Tag: Years

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack: Defending the Galaxy for 20 Years and Counting

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

EDITOR’S NOTE: The imagery shown throughout this blog post does not represent current operational and safety guidelines at Universal Orlando Resort.  Please refer to our safety guidelines here. 

“You can choose from these three rides.”

“Let’s go with Men In Black,” I said. “I can rock a necktie.”

This was 10 years ago when I interviewed for a job at Universal Orlando Resort. I was given the choice of which attraction to work, and I chose MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack. Admittingly, I based my choice solely on what wardrobe I thought I would look best in. Little did I know that this would become one of the biggest life-changing moments for me…but more to come on that later.

Fast forward 10 years and I find myself now writing for the Universal Orlando blog about this attraction turning the big 2-0. 20 YEARS. It’s no wonder to me how this ride has endured and remains one of the fan-favorites at the parks. I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of joining a secret agency that defends Earth and the universe from alien scum? And with new movies released over the years, the viral sensation of storming Area 51, and the recent confirmation of unidentified objects, it only continues to remain relevant.

Join me on a trip down memory lane (if you haven’t been wiped by a neuralyzer) to see how this attraction first came to be, all the way to present day as the fandom continues to grow. Here’s why MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack is one of the best of the best of the best in Universal Studios Florida.

It Opened at the Right Time

Photo Credit: Steven J. – UOAP Facebook Group

On July 2, 1997, the first Men in Black film hit theaters with wild success. It had the perfect formula; an incredible cast, great comedic and action-packed writing, and a storyline that hooked into the age-old question of does intelligent alien-life exist? It was just begging to be made into a theme park ride, and who better to make that a reality than a destination that touted the tagline “Ride the Movies!”

Five years later on April 14, 2000, the ride opened to a wave of fanfare. Following the grand opening of Universal’s Islands of Adventure the year before, it was great timing to open a new ground-breaking themed attraction to Universal Studios. But you may be saying, “Deni, there were other laser-shooter style dark rides before this one. What makes this one so special?”

Well, let me tell you.

When the ride opened, it was the most ambitious in regards to animatronics at Universal Orlando. It had the largest one in the parks with the big bug you defeat at the end.

And not only did it bring an interactive element by hooking into the competitive nature in all of us, but it expanded upon the universe of Men in Black with a unique storyline and theme.

Welcome to The Universe and You!

After seeing the movie in theaters, I think we all wanted to believe there’s a secret alien agency that monitors and protects us from extraterrestrial activity. I also think we all wish we could be one of those agents in the black suits, rocking a pair of shades and giant bug-blasters. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack makes that real, but the storyline behind the attraction makes you believe you’re experiencing something completely different… at first.

As you walk through the World Expo through the ride entrance, you see posters advertising  The Universe and You. This is the entertaining “ride” you think you’re about to experience where you discover the truth about what lives beyond our solar system. But that would-be experience is over before it begins when it’s interrupted by Agent Z, and you’re recruited to train as a MIB rookie.

MEN-IN-BLACK-Alien-Attack-in-Universal-Studios-Florida

In the queue, you’ll see familiar scenes like the “worms” having coffee in the breakroom, the main headquarters where you see the two recognizable twin aliens, and even a weapons room, complete with the Noisy Cricket.

After you board the ride and your training begins, you’re interrupted again and told that your help is needed with an alien invasion that has hit New York. It’s your job to zap those alien bugs and save Earth! The more aliens you defeat and the more points you get, the closer you are to earning your very own MIB suit.

999,999. That’s the magic number. The precious sequence of digits that gives you bragging rights for “maxing out” on the ride. I’ve gotten it a few times, although I’m lucky if I break 700k nowadays as I’m a terrible shot. You can check out my tips blog post if you’re looking for how to get a high score. But no matter what you do, don’t forget to push that red button!

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack Ride

The theming and storyline don’t stop with the ride. It extends to MIB agent characters that will periodically make their presence known in-park for meet and greets. You can also enjoy a special tour of the downstairs level of the main headquarters room if you ask one of the agents working (pending availability).

