‘Tis the season of colorful costumes, powerful performances, and festive food – that’s right, it’s time for Universal Orlando’s 2020 Mardi Gras celebration! This exhilarating event takes place every evening from February 1st to April 2nd. Entertainment includes a playful parade full of themed floats, stilt walkers, and dynamic dancers; bands playing the expressive tunes of New Orleans; and live concerts on designated nights. There are many aspects of this carnival to rave about, but let’s start with the most delicious component: the festive food.
This year, there is a brand new tasting tent in the French Quarter Courtyard that will highlight festive fare from various carnivals across the globe. The available menu items will evolve every two weeks, with each menu revival representing one of four carnival locales: Trinidad & Tobago, Louisiana Creole, Brazilian Carnival, and Germany. Each new menu will consist of a trio of treats. The carnival cuisine will include an assortment of distinct dishes, like the Chickpea Double (Trinidad & Tobago), the Softshell Crab Slider (Louisiana Creole), and the Sauerbraten (Germany), to name a few. Additionally, five of the ten food dishes offered in the tasting tent are plant-based items.
photos courtesy of Universal Orlando
Another new offering to the Mardi Gras snack selection is the Float Floats from Schwab’s Pharmacy, each distinctly designed for this year’s theme of Treasures in the Deep. Each float includes soft-serve, soda, and a themed embellishment. You can choose the Mardi Gras Float, Shipwreck Float, or Sunken City of Atlantis Float. Speaking of sugary snacks, you can expand your Mardi Gras party palate on CityWalk, as well! Voodoo Doughnut will be offering a confectionary concoction filled with cinnamon sugar Bavarian cream. Of course, this delectable doughnut will aesthetically exude the carnival vibe with sprinkles in Mardi Gras colors. Also on CityWalk, The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen will be serving up a milkshake inspired by (and topped with!) a traditional king cake.
photos courtesy of Universal Orlando
Now that you are sufficiently hungry, let’s turn our attention to the flashiest part of Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration – the nightly parade! This year’s floats are festively decorated with skulls, ships, buried treasure, and more – all to represent the Treasures of the Deep theme. Parade times vary, some nights beginning as early as 5:15 p.m. and other nights starting as late as 7:45 p.m., so be certain to check the parade time in advance when planning your evening.
If the captivating colors, alluring lights, and the overall exhilirating atmosphere appeal to you, you can join the party by signing up to throw beads from a float using the Mardi Gras Parade’s Virtual Line system. Essentially, a few hours prior to the parade, spots can be reserved through the Universal Orlando Resort app. From the homepage, click on the Mardi Gras image, which will provide you with a few options, one of those being “Virtual Line Pass”. When you choose this, you will be asked how many guests are in your party, as well as what time works best for you. Once you are in the park, it is important to periodically check the app as this opportunity is not guaranteed and will be offered on a “first come, first serve” basis.
If you enjoy both food and fun, then there are a couple of options available to you that will blend the best of both these worlds! Your first option is The Bayou Boil, which allows you to get a literal taste of the Cajun cuisine from a Louisiana-style boil that includes shrimp, crawfish, corn-on-the-cob, and potatoes. Also, you get access to an exclusive area to watch the parade while snacking on beignets and king cakes! This is considered an add-on experience, which is separate from park admission, and will cost $59.99 for adults and $39.99 for children (aged 3-9) on select nights of the event.
Your second option also involves delectable desserts, so if you have a fondness for sugary sweets and plan to visit between March 9th-April 2nd, you may want to try the Mardi Gras Feast & Floats Dessert Party. On select evenings, you will have access to the best parade view plus desserts, hot chocolate, sparkling wine and cider and more! In addition, you will also be provided with a preferential view for Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration! This experience will cost you $49.99 for adults and $29.99 for children, and like the Bayou Boil, is also a separate price than park admission.
As you can see, there are plenty of festivities, food, and fun available to you at this year’s Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Orlando Resort! Let the good times roll!