It’s Mardi Gras time at Universal Orlando Resort, and the family-friendly party is in full swing, featuring a nightly parade, concerts on select nights, Cajun eats and more. There is a lot to see and do during the annual event, and the fun is all included in your regular park admission to Universal Studios Florida.
Check out these tips for making the most of your visit with your family.
Plan Your Day
The Mardi Gras fun begins in the French Quarter Courtyard in Universal Studios at 4 p.m. daily. That means you have all day to enjoy the rest of the park before the Mardi Gras activities.
Once the French Quarter Courtyard opens, you’ll find plenty to eat and lots of great entertainment with a friendly, Cajun vibe. Come hungry with plenty of space on your memory card.
Performers and Street Entertainment
At 4 p.m., the French Quarter Courtyard becomes a bustling party with performers wandering around the perimeter of the square. Stilt walkers and other various characters from the parade are available for photos and to chat with guests. Many of them also carry beads to pass out to guests they interact with. My kids enjoyed checking out each performer and pausing to take photos with anyone who would give them beads.
As the evening continues, various parade performers come and go, and a live brass band adds to the party atmosphere. Nearly every person we met stopped to wish us a happy Mardi Gras and to thank us for coming.
Mardi Gras Souvenirs
In addition to beads passed out during the party and the parade, you can also buy fancy strands of beads at various Mardi Gras kiosks around the square. If you really want to get into the party, you can also buy Mardi Gras masks. Our whole family donned masks for the evening, and not only was it fun, but I think the kids got extra beads because of it.
You can find all the Cajun favorites in the French Quarter Courtyard: jambalaya, grilled Andouille sausage, shrimp gumbo and, of course, beignets. While mom and dad dine on New Orleans staples, little ones can enjoy a simpler fare of chicken fingers and french fries.
While my kids weren’t too keen on trying dad’s shrimp po’boy, they didn’t say no to their first taste of beignets. They were covered in powdered sugar and made for a warm and delicious treat for everyone. And since there are four beignets in an order, it is just right for a family of four to share.
I couldn’t help but have a little fun with my daughters with all of the pretty flowers on display around the French Quarter Courtyard. I created our own new challenge, having the kids pose with the various flower arrangements. The results were not only fun, but I got some cute pictures too.
New Orleans Entertainment
You can come and go from the Mardi Gras party to enjoy the neighboring rides. But once we arrived, we didn’t leave the French Quarter Courtyard until it was time to grab a spot for the parade.
In addition to wandering entertainers and live music, you’ll also find a fortuneteller and a henna artist. Having always wanted to try henna myself, we decided it would be a fun memory for the girls and let them each get their hands painted. We love creating extra moments like that so we can look back and say, “Remember the time you got your hand painted at Universal Orlando?”
Little Jester Parade Viewing
The highlight of the Mardi Gras festivities is the nightly parade. Colorful lights, lively music and beads – all the beads you can catch – make the parade a huge hit for kids and parents alike. To make this parade even more kid friendly, Universal Orlando offers a special viewing section for kids – the Little Jesters area.
This roped off area is designated for little kids and their families to hangout and watch the parade. Because it’s near the front of the park, the Little Jesters area is just a couple of blocks from the parade’s start and a couple of blocks from the exit. This makes for an easy get away if you plan to leave after the parade to avoid the crowd.
The Little Jesters area fills up, so it’s best to get there early to save your spot if you want to be in the front row. There was plenty of room for everyone the night we went, and all the kids walked away with their necks draped in beads galore.
Hot Names In Concert on Select Nights
If you plan to stick around for the concert after the parade, it’s important to note that die-hard fans start lining up for the best seats in the morning. But families who just want to experience a little of the concert can enjoy the concert from the back of the venue.
After the parade, we made our way over to the concert area and joined the crowd. My kids enjoyed dancing to the music, especially the opening act. Mom and dad more enjoyed the headlining concert, and in the end, everyone was happy.
For a family-friendly Mardi Gras party, Universal Orlando is the place to be. Our kids are already asking when they can go back to do it again.
Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras runs daily through April 7 with concerts on select nights and is included in admission to Universal Studio Florida. Get your tickets today so you don’t miss out on this year’s celebration!