Universal Studios Florida guests riding on a Mardi Gras parade float and tossing beads into the crowd

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Universal Studios Orlando is well known for its holiday celebrations, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But one of its best holiday events is how it goes all out for Mardi Gras each year!

There are a lot of fun things to do – and delicious things to eat – during the Mardi Gras season at the Universal Orlando Resort. We go over them in our Universal Mardi Gras guide.  One of those is the amazing Mardi Gras parade held nightly. It features colorful, detailed parade floats, complete with people riding the floats and tossing beads out to the crowds.

Guests throwing beads from a Mardi Gras parade float into the crowds at Universal Orlando Resort

Have you ever wondered how you could be one of those people?

In the past, you could join a Virtual Line through the Universal Orlando app on your phone. You had to join the Virtual Line on the day of the parade while already inside the Universal Studios Florida theme park, and there was no guarantee you’d get a spot.

Luckily, there’s another way to get on a float for Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando! This method will let you sign up in advance and reserve your spot on a float. And that is by taking advantage of the Ride and Dine Experience, which first premiered in 2023.

Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience

If you’d like to secure a spot on a parade float and toss beads during the parade, you can sign up for the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience.

It includes a reserved place in the parade, as well as a 3 course meal!

You can enjoy that 3 course meal at one of these participating restaurants:

  • Finnegan’s Bar & Grill (located in Universal Studios Florida)
  • Lombard’s Seafood Grill (located in Universal Studios Florida)
  • The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar (located at Universal CityWalk)
  • NBC Sports Grill & Bar (located at Universal CityWalk)

The 3 course meal includes one appetizer, one entrée, and one dessert. You’ll also receive one non-alcoholic beverage. You can choose your appetizers, entrées, desserts and non-alcoholic drinks from the full menu at whichever restaurant you choose.

This experience costs $84.99 per guest (includes gratuity), plus tax. Annual passholders can receive a 15% discount.

How to Sign Up

You’ll need to reserve the Ride and Dine Experience 24 hours prior to the event date, so make sure you don’t leave signing up to the last minute!

You can sign up online here. You can also call 407-224-7554 or purchase the experience at the Front Gate, Guest Services, Pass Sales or Destination Universal Desks. Please note that Passholders may not be able to receive their 15% discount online; if so, you’ll need to buy the experience through one of the other methods.

When you sign up, you’ll choose a restaurant, date, and time. The time of the reservation is determined by when the parade starts on that date. You can make a dining reservation for 1 hours and 45 minutes before the parade start time.

In other words, on days with a 5:15 PM parade start time, you can make a dining reservation for 3:30 PM. When the parade starts at 6:15 PM, then your dining reservation will be at 4:30 PM. A parade start time of 7:30 PM means a 5:45 PM reservation. And when the parade starts at 7:45 PM, the reservation is at 6:00 PM.

Requirements

In order to ride a float, guests must be at least 48” tall. They must also be able to board the floats and stand during the entire parade. Guests with a disability can call 407-224-7840 regarding accommodations.

Any guest who is not yet 18 years old must be accompanied by a legal guardian who is at least 18 years old.

The Ride and Dine Experience does not include admission to the theme parks. You will need to purchase your theme park tickets separately. We recommend using Undercover Tourist for your Universal Studios tickets – you can save money (sometimes as much as $50 or even over $100 per ticket, depending on the ticket type). Also, we’ve had good experiences using Undercover Tourist.

Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2024 Dates

The Universal Orlando Mardi Gras parade runs nightly from February 3 to April 7, 2024.

Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras Parade

See for yourself how much fun the parade can be with this video!