The Complete Guide to Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando


The Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Studios Florida in the Universal Orlando Resort is typically held every night from early February to mid-April and is completely free with your theme park admission.  Universal puts on quite the show for Mardi Gras with the one of the best theme park parades, amazing concerts, food, music and more. 

This a family-friendly event while it is completely age appropriate for younger children, it is still a super fun time for adults.

Mardi Gras 2023 at the Universal Studios Florida

The 2023 Mardi Gras event at Universal Studios Florida starts February 4 and extends to April 24, 2022.  Guests will find the best theme park parade, themed food & beverages, live concerts and more.

Following is a summary the this years Mardi Gras celebration experiences and offerings as of the January 17th announcement.

Mardi Gras Concerts

Concerts for Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration are back for 2023 and this year features a number of popular artists:

  • February 4th: Patty LaBelle
  • February 10th: JVKE
  • February 11th: Goo Goo Dolls
  • February 18th: Maren Morris
  • February 19th: WILLOW
  • February 25th: 3 Doors Down
  • March 4th: Sean Paul
  • March 5th: Lauren Daigle

Concerts are scheduled (tentatively) for 8:30 PM and as with prior year, will be held on the Music Plaza Stage right in from of the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Nightly Mardi Gras Parade

In addition to the concerts, the nightly Mardi Gars Parade is back for 2023.  This year’s parade theme is “Mystical Realms” which includes six new detailed parade floats inspired by magical creatures like dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and more (sounds like this theme was influenced by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter).

As always, the parade will being with the Riverboat float and finish with the 50-foot long King Gator.  The Endless Summer family has been on both of these floats and they are always the best in any parade.

Parade Times

Parade start times differ and are as follows:

6:15 PM start time

  • February 5th to 9th
  • February 12th to 16th

7:30 PM start time

  • February 17th
  • February 20th to 24th
  • March 3rd
  • March 6th to April 16th

7:45 PM start time (concert nights)

  • February 4th
  • February 10th and 11th
  • February 18th and 19th
  • March 4th and 5th

** IMPORTANT NOTE:  There is no parade on the night of March 31st

ENDLESS SUMMER TIP TO GET MORE BEADS: we have found that it is not too crowded if you stay right outside the starting gate and you get the chance to catch beads at both the beginning and end of the parade route (effectively doubling the chance to get beads).

Mardi Gras Food and Beverage Offerings

The 2023 Mardi Gars food and beverage experience will also include the traditional culinary adventure with traditional New Orleans style cuisine along with a number of specialty items inspired by countries around the world.  Guests will find a number of pop up kiosks in the New York area as well as throughout the park. 

If you are a foodie and looking to sample a number of different food and drinks, Universal is offering a discounted food & beverage card based on the following prices:

  • $65.00 purchase price for $75.00 in food & beverage value
  • $120.00 purchase price for $150.00 in food & beverage value (Annual & Seasonal Passholders only)

These cards work at any Universal owned and operated restaurant and cart as well as the Mardi Gras pop up kiosks and can be used to purchase food, drinks and alcoholic beverages.  In addition, standard passholder discounts are still being offered.  Selections include:

  • Beignets
  • Shrimp Ceviche Tostada
  • Mofongo Flight
  • Indonesian Black Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango
  • And much more….

Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay are also getting into the Mardi Gras spirit with specialty food & beverages offerings like King Cake, Jambalaya and Gumbo.

Even Universal Orlando Hotels have Mardi Gas themed food & beverages offerings as shown below:

Hard Rock Hotel

  • N’Awlins Po’ Boy Sliders and French 75 (Velvet Bar)
  • Bourbon Street Beignets and French 75 (The Kitchen)
  • Hurricane (beachclub)

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

  • Cajun Jambalaya Pasta (Trattoria del Porto)
  • Masquerade Cannoli (Trattoria del Porto)
  • Boulevardier (The Thirsty Fish)
  • Mojito Lampone (Splendido Bar & Grill)

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

  • King Cake Pancakes (Islands Dining Room)
  • Orchid (Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar)
  • Chocolate Bomb (Tuk Tuk Market)

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

  • Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Gumbo Pot Pie (Amatista Cookhouse)
  • Cucumber Hurricane Twist (Strong Water Tavern)
  • Traditional King Cake (New Dutch Trading Co.)

