This year’s Mardi Gras – which, yes, just ended this week, thanks to an unprecedented five-week extension – proved in many ways to be the perfect annual event Universal could’ve asked for during a time that is still being impacted by COVID-19: it was expanded to be an international-based food festival, with food tents and trucks spread out all throughout Universal Studios Florida, and with the parade floats (and bead-throwers!) stationed nearby, to provide entertainment while guests were doing all that outdoor wandering and eating and sipping. And now that the Big Easy’s party has finally wrapped up, the resort can be said to be lacking that extra reason to keep visitors – particularly the locals – coming back again and again (well, besides that little attraction called Jurassic World VelociCoaster and its attendant Tribute Store, of course).
Enter a new food initiative to fill that experiential void, one that’ll sweep through all three of Universal Orlando’s parks for the summer. Unsurprisingly, all these new menus draw heavily from the recent International Flavors of Carnaval (that was the first-ever subtitle for Mardi Gras), including incorporating some of that event’s most popular offerings – specifically, the Cuban Sandwich, arepas, and empanadas – and retaining some of its food trucks and tents. In fact, here’s where you can find all these additional venues at Universal Studios:
- A food kiosk in Battery Park (in the New York backlot)
- A food truck in San Francisco (in front of Fast & Furious – Supercharged)
- A food truck by Lombard’s Landing (not far from Chez Alcatraz)
- A food tent by the bridge that connects The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley with Springfield: Home of the Simpsons
But Mardi Gras is just the starting-off point for this summer program – whereas the former was more about sample sizes, the latter will be focused on full-fledged dishes. And the gastronomical authenticity that was broached earlier this year will be doubled down on for this summer, with a number of veteran chefs (some of whom have been at the resort for some two or three decades) even contributing their own family recipes for all the new contents.
What food and drinks can we expect for this summer? Universal shared with fans a brief overview of what to expect, and that was followed up with some of the full menus being posted around Universal Studios. Here’s what we know so far:
- Beef Empanadas – $12.99 – picadillo beef-filled pastries, cucumber, and tomato salad
- Bud Light – $8.50
- Cigar City Jai Alai – $8.50 – an IPA beer
- Cream of Tomato Soup – $5.99 – side dish
- Corona Extra – $9.00
- Dogfish Head Seaquench – $10.00 – sour ale
- Elotes Asados – making its way out of Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food and into the parks for the very first time
- Fruit Cups – watermelon and pineapple
- Lumpiang Shanghai
- Mango White Claw – $9.00
- Mac ‘n’ Cheese – $5.99-$11.99 – your choice of White Cheddar, Carnitas, or (as a side) White Cheddar
- Melts – $9.99-$11.99 – your choice of flavors melted together on a French load: 3-Cheese Classic, Smoky Brisket, Vegan
- Pork Adobo
- Pressed Cuban Sandwich – $14.99 – roast pork, Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles on Cuban bread
- Yucca Frita
Over at Volcano Bay, meanwhile, the offerings will lean more into Filipino territory, in order to play up the water park’s tropical theming as much as possible.
Given that nearly all of Universal’s various annual events had been trending towards this more food-focused state of affairs long before Mardi Gras arrived in February – with Halloween Horror Nights highlighting exclusive drinks and intellectual property-enhanced eats and the Holidays adding on premium dessert parties – it’s not that hard to see this summer push become a new tradition, if not an actual, formal event itself. If it did, it would go a long way to plugging a hole that opened up nearly a decade ago, when the resort’s Summer Concert Series was halted (though it did manage to come back for a one-off anniversary celebration in 2015).
Universal Orlando’s new summer menus should be available sometime soon.
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