Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: The Biggest Party in Orlando
Every year, from February to April, Universal Studios Orlando transports guests to New Orleans for an awesome Mardi Gras celebration with food, drinks, and thousands of beads tossed from glittering parade floats. A party that’s been going for over 25 years, Universal’s Mardi Gras is almost as big of a celebration as their Halloween Horror Nights, drawing in thousands of people each night and transforming the park. If you haven’t been, you need to put Mardi Gras on your must-do Universal list.
Universal’s Mardi Gras occurs every day in Universal Studios, usually starting in February and running through April, and does not require a separate ticket to attend. The parade runs nightly throughout the park; the “French Quarter Courtyard” offers food, dessert, and drink options daily; and you can catch various Mardi Gras characters throughout the day. Weekends throughout Mardi Gras you can catch concerts by some big name artists like REO Speedwagon, Kool and the Gang, and Marshmello. Each year brings in different artists and each concert is free to attend with a park ticket!
Come hungry and taste your way through “N’Awlins style food and spirits” in the French Quarter Courtyard, located in Universal’s New York area. Fluffy powdered beignets, sugary king’s cake, hot gumbo and jambalaya, po’ boys, and etouffee are some the delicious offerings available to try. The best part is that most of them come in smaller portions, making it easy to try a little of everything! They also offer a tasting lanyard available for purchase, which allows guests to try a variety of sample sized food and drinks. Brand new in 2020 is the Carnival Around the Universe menu, a rotating menu that changes every two weeks to feature different cuisine from around the world! You can’t go wrong with any choice, as Universal offers the best of the best Cajun and Creole style food to celebrate Mardi Gras:
- po’ boys (sausage, catfish, chicken and sausage, and shrimp and sausage)
- king cake
- twisted taters (Cajun style and sour cream and chives)
- red beans and rice with shrimp
- gator bites
- crab etouffee
Try your favorites and be sure to pair them with some the Mardi Gras themed alcoholic drinks or the ice cream-based Float Floats!
One of the coolest things about Mardi Gras is that they have concerts every weekend—and you don’t need an additional ticket to see them! All you have to do is make sure you’re there early enough to get a good spot. The lineup changes every year, so be sure to check out the Universal Orlando website to view the scheduled artists. Some of the acts that have performed for Mardi Gras include Kool and the Gang, Diana Ross, Dan & Shay, Pitbull, and Macklemore. Universal brings in some pretty big names for Mardi Gras, big names for a big celebration! These concerts take place on the stage in the middle of New York and are usually first come first served, standing room only. Be sure to grab some food or a drink while you wait, too!
The parade is by far one of the most fun things to see at Mardi Gras. Occurring nightly, the parade features over a dozen bright, glittering, and exciting parade floats that really call to mind the Carnivals of Brazil. Stilt walkers, dancers, the Mardi Gras court—including the king and queen, and thousands of beads thrown into the crowd. Jazz music is broadcast over the speakers, preceding the lineup and following the procession throughout the park, completing the New Orleans vibe. Parade times vary each night, so be sure to check out the website for the schedule!
Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is one of the most fun events that Universal hosts throughout the year, without any additional charge to guests. The overall event, parade, and concerts are included in regular park admission and are held during normal park hours. Park attendance and wait times may be a little higher due to this but are still minimal in comparison to peak season. Whether you go for the food, the music, or the parade, you need to go to Universal Studios to celebrate the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in Florida!