SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration

by on March 21, 2015 2 Comments

Filed under: Adults, Celebrations, Merchandise, Saturday Six, Universal Orlando Resort

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration. No one loves theme park events more than us. Mickey’s Not So Scary? Fantastic. Halloween Horror Nights? Even better. Grinchmas, Mickey’s Very Merry, and Food & Wine? Can’t wait for each of them.  Villain’s Unleashed? The exception that proves the rule.

But one of our favorite events of the year takes place at Universal Studios Florida and is included with regular park admission. We’re talking about Mardi Gras, and today we’re going to look at six reasons why this is the best party outside of New Orleans itself and we’ll start off with….

# 6 – The Walk Around Characters

Get your cameras ready because there are a ton of colorful characters throughout the party, and all of them would love to take their pictures with you. From steampunk inspired cowboys to court jesters and everything in-between (including jazz bands), there is something for everyone.

MardiGras_jokers_Glover

The King and Queen of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration welcome you to one of the best theme park parties of the year. (photo by Brandon Glover)

MardiGras_cowboys_glover

Yee-haw partner! (photo by Brandon Glover)

MardiGras_ole_glover

The attention to detail is spectacular. Check out the face paint on the ladies. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 5 – The N’awlins inspired food at French Quarter Courtyard

One of our favorite places on Disney property is Port Orleans French Quarter and a big reason for that is the cajun style food. Beignets, king cake, po boys, shrimp gumbo, red beans & rice, Andouille sausage, and jambalaya are all on the menu at Universal’s Mardi Gras, which combined with the offerings at Fast Food Blvd and Diagon Alley make USF the greatest single place on Earth for theme park eating.

MardiGras_foodsampler_glover

The Cajun Sampler, including Andouille sausage and shrimp gumbo, a bargain at $11.99. (photo by Brandon Glover)

MardiGras_poboy_glover

Shrimp Po Boy with fries, $8.99. (photo by Brandon Glover)

MardiGras_foodpeople_glover

Your one stop shop for all of Mardi Gras’ best dishes. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 4 – Musicians Straight From New Orleans

One of the things I love the most about Disney’s Night of Joy parties is the amount of smaller bands and musicians that they bring in and let perform in the park. It’s great to see the headliners, but it is also nice to appreciate the smaller names, many of which guests would never know of. For Mardi Gras, Universal has a smaller stage set-up in the French Quarter Courtyard for musicians local to the New Orleans area. This is a wonderful touch that lets guests enjoy bands in a more intimate setting. One area USF dominates in is live music, and these shows in the Courtyard have the vibe that the amazing Blues Brothers and Celestina Warbeck bring to the table.

MardiGras_localband1_glover

Mississippi Rail Company. (photo by Brandon Glover)

MardiGras_localband2_glover

Mississippi Rail Company. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 3 – The Big Concerts

That said, Universal brings in some heavy hitters for their main stage concerts. The fact that you can see acts like Kelly Clarkson, The Band Perry, Barenaked Ladies and All American Rejects inside a theme park seems almost too good to be true, as all of them could easily sell out their own shows at the Hard Rock Live next door. 2014 had Weezer, Robin Thicke, and Daughtry among others. 2013 had Pitbull, Matchbox Twenty, and Demi Lovato. It is truly astonishing the wide array of acts that Universal brings in, and while each particular one may not be your cup of tea, you can almost guarantee there’s another you really want to see in person.

MardiGras_KellyClarkson_Evetts

Kelly Clarkson. (photo by Chad Evetts)

# 2 – The Parade

One of the most popular things at every Universal Mardi Gras celebration at Universal is the parade. Filled with colorful floats and characters, the parade has a unique energy that fits perfectly within the party theme. And just as Universal’s Macy’s Holiday Parade allows guests to be balloon holders, the Mardi Gras parade gives an opportunity to actually be on the floats themselves and toss beads down to people below. That’s right, Annual Passholders have an opportunity to be a part of the parade and, trust me, this needs to be on your theme park bucket list as there’s nothing else like it.

MardiGras_float_sperduto

Mardi Gras parade float. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

MardiGras_Gator_sperduto

(photo by Mike Sperduto)

MardiGras_paradefloatMeg2_sperduto

Universal guests tossing out beads and having the time of their life! (photo by Mike Sperduto)

# 1 – THE BEADS!

If you go to Universal’s Mardi Gras, you’re coming home with beads or you’re doing it wrong. Beads are tossed out by the seemingly thousands, and while it may seem crazy to read in print, when you are there it just becomes fun. It’s impossible to be objective, but just as I know it makes no sense to spend my time “trick or treating” for candy at Mickey’s Not So Scary, in the moment it is impossible not to enjoy.

MardiGras_throwingbeads_sperduto

Beads being tossed down to parade watchers. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

While the beads tossed to guests are more of a generic variety, you can also show your Player Status by buying your own beads at various shops.

MardiGras_beads_glover

Fancy beads available for purchase. (photo by Brandon Glover)

A little while ago we took a look at Ways To Repurpose Your Extra Disney MagicBands and turns out Mardi Gras beads give us another useful reason to hold on to them!

MardiGras_magicbands

You’ve probably got a dozen or so MagicBands lying around your house. Time to make use of them! (photo Twitter user Oli Oliver @Olirage)

But most of all, Mardi Gras beads make kids happy, and that is what theme parks are all about. When they are happy, we’re all happy.

Beads_sperduto

So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast.

MardiGras_Jester2_gloverIf you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy:

Universal Dining: The Cowfish at CityWalk

Universal Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort

Six “Secrets” of the Portofino Bay Hotel

Six “Secrets” of the Universal Orlando Resort

Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, Seth Kubersky, photo wunderkind Mike Sperduto, Kelly Clarkson back-up singer Chad Evetts, and Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey. 

Did you know The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. PRE-ORDER this baby now! (For every copy sold, a percentage of the profits* go towards buying a DVD of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rap video.)

*0%

Posted on March 21, 2015

2 Responses to “SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration”

  • Why is the celebration so far after actual mardi gras?

    • Same reason all the theme parks celebrate any other holiday or celebration for a month or even longer $$$ and to bring in crowds. I think part of it was to bring people into the park in what used to be a slow time but now has just grown. Besides, how many not Louisiana residents even know when Mardi Gras begins or ends, lol.