company’s two founders. “We used to joke that we dreamed of opening a donut palace, and we’d say things like, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have a water slide in it?’ Now there’s one right nearby!” The founders aim to make it the beacon of CityWalk.
The bright pink, multistory building features a 12-foot-tall replica of its classic Voodoo Doll donut, along with a treat carousel that gives you a firsthand look at some of the store’s 50 flavors on the menu.
Besides the large variety of doughnuts, like the Oh Captain, My Captain, the Bacon Maple Bar and the iconic Voodoo Doll, the new over-the-top space is outfitted with antique chandeliers, skeleton mannequins, and a “doughnut throne” for selfies.
“We were the first to do maple bacon,” said co-founder Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson. “We had the idea to do a savory-sweet donut, but a lot of the savory stuff we were trying, like potato chips, gets soggy on a donut. Then, one day, bacon shows up in the shop, we laid it on there, and it stuck.” It wound up becoming their bestselling donut, and set the foundation for the company’s off-kilter approach to its flavors.
The Orlando store doesn’t officially open until later this spring, though it’s been in soft opening mode the past few weeks – meaning their hours are limited and unscheduled until the official grand-opening is announced – as the staff tests out production and workflow. “To have something like Universal is incredible,” Shannon said. “We get to live out our dream.”