We spent a long weekend in February visiting the Universal Orlando Resort, and our main goal was to enjoy Mardi Gras. We used the food booths for several meals, saw the parade and caught a concert.
First, everything is colorful and lively across Universal Studios Florida, this is definitely the hub of the event although it has trickled out into other areas of the destination.
If you like the adult libations, we highly recommend getting a souvenir
refillable cup. Once you make the purchase, most booths will have a beer
or mixed drink option that you can refill the cup at a discount. There
were a few booths with specialty drinks that were not included in this, but
overall we got a great value out of ours!
Towards the end of the night, the booths did start running out of some food
items which was disappointing. Additionally, they close about 30 minutes
before the park close in our experience. So if there's something you really
have your heart set on trying, make sure you get there earlier in the day. I
wanted the strawberry waffle from Belgium, but they only had s'mores left. It
was very good though and I quite enjoyed it!
We decided to divide and conquer while we had time to kill. My husband went to get us drink refills in our refillable cups, and when he got back I went to get us snacks from the Tribute Store which was across the street. The tribute stores get a lot of hype, and I thought this was well decorated and had a lot to offer, but I personally wouldn't wait to get in.
Once it was time for the parade, everyone stood up and the energy was
flowing! There was music, confetti, dancers, and of course, plenty of
beads! I loved how some floats had beads colored to go along with
their themes and we loved collecting all the colors! It was hard to
get great photos even though we had a good spot because 1) it was dark
outside, and 2) it was hard not to dance with the music! The floats were
beautiful and had so much to see, and the dancers had great personalities as
they made their way down the streets. Here are a few of my favorites.
The concert nights seem to be limited this year, but we were excited for
3 Doors Down. We planned to get there about 30 minutes before the show,
but things happened and we got stuck on the wrong side of the parade.
The viewing area was at capacity and it was honestly a madhouse. We
considered giving up but we persevered. The show was really great and
longer than expected but worth the wait. It’s really cool to see a
concert with a rollercoaster going in the background. If you are a fan
of any of the acts performing, I'd highly recommend getting there early!
What is your favorite part of Universal's Mardi Gras Celebrations, or what
would you most look forward to if you were to visit? Let us know in
the comments below!
The CocaCola Freestyle cups also got in on the festive vibes this year, and we found this to mostly be a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day. But more than a few times we ran into freestyle machines with no ice and limited options available which was disappointing.
The Japan booth location and atmosphere is one of the best done around the park, it’s tucked away in the streets and feels like it belongs there. We tried the bao bun sampler because I love some bao!
This dish was beautiful but didn’t wow me. The savory flavors were good but perhaps they had been sitting out too long? The booth was a bit hidden so there wasn’t anyone else ordering around the same time as us. The sweet option (the white one) despite being flavors I normally like, was just a bit weird.
Japan: Nikuman Bun Sampler
trio of soft fluffy steamed buns filled with char sui pork, teriyaki chicken,
and a sweet coconut matcha custard
Spain had some fun and unique options like a Sangria Flight and Paella. The seafood and rice dish was very well done and a good size portion.
Spain: Paella Mixto
saffron yellow rice, chorizo, squid, mussels, and shrimp
Italy always has something we would like, and arancini is high on my list of yummy Italian bites! They offer a "tour of Italy flight" so you get to try three great options in one! The classic with marinara was my favorite, but I appreciated the creativity.
Italy: Tour of Italy Arancini Flight
tomato basil with marinara, mushroom with garlic cream sauce,
and seafood served with basil pesto
The Germany booth was a personal highlight for me. The schnitzel was hot and crispy and the kasespatzle was cheesy and gooey. For the price, this one felt more like a small meal than a small bite and really fueled me for the day!
Germany: Chicken Schnitzel with Käsespätzle
fried chicken thigh cutlet served with baked spätzle and beer cheese sauce
India: Onion Bhaji(V)
curry spiced crispy onion fritter with green chutney dipping sauce
|Belgium: Liège Waffle S'mores
pearled sugar chocolate chip waffle, topped with marshmallow cream,
chocolate sauce, and graham cracker crumbs
You can find some of the entertainers out and about during the day which makes for some great photo ops. Their stilt abilities are wildly impressive and I found their costumes to be just beautiful!
The view while we waited
|Tribute store decor
Tribute store treats
After venturing through the Tribute Store I came out with a few snacks to try and a lighted flower crown to wait for the parade. I opted to try a macaron, a whoopie pie, and a mask brownie. There was no description of what the brownie was at the Tribute Store and the team member couldn't tell me either, but oh my goodness, I will dream about this brownie forever. It was so rich, topped with what we believe was some sort of caramel cream, and the chocolate mask on top was delicious as well. If you like chocolate, pick this for sure. The macaron was good too, but the whoopie pie was forgettable. It was supposed to be "king cake" flavored but we found it just vanilla with no other depth and very sweet.
|Maple Bourbon Macaron
Beads from one night parade viewing
|Our view for the show
After you wrap up your day at the parks, the celebrations don't have to stop there. In Citywalk there are a few food booths around or you can venture into the Dead Coconut Club, a highly themed bar and nightclub. The spot was busy but we were able to find a seat or easily get up on the dance floor. I loved all the details in the decor and enjoyed just taking it all in after a long day at the parks.
Toothsome treats display
Maci is an avid foodie and loves trying out new restaurants and seasonal food offerings in the parks. You can email Maci at email@example.com.