5 Reasons to Spend Your Mardi Gras Partying at Universal Orlando Resort

     February 13, 2020

Mardi Gras conjures up all sorts of images and associations, some more family-friendly than others. New Orleans remains a draw for the adult crowd while Miami boasts, in the immortal words of Will Smith, “Everyday like a Mardi Gras, everybody party all day, no work, all play, okay?”, another Florida vacation destination location is partying in a big way: Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2020 is celebrating “25 Years of Party” from now until April 2nd. So if you were thinking about heading to Orlando for a family vacation or a weekend getaway, now’s a great time to do so.

Here’s what Universal Orlando Resort offers up for visitors during Mardi Gras 2020:

It’s unforgettable springtime fun for everyone. Enjoy our 25th anniversary Mardi Gras celebration with nightly parades with outrageous street performers, colorful costumes and countless beads flying through the air. Catch some of the biggest names in music live in concert on select nights. Plus you’ll enjoy authentic New Orleans bands each night and mouthwatering Cajun food available for purchase. It’s 25 Years of Party, only at Universal Studios Florida.

I had the pleasure of spending a recent weekend at Universal Orlando on a press trip to enjoy their three parks–Volcano Bay, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Florida–and everything else the Orlando attraction had to offer. I hadn’t expected to land in the middle of the place’s biggest party in a quarter century, but I’m glad I did! Here are five reasons to check out their Mardi Gras 2020 celebration:

The Food

Mardi Gras, also known by its translation as Fat Tuesday, is all about the food for a lot of folks. And while technically the festival of fatty foods (a final feast before the Lenten season) is only supposed to last one day, Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 celebration gives visitors plenty of opportunities to get in on the fun. So whether you’re perusing all the fantastic fantasy-themed sweets available in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter‘s Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade attractions or looking for something a little more authentic to the holiday, there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy. Here’s a sampling of what Universal Orlando has to offer:

Image via Universal Orlando

Experience the real feel of The Big Easy (everyday at 4pm): Universal Studios’ New York area becomes New Orleans with the addition of the French Quarter Courtyard, a space dedicated to “N’awlins Style Food and Spirits.” Sit down with sizzling Cajun food (available for purchase), enjoy the sounds of sweet Southern music, and let the good times roll.

On concert nights, join revelers in Universal Studios Florida’s Battery Park for a delicious crawfish boil (chicken and Andouille sausage jambalaya available upon request), and exclusive parade views. Plus, on select nights you can enjoy the Mardi Gras Feast & Floats Dessert Party, where you’ll be treated to an assortment of drinks and specialty desserts then get exclusive views for both the parade and Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration.

Sample the best of the French Quarter’s Cajun and Creole food along with special alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Your Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard lets you enjoy jambalaya, beignets and more in sampling sizes. (An exclusive Lanyard for Passholders is also available.) And all new for 2020 is the Carnival Around The Universe tent, where Mardi Gras fans will find a new menu every two weeks featuring the cuisines of global Carnival celebrations. (Must be 21+ to purchase and consume alcohol with valid photo ID.) Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyards are sold in Universal Studios Florida only.

Get exclusive views for both the Mardi Gras parade and Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration. You’ll gather an hour before the parade at Cafe La Bamba for specialty desserts, sparkling wine, sparkling cider and non-alcoholic drinks. Then you’ll enjoy non-alcoholic drinks in an exclusive viewing area in Central Park for the Cinematic Celebration nighttime show. (Must be 21+ to purchase and consume alcohol with valid Photo ID. Concert nights only. Seasonal Pass blockout dates apply.)

The Fun

First and foremost, Universal Orlando’s parks and attractions are all about the fun! Whether you’re there for all things Harry Potter (and if you are, there’s plenty to do), want to enjoy high-octane thrill rides from your favorite franchises (like Transformers, Fast & Furious, The Simpsons, Jurassic Park, King Kong, and more), or just want to splash around all day in Volcano Bay, there’s no end to the fun you’ll find across the three parks and related events. But if you’re looking for more specific ways to get in on the holiday fun, they’ve got you covered:

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store serves as a poignant salute to authentic New Orleans traditions. In this incredible themed experience you’ll explore a dusty forgotten jazz hall, move on to one of New Orleans’ many historic cemeteries, and then enter the musty backwater bayous of rural, Southern New Orleans. Here, you’ll find the home of Baron Saturday, the shadowy guardian of all those who can no longer join the party. Along your way you’ll be able to purchase a variety of elaborate masks, beads, t-shirts and other Mardi Gras-themed paraphernalia. This immersive exhibit, celebrating a layer of dark beauty and long held traditions, can only be found at the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Tribute Store.

