Mardi Gras - Universal Studios Orlando
"Colorful Cultures Around the World"
Saturdays & Select Weekend Nights February 8 – May 31, 2014
What's Mardi Gras? The Real One
Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” is the day before the season of Lent begins. This is the last day of Carnival, the giant and sometimes outrageous party that starts every year on January 6 (also known as King’s Day). The official colors of Carnival are purple, green and gold, these signify justice, faith, and power.
The festival of Mardi Gras dates back 5,000 years, but it didn’t come to America until 1699 with the French explorer, Iberville, and the first parades officially began in 1838.
In New Orleans, each parade has a theme that is usually borrowed from history, mythology or Hollywood and a few of the big parades in New Orleans are Bacchus, Orpheus, and Rex. The parades are put on by private social groups, also known as Krewes, and they consist of 10 to 40 floats carrying krewe members that throw trinkets. These coveted “throws” include beads, doubloons, small toys, and candy. Local high school marching bands, dance groups, and costumed characters are also a part of the parade. New Orleans Mardi Gras is crazy fun with a wild reputation and people come from all over the world to join the locals for the carnival celebration.
While the party in New Orleans can get wild and crazy, the Universal Studios Mardi Gras celebration is a much more family friendly event. While there is still a lot of drinking going on at Universal, it’s controlled very well and you shouldn’t feel unsafe in any way.
You will know it's Mardi Gras at Universal the second you enter the park. From the festive decorations in purple, green and gold and the traditional zydeco music, to the colorful street performers and stilt walkers, you will be immersed in the Mardi Gras theme.
The French Quarter Courtyard is the main hub of the celebration and it's located in the New York area of Universal Studios (near the Mummy and Twister attractions). Here's where you will find food, spirits, and musicians straight out of New Orleans (Nawlins). Be sure to sample some of the local New Orleans style cuisine including, jambalaya, shrimp gumbo, red beans & rice, and andouille sausage po-boys (Po-boys are subs or hoagies or sandwiches to the rest of the country).
While we can’t really compare the quality of food to what you would get in New Orleans, they do a good job and offer a nice variety.
One of the centerpieces of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration is the parade. The Krewe of Dionysus Parade rolls out around 7:30pm or 8:30pm depending on weather and the date.
The traditional Mardi Gras floats, which come directly from New Orleans, are the Riverboat, the King Gator, the Jester, the King & Queen float, the Boeuf Gras (the BIG beef), the title float (which lets you know the name of the krewe and the theme of the parade) and the Universal float.
The floats are great, but the throws are limited to standard size beads and doubloons. If you want the really nice big, long beads, you'll need to purchase them at one of the several gift shops located throughout the park. Mardi Gras memorabilia such as jester hats, large yard glasses, feather boas, masks and t-shirts are also available for purchase.
The main event and highlight for many is the concert at the end of the night in the new Music Plaza, immediately following the parade. Universal brings in a great lineup of bands for these concerts (some of the ones in the past included Daughtry, The Go-Gos, LL Cool J, Kid Rock, Willie Nelson and Heart). Depending on the performer, this area of the park can get very crowded, very quickly and you should expect to be far from the stage if you wait until after the parade to choose your spot. You should choose your parade viewing location carefully as the best viewing areas for the concert fill very quickly, as soon as the parade ends. There are large viewing screens for those in the back of the crowd.
If you find yourself wanting to continue the party, at the end of the night, head over to Universal’s CityWalk and continue the Mardi Gras festivities at Pat O’Brien’s. It's a replica of the original Pat O’Brien’s located in New Orleans where you can enjoy a hurricane (a New Orleans traditional drink - it's strong!) on the patio or sing along in the Piano Bar. At this location, it's Mardi Gras 365 days a year!
The best part about this whole Mardi Gras celebration is that it's free!! As long as you have admission to Universal Studios, you can participate in the festivities. Please keep in mind that the live concerts are held on Saturday and select Sunday nights. Go! You will have an awesome time.
Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! That's "Let the good times roll!"
Live Concerts at the Main Stage
Showtimes for these concerts follow the parade.
2014 MARDI GRAS TALENT LINE-UP
|Mardi Gras Event Dates||Headliners (performing in the Music Plaza)|
|Saturday, February 8||Daughtry|
|Saturday, February 15||Barenaked Ladies|
|Sunday, February 16||Thomas Rhett|
|Saturday, February 22||Robin Thicke - cancelled due to illness|
|Saturday, March 1||Collective Soul|
|Saturday, March 8||Prince Royce|
|Friday, March 14||Cody Simpson|
|Saturday, March 15||Foreigner|
|Friday, March 21||A Great Big World|
|Saturday, March 22||Gavin DeGraw|
|Friday, March 28||Kelly Rowland|
|Saturday, March 29||Weezer|
|Saturday, April 5||Skillet|
|Saturday, April 12||Lynyrd Skynyrd|
|Saturday, April 19||Kool & The Gang|
|Saturday, May 3||Nelly|
|Saturday, May 10||The Wanted|
|Saturday, May 17||The Roots|
|Saturday, May 24||Cher Lloyd|
|Saturday, May 31||Huey Lewis And The News|
|Saturday, June 7||Robin Thicke|
*All concerts are subject to change
All French Quarter Bands will perform at Mardi Gras in Universal Studios then appear afterwards at Universal CityWalk.
2014 MARDI GRAS TALENT LINE-UP
|Mardi Gras Event Dates||New Orleans Bands (performing in the French Quarter)|
|Saturday, February 8||Remedy Krewe|
|Saturday, February 15||Soul Project|
|Sunday, February 16||Soul Project|
|Saturday, February 22||Rockin' Jake|
|Saturday, March 1||Big Al & The Heavyweights|
|Saturday, March 8||Daddy Mack Blues Band|
|Friday, March 14||Mississippi Rail Company|
|Saturday, March 15||Mississippi Rail Company|
|Friday, March 21||The Big Easy Playboys|
|Saturday, March 22||The Big Easy Playboys|
|Friday, March 28||Dirty Bourbon River Show|
|Saturday, March 29||Dirty Bourbon River Show|
|Saturday, April 5||John Lisi and Delt Funk|
|Saturday, April 12||Beth McKee & The Sliders|
|Saturday, April 19||Gravy|
|Saturday, May 3||Chris O'Leary|
|Saturday, May 10||T Bird & The Breaks|
|Saturday, May 17||Grady Champion|
|Saturday, May 24||Cha Wa|
|Saturday, May 31||Naughty Professor|
- American Ninja Warrior taping at Universal Orlando in May
- Universal Orlando raising employees' base pay - This is effective June 1.
- Blog - The Universal Day - Islands of Adventure
- Kids stay free with a four night stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort - Rates start at just $139 per night with this offer!
- Metal detectors being tested at Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Why I Hate That I Love Universal