Mardi Gras - Universal Studios Orlando
"Colorful Cultures Around the World"
Saturdays & Select Nights February 9 – April 20, 2013
2014 dates not yet announced
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.
What's Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando like?
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The Podcast team talks about Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras 2011
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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
The first entertainers to be announced for Mardi Gras 2014 are:
February 22: Robin Thicke, R&B singer known for his hit songs Blurred Lines and Lost Without You.
May 10: The Wanted, UK pop group from the E! reality show The Wanted Life. Hit songs are Glad You Came and Chasing the Sun.
Showtimes for these concerts follow the parade.
2013 MARDI GRAS TALENT LINE-UP
|Mardi Gras Event Dates||Headliners (performing in the Music Plaza)|
|Saturday, February 9||Lifehouse|
|Saturday, February 16||Steve Miller Band|
|Sunday, February 17||Boys Like Girls|
|Saturday, February 23||Trey Songz|
|Saturday, March 2||Demi Lovato|
|Saturday, March 9||Montgomery Gentry|
|Friday, March 15||Sean Kingston|
|Saturday, March 16||Matchbox Twenty|
|Friday, March 22||Austin Mahone|
|Saturday, March 23||Phillip Phillips|
|Saturday, March 30||Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo|
|Saturday, April 6||Kool & The Gang|
|Saturday, April 13||Pitbull|
|Saturday, April 20||The All-American Rejects|
*All concerts are subject to change
All French Quarter Bands will perform at Mardi Gras in Universal Studios then appear afterwards at Universal CityWalk.
2013 MARDI GRAS TALENT LINE-UP
|Mardi Gras Event Dates||New Orleans Bands (performing in the French Quarter)|
|Saturday, February 9||John Lisi & Delta Funk|
|Saturday, February 16||The Dirty Bourbon River Show|
|Sunday, February 17||The Dirty Bourbon River Show|
|Saturday, February 23||Colin Lake|
|Saturday, March 2||Beth McKee|
|Saturday, March 9||Gravy|
|Friday, March 15||Lil’ Brian & The Zydeco Travelers|
|Saturday, March 16||Lil’ Brian & The Zydeco Travelers|
|Friday, March 22||The Soul Project NOLA|
|Saturday, March 23||The Soul Project NOLA|
|Saturday, March 30||Big Al & The Heavyweights|
|Saturday, April 6||Mississippi Rail Company|
|Saturday, April 13||The Rockin’ Jake Band|
|Saturday, April 20||Daddy Mack Blues Band|
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