Anyone who has attended Universal Studios Orlando’s Mardi Gras event knows that becoming a bead thrower on a parade float is a highly sought-after experience. In the years that Universal offered this experience as a free, limited-availability perk to annual passholders, spots were booked up within the hour of registration going live.
In addition to letting guests scramble for a spot in a daily virtual queue for the chance to ride one of the Mardi Gras floats, Universal has introduced a paid booking method for experiencing this exciting Universal Studios event from a new angle. Complete with a relaxing dining experience at your pick of one of Universal’s best restaurants and plenty of photo opportunities, Universal’s Ride-and-Dine experience is a must-see for any dedicated Universal Parkgoer looking to experience something new and exciting.
This year, tickets start at $84.99 per person and includes a three-course meal at your choice of select Universal Orlando Resort restaurants in addition to the unique and thrilling experience of being a bead-thrower aboard one of Universal’s famous Mardi Gras floats.
With the option to choose from one of four Universal Restaurants either in-park or on CityWalk – Finnegan’s Bar & Grill, Lombard’s Seafood Grill, NBC Sports Grill & Brew, or The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, the Ride-and-Dine experience is a day packed with exciting treats and enough freedom to enjoy the parks until it’s time to meet with Universal Team Members to prepare for the parade.
Guests are asked to arrive at their restaurant of choice at a designated time, where they will be seated and given their passes for the Ride and Dine event; in addition to the actual paper ticket guests received upon purchase of the experience, a laminated pass is provided as a keepsake, which is hole-punched upon arrival at the designated check-in station.
After eating, Ride-and-Dine Guests will find their float check-in station at their assigned location, where team members will assign you a float, present safety information in a fun pre-show format we’ve all come to love and expect from Universal Studios, and help you get into your Mardi Gras costume! These costumes are typically smocks loosely themed to each of the floats so that guests aboard each themed float can all look uniform. Mardi Gras-themed hats, beads, glasses, and masks are permitted on this experience as long as they comply with Universal’s overall dress code.
The Ride-and-Dine experience includes a spot in the parade aboard one of the Mardi Gras floats, and while Universal typically has a strict policy of forbidding pictures in any back-of-house area – like where guests board the floats – they make sure that guests participating in this experience have plenty of great photo opportunities with each member of their party and their designated float.
With each float’s group accompanied by a Team Member acting as a chaperone and guide, guests are taught how to distribute beads. After a brief demonstration from your Team Member chaperone, guests will board their designated float and roll out to the familiar tunes of the Universal Studios Mardi Gras Soundtrack!
While the speakers are blaring the classic track “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” you’ll be praying that your arms don’t give out first! Throwing the beads is no small feat, for the entire parade route! It’s fast-paced and exciting, as you try to throw to all of the guests jumping down below without blowing through all your beads before you’re barely halfway through the route! Overall, the Universal Ride-and-Dine is an excellent option for parkgoers looking to secure their spot as a bead thrower; while the virtual queue remains an option, it can be nearly impossible to find an opening available with how hotly in demand this experience is. If I can impart a single piece of wisdom to anyone looking to book this incredible experience, it would be this: Pace yourself, because the full parade route is longer than you think!!