So what did we eat with our $50 tasting lanyard, and did we get our money’s worth? Let’s run through it (for the sake of keeping it clear, I’m going to round up to the nearest dollar and keep sales tax out of the equation).
It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without Po Boys. There were three varieties available, and they all ran $7 each. Karen isn’t a big seafood fan, so she stuck to the chicken and andouille sausage version (2 total, so we’re at $14 so far).
I’ll try anything once, so I had both the catfish Po Boy (another $7, so we’re at $21)…
…and the shrimp and andouille sausage Po Boy (another $7, putting us at $28). So how are the Po Boys? Well, they’re not bad. They’re certainly flavorful, and the kettle chips go along nicely. But here’s the thing:
See that? That was the shrimp Po Boy back in 2007, and it was a goddamn monster. Want to know what it cost? $7.75. And the son of a bitch came with a side of fries. Even considering inflation, that’s still only a buck or two more than what they’re charging today for these little Po Boy sliders…
Now bear in mind that the last time we were at the Mardi Gras event the parade went through Amity. A lot has changed since then so maybe this smaller, sampler style is more popular. That’s fine. But let’s not pretend that we’re not ultimately paying more for less food.
I don’t mean to be ranting, so let’s get off that topic and talk about these gator bites. The only thing wrong with them is that I can’t have any right now. They were delicious, and that remoulade dipping sauce was fantastic. It was $7 as well, so our total is up to $35.
The beans/rice/shrimp bowl was also delightful. The sauce was really flavorful and can we talk about how much this picture resembles the Exogorth from Empire Strikes Back?
Yeah, that’s right. Exogorth. I Googled that shit.
Staying on target, this dish was $5, putting our total at $40.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the jambalaya. While there was some good flavor there, the rice seemed a bit crunchy. And then there was the issue with the big cockroach looking thing on top of it (sorry, crawfish just ain’t my bag). This was $6, incidentally, so we’re up to $46.
It’s hard to go wrong with beignets, though I didn’t like the fact that the dipping sauces weren’t included in the price. If we had opted to get one of them, the lanyard would have been useless and I would have had to put a buck on a debit card. Luckily, the dipping sauces were completely unnecessary as the beignets were delicious. They cost $5 so our total has now hit $51.
We had two samples left, so we decided to each get a piece of King Cake. Ultimately, that was a mistake. The king cake was just sickly sweet and sticky and not really enjoyable for more than a bite or two. We should have gotten a second order of beignets instead. The king cake just felt like a Cinnabon roll that was having delusions of grandeur.
They also sold a king cake slushee, but there was no chance in hell I was going to get that.
Finishing out our sampling, those two slices of king cake were $10 total, so we ended up getting $61 for the $50 lanyard. Overall a good deal, but I do wish we hadn’t finished it off with the most disappointing item.
Alright, the highlight of the Mardi Gras festival at Universal is the nightly parade, so let’s check it out! The current route starts at the Esoteric Gates (next to the Horror Make-Up Show) then runs along Hollywood Blvd/Rodeo Drive. The route hangs a right onto Plaza of the Stars, then hangs a right on 5th Ave, eventually hanging a right onto South St and ending up back where they started (more or less). We were hanging out by Louie’s Italian Restaurant, so it took about 15 minutes for the parade to get to us.
The Mardi Gras parade has many floats – some of them are traditional and appear every year, while others are tweaked out and have new themes. As I mentioned earlier, this year the theme is “Party Animals.” We’ll get to them soon, but first we have to have a few of the standards, like the Riverboat float.
Next up is the Krewe of Dionysus float. Now Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, winemaking, religious madness, and fertility. So basically that makes him a drunk hypocritical horny religious zealot who… you know what, let’s just call him Florida Man.
The floats for Universal’s Mardi Gras parade, incidentally, are largely provided by Kern Studios – this family run company has been providing floats for Mardi Gras (as well as dozens of other events) for over 50 years. If I ever make it to New Orleans, I’m definitely putting a tour of their facility (Mardi Gras World) on my itinerary.
Okay, so here’s the first of our “party animal” floats – this one dedicated to all the critters you find in the swamp, like the frogs and the gators and the crawdads and Solomon Grundy.
OMG, we get it daddy. You lift.
So like I’m not even joking. I was half tempted to Photoshop this guy into a still from Silence of the Lambs. I’ll leave it to you to determine which scene would be most appropriate (or maybe I mean inappropriate).