**Disclosure: I was invited to take part in the most amazing press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. I swear**
Although Fat Tuesday came and went last month, the Mardi Gras festivities are still going strong down at Universal Studios in Orlando! Every spring, you can enjoy the fun & excitement of “The Big Easy” right at Universal Orlando! On Saturdays and select nights through April 18, Universal Studio’s Mardi Gras event treats their guests to an authentic celebration that transforms the a section of the park into a family-friendly version of the famous New Orleans festivities.
The annual event features big-name concerts, traditional Cajun cuisine, street performers, live music and one heck of a parade – oh, and that’s all in addition to complete access to all of the awesome Universal Orlando theme park attractions!!
Once you’re inside the park, you can visit the French Quarter Courtyard where you can eat authentic Cajun foods and listen to live music. Every night during the event, you can listen to some of Louisiana’s most popular bands performing authentic blues, jazz, zydeco and more. I had a chance to listen to a from songs from a band called the Mississippi Rail Company & they were absolutely phenomenal.
While you’re strolling through the French Quarter Courtyard, some of the traditional Cajun foods you’ll find along the way are:
- Creole Gumbo
- Andouille Sausage
- Red Beans & Rice
It’s a very festive atmosphere and as I mentioned before, it’s totally family-friendly. While you’re there, you will come across many Mardi Gras “characters” that walk the streets near the Universal Music Plaza and French Quarter Courtyard. They were all really friendly and enjoyed talking with visitors, handing out beads and posing for photos!
Later in the evening, the parade rolls through the streets of Universal Studios. This year over 1.8 million beads will be thrown from the thirteen floats featured in the parade.
I got a chance to speak with Jason Horne, who is the Mardi Gras creative director, about all the work that goes into planning an event like this. Jason and his team work very closely with artists and engineers from Kern Studios, who is the company that has been building many of the actually New Orleans Mardi Gras floats for over 60 years. The team plans each event at least a year in advance and work hard to make sure that the float designs are as elaborate as possible and more importantly, look authentic.
As part of my adventure, I got to ride on the King & Queen float alongside some of the coolest bloggers there are. We all got to dress up in robes & crowns and throw beads out to the audience. It was so much fun. Seriously, I could tell that when I made eye contact with someone in the audience and tossed them beads, I totally made their day. I couldn’t get the smile off of my face the entire time.
Don’t worry, if you have little ones and you’re worried about crowds at the parade, the Little Jester’s Parade Viewing Area, which is located in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop, is set up just for them. This area is available beginning one hour before the parade starts.
In case you were wondering, from the start to finish, the Mardi Gras parade is about 25 minutes long. It’s high energy and definitely something you can not miss if you’re in the parks on one of the event days.
And speaking of high energy, on Mardi Gras nights, Universal Studios has lined up 16 amazing concerts. Yes, I realize that Mardi Gras is already in full swing at Universal and some of the concerts have already passed, but there are some great shows coming up before the season ends. Check to see the full lineup right here. On the night that my group was there, not only were we able to see MKTO in concert, but we were all able to meet them before the show. It was so much fun to sing along to their current hits Classic and American Dream, as well as many others.
Something to keep in mind if you’re attending one of the concerts is that there is no concert seating. It is all general seating — or really, general standing, but that just means that it’s easier to dance!
The Mardi Gras concerts, parade and French Quarter food & music are included with your Annual Pass or Universal Studios Admission.
The fun celebrations will continue every Saturday and other select dates through April 18, so don’t miss it! For more information or to buy tickets, visit Mardi Gras Universal Studios Orlando.