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How to Ride A Universal Mardi Gras Float

One of the most unique theme park experiences happens at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras. Have you ever wanted to be a part of a theme park parade? Well at Universal Orlando you can! During the Mardi Gras celebration, February 4 – April 7, 2024, guests can sling beads to the crowd on a Mardi Gras parade float!

All guests visiting Universal Orlando have the chance to experience being a part of this lively parade. There are three possible ways that you can experience the thrill of floating around Universal Studios Florida: Annual Passholder reservations, Float and Dine, or Virtual Queue. This article will outline everything you need to know for how to get on a float for Mardi Gras 2024.

What is the Mardi Gras Parade Universal Orlando?


The Universal Mardi Gras parade is a vibrant and exhilarating celebration that brings the spirit of New Orleans to the heart of Florida. This annual event transforms Universal Studios into a dazzling spectacle of colors, music, and elaborate floats, capturing the essence of the traditional Mardi Gras festivities. Guests can experience the thrill of catching colorful beads tossed from the floats by costumed performers (this could be you!), adding an interactive and festive element to the celebration. The lively atmosphere is further enhanced by energetic music and talented performers.

There are 12 floats in the parade accompanied by magical performers that bring the parade to life. Aboard the 12 floats are Mardi Gras float riders who have secured their spot to throw beads to the crowds below.

Universal Mardi Gras Parade Time

The best part about this celebration is that the Mardi Gras Parade Universal is included in your day ticket and happens nightly (weather permitting). Be sure to check the Universal Orlando app on the morning of your visit to be sure nothing has changed. Typically, the parade will begin 45 minutes before Universal Studios Florida closes.

What Time is Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Orlando?

Parade starts at 5:15pm on the following dates:

  • February 5
  • February 7
  • February 12
  • February 24
  • February 27

  • Parade starts at 6:15 pm on the following dates:
  • February 4
  • February 6
  • February 8 – 9
  • February 11
  • February 13 – 16
  • February 21 – 23
  • February 25 – 26
  • February 28 – March 1
  • March 3 – 8

Parade starts at 7:30 pm on the following dates:

  • February 19 – 20
  • March 11 – 15
  • March 18 – April 7

Parade starts at 7:45 pm on the following dates:

  • February 3
  • February 10
  • February 17 – 18
  • March 2
  • March 9 – 10
  • March 16 – 17

Related Post: Reasons to Visit Universal Mardi Gras

How to Ride a Float in Universal’s Mardi Gras Parade


Snagging a spot on the Mardi Gras parade floats could be a difficult task because everyone wants to take part in this experience! As we mentioned above, there are three possible ways you can toss beads during the parade.

  • Annual Passholder Reservations (complimentary)
  • Virtual Queue (complimentary)
  • Float Ride and Dine Experience (paid)

Annual Passholder Float Riding Reservations

There are many reasons we love being Universal Orlando Annual Passholders. One of the many great perks happens before Mardi Gras begins is the float riding reservations. This is how we got to ride on a float for Universal Mardi Gras 2024. One week before January 18, Universal Orlando posted on the Annual Passholder Facebook Group that reservations will open on January 18 for float riding reservations.

With this, it is important to have your UOAP number with you to sign up as soon as you see the link in your email. Reservations will fill up very quickly for the whole Mardi Gras season. With the passholder sign-ups, you could sign yourself up as well as 4 additional guests on a select night.

Power Passholders will not be able to participate from March 18 – March 30, 2024. Seasonal Passholders will not be able to participate on February 3, 10, 17,18, & 24, 2024, and March 18 – April 6, 2024. 

Float Riding Virtual Queue

Although not guaranteed, there may be some virtual queue spots available on the day of your visit. Download the Universal Orlando app and connect to the free Universal WiFi. My app never works if I’m not connected to the WiFi so this is very important!

Around 3 p.m. start checking to see if the virtual queue opened for float riding. On the main page, you will see “Mardi Gras Parade & Atmosphere” where you will be able to join a virtual queue (if available).

