Hi, it’s Lily Frog! Laissez les bons temps rouler … or as we froggies like to say, “Let the good times roll! Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a famous celebration that originated in New Orleans and is now celebrated around the world. Universal Orlando Resort in Florida brings the excitement of this cultural event to life with its annual Mardi Gras celebration. This event is a perfect opportunity for kids and families to experience the magic and excitement of Mardi Gras all while having fun at a theme park. In this post, we'll be sharing our top five activities your kids will love at this year's Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration. Let's go!
Top Five Things To Do with Kids at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2023
This year, the Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Orlando runs from Feb. 4 to April 16 and features live music, colorful floats, hoppin' entertainment and amazing shopping and dining experiences.
And before you even ask, we already know what you’re thinking … “Is the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration appropriate for kids?” The answer is, of course, YES! We’re hoppy to share that not only is this event tadpole-friendly, but there are a ton of activities that the whole family will enjoy. The best part is that all of the Mardi Gras fun is already included with your general admission ticket, including the concert series! Plus, bonus — the Frog Family offers discount tickets to help you get there!
Celebrate with the Universal Mardi Gras Parade
The Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Parade is the centerpiece of the park's yearly Mardi Gras celebration and is a must-see for families and kids. The parade features vibrant and colorful floats, designed and created by some of the world's best parade designers, that travel through the park, accompanied by catchy music, jovial dancers and entertaining street performers.
Tadpoles will love the nightly parade, where they can catch beads from the floats. As the floats make their way through the park, participants throw an array of beads to the crowds, creating a jubilant and energetic atmosphere. I mean, beads and bling — it's sort of a Mardi Gras thing!
The floats are inspired by the traditional Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, but with a Universal Orlando twist. "Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras" is this year's theme, making the floats and characters unfrogettable! Keep your eye out for unicorns, dragons, sea serpents and more! With its party atmosphere and playful spirit, the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Parade is a fun and memorable experience you won't want to miss.
Little Jester's Parade Viewing Area
Scoring a prime parade seat and viewing location can be challenging when you have the tadpoles to consider. I mean what's the point in attending the parade if your kiddos can't see because crowds are blocking the way. No need to worry! Universal Orlando has got you covered by providing the Little Jester's Parade Viewing Area.
The Little Jester's Viewing Area is a reserved section designed specifically for families with young children. This area provides an unobstructed view for tadpoles 10 and under. You'll find this area just in front of the Brown Derby Hat shop. Universal Orlando team members are there to assist and make sure families have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Become A Part of the Parade
Want to ramp up your Universal Mardi Gras experience? We think one of the most frogstastic ways to do this is to become an official parade float rider and toss beads out to the crowds. Yup, you read that right! Each year, Universal Orlando invites regular park-goers to participate and ride floats during the parade!
If you think this is something you and your tadpoles will enjoy, here are a few things you need to know before you go!
- Space is limited and accessible by joining a virtual queue found in the Universal Orlando app.
- The virtual queue opens at 3 p.m. each afternoon. Have your fingers ready — these spots fill up quickly! For more information and hopful tips be sure to check out our guide on everything you need to know about the Universal Mardi Gras parade.
- All frogs riding a float must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and must be at least 48 inches tall.
- You must be able to board the float and stand for the duration of the parade.
- Strollers and large bags are prohibited. Small bags and personal items are allowed.
Universal Mardi Gras Float Ride & Dine Packages
Nabbing a spot on the parade with the virtual queue isn't the only way to participate. Starting at $84.99, you can purchase a Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience. This experience allows you to enjoy a three-course meal at one of the four participating restaurants and secure a spot in the parade the same day!
Parade starts at 6:15 p.m. on:
- Feb. 5-9
- Feb. 12-16
- Feb. 26 - March 2
Parade starts at 7:30 p.m. on:
- Feb. 17
- Feb. 20-24
- March 4
- March 6 - April 16
Parade starts at 7:45 p.m. on:
- Feb. 4
- Feb. 10-11
- Feb. 18-19
- March 4-5
Times are subject to change. Be sure to check the specific times on the day of your visit in the Universal Orlando app. For the best viewing experience, we recommend staking out your spot about an hour before showtime. We love the views from the Hollywood area of the parks. If snagging a prime concert view is your priority, then watch the parade close to the Music Plaza Stage or in the New York section of the park.
Feast Upon Flavors from Around the Globe
Let them eat cake! Food is a huge part of the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration, and there are plenty of delicious options for kids to enjoy. The park offers authentic New Orleans-style cuisine, including gumbo, jambalaya and beignets that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. In addition to traditional Mardi Gras dishes, there are also plenty of kid-friendly options throughout the park at various dining locations that offer burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders and other classic theme park fare.
You'll find an array of International food booths situated around the Universal Orlando park, as well as jambalaya, gumbo and king cake at Universal's Island of Adventure and the Muffuletta Long Board Pizza at Universal's Volcano Bay. You can save some green by purchasing a Universal Orlando Resort Food & Beverage Card. The cost is $65 for a $75 card and lanyard. There is no expiration date or limit on the quantity you can purchase.
