Everything We Love About Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando (2024 Universal Mardi Gras)

Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is the perfect addition to your visit to the Orlando theme park. With specialty food items and entertainment, including the Universal Mardi Gras parade, guests will find Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando to be a great time to visit.

I have been visiting Universal Orlando with my family of five since 2017 and one of our favorite times of year to visit is during the Mardi Gras event.

The event is held at Universal Studios Florida and is included in your general admission ticket. In the park you will find specialty food booths, live entertainment, a Mardi Gras Tribute Store, and the daily Mardi Gras parade.

I love the entire vibe of the event, it is awesome! It is definitely one of the can’t miss experiences at Universal Orlando.

My Can’t Miss Things to Do at Mardi Gras Universal Orlando

There are a few things I never miss when visiting during Marid Gras. These are the best things to do at Mardi Gras at Universal.

  • Stay for the parade! I am not necessarily a big parade person but the Mardi Gras parade is so much fun. The floats are colorful and bright. Kids and adults love to catch beads and enjoy the ambiance. Guests can also be part of the parade and throw beads. I go into more details later in this post on how to do that.
  • Walk-through the Mardi Gras Tribute Store. This has merchandise for the event and is really well themed.
  • Try the specialty foods throughout the park. We always order the beignets and gumbo.
mardi gras at universal orlando float
The floats at the Mardi Gras parade are worth checking out during your visit.

Before we get into all the things to see and do be sure you download the Universal Orlando app before your trip. This will allow you to mobile order, reserve a virtual queue for the float riding, and check ride wait times.

You will also want to purchase tickets before you arrive. I recommend starting with the Universal Orlando website and compare park ticket prices with our partner Undercover Tourist to see who has the best Universal Orlando ticket deals for the dates of your visit.

There are two main theme parks at Universal Orlando. They are Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure. Mardi Gras is held at Universal Studios Florida. Keep that in mind if you are visiting one park.

Want more details? Read on for the best things to do at Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort.

float mardi gras universal studios florida

Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2024 Dates

This years Mardi Gras theme is International Flavors of Carnaval and the dates for Mardi Gras at Universal 2024: February 3rd – April 7th. Expect the biggest crowds during opening week as well as weekend dates throughout the event.

Universal Mardi Gras Parade

The parade is the main event of the party and you will find crowds get busier as you get closer to the parade times. On our visit the parade was at 6:15pm but other dates had it as late as 7:30pm. Check the app or website for the latest times.

The parade route starts near Cafe La Bamba and heads towards Transformers, turns at streets of NY toward the Mummy, turns again at Jimmy Fallon Race Through New York, and then finishes down Hollywood Blvd.

mardi gras parade route at universal orlando
This is the parade route for Mardi Gras.

If you want a good spot for the parade I suggest finding one around 30 minutes before. If you don’t need to be in the front row you can find a good spot 5 minutes before the parade.

One night we were walking around the park during the parade and we saw a lot of floats and the kids caught plenty of beads. So seating doesn’t matter too much.

Each Mardi Gras float is themed to something different but they are all gorgeous! The beads from each float are different colors too!

float at mardi gras universal

If you want to be a Mardi Gras float rider you have two options. If you are a Universal annual pass holder you can make reservations ahead of time. These sell out quickly. We are annual passholders now but we were not when the reservations opened. We will try again next year and were bummer we couldn’t go for a Mardi Gras float ride.

Your second option is to join the virtual queue the day of your visit. We tried this 2 days in a row but were unsuccessful. These sell out quickly, we didn’t get them fast enough during our visit, but will try next time. Learn more here.

If you don’t want to worry about making reservations on the day of your visit you can purchase a float and dine reservation. Prices start at $84.99+ a person. Learn more here. This might be worth it for your trip, but for our family of five it wasn’t in our budget this trip.

Universal Mardi Gras Concert Lineup 2024

Concerts are included with your admission ticket. If you are an annual pass holder be sure to check your blackout dates.

  • February 3: Walker Hayes
  • February 10: The All-American Rejects
  • February 17: Nessa Barrett
  • February 18: KC and the Sunshine Band
  • February 24: Barenaked Ladies
  • March 2: DJ Khaled
  • March 9: Ava Max
  • March 10: Queen Latifah
  • March 16: Luis Fonsi
  • March 17: Zedd

Food at Universal Mardi Gras

There are so many different specialty food items at the food booths for Mardi Gras at Universal. These are located at numerous booths throughout the park. For full menu check here.

We like to buy the beignets and the gumbo from the New Orleans booths. One tip that I want you to know is to consider purchasing a Mardi Gras Food Card.

king cake at mardi gras universal

For $60.00 guests receive a $70.00 food and beverage card. This can be used at almost all food locations at the Universal Orlando resort. We used ours at the food court at Dockside Resort.

The card never expires so if you are a frequent visitor you can purchase a few to use throughout the year. We purchase the $120.00 cards that gets us $150.00 worth of food. (The $120.00 cards are a passholder perk.)

Typically we will purchase 2-3 cards and use them for the entirety of our vacation.

They can not be used with mobile ordering. In locations that have mobile ordering tell a server and you will order from the counter. It is very easy and we didn’t have an issue with it.

It ends up saving us quite a bit of money on our dining at Universal.

mardi gras food and beverage card

Entertainment at Universal Mardi Gras

Besides the live concerts and parade performers there are usually street performers walking around a few hours before the parade.

They will pose for pictures and interact with guests. They really bring the energy to the Marid Gras celebration.

Mardi Gras Tribute Store

You also want to make sure you take time to explore the Mardi Gras Tribute Store. This is where you will find all the Mardi Gras merchandise but this is not a typical store.

This is immersive and themed. This year it was stepping into the bayou and I was impressed. Even if you don’t plan to purchase anything it is worth walking through.

tribute store mardi gras universal

Mardi Gras Krewe Crawl

Mardi Gras Krewe Crawl is a fun scavenger hunt you can do as you visit the park. Guests purchase a map from one of the locations and find a mask throughout the park. Check with a team member for more information.

We have done this Holiday Tree Hunt during the Holidays at Universal and it is a fun for the kids. The cost for the map was around $10.00 and you receive a small gift at the completion.

Is It Worth Visiting Universal Orlando during Mardi Gras

Yes!!! Mardi Gras at Universal is totally worth visiting. It is included with your admission cost so it doesn’t feel like an extra added on cost and it truly enhances your visit.

It is a fun atmosphere and family friendly. We love visiting Universal during Mardi Gras and think it is one of the best times to visit.

Read Next: Beginners Guide to Universal Orlando Theme Parks and Resorts

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