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Our Top 5 Things To Do at Universal's Orlando Mardi Gras with Kids

by Lily on February 29, 2024   Video

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Hi, it’s Lily Frog! Laissez les bons temps rouleror 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 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!

Mardi Gras for kids - three young girls posing in front of a Mardi Gras mask statue

 

Top Five Things To Do with Kids at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2024

 

For 2024, the Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Orlando will run from Feb. 3 to April 7 and feature 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 fun 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. This year's theme is inspired by earth, wind, fire, water, the sun and moon making the floats and characters unfrogettable! Keep your eye out for dancing flowers, twirling moonbeams, sea serpents and more. 

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. 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. 

Mardi Gras Universal Orlando - Children's Parade Viewing Area sign

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!

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.
  • 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.

Mardi Gras Universal Orlando - Float Riders in Parade

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 on the same day!

Parade starts at 5:15 p.m. on:

  • Feb. 5, 7, 12, 27

Parade starts at 6:15 p.m. on:

  • Feb. 4, 6, 8-9, 11, 13-16, 21-23, 25-26, 28
  • March 1, 3-8

Parade starts at 7:30 p.m. on:

  • Feb. 19-20
  • March 11-15, 18-31

Parade starts at 7:45 p.m. on:

  • Feb. 3, 10, 17-18, 24
  • March 2, 9-10, 16-17

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 such as across the street from Illumination's Minion Cafe.

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. You can save 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.

Universal Mardi Gras 2024 Food - Mini King Cake

My older brother, Tad, and I put together a list of our frog-favorite treats. Give these a try when you visit the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration.

  • Beignets - New Orleans
  • King Cake - New Orleans
  • Cookie Butter Liège Waffle - Belgium
  • Oblea (crispy wafer with dulce de leche and strawberries) - Columbia
  • Mutzen (fried lemon-vanilla fritters dusted with powdered sugar) - Germany
  • Papitas Bravas (seasoned crispy potatoes with paprika aioli) - Spain
  • Pandan Cheesecake - Philippines

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

Mardi Gras Universal Orlando with Kids - Scooby-Doo hugging girls

Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration is known for its sensational street performers. 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. 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. 

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. Have your camera or phone handy and be sure to strike a pose!

Universal's Beads and Brass Band

Mardi Gras Universal Orlando with Kids - Marching Band

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. 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 2024 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.

Mardi Gras Universal Orlando with Kids - Concert Stage

The concert stage is set up in the heart of the park, the Music Plaza stage, allowing guests to enjoy the music while they sample delicious food and gaze at Rip Ride Rockit roller 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 the official park closing time) on each concert night.

Here's this year's Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2024 concert lineup:

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

Commemorate Your Trip with a Token from the Tribute Store

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.

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!

Love,

Keep hopping, Lily!
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