My older brother, Tad, and I put together a list of our frog favorite treats. You'll want to try these out when you visit the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration!
- Beignets - Central City & French Quarter
- King Cake - French Quarter
- Liège Waffle S'mores - Belgium
- Canadian Snowshoe Maple - Canada
- Choladas (shaved ice with sweetened condensed milk, mango, strawberry sauce, wafers, and Lulo syrup) - Columbia
- Potato Pancakes - Germany
- Ube Ice Cream Sesame Bubble Waffle Cone - Japan
- Gelato Stuffed Pressed Brioche (Ice cream sandwich pressed to order) - France
Food booths open at 11:30 a.m. each day and operate until about 30 minutes before the park closes. Keep in mind that on holidays and weekends, lines can be lengthy. We suggest having a designated froggy wait in line to order food, while other members of your party wait at a table or enjoy interacting with the street performers to help pass the time. In addition, you'll want to check our crowd calendar for the best times to visit.
Meet Festive Characters & Street Performers
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration is known for its vibrant and sensational street performers, who bring an added level of energy to the event. These talented individuals entertain guests with their colorful costumes and mesmerizing movements. From stilt walkers to dancers, the street performers are an integral part of the Mardi Gras experience. Whether you're watching them from the sidelines or joining in on the fun, the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras street performers are sure to leave a lasting impression and make your celebration one to remember! For the braver froggies in your krewe, have them ask to earn beads by doing a dance, telling or joke or following silly orders from one of the performers. It's always a frogtastic time!
Early in the day, you'll find characters such as Scooby-Doo or King Julian from the animated film, Madagascar, dressed in their finest Mardi Gras attire throughout the park. About three hours before the parade begins, street performers make their way out onto the streets of the Hollywood and New York areas. This creates the most electrifying party atmosphere. Have your camera at the ready and be sure to strike a pose!
Universal's Beads and Brass Band
Whether you're a fan of jazz or blues, or just enjoy great live music, the Beads and Brass band is a must-see attraction that will have you tapping your froggy feet and swaying to the beat. The band brings the traditional sounds of New Orleans to life with its brass instruments and upbeat rhythms. During the Mardi Gras event, the band can be seen marching through the streets, playing a mixture of classic Mardi Gras tunes and popular hits. Trust us when we say that they definitely know how to get the crowd moving and grooving!
Dance to the Beat at Universal Mardi Gras Live Concerts
The Universal Mardi Gras celebration 2023 features a lineup of exciting and talented musicians and bands, performing live on stage during select nights. The concerts offer a fun and safe atmosphere and an opportunity for kids and families to dance and sing along to their favorite tunes. From popular pop and rock acts, there's a variety of musical genres to enjoy, making it a perfect experience for all music lovers.
The concert stage is set up in the heart of the park, Music Plaza stage, allowing guests to enjoy the music while they sample delicious food and gaze at the iconic Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster whiz by in the distance. The concerts are free with park admission. Performances usually begin at 8:30 p.m. and end around 10 p.m. (after official park closing time) on each concert night.
Here's this year's Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2023 concert lineup:
- Patti LaBelle – February 4
- JVKE – February 10
- Goo Goo Dolls – February 11
- Maren Morris – February 18
- WILLOW – February 19
- 3 Doors Down – February 25
- Sean Paul – March 4
- Lauren Daigle – March 5
Commemorate Your Trip with a Token from the Tribute Store
@undercovertourist Let’s tour Universal Studios Florida’s Tribute Store! 🔮 The tribute store changes seasonally and right now it’s Mardi Gras themed! 📿 This immersive store is HUGE and the details could keep you exploring for hours! Can’t make it in person? Head to our YouTube to check out the full POV tour! (🔗 in bio) #universalstudios #unistudios #universalstudiosorlando #universalstudiosflorida #tributestore #usf #mardigras #mardigras2023 #universalmardigras #universalmonsters #islandsofadventure #islandsofadventureorlando #nola #universal ♬ original sound - undercovertourist
Looking to take a piece of the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration home with you? Then the iconic Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Tribute Store is the perfect destination. The store specializes in merchandise inspired by the famous Mardi Gras celebration. Tadpoles can find a wide variety of items such as colorful bead necklaces, masks, costumes, hats and other Mardi Gras-themed souvenirs. Additionally, the store also features merchandise specific to Universal Orlando's own Mardi Gras event, including event-branded t-shirts, hats and other keepsakes. The atmosphere of the store is designed to reflect spirit of Mardi Gras, with bright colors, clever staging and a friendly staff to assist with purchases.
Are You Ready to Party Mardi Gras Style?
The Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration is a fun-filled experience and I guarantee your kiddos will have a blast! The Mardi Gras parade, live music and delicious food make for a unique and exciting way to celebrate this cultural event. If you're looking for a new and different family-friendly activity, the Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Orlando is definitely worth a visit.
What do you think of this year's Universal Mardi Gras celebration? Do plan on attending this year? Let us know what questions you still have down in the comments. We can't wait to help you jazz up your next Universal Orlando Mardi Gras vacation!