Hands down my favorite time of year to visit Universal Orlando is during Mardi Gras! It typically runs from early February to April. For 2024 it takes place Feb 3 - Apr 7 at Universal Studios.
The highlight of Mardi Gras is the parade! Words simply explain how exciting the Mardi Gras parade is. The music is jamming, everyone is cheering and it is near impossible not to have a fantastic time. In fact, we loved the parade so much that we did it twice on our last February trip. My boys came home with more beads than they know what to do with. (Seriously, it is a huge pile). The best part, you don’t have to do anything crazy to get the beads. It is easy. Stand along the parade route, wave your arms and keep on catching the beads. The beads are thrown by park guests – how cool is that? So now you are asking yourself - how you can be one of those lucky park guests. Purchasing a Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience is the only way to guarantee your traveling party a spot. If you have your Universal vacation booked with Markwood Magic, send us an email if you want to get this added to your package. If you don't want to purchase the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience, you can try your hand at the very limited number of spots in the virtual queue. Ok, back to the parade experience. In between the colorful floats from New Orleans are performers in an array of costumes making the crowd smile. I simply loved the ones walking on stilts. We secured our spot in line about an hour before the parade. You don’t need to be there quite that early during the week day, but we wanted to find the perfect spot.
After the Mardi Gras parade, our second favorite activity is the food. Our family is full of foodies and we like to try out different cuisines. Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval has food booths spread throughout Universal Studios. If you are going to eat a lot during your vacation, I highly recommend getting a tasting lanyard to save a little bit of money. Out of all the options we loved the India both the most. Delicious! (Sorry no pictures, we ate it all). For travelers looking for more traditional Mardi Gras delicacies, go the French Quarter and New Orleans booths. Bonus: Many of the restaurants at the resorts and City Walk have special items for Mardi Gras.
During the day, head to the New York area near Revenge of the Mummy and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. Universal does great job decorating Mardi Gras. It is definitely worth taking a stroll. Some of the props are huge and perfect for snap a few pictures for social media. If you get lucky you might even catch a street performer or two in the area.
On this past trip we didn’t get to experience the live concerts, but there are live concerts on select nights.
No festival at Universal is complete without a visit to the Tribute store. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything here take a look around at the decorations. And yes, just like in years past you can buy some delicious treats. Every visit we make it a point to visit the Tribute store.
Are you ready to experience Mardi Gras for yourself? Schedule a consultation below!
I’m looking forward to planning your next adventure!
- Lindsey Markwood, family travel curator