Details That Are Out of This World

Have you ever stopped and really appreciated the level of detail put into this ride? Well, I have and it’s AMAZING. The creative teams developing the ride made the perfect blend of iconic scenes and details from both the film and our very own Universal designs. You may recognize the sleek, futuristic design of the architecture from the movie, complete with the iconic towers from the New York World’s Fair. And keep an eye out for the posters advertising The Universe and You in the beginning of the ride. These were designed by our creative teams, as well as the lyrics for the song playing in the attraction (I got the song stuck in my head all the time when I worked!). You can also find fun notices, news clippings, and advertisements on the bulletin board in the break room where the worms are grabbing their coffee.

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack - Green Blue Alien

The ride also expands on the diverse MIB universe of alien species, many of which were exclusively designed for the ride. You may recognize the little green and blue guy with the long arms below, the giant tentacled eye alien waving the ray gun, and of course the giant bug at the end. We’re talking a whopping 120 different kinds of aliens, with a large number of them being the animatronics I mentioned earlier. Something I loved to do when I walked the track after closing is look for a new alien I hadn’t noticed. Some of my favorites are just the eyes you see hidden in the bushes or on the walls, but of course, my all-time favorite is Frank the Pug.

Men In Black Alien Attack Easter Egg

You can even find fun easter eggs cleverly disguised. In the main headquarters room, if you look down at the desks, you can find unique paperwork and alien phenomena on the screens. Our horticulture team shapes the trees outside to resemble UFOs. There’s even an alien using a certain famous filmmaker’s head as a disguise reading a newspaper in the New York area of the ride.

20 Years and Counting of Training Agents

Many of us have a Universal attraction that holds a special meaning in our lives. Whether it was the first ride you ever did as a kid during your family’s first vacation to the parks; stepping into your favorite fantasy world you’ve only ever seen on the big screen; or even making lasting relationships with friends or loved ones that you met there. For me and many other fans, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack is that favorite attraction.

Men In Black Alien Attack Fan Photo
Photo Credit: Chelsea W. – UOAP Facebook Group

Throughout its 20 years, there have been guests who’ve gotten engaged there, designed shirts and outfits themed to the ride, and countless couples or friends who ride to settle bets or prove who’s the best. And it continues as the fan base grows! I just recently learned about a group of fans who call themselves the MIB 900 Club and meet up to ride. I even met my husband during my year of working the ride, and we took our pregnancy announcement photos there.

Men In Black Alien Attack Fan Photos
Photo Credit: Denielle R.

Even the Team Member agents get caught up in the fandom, bringing a passion and dedication that gives our guests a unique experience. From offering tips on how to get a high score to epic elevator spiels to even joining guests on the ride for some 1-1 training. I have fond memories of taking breaks and hanging out downstairs in the main headquarters room at a desk, or work friends who would take theming to the next level by carrying around a Noisy Cricket or having a little bug perched on their shoulder.

So, here’s to many more years of laughter, competitive banter, zapping bugs, saving the universe on a daily basis, and forever earning the last suit you’ll ever wear. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, you make 20 years look good.

Men In Black Alien Attack Entrance
Photo Credit: Mikey M. – UOAP Facebook Group

What’s your favorite memory from MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack and when are you coming to make new ones? Share below and on social by tagging us on Twitter @UniversalORL and Instagram @UniversalOrlando.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

Source link
All content is property of the owner, unless otherwise specified. This content is not owned, or maintained by M & M Travel and Tours, and is used only for informational purposes. Please visit the content owners link via the source link for more information.

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack: Defending the Galaxy for 20 Years and Counting

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

EDITOR’S NOTE: The imagery shown throughout this blog post does not represent current operational and safety guidelines at Universal Orlando Resort.  Please refer to our safety guidelines here. 

“You can choose from these three rides.”

“Let’s go with Men In Black,” I said. “I can rock a necktie.”

This was 10 years ago when I interviewed for a job at Universal Orlando Resort. I was given the choice of which attraction to work, and I chose MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack. Admittingly, I based my choice solely on what wardrobe I thought I would look best in. Little did I know that this would become one of the biggest life-changing moments for me…but more to come on that later.

