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The annual Mardi Gras celebration is up and running at Universal Studios, bringing the Big Easy’s charm and food out every night, and this year it tosses in new floats and music.
Six new constellation-themed Mardi Gras floats have been added, including Taurus, Virgo and Scorpius. Each float is loaded with bead-throwers and surrounded by costumed characters, many on stilts, that look like walking disco balls. There’s also a pretty pop-heavy lineup of concerts in the park on select nights, such as hip-hop chart topper Macklemore on Saturday.
Now through April 7.
In the late afternoon, Mardi Gras performers and jesters can be found around the French Quarter area handing out beads, dancing and taking photos with guests. Live New Orleans bands play every night bringing a mix of blues, jazz and zydeco music for partygoers. Headliner concerts on select nights are at 8:30 p.m., and fans have been known to line up as early as noon for a good spot.
The beads start flying when the parade steps off at 7:15 p.m. (7:45 p.m. later in the event’s run). There is a special parade viewing area just for kids in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop in Hollywood. Floats include traditional favorites (the Krewe, King Gator) along with the six new celestial floats.
Food and drinks
You can find Cajun food such as spicy jambalaya, grilled andouille sausage, gumbo and beignets in the French Quarter. You’ll also find an array of specialty cocktails and strolling barmaids with trays of Jell-O shots. The signature drink of the event is Voodoo Juice, a potent mix of Full Throttle, juices and rum.
If you’d like to see the parade twice, line up in front of Mel’s Drive-In near where the parade begins and ends.
The festivities are included with admission, which starts at $110. Note that Universal’s Seasonal Pass holders are blocked out on Mardi Gras concert dates. The park opens at 9 a.m. daily and closes at 8 or 9 p.m. The French Quarter festivities start at 4 p.m., parade at 7:15 p.m. universalorlando.com.