When reservations become available, click on “Reserve Virtual Line Experience Pass” and indicate the number of people in your group. Keep in mind that Virtual Line spots operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so there’s no assurance that there will be available slots later in the day. We have not had any luck with the virtual queue but it’s worth a shot!

Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience

Secure your spot on a Mardi Gras parade float and have the thrilling opportunity to toss beads to the crowd – the ultimate way to ensure your participation in the parade! The Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Dine & Float Experience offers a 3-course meal with a full menu selection at one of the four participating restaurants:

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

Prices for the Ride & Dine Add-on start at $84.99, contingent on availability. Dinner times are contingent upon the parade start times, with options like a 3:30 pm reservation for a 5:15 pm parade start or a 5:45 pm reservation for a 7:30 pm parade start. It’s important to remember that the reservation cost doesn’t include admission to Universal Studios Florida, and separate park admission for the same date as the parade and prix fixe meal is required.

Related Post: Best of Mardi Gras Food & Drink

Universal Mardi Gras Float Riding Process

Once you secure your spot (whichever of the 3 ways you did it), you will head to Animal Actors on Location located in Universal Studios Florida at least 1 hour BEFORE the parade starts. Give yourself time to get there and show up 1 hour – 1 hour and 45 minutes before the parade because if you are late, you will lose your spot.

  • Once you check-in with your annual pass, virtual queue or float ride and dine reservation, you will have to fill out an online waiver.
  • You then will receive a wristband that assigns you to a float. This is the float that you will be tossing the beads from.
  • You will proceed inside the Animal Actors theater to pick up your Mardi Gras float rider costumes (smock) to wear on the float (yes, they clean these). This serves as your ticket into and out of the theater. So, if you check in early, you can still get food, and drinks or use the restroom before the parade starts. Alcohol is not permitted inside the theater.
  • You must be back in the theater 40 minutes before the parade begins. Your bead captains will hype you up and then bring you backstage to your parade float.
  • Once backstage, you will climb aboard the float and have tons of beads waiting for you. When you are backstage, no photos are allowed but once you pass the gates and get back into Universal Studios Florida, they encourage snapping photos and video!
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is the halfway point of the parade, if you are almost out of beads by then, you should probably slow down.
  • Throw those beads off the float to the guests asking for beads below!

Our Experience as Mardi Gras Float Riders

This experience was top 5 most fun I’ve had at Universal Orlando or any theme park. Just being on the float alone is such a cool feeling but throwing beads to guests makes it even more fun! We booked our spot using the Annual Passholder reservations. We ended up on the “riverboat” float which was the first float of the parade and we had a BLAST. They shoot confetti off in Hollywood and New York which made for cool photos. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone!

Mardi Gras Float Rider Restrictions

  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years or accompanied by an adult
  • Height requirement: Minimum 48 inches
  • No large bags or strollers allowed
  • Standard push wheelchairs can be accommodated with advance notice
  • All participants must complete and sign a Waiver before riding the float
  • Minor participants need a Minor Waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian before riding the float

Related Post: Why We Love Universal Holidays

How to Get on a Float for Mardi Gras at Universal FAQ


How do you ride a Mardi Gras float at Universal?

To secure a spot on a Mardi Gras float at Universal Orlando, plan in advance through the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience, the online reservation system for Annual Passholders or a virtual queue on the Universal Oralndo app. The float riding experience will last approximately 2-3 hours in Universal Studios Florida.

What time is Mardi Gras parade at Universal?

The Mardi Gras Parade at Universal begins anywhere from 5:15 pm – 7:45 pm depending on the day of your visit. Be sure to check the Universal Orlando app to be sure of the start time.

What is the Universal Orlando Parade Route for Mardi Gras?

New for 2024, the Universal Studios parade route starts in Hollywood near Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show and circling past Battery Park and through New York, before making its way down through Minion Land on Illumination Avenue and back through Hollywood.

Ready to Embark on a Theme Park Journey?

We hope this guide sprinkles a little extra pixie dust on your plans for Universal Orlando. Our insights come straight from the heart of the parks, where the magic happens every day. We’re thrilled to share our firsthand experiences and tips to help you create unforgettable moments!

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