Fast forward 10 years and I find myself now writing for the Universal Orlando blog about this attraction turning the big 2-0. 20 YEARS. It’s no wonder to me how this ride has endured and remains one of the fan-favorites at the parks. I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of joining a secret agency that defends Earth and the universe from alien scum? And with new movies released over the years, the viral sensation of storming Area 51, and the recent confirmation of unidentified objects, it only continues to remain relevant.

Join me on a trip down memory lane (if you haven’t been wiped by a neuralyzer) to see how this attraction first came to be, all the way to present day as the fandom continues to grow. Here’s why MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack is one of the best of the best of the best in Universal Studios Florida.

It Opened at the Right Time

Photo Credit: Steven J. – UOAP Facebook Group

On July 2, 1997, the first Men in Black film hit theaters with wild success. It had the perfect formula; an incredible cast, great comedic and action-packed writing, and a storyline that hooked into the age-old question of does intelligent alien-life exist? It was just begging to be made into a theme park ride, and who better to make that a reality than a destination that touted the tagline “Ride the Movies!”

Five years later on April 14, 2000, the ride opened to a wave of fanfare. Following the grand opening of Universal’s Islands of Adventure the year before, it was great timing to open a new ground-breaking themed attraction to Universal Studios. But you may be saying, “Deni, there were other laser-shooter style dark rides before this one. What makes this one so special?”

Well, let me tell you.

When the ride opened, it was the most ambitious in regards to animatronics at Universal Orlando. It had the largest one in the parks with the big bug you defeat at the end.

And not only did it bring an interactive element by hooking into the competitive nature in all of us, but it expanded upon the universe of Men in Black with a unique storyline and theme.

Welcome to The Universe and You!

After seeing the movie in theaters, I think we all wanted to believe there’s a secret alien agency that monitors and protects us from extraterrestrial activity. I also think we all wish we could be one of those agents in the black suits, rocking a pair of shades and giant bug-blasters. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack makes that real, but the storyline behind the attraction makes you believe you’re experiencing something completely different… at first.

As you walk through the World Expo through the ride entrance, you see posters advertising  The Universe and You. This is the entertaining “ride” you think you’re about to experience where you discover the truth about what lives beyond our solar system. But that would-be experience is over before it begins when it’s interrupted by Agent Z, and you’re recruited to train as a MIB rookie.

MEN-IN-BLACK-Alien-Attack-in-Universal-Studios-Florida

In the queue, you’ll see familiar scenes like the “worms” having coffee in the breakroom, the main headquarters where you see the two recognizable twin aliens, and even a weapons room, complete with the Noisy Cricket.

After you board the ride and your training begins, you’re interrupted again and told that your help is needed with an alien invasion that has hit New York. It’s your job to zap those alien bugs and save Earth! The more aliens you defeat and the more points you get, the closer you are to earning your very own MIB suit.

999,999. That’s the magic number. The precious sequence of digits that gives you bragging rights for “maxing out” on the ride. I’ve gotten it a few times, although I’m lucky if I break 700k nowadays as I’m a terrible shot. You can check out my tips blog post if you’re looking for how to get a high score. But no matter what you do, don’t forget to push that red button!

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack Ride

The theming and storyline don’t stop with the ride. It extends to MIB agent characters that will periodically make their presence known in-park for meet and greets. You can also enjoy a special tour of the downstairs level of the main headquarters room if you ask one of the agents working (pending availability).

Details That Are Out of This World

Have you ever stopped and really appreciated the level of detail put into this ride? Well, I have and it’s AMAZING. The creative teams developing the ride made the perfect blend of iconic scenes and details from both the film and our very own Universal designs. You may recognize the sleek, futuristic design of the architecture from the movie, complete with the iconic towers from the New York World’s Fair. And keep an eye out for the posters advertising The Universe and You in the beginning of the ride. These were designed by our creative teams, as well as the lyrics for the song playing in the attraction (I got the song stuck in my head all the time when I worked!). You can also find fun notices, news clippings, and advertisements on the bulletin board in the break room where the worms are grabbing their coffee.

