By Jessica LaVigne
With Mardi Gras just beginning this past Saturday, February 4th, there is so much to enjoy on select days until April 16th! From popular entertainers to food and drinks from around the world, let's dive into all that there is to offer this year at Universal's Mardi Gras.
Specialty Food & Drinks
I don’t know about you, but with any theme park festival or event I gravitate straight towards the food. This year’s Mardi Gras is extra special because the theme is “International Flavors of Carnaval”, featuring small plates from around the world!
There are over 20 food stations including Belgium, France, India, Spain, and (of course) New Orleans. We were able to try quite a few of these offerings, and everything was absolutely delicious! Some of my favorites include the Chicken Coxinha from Brazil, Mofongo from Puerto Rico, Pav Bhaji (Vegan) from India, and the Baja Shrimp Ceviche Tostada from Mexico.
You can’t go to Mardi Gras without getting something a little sweet! Try the Liège Waffle Berries and Cream (Vegan) in Belgium, and don’t forget to grab some Beignets (Vegan) from the French Quarter as well - a true New Orleans staple.
When it comes to drinks, every food station has specialty beverages that pair well with each food item, However, there is also a Bloody Mary Bar and French Quarter Bar that have some other options including the Category 5 Punch with two different rums and citrus juices.
The Tribute Store
As every Universal passholder and annual visitor knows, the tribute store changes throughout the year to showcase specific themes such as Halloween, Christmas, and Mardi Gras. However, this year Universal has moved the store altogether to its new home on Hollywood Boulevard, replacing the old AP Lounge that was recently moved to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
The Mardi Gras theming this year includes a couple different sides of New Orleans. As you walk in, you enter an Ambassador Ballroom, with bright colors and a musical instrument display where a band entertains nightly. The second and third room is a little darker in lighting and theming, depicting the streets at night with brick buildings filled with weathered posters, street signs, and more.
Walk a little further into the store and there’s the treat showcase filled with Mardi Gras goodies. Grab a piece of chocolate covered bacon or a macaron to snack on while you wait for the parade!
Musicians and More!
On select weekends, you can enjoy musical artists such as Maren Morris, Sean Paul, and Lauren Daigle as they take the main stage! Check out the lineup on the Universal website here.
Want to get a picture in your Mardi Gras attire? There are also Mardi Gras street performers that are available throughout the day for photo opportunities, from stilt walkers to colorful characters.
The best way to end the night at Mardi Gras is sitting along Hollywood Boulevard catching beads! Every year, the team members behind Mardi Gras at Universal connect with partners in New Orleans to create six new floats. This year, the parade includes floats featuring Jesters, royalty, mystical creatures, and Jazz influences that really epitomize the vibe of Mardi Gras.
If you want to be part of the parade and throw beads into the crowd, you can pay $84.99 for a Ride and Dine Experience which also includes a 3-course meal at select Universal restaurants.
Universal’s Mardi Gras is such a fun time in the parks at the beginning of the year, with over two months of entertainment and partying! Come and enjoy all the food, drinks, and theming that this year’s celebration has to offer.
What’s your favorite part about Mardi Gras?
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