Universal updates virtual-beads Mardi Gras app

New app guides visitors through Universal's Mardi Gras, which begins Saturday

Universal Orlando has updated its app tied to its upcoming Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Studios theme park. Among its features: Ways to collect virtual beads.

The app, available for download for iPhone and Android, has a scavenger-hunt feel that includes four different tracks: music lovers, food lovers, family night and date night.  Each track presents four tasks to complete.

For instance, on the food lovers track, users are sent to experience "French Quarter delicacies," and family nighters may go to the Little Jester's Parade Viewing Area. The tracks also include bonuses for annual passholders, such as free Universal Express powers on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster. 

Bonus Beads is the name of the fifth track, which encourages visitors to find "hidden treasures," according to Universal Orlando's official blog. This helps folks collect digital beads. 

According to the app's tutorial, users can unlock a virtual doubloon by collecting all the beads from your track. If you collect doubloons from all of the tracks, you receive bonus beads. 

In addition, the app sports a camera function that adds special Mardi Gras frames to images during the nightly parade, where real beads are tossed from New Orleans-style floats.

Technical stuff to know: You must turn on the smartphone's Bluetooth and the app's location services to be turned on.

Universal's Mardi Gras begins Saturday, Feb. 6, and runs on select nights through April 16. This Saturday's kick-off concert features country star Hunter Hayes.

Mardi Gras festivities are included in regular Universal Studios admission. For more information, go to universalorlando.com.

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