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack - Green Blue Alien

The ride also expands on the diverse MIB universe of alien species, many of which were exclusively designed for the ride. You may recognize the little green and blue guy with the long arms below, the giant tentacled eye alien waving the ray gun, and of course the giant bug at the end. We’re talking a whopping 120 different kinds of aliens, with a large number of them being the animatronics I mentioned earlier. Something I loved to do when I walked the track after closing is look for a new alien I hadn’t noticed. Some of my favorites are just the eyes you see hidden in the bushes or on the walls, but of course, my all-time favorite is Frank the Pug.

Men In Black Alien Attack Easter Egg

You can even find fun easter eggs cleverly disguised. In the main headquarters room, if you look down at the desks, you can find unique paperwork and alien phenomena on the screens. Our horticulture team shapes the trees outside to resemble UFOs. There’s even an alien using a certain famous filmmaker’s head as a disguise reading a newspaper in the New York area of the ride.

20 Years and Counting of Training Agents

Many of us have a Universal attraction that holds a special meaning in our lives. Whether it was the first ride you ever did as a kid during your family’s first vacation to the parks; stepping into your favorite fantasy world you’ve only ever seen on the big screen; or even making lasting relationships with friends or loved ones that you met there. For me and many other fans, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack is that favorite attraction.

Men In Black Alien Attack Fan Photo
Photo Credit: Chelsea W. – UOAP Facebook Group

Throughout its 20 years, there have been guests who’ve gotten engaged there, designed shirts and outfits themed to the ride, and countless couples or friends who ride to settle bets or prove who’s the best. And it continues as the fan base grows! I just recently learned about a group of fans who call themselves the MIB 900 Club and meet up to ride. I even met my husband during my year of working the ride, and we took our pregnancy announcement photos there.

Men In Black Alien Attack Fan Photos
Photo Credit: Denielle R.

Even the Team Member agents get caught up in the fandom, bringing a passion and dedication that gives our guests a unique experience. From offering tips on how to get a high score to epic elevator spiels to even joining guests on the ride for some 1-1 training. I have fond memories of taking breaks and hanging out downstairs in the main headquarters room at a desk, or work friends who would take theming to the next level by carrying around a Noisy Cricket or having a little bug perched on their shoulder.

So, here’s to many more years of laughter, competitive banter, zapping bugs, saving the universe on a daily basis, and forever earning the last suit you’ll ever wear. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, you make 20 years look good.

Men In Black Alien Attack Entrance
Photo Credit: Mikey M. – UOAP Facebook Group

What’s your favorite memory from MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack and when are you coming to make new ones? Share below and on social by tagging us on Twitter @UniversalORL and Instagram @UniversalOrlando.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

Source link
All content is property of the owner, unless otherwise specified. This content is not owned, or maintained by M & M Travel and Tours, and is used only for informational purposes. Please visit the content owners link via the source link for more information.

Mardi Gras 2020: Behind-the-Scenes of 25 Years of Party

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

I recently attended my first Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort and it. was. awesome. Between the stunning performers in all their glittery glory, the delicious food that had me wondering how much jambalaya is too much jambalaya, and the thrill of catching as many beads as humanly possible — the entire experience was one heck of a party!

While the 2020 Mardi Gras is my first, it is the twenty-fifth for Universal Orlando. To celebrate the occasion, I took the time to sit down with three members of the Entertainment Art & Design team who have worked the Mardi Gras event for several of those 25 years: Lora Sauls (Senior Manager of Creative Development Show Direction), Curtis Hopkins (Scenic Manager), and David Nadolski (Senior Costume Designer). They took the time to share with me (and now me with you!) the stories behind 25 Years of Party.

KATIE: First, just tell me a little about yourselves and how you came to be at Universal.

LORA: I started as a singer and dancer here as the Bride of Frankenstein, but I also had done choreography for a few shows at Universal Orlando. So I soon left that performing world and became a choreographer, which led me to parades, then onto become a show director. My first Mardi Gras was 2001 and I’ve been here ever since.

CURTIS: I started as an intern in 1999 and then in 2000 my boss, who is still my boss, he brought me in for six months of work. That parlayed into freelance for two years, full time as a scenic designer, and then scenic manager. So I’ve been here 19 years, and involved with Mardi Gras since 2005.

