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Universal’s Mardi Gras Festival Left Us Wanting More

Universal’s Mardi Gras Festival Left Us Wanting More

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Check out our review of the Universal Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval Festival. At the festival, you can immerse yourself in a world of vibrant colors, music, and culture. But is it enough?

Mardi Gras

Credit: Susan

The biggest Mardi Gras celebration takes place in New Orleans with citywide festivities and colorful parades. These parades happen during the day and at night, leading up to Mardi Gras and the Rex parade. Beads in gold, green, and purple are given out, and eating king cake is an iconic part of the celebration.

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras Festivities take place on select dates from February 3 until April 7.

But you don’t have to leave Orlando to get in the fun! Universal Orlando is celebrating Mardi Gras now for all guests to take part in.


universal mardi gras parade sun moon element float
Credit: Susan

Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval party is a one-of-a-kind experience where the streets of Universal Studios Florida come alive with floats inspired by New Orleans celebrations from around the world. In addition, you can catch some beads and enjoy all the new Elements floats that keep the party going.

universal mardi gras wind float
Credit: Susan

The floats were beautiful, but I was hit with beads several times and the competition was fierce to catch beads. For me, this took away the fun from the parade.

If spots are available, you can reserve a spot on a parade float on the same day. The best way to ensure a spot on the float is by buying the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience or making a reservation online through the Universal Orlando Annual Passholders’ system.

If you enjoy throwing beads at people this may be for you, but I found the bead throwing annoying.

universal mardi gras parade performer
Credit: Susan

Many of the floats represent earth elements such as wind and sun. There were other New Orleans-themed floats, too. While the floats were visually stunning, they became very repetitive having one float after another throwing beads to everyone.

The parade would have been better with more variety in the floats.

Performers were placed in between floats with elaborate costumes and many of them were walking on stilts. Many of the performers were flamboyant and not to everyone’s taste.

Universal’s Mardi Gras website states that guests would see performers throughout the day, but we only saw them during the parade. Note that other than 2 floats, the only people in them are the bead tossers.


universal mardi gras king cake
Credit: Susan

Come and discover a variety of tasty dishes from around the world at Universal Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval. You can enjoy sweet, savory, and spicy flavors at the international booths.

I tried the king cake (that had a plastic baby in the center) and the beignets. Unfortunately, both of them weren’t good and I ended up throwing them away after a few bites. Check out my review on these dishes HERE.

You can taste the German Chicken Schnitzel and the Mexican Chilaquiles Verdes, amongst other dishes here.  Hopefully, the other booths were better than what I tried, but I have low expectations of them after being disappointed by both desserts.

More Mardi Gras Theming

universal scooby doo characters mardi gras
Credit: Susan

On my recent Universal trip, I was excited to meet all of the characters. One of my favorite characters I met is the Scooby gang: Daphne, Freddy, Scooby Doo, Shaggy, and Thelma.

Universal Orlando doesn’t post character meet times so it is difficult to catch them. Team members working at character spots have a list of when they meet so be sure and ask them.

They were fun to talk with because their voices and mannerisms resembled the cartoon characters they portrayed. However, they were hard to catch because Universal doesn’t post character meeting times on their app or website so I found myself running around trying to catch them.

The Scooby gang were the only ones wearing something unique for Mardi Gras.

Credit: Susan

Here, you’ll find lighted buildings as shown above and extra Mardi Gras theming at various places. This added a cool touch to the park.


Universal's Mardi Gras Festival Left Us Wanting More
Credit: Susan

You’ll find bead necklaces, alligator popcorn buckets, t-shirts, and so much more Mardi Gras-themed merchandise. I spotted several stands and most stores have a Mardi Gras section.

Mardi Gras merchandise is sold at various Universal Stores, but be sure to check out the Mardi Gras Tribute Store. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than me finding it.

Universal’s website touted a Mardi Gras Tribute Store that has extensive theming and cool interactive elements. However, there are other store Tribute Stores, and I couldn’t find this one.


universal mardi gras concert theater
Credit: Universal Orlando

As part of the celebration, Universal hosts free concerts. Take a look at the performance schedule below:


  • 17 – Nessa Barrett
  • 18 – KC and the Sunshine Band
  • 24 – Barenaked Ladies


  • 2 – DJ Khaled
  • 9 – Ava Max
  • 10 – Queen Latifah
  • 16 – Luis Fonsi
  • 17 – Zedd

This is a pretty solid line-up and is included with your park ticket. The concert venue is cool because it’s on the main street (from the entrance) inside the park.

There’s a large grassy area to enjoy the performances, and because of the venue’s central location, other guests can enjoy the music too.

Since we visited on a Monday, there wasn’t a concert that night.

Final Thoughts

universal mardi gras alligator float
Credit: Susan

I’m not really into Mardi Gras, but since it Universal Orlando had a festival going on with Mardi Gras theming, I was ready to check it out. Decorative touches throughout the park set a festive tone and the addition of international food booths adds variety to food choices.

I didn’t spend very much time on Mardi Gras activities because there weren’t any other than the parade.

One final tip: If you’re really into catching beads and competing with nearby guests, then gather early at the start of the parade. Otherwise, find a spot further down the parade route for a less crowded space to view the parade.

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Sunday 10th of March 2024

We are at the festival nearly weekly each year and find it much more enjoyable than this review presents. The performers are throughout the park greeting guests several hours before the parade begins. We have found that the bead throwing experience varies by location. If you are in a narrow location, it can be less enjoyable and may get hit in the head. The wider locations have not been an issue.


Saturday 9th of March 2024

This article is ridiculous. This author has obviously never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We lived in Louisiana for almost 2 decades. Universal does a wonderful job with its Mardi Gras Festival. It has all the fun without all of the vulgarity and danger of actually going to New Orleans. Anyone who loves Mardi Gras should take this article with a grain of salt.


Saturday 9th of March 2024

What a negative article about such an intriguing festival. One or two questions asked would have given you the route to the Tribute Store. We saw Mardi Gras costumed characters out all over that park and we ate some delicious food. It seems your usual journalism standards missed the mark on this article.

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