Universal’s Mardi Gras Offers A Ton Of Food, But This Combination Has To Be My Favorite

Universal Studios Florida's front gate pictured at night for Universal Mardi Gras 2024.
(Image credit: Mike Reyes)

2024 was my first time learning firsthand what you need to know for Universal’s Mardi Gras festivities, and for several reasons, I look forward to repeating that delightful experience. It’s not just the pageantry,or the fact that I’m spending time in a place like Universal Orlando Resort that makes me eager to return. 

Oh no, there's also the tons of delicious food offered during the “International Flavors of Carnaval” that makes this such a wonderful place to be. I should know, because after getting to try some of the delicious offerings myself, I have a favorite combination of tasty treats that made my night. 

However, looking back on the recent press day I took part in at Universal Orlando Resort, there are still some items on the menu I really want to try. Prepare for some mouthwatering adventure, my friends, as we’re going to take a closer look at the food of Universal Mardi Gras 2024! 

The King Gator float passing by at Universal Mardi Gras 2024.

(Image credit: Mike Reyes)

Why Food Is A Key Point In Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebrations

Before a select group of journalists, including myself, were able to take part in the electrifying Mardi Gras parade at Universal Studios Florida, we were first invited to have a taste of the multitude of food offered within the park. That included observing introductory remarks by Chef Jens Dahlmann, Vice President, Executive Chef of Operations at Universal. 

Highlighting why food is such an important part to the Universal Mardi Gras experience, and with CinemaBlend in attendance, Chef Dahlmann laid it all out as follows: 

We're really celebrating the international flavors of Mardi Gras, and what better way to do it then by smelling it, and tasting all of those beautiful flavors? Now you can walk around Universal Studios over 14 countries, over 60 food items, for you to taste and enjoy. Plenty of beverages to really give you a good time. And it’s just been exciting to develop those kind of dishes.

Reading back that rundown of edible excitement, it definitely sounds like a lot. While not every menu item was available for the attending press, there was an impressive roster that covered all corners of the globe. 

While the importance of food seemed to kick off during Universal’s 2021 Mardi Gras celebration, it appears that Chef Dahlmann and his team have decided to continue forging a path of stomach filling pleasures. Out of everything I was able to sample within the bounds of being human, I had some clear favorites. 

Currywurst in a serving dish at Universal Mardi Gras 2024.

(Image credit: Mike Reyes)

My Favorite Universal Mardi Gras Food Combination

When walking us through his overview of Universal Mardi Gras’ culinary showcase, Chef Jens Dahlmann noted that the cuisine of the Philippines and Colombia were two of the festival's highlights. Both countries were represented at our media event, thanks to the respective presence of Pancit Bihon and Oblea as an entree and desert on offer. 

But now it’s time for personal bias to fall into place, as a couple of meals from my own heritage were part of the showstoppers I most enjoyed. In terms of the savory, I highly recommend the Currywurst from Germany’s food stand, as it’s not too spicy, but has the flavor and kick one could get used to. As a lighter option on the spectrum offered, it was something that clicked with me so well I went back for seconds. 

Pastelón and Pina Colada side by side at Universal Mardi Gras 2024.

(Image credit: Mike Reyes)

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for some sweetness to enter the picture, two Puerto Rican delights are the best keys to such enjoyment, specifically in the form of Pastelóns and Piña Coladas. As luck would have it, both are listed as available in a paired combo at that respective food stand.

The latter needs no introduction, but Pastelóns are described as "a layered casserole of sweet plantain, picadillo beef topped with Edam cheese." If you're looking for a reason to sit down, this is a delicious excuse.

Since I’m not trying to give you all sugar shock here, I’m going to keep the desert simple. Which is also a fantastic time to show off one of Colombia’s highlights, the Oblea. A thin wafer that sandwiches strawberries and drizzled dulce de leche, it’s as delicious as it is mess-free. I sadly did not get any pictures or footage of mine, as I kind of went straight to scarfing it down once it was in my hands. 

A festively plated Schnitzel and a serving of Wild Mushroom Poutine side by side at Universal Mardi Gras 2024.

(Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort)

The Universal Mardi Gras Dishes I Still Want To Try

I must admit, everything was delicious at the Universal Mardi Gras press event. If anything, I hope they consider extending future incarnations of this testing ground to span both lunch and dinner; simply because that’d give everyone more time to enjoy. However, if I were to once again venture past Universal Studios Florida’s gates for this year’s festival, there’s a list of items I’d be making a beeline to try out first thing. 

Going back to my German ancestry, it’d be too tempting not to grab a portion of Schnitzel, which would probably pair well with either variation of Poutine from Canada’s food stand. Since there’s a choice between Vegan Wild Mushroom and Candied Bacon & Onion, I’ll leave you to decide which pairing is more appropriate.

The junior Colombian Burger and Spicy Smashed Cucumbers side by side at Universal Mardi Gras 2024.

(Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort)

Although if I was going for a lighter side, China’s Spicy Smashed Cucumber is the move I’d make. It could pair with the Colombian Burger, a dish I actually came close to grabbing in the park earlier that day, but sadly didn’t follow through on. I know, I’m a total fool for passing it up, and I’m sure I’ll deal with it in my own time.

Finally, let’s talk about drinks; because Universal Mardi Gras does have an amazing spread of adult beverages on deck. Two that stood out in my eyes were Brazil’s Mango Caipirinha and the Bloody Mary Bar, which offers two models: Hot and Mild. That last option isn’t linked to any nation in particular, unless you consider the Land of Esteemed Cocktails a country.

Blue snarls towards the camera at Jurassic World's Raptor Encounter.

(Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort)

Don’t Forget The Universal Orlando Resort Food and Beverage Card Is Your Friend

I can’t make my final point clear enough for all of you would-be food based adventurers, so forgive me if this is a repeat. Similar to what’s been offered at past Universal Mardi Gras experiences, there’s an option that ensures you’ll get the most bang for your buck: the Universal Orlando Resort Food and Beverage Card. $65 gets you $75 worth of goodies from any booth you want to visit, and can even be used in select locations throughout Universal Orlando Resort. 

If I went back to the park and did this all over again, I’d purchase the Food and Beverage Card, take a look at my digital map (R.I.P. Universal paper maps) and start a list of where I’d want to hit, which a good idea, as knowing what you’re hungry for can be quite advantageous in a theme park like Universal Studios Florida. Not only can you plan food and ride times accordingly, you can decide which paths are the best options to burn off the delicious fuel you’re putting into your body. 

As this was my first visit after 20 years away, I think I’ve forgotten to add something important to my list of favorite improvements to Universal Orlando Resort. After reflecting on the delicious international foods on display, it’s safe to say that Universal Mardi Gras is one more lure that’ll keep me coming back for more for years to come. 

If you’re as hungry as I am and within a close enough proximity to Universal Studios Florida, don’t waste time! Get to the Mardi Gras celebrations as soon as you can, as it’s only running until April 7th. Trust me, you don’t want to miss the Obleas or any of the other prime delicacies sprinkled throughout the park. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.