DAVID: I started in 1997 and they actually hired me to be a dresser for Mardi Gras, so the performers would come and I’d just give them their costume and they’d go perform in the parade. I had applied to be the costume designer, but I was told they didn’t have that position at the time. I figured I’d get my foot in the door, though, and then in 2000 I had my first opportunity to actually design for Mardi Gras.

KATIE: Could you all kind of explain what your titles mean and what your job actually entails?

Lora Sauls (Senior Manager of Creative Development Show Direction)

LORA: I’m the senior manager of creative development, show direction. So in Art & Design, there is a show direction team — we call ourselves the Creative Development Group — and we create the content for events like Halloween Horror Nights, Holidays, and Mardi Gras.

CURTIS: I’m the scenic manager and what that entails is, I am responsible for taking what the show direction team and concept development comes up with and putting the artwork to that and seeing the designs all the way through production and installation. So I oversee the design of the floats and make sure that they look and get built the way they’re supposed to.

DAVID: I’m the senior costume designer and my responsibilities are to design any new costumes or to help develop costumes for any characters that are brought into the park.

KATIE: What is some of the process that happens behind-the-scenes of pulling Mardi Gras together?

CURTIS: We take a trip out to New Orleans every year and work with Kern Studios, which is the company that builds our floats and pretty much 90% of the floats for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We’ll take a team and go out to their giant warehouses and explore their space looking for props. We basically have to duck down, climb up, crawl over — because these warehouses are just jammed with pieces that we end up designing the floats around.

MG25Years_Curtis
Curtis Hopkins (Scenic Manager)

DAVID: And I wait for him. My  inspiration comes from the floats so once the floats are designed, I usually get the concept drawing of the float and from there I take the colors and the concept of the floats and the theme that the show direction came up with and that’s where the costumes start coming to life.

LORA: Over the course of the years we really have gotten inspiration from a lot of different things. We’ve done seasons of the year, colors, jewels, animal party… we’ve been inspired by all kinds of things, but the biggest thing to be inspired by is the party.

KATIE: What would you say makes Mardi Gras a unique event at Universal?

CURTIS: It’s the one time of year we get to throw a lot of glitter.

LORA: It’s ours! We’re doing our own concept and it’s our own story and so we can tell a story that’s unique to Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration.

KATIE: You all have obviously worked on Mardi Gras for a majority of the years we’ve held the event. How would you say you’ve seen it evolve?

LORA: We’ve seen it get bigger, better, and longer.

DAVID: I see a refinement as well. Everything is much more put together and themed. Back then, like the year colors was a theme, I designed for orange. I designed these big orange bells and girls with pumpkin sleeves. It didn’t make any sense! It was just whatever was orange.

MG25Years_David
David Nadolski (Senior Costume Designer)

CURTIS: I’ve been on Mardi Gras for 15 out of its 25 years and I’ve seen it get more elaborate and more extravagant and more detailed. Kern Studios has even incorporated some of our pieces into their floats in New Orleans, and that’s one of the things I’m very proud of. And then from a fan standpoint, watching my kids over the years chucking beads out into the crowd. As a parent, you can’t help but smile that your kids are loving something you helped create.

KATIE: What are you guys most looking forward to for this year’s event?

LORA: The theme! Treasures of the Deep. We had a lot of fun with it.

CURTIS: The new floats look good and we’ve done some enhancements to some of our stock floats that are really neat.

DAVID: There are some deep sea creature stilt walkers, an octopus, and a squid that are all kind of fun—

LORA: He’s so underplaying right now, they’re fantastic.

KATIE: So you all have been working on this event between 15-23 years. Do you guys have a favorite year?

LORA: Seasons. It was the first time we incorporated smells onto the floats. So when fall went by, it had this apple-cinnamon-pumpkin-pie smell.

CURTIS: There are two years that I feel like we really amped up the level of detail — the storybooks year and then the kind of modes of transportation year. It had a kind of steampunk element to it.

DAVID: Those were my favorites, too. There are so many different float designs those years that I could pull costume ideas from, yet it still felt cohesive because of the theme going throughout all the floats.