The Music

Just like rich food is inseparable from Mardi Gras, so too is music an essential part of the festivities. And Universal Orlando has musical selections for days. Literally. Not only is there a calendar jam-packed with authentic jazz bands to jam out to, there’s at least one major headliner concert every weekend during Mardi Gras 2020. Take a look at the toe-tapping selections you can enjoy with this list below:

With a rich history of soulful performers, New Orleans is often considered to be the birthplace of true American music. Experience the city’s signature sound with performances by real Louisiana jazz, blues and zydeco bands.

Feb 1 – Feb 13     Dirty Bourbon River Show
Feb 14 – Mar 6    Free Agents Brass Band
Mar 6 – Mar 21     New Breed Brass Band
Mar 22 – Apr 2    Naughty Professor Brass Band

Image via Universal Orlando

Concert Lineup (all times 8:30pm)

  • Saturday, Feb. 15 – Bell Biv DeVoe
  • Sunday, Feb. 16 – +Live+ 
  • Saturday, Feb. 22 – Kool & the Gang 
  • Saturday, Feb. 29 – TLC 
  • Saturday, Mar. 7 – REO Speedwagon
  • Sunday, Mar. 8 – Dustin Lynch
  • Friday, Mar. 13 – Luis Fonsi
  • Saturday, Mar. 14 – The All-American Rejects
  • Sunday, Mar. 15 – Diana Ross
  • Friday, Mar. 20 – Chris Young
  • Saturday, Mar. 21 – Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Sunday, Mar. 22 – Marshmello
  • Saturday, Mar. 28 – Why Don’t We
  • Sunday, Mar. 29 – Gavin DeGraw

The Perks

Everything I’ve already mentioned is more than enough reason to bring your Mardi Gras party to Universal Orlando, but the parks’ passholders will enjoy a few extra perks and discounts when they get in on the fun. And a new collectible button and magnet is just the beginning. If you’re thinking of heading to Universal Orlando for Mardi Gras 2020, you might want to check out more details for passholder perks here to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. More info follows below:

If beads, bands and beignets are your thing, then own it. UOAPs can keep the good times rolling with nightly parades, exclusive perks and discounts!

Concerts are Included with Premier, Preferred and Power Passes

  • On select nights, catch performances from Marshmello, Luis Fonsi, TLC and more at the Music Plaza stage.

Catch the Parade from the Passholder-Exclusive Viewing Area

  • Watch the Mardi Gras parade alongside your UOAP family in front of Mel’s Drive-In. Space is limited and is available on a first come, first served basis.

Image via Universal Orlando

20% off for Premier, Preferred and Power Passholders

  • On select nights, join revelers in Battery Park in Universal Studios Florida for a delicious seafood boil (chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya available on request), and the best parade views.

Mardi Gras Feast & Floats Exclusive Dessert Party – 20% off for All Passholders

  • Join your Passholder family for both the Mardi Gras parade and Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration. You’ll be treated to an assortment of drinks and specialty desserts.
Free CityWalk Club Access
  • Every night from Feb. 1–Apr. 2, just show your valid Annual or Seasonal Pass and valid photo ID at the club entrance. (Some venues only admit ages 21 or older with valid photo ID.)
Passholder-Exclusive Drink in CityWalk
  • From Jan. 25 – Apr. 2, Passholders 21 and up can purchase an exclusive drink, the Pardi-Gras, for $12 +tax at Red Coconut Club, CityWalk’s Rising Star, the groove, Pat O’Brien’s and Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom.

The Festivities

Once you’ve had your fill of food, fun, and music, it’s time to enjoy some themed Mardi Gras festivities! The highlight of the experience is the nightly Mardi Gras parade that circles the Universal Studios Florida park. It’s a great break from the wild and wacky adventures that will occupy the rest of your time at Universal Orlando and a wonderfully magical display of pageantry, song and dance, and more beads than you could possibly carry. Find out more below:

Gather with your fellow party animals to see our stilt walkers, dancers, and street performers get in touch with their wild side amidst themed parade floats. Let the good times roll as our colorful menagerie parades through the streets of Universal Studios Florida. This year’s theme is “Treasures of the Deep” featuring floats inspired by a Treasure Map, the Sunken City of Atlantis, Creatures of the Deep and a treasure-filled Lost Ship Lagoon. Confetti will fly as countless strands of beads are tossed into the crowd at this wild and wonderful evening event.

Image via Universal Orlando

The Little Jester’s Parade Viewing Area located in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop offers an unobstructed view for petite partygoers. Access is available beginning one hour before the parade starts.

Want to take part in the parade fun and throw beads from our floats? With the Mardi Gras Parade’s Virtual Line system you have the opportunity to secure a time in the standby line for your chance to ride. Virtual Line Passes are first-come, first-served with limited availability and will be available a few hours before the parade begins each night.

There’s so much waiting for you this Mardi Gras 2020 season at Universal Orlando. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip today and let us know how your holiday experience goes!

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