Universal Mardi Gras


Universal Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval is a seasonal event at Universal Orlando Resort that typically runs from mid-February through early April. The event runs daily and features Mardi Gras-inspired food and an authentic Mardi Gras parade with a different theme each year.

On select weekend nights, you may even be able to catch a performance on the Universal Music Plaza Stage. While the party in New Orleans can get wild and crazy, the Universal Mardi Gras celebration is a family-friendly event focusing on food and fun!

The Mardi Gras celebrations start as soon as you enter the park and make your way down Production Central. Festive decorations have been added to the areas of the park where Mardi Gras is celebrated, zydeco music is blasted from the speakers, and the parade performers will be out and about meeting guests, taking pictures, and giving out beads.

The French Quarter Courtyard is the main hub of the celebration and it’s located in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida. The parade kicks off in Hollywood and makes its way through Production Central and New York before returning back to where it started in Hollywood. Concerts take place on the Universal Music Plaza Stage, which is located in Production Central between Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The best part of Universal Mardi Gras? It’s FREE and included in your park admission! Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Let the good times roll!

One of the centerpieces of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration is the parade. There are plenty of good parades in Orlando, but this one has an energy and excitement that is unmatched. The theme for 2023 is Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras. The six specialty floats will roll alongside the six classic Mardi Gras floats. The floats are great, but the throws are limited to standard-size beads and doubloons. The parade happens every single night except for March 31.

If you’re looking to ride on a float and throw beads rather than catch them, you have two options. First, you can check if there are reservations open on the Official Universal Orlando App and join the Virtual Line. Second, you can pay for a spot with the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience. On select days February 4 – April 16 you can get a 3-course meal at one of four restaurants and a reserved spot on a float. The experience is $84.99 + tax per guest (gratuity included) and your restaurant options are Finnegan’s Bar & Grill, Lombard’s Seafood Grill, The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, or NBC Sports Grill & Bar.

2023 Concert Lineup

Saturday, February 4Patti Labelle
Friday, February 10JVKE
Saturday, February 11Goo Goo Dolls
Saturday, February 18Maren Morris
Sunday, February 19Willow
Saturday, February 253 Doors Down
Saturday, March 4Sean Paul
Saturday March 5Lauren Daigle

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 past performers include Huey Lewis & The News, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 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.

Universal Mardi Gras celebrates the International Flavors of Carnaval so you’ll find plenty of food and drinks throughout the whole park. You can’t really compare the quality of food to what you would get in New Orleans, but they try to replicate the style for a broader audience who might not enjoy the authentic flavors and they don’t do a terrible job at it. You’ll find traditional dishes like Jambalaya, Po’ Boys, Etoufee, Beignets, and King Cake. Universal also represents many countries that celebrate Carnaval bringing in foods from around the world

Check out the full list of 2023 menus for Universal Mardi Gras!

Outside of Universal Studios Florida, specialty food and beverage can be found at select Universal CityWalk restaurants, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and ALL of the Universal Orlando Resort Hotels!

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 on the patio or sing along in the Piano Bar. At this location, it’s Mardi Gras 365 days a year!

Related Posts