LORA: Every year you feel like you can’t think of anything new or different, but as soon as we go to New Orleans, it’s like, ‘there it is.’ It’s just fun working with such creative people. We can see a prop at Kern Studios and I never in a million years would be able to think of how Curtis will be able to use it in a float, but he brings it to life in this unique way. And then David will come up with these creative costumes and bring it all together. It’s pretty amazing. We get to work on so many cool events, but it’s the fact that we get to work on them together. And that may be really sappy, but we’re a family. We’ve been to each other’s weddings and we’ve been around for so much of each other’s lives. Mardi Gras is just one of the things that we get to take on as a team.

MG25Years

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2020 takes place every night from Feb. 1 – Apr. 2. Get more details and join us for a night of party soon!

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

Source link
All content is property of the owner, unless otherwise specified. This content is not owned, or maintained by M & M Travel and Tours, and is used only for informational purposes. Please visit the content owners link via the source link for more information.

Celebrating 25 Years of Universal’s Mardi Gras with New Worldwide Carnival Food and Drinks

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

Picture it. It’s a late afternoon and the streets of the New York area in Universal Studios Florida are buzzing with activity. Jazzy tunes fill your ears as you enter The French Quarter Courtyard and the spicy smell of Cajun food is in the air. It’s Mardi Gras time, ya’ll.

Or, at least it will be in a few more days. Mari Gras kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 1.

If you’re like me, you’re more than ready to indulge in all the festivities of Universal’s Mardi Gras — from the nightly parade, live concerts and, my favorite part, the FOOD. With 25 years of partying it up and bringing the flavors of The Big Easy to Universal Orlando Resort, the culinary team has outdone themselves this year with new dishes, drinks, and more.

(Follow your stomach’s desire and jump ahead if you’d like.)

NEW FOOD   |   NEW DRINKS   |   RETURNING FAVORITES   |   EVENT ADD-ONS   |   NEW IN CITYWALK

New Carnival Around the Universe Tent

When I heard there was going to be new food at Mardi Gras this year, I assumed it was going to be the traditional route of a new po’ boy here and a new po’ boy there. WRONG. We’re getting a brand new food tent that will take us on a journey to the different carnivals globally. I recently attended a tasting with the new offerings and all I can say is, I can’t wait for you to try it all.

Note: This particular food tent will rotate out the countries every two weeks, providing new options for you try on each visit. You’ll notice I included which weeks each country will be offered, kicking off with my new favorite, Trinidad & Tobago.

Trinidad & Tobago (Week 1 & 2)

I’m a sucker for anything with chickpeas and each dish from this food tent was packed with a great citrus and spice flavor. It was my first stop at the tasting and will be my first stop when the event begins. And bonus! These are all plant-based dishes.

  • Grilled Pineapple Trini-Chow (topped with kimchi seasoning and cilantro)
  • Pholourie (fried spicy split pea dough with turmeric, curry powder and tamarind chutney)
  • Chickpea Double (served on spicy bara flatbread with cilantro and mango chutney)

Louisiana Creole (Week 3 & 4)

If we’re touring the carnivals, then we have to make a pit stop in Louisiana, right? But these aren’t your average Cajun dishes. The Cauliflower Dirty Rice was my second favorite dish (and it’s vegan!).

  • Softshell Crab Slider (softshell crab with organic veggie slaw and a bayou aioli)
  • Cauliflower Dirty Rice (riced cauliflower with plant-based protein crumbles, black eyed peas and Cajun spices)

Brazil (Week 5 & 6)

Two words: CHEESE BREAD. Or more appropriately, Pao de Quiejo. These little pockets of savory goodness are the perfect snack to grab before the parade or concert.

  • Pao de Quiejo (warm cheese bread served with guava dipping sauce)
  • Sweet Plantains (covered in cinnamon and sugar served with banana poppy seed dipping sauce)

Germany (Week 7 & 8)

The last stop is Germany! My top pick would be the Sauerbraten. You can’t beat a slow braised beef smothered in sauce — just my opinion.

