Teen Tips on Celebrating Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort
Last weekend, I found myself eating beignets in the French Quarter Courtyard. I was dancing to Blues and Zydeco music and catching beads thrown off of extravagant parade floats. Even though I was at Universal Orlando Resort, I felt transported to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Every year, Universal Studios Florida brings the spirit of Mardi Gras to life, transforming their New York section into southern Louisiana. While Mardi Gras in New Orleans is only two weeks long, this family-friendly celebration continues in Florida for two months, ending on March 25th.
This event is included in park admission, and last weekend I had the chance to visit and experience Florida’s biggest party. For teenagers (or parents of teens) attending Mardi Gras at Universal this year, here are some tips!
Let’s start with music and food!
Universal Orlando brings authentic Cajun and Creole food into their theme park. With dishes like jambalaya and shrimp gumbo, your taste buds will take you straight to Louisiana’s bayou.
And of course, you can’t forget sweet beignets for dessert. There is a bar area for those who are over 21, but us teenagers can still enjoy the yummy non-alcoholic beverage options.
There are a plethora of delicious options for dinner, all while listening to live bands from New Orleans perform. As you explore the French Quarter Courtyard and its surrounding areas, you can’t help but dance!
Don’t forget to stop and get your photo taken with a strolling street performer, dressed in traditional Mardi Gras costumes. These friendly individuals will be gathered around the French Quarter Courtyard before the parade begins, and if you’re lucky, they may even share Mardi Gras beads with you. I loved seeing how intricate their costumes were.
Next, on the agenda is the dazzling parade!
There are 50 nights of parades, and this year’s spectacle features 6 new mythology-inspired floats: Manticore’s Majesty, Rise of the Garuda, Dance of the Dragon, Phoenix From the Flames, Garden Sprites and Flight of the Pegasus.
One of the best parts is catching beads off the floats. Bead throwing is a classic Mardi Gras tradition that correlates with the royal colors of Mardi Gras: purple, gold and green. These colors each symbolize something different. Purple represents justice, gold represents power, and green represents faith. According to tradition, the beads are tossed to individuals who exhibit the color’s meaning.
You don’t want to miss Universal’s parade, and being in the front row will maximize your chance to catch beads. I recommend leaving plenty of time and lining up for the parade before the start time.
Additionally, there are exclusive viewing areas if you’re an annual passholder or an American Express card member. If either applies to you, you’re guaranteed an awesome view in Hollywood, one of the park’s themed sections. If you have children in your group there is a special area called “Lil’ Jesters” where the little ones can sit and enjoy the parade.
This year, there will be over 4 million beads thrown throughout the event, so I’m sure you’ll be able to catch a few and leave with a neck-full of beads!
Another component of Universal’s Mardi Gras is the concerts, which take place on select nights every weekend. This year’s talent lineup includes Jason Derulo, The All-American Rejects, and more! There are 12 live concerts in all; click here for the full lineup.
If you’re attending Mardi Gras on a concert night and still want to catch the parade, the best place to watch the parade is anywhere along Production Central. You’ll be close to the Music Plaza Stage where the concert takes place, and it will be an easier transition. But no matter where you’re located in the outdoor amphitheater, the concert is standing room and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. You’re guaranteed a good view.
Last weekend I danced and sang my heart out to X Ambassadors, one of my favorite bands! I first fell in love with them when I heard their hit song “Renegades” playing on the radio, and their live performance did not disappoint. It was the perfect way to end the night.
Whether you’re admiring the street performers around the French Quarter Courtyard, catching sparkly beads from the parade floats, or feasting on spicy Cajun food, grab your friends and family and head over to Universal Orlando Resort to celebrate Mardi Gras. I guarantee it will be an event to remember!