Worried that Mardi Gras may not be appropriate for your kids? There is a perfectly kid-friendly Mardi Gras celebration in Orlando, Florida. Yes, in FLORIDA! Each year thousands travel to Orlando to celebrate Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Orlando. With nightly parades, concerts, Cajun food, and more, what’s not to love about Universal Studios Mardi Gras? Laissez les bon temps rouler… Let the good times roll!
For over 15 years Universal Studios has been bringing the Mardi Gras celebration to life in Orlando. While the Mardi Gras experience in Universal is quite different from the one you will find in New Orleans, it is a great introduction to carnival. You won’t find a more kid-friendly Mardi Gras celebration anywhere else. Here’s why.
Let the Good Times Roll! Kid Friendly Universal Studios Mardi Gras
Each spring, Universal Studios Florida celebrates the spirit of the Big Easy with the largest Mardi Gras celebration outside of New Orleans. The celebration showcases nationally renowned musical acts, parades with elaborately decorated floats, costumed performers, local New Orleans bands, authentic Cajun cooking, and more.
Growing up on the Gulf Coast, Mardi Gras is a way of life. I’ll admit, at first I was skeptical attending the Universal Mardi Gras celebration. Having spent years attending kid-friendly parades in New Orleans, Mobile and Fairhope, Alabama (yes, there are some that are actually kid-friendly), I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and absolutely loved it. I can honestly say that Universal Studios Mardi Gras completely captures the spirit of the celebration.
Universal Mardi Gras 2019
The Mardi Gras celebrations will commence in Universal Studios Florida this year on February 9 and run through April 4, providing guests with many opportunities to enjoy the festivities.
Live Musical Performances
First of all, if you’re visiting Universal Studios for Mardi Gras in 2019 you’re in for a big treat. The 2019 Concert Lineup has been released and there’s some pretty well known artists on the list.
- BUSH – February 9
- Gavin DeGraw – February 16
- Dan + Shay – February 17
- Macklemore – February 23
- To be announced – March 2
- Becky G – March 9
- Sean Paul – March 10
- Steve Miller Band – March 16
- Ziggy Marley – March 17
- NF – March 23
- Pitbull – March 24
- To be announced – March 30
- To be announced – March 31
The concerts begin at 8:30 p.m. (after the Mardi Gras parade) at Music Plaza Stage.
Real Mardi Gras Parades
This year the parade will feature twelve floats with a “Party Animals” theme. You’ll see floats and performers dressed as their spirit animals from all over, including the Arctic, jungle, ocean, swamp and more. You can also find street performers, stilt walkers, dancers, and more.
Make sure to bring a bag for all of your loot, as you are sure to catch some beads and doubloons. The larger beads, masks, t-shirts, hats, and yard glasses are available for purchase throughout the park at various gift shop locations.
A Taste of New Orleans: Authentic Cajun Food
First of all, no Mardi Gras experience is complete without Cajun food. From beignets to jambalaya, the Cajun cuisine native to New Orleans draws in millions of visitors each year. Universal Orlando brings the authentic Cajun flavors of the Big Easy to its Mardi Gras celebration. Whether you are in the mood for red beans and rice, shrimp gumbo, jambalaya or piping hot beignets, you can find them all at the Universal Studios Mardi Gras celebration.
New this year, all food and drinks will be served in tasting sizes allowing you to enjoy a wide variety of the New Orleans dishes throughout your visit. In addition, an all-new signature Mardi Gras cocktail will be available.
Things to Know Before You Go
Universal Mardi Gras is FREE
Finally, there are a few things you should know before you go. Most importantly, Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration is FREE. Unlike some of their other celebrations throughout the year, there is no fee (other than the regular ticket price) to attend Mardi Gras.
Parade Special Viewing Areas
The Little Jesters’ viewing area, a special viewing area for children, is located near the very front of the park. There is also an ADA parade viewing area next to the Revenge of the Mummy attraction. Additionally, an annual passholder viewing area is located in front of Mel’s Drive-In near the beginning of the parade route.
First of all, know in advance there is no seating at the concerts. In addition, there aren’t any VIP locations. This is a first come, first serve situation. Due to the popularity of the concert nights, make sure to arrive early and stake out your location at Music Plaza Stage if you aren’t planning to watch the parade. If you want to be near the front row, you need to plan on arriving at least 2-3 hours before the show. Yes, seriously.
The concert begins shortly after the parade so make sure to head straight to Music Plaza Stage to find a place to stand as soon as the parade is over. There are large viewing screens set up for those located in the back of the crowd, so regardless of where you are located, you will still have a good view.
While this is a very kid-friendly event, there are still guests consuming alcohol. Typically it is well-controlled and shouldn’t cause any issues.
Mardi Gras continues at City Walk
Eventually the park closes and the party ends. Or does it? If you’re not quite ready to call it a night, head on over to City Walk and party the night away afterward at Pat O’Briens. The reproduction of the infamous New Orleans establishment celebrates Mardi Gras year round. Conclude your evening in traditional New Orleans style with a hurricane at the piano bar.