  • Sauerbraten (slow braised beef with buttered spaetzel, pickled red cabbage and topped with a red wine sauce)
  • Grilled Bratwurst (served on a potato pancake with whole grain mustard, sour cream and chives)
  • Warm Pretzel

TIP: All the Mardi Gras food and drinks are offered in sampling sizes. Pick up the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard, so you can enjoy multiple offerings on any of the event nights. Click here for more details.

New Mardi Gras Drinks

You’ll need a drink to wash down all that good Cajun chow. This year, there are a bunch of new drinks to pair with your food, along with new souvenir cup designs. A certain number of these specialty drinks will only be available with the purchase of a food item at the location they are served. I’ve done the heavy lifting and outlined them for you below.

Available in the full 20oz specialty drinks:

  • High Seas Twister (kinda like a rum punch)
  • Blue Voodoo (tasty blue margarita)
  • Carnival Lane (refreshing gin drink with fruit juices)
  • Baby Cakes (vodka drink that tastes like king cake!)
  • Bourbon Street Punch (exclusive to the Bayou Boil)
  • Coconut Water in a Coconut (non-alcoholic and available only during week 1 & 2 of Carnival Around the Universe)

Available for food & beverage 9oz pairings ONLY:

  • Hoodoo Cold Brew (pecan vodka cold brew – great with beignets)
  • Cajun Bloody Mary (pair with Jambalaya)
  • Pecan Street (vodka caramel drink available only during week 3 & 4 of Carnival Around the Universe and pairs with the Softshell Crab Slider)
  • Girl from Ipanema (gin coconut drink, my personal favorite, available only during week 5 & 6 of Carnival Around the Universe and pairs with the Pao de Quiejo)

One of the new items I got excited for were the Float Floats. And no, I’m not talking parade floats, although these beverages are inspired by some of the literal floats! Fueling my float obsession, these outrageous treats are inspired by the new parade floats this year, which are themed to the Treasures of the Deep.

Not only are they a tasty way to cool off during a warm evening of bead catching, but they are also perfect for your insta. You can find these over at Schwab’s Pharmacy in the Hollywood section of Universal Studios Florida.

Shipwreck (pineapple soft serve ice cream, chocolate soft serve, pineapple soda, cotton candy and waffle cone flag)

Sunken City of Atlantis (vanilla soft serve, wild berry soda, mango boba and gummy shark)

Mardi Gras (pineapple and lime soft serve ice cream, grape soda, blueberry boba and waffle cone flag)

To round out the above drinks, the Mimosa Bar is returning over at Cafe La Bamba with eight different mimosas, and the King Cake Slushie and Bayou Bog Water are back for the kiddos.

TIP: Schwab’s Pharmacy is located right on the parade route on the Avenue of the Stars in Hollywood. Grab a float as you wait for the parade to start or snap a pic with the themed float it matches! Don’t forget to share your foodie pics with us using #UniversalMardiGras.

Mardi Gras Classics

You can’t have Mardi Gras without the Cajun classics. Returning to The French Quarter Courtyard are your flavorful favorites like:

  • Beignets
  • King Cake
  • Jambalaya
  • Shrimp Gumbo
  • Red Beans & Rice with Shrimp
  • Cajun Twisted Tater
  • Gator Bites
  • Crab Etouffee
  • Shrimp & Andouille Po’ Boy
  • Sausage Po’ Boy
  • Catfish Po’ Boy
  • Chicken & Andouille Po’ Boy

My only question is how can I get that jambalaya year round? It was the first dish I ever tried at Mardi Gras back in 2011 and has remained my all-time favorite. My mouth is quite literally watering as I type.

TIP: New to this year are recommended food and drink pairings for the different tents. You can find them on the tent menu boards when you visit and can be used as part of the Tasting Lanyard. I love the combo of beignets and Hoodoo Cold Brew.

Upgrade Your Mardi Gras

Speaking of walking down my Mardi Gras memory lane, one of the best times I’ve had at the event took place this past year at the Bayou Boil — one of the add-ons you can splurge on to upgrade your experience.

“Oh, wow. That’s a lot of crawfish,” was my first thought as a huge pan piled high with crawfish, shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya, potatoes, and corn on the cob was set in front of me. The crazy good part? If you manage to clear that pan (good luck), they’ll bring out more! And let’s not forget about the endless beignets and king cake waiting nearby for dessert. My then-pregnant self was in heaven and now I’m looking forward to taking my daughter.

My favorite thing about the experience was the exclusivity of it. It’s hosted over in Battery Park down by the lagoon with a private dining area and bar. It has a limited capacity to allow for a more intimate setting, and you sit family style with other guests allowing you to meet fellow Universal fans! After you’re done eating, you can go do some rides or enjoy the other Mardi Gras festivities before heading over to a private area in front of Cafe La Bamba. In my opinion, this is one of the BEST places to view the parade, as you not only get to see and catch beads when it starts but also when the parade ends.

Click here for details on pricing and dates/times for the Bayou Boil.

Two additional ways to upgrade your Mardi Gras festivities are the Feast & Floats Dessert Party and the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard. The dessert party gets you VIP viewing of the Mardi Gras parade and Universal’s Cinematic Celebration, and the tasting lanyard allows you the option to enjoy multiple food and drink options throughout Mardi Gras. Click here for more details on these experiences.

TIP: This tip is for our UOAPs! You get exclusive perks to these add-ons, including discounts, and a Passholder Tasting Lanyard that includes 15 items. Click here for details.

The Party Continues in Universal CityWalk

The party doesn’t stop after the park closes. CityWalk is getting in on the festivities with fun, new Mardi Gras themed food and drinks. The Toothsome milkshake is quite literally the KING of all milkshakes. I mean, wow.

  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
    • The French Quarter Milkshake (everything king cake in a glass)
  • Voodoo Doughnut
    • Mardi Gras Doughnut (filled with cinnamon sugar bavarian cream)
  • The Cowfish
    • Masquerade Martini (grape vodka with blue curacao and citrus flavors)
  • Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
    • Party Gras Drink (vodka and coconut rum with pineapple flavors)
    • Voodoo Doctor Drink (classic margarita with a hint of black raspberry)
  • Pat O’Brien’s
    • Taste of Nola (red beans and rice, crawfish and andouille etouffee and blackened chicken with creole sauce)
  • Hot Dog Hall of Fame
    • Mardi Gras Muffuletta Platter (footlong hot dog with traditional muffuletta dressing)
  • Bread Box
    • Roast Beef Po’boy (shaved roast beef and gravy with toppings)
  • Cinnabon
    • King Cake Bon (classic Cinnabon dressed up in its Mardi Gras best)
  • CityWalk Food & Beverage Carts
    • The Jester Drink (apple whiskey with melon flavors)

TIP: These offerings are available daily Feb. 1 – April 2 in CityWalk. You have plenty of time to grab these outside of the event.

So, be honest, is that your stomach I hear rumbling? Oh, no. It’s mine. Mardi Gras can’t get here soon enough, but thankfully it’s right around the corner starting nightly Feb. 1 – April 2 in Universal Studios Florida. What are you getting first? I’m still debating between my fav jambalaya or the Trinidad & Tobago.

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

Source link
All content is property of the owner, unless otherwise specified. This content is not owned, or maintained by M & M Travel and Tours, and is used only for informational purposes. Please visit the content owners link via the source link for more information.

15 Best Places in the World to Celebrate New Year’s Eve

By MM Travel and Tours in Destinations to Travel

The year is fast coming to a close. That means it’s almost time to celebrate New Year’s Eve yet again! So without further adieu, here are the 15 best places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Photo By: @yumsterdam

Veteran visitors praise the sight of fireworks reflected in the water in the canals while celebrating the holiday in one of the city’s cozy cafes. Many locals leave the city but there are still many places to party. The fireworks over the river IJ is a popular show as is the one in the park near Westerdoksdijk.

There are events in most major squares. Wherever you go, be sure to get there early with your drinks and chairs. Dress warmly as the city’s cold in December. Buy some traditional dutch snacks, oliebollen, for the morning too.
(View the Rest Here)

 

Source link
All content is property of the owner, unless otherwise specified. This content is not owned, or maintained by M & M Travel and Tours, and is used only for informational purposes. Please visit the content owners link via the source link for more information.