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

  • Shrimp Po’ Boy with Zapps Chips (Galaxy Bowl Restaurant)
  • Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler Hurricane

Universal’s Aventura Hotel

  • Crawfish Etouffee
  • Muffuletta Sandwich
  • Hurricane 
  • Sazerac 

All Mardi Gras food & beverages offering at Aventura are at Bar 17 Bistro.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites

  • New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Dirty Rice (Beach Break Café)
  • The Endless Carnival (Sand Bar)

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites

  • New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Dirty Rice (Dockside Pier 8 Market)
  • The Endless Carnival (The Oasis Beach Bar, The Wave Maker’s Pool Bar & The Sunset Lounge)

Mardi Gras Tribute Store

The Mardi Gras Tribute Store will return for 2023 but with one meaningful change.  Instead of it’s prior location along in the New York section of the Universal Studios Florida, Universal has moved the tribute store to the Hollywood area.  A new released stated, “Within the new store, guests can shop a new selection of Mardi Gras merchandise that ranges from apparel to accessories and collectibles such as keychains, pins, themed glasses and even some personalized options.”

Stay tuned for our full tour of this year’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store.

The Red (Cursed) Coconut Club

Similar to what Universal did for Halloween Horror Nights and the Holidays at Universal Orlando, CityWalk’s Red Coconut Club will be transformed with a Mardi Gras theme.  For the season, the club known as the Cursed Coconut Club – more details to follow.

How do I get on a Mardi Gras Parade float (2023)?

In prior years Universal Orlando offers its annual passholders the ability to volunteer as a bead tossing float rider on a first come first serve basis.  In 2022 Universal posted the notice on-line in its Annual Passholder Facebook Group and many of the weekend dates were filled within the first few hours. 

For 2023, it appears there are two options to try and ride on on of the Mardi Gras floats.

Virtual Line

According to Universal’s web site, “Reservations will be accepted in-park via the Virtual Line™ experience in the Official Universal Orlando App”.  Additional details are forthcoming but we expect this option will be also be on a first come first serve basis for Universal Orlando Passholders.

Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience

This option is new for 2023 and it ensures a reserved spot on a parade float.  In addition to a place on a float, guests participating in the ride and dine experience also get a 3-course meal at one of the following restaurants:

  • Finnegan’s Bar & Grill
  • Lombard’s Seafood Grill
  • The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar (CityWalk)
  • NBC Sports Grill & Bar (CityWalk)

The cost of this experience is $84.99 per plus tax – gratuity is included.

With the exception of 2022, the Endless Summer family has been able to get on a float and we consider it the absolute best time we ever had at a theme park. Watch our video below which shows the action while riding on “The Gator” float.

Riders must be at least 48 inches in height, 18 years of age (or accompanied by a supervising companion).  Riders are required to wear “The Krewe” costumes during the parade and large items are not allowed on the floats.

The check-in location for 2023 is at the “Animal Actors On Location!” attraction approximately one hour to one hour and 45 minutes prior to the start of the parade. Riders will receive a wristband which is needed to board a float.

Mardi Gras 2022 at the Universal Studios Florida

The 2022 Mardi Gras event at Universal Studios Florida starts February 5 and extends to April 24, 2022.  Back for 2022 is the best theme park parade, themed food & beverages, live concerts and more.

Following is a summary the this years Mardi Gras celebration experiences and offerings:

Mardi Gras Concerts

Concerts for Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration are back for 2022 and this year features a number of popular artists:

  • February 5th: Sugary Ray
  • February 12th: Diana Ross
  • February 19th: Barenaked Ladies
  • February 20th: Styx
  • February 26th: Jon Pardi
  • March 5th: LL Cool J
  • March 6th: Marshmello
  • March 12th: Lee Brice
  • March 13th: Becky G
  • March 18th: Khalid
  • March 19: Seal
  • March 20th: Gavin Degraw
  • March 25th: The Revivalists
  • March 26th: Jimmie Allen
  • March 27th: Jason Derulo

Concretes are scheduled (tentatively) for 8:30 PM and as with prior year, will be held on the Music Plaza Stage right in from of the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Nightly Mardi Gras Parade

In addition to the concerts, the nightly Mardi Gars Parade is back for 2022 (with the exception of three select nights – see below).  This years theme is “Planet Mardi Gras” where six floats will be deigned with elements including rockets, Martians and comets.  Let’s not forget that the parade will also include some of the traditional floats like the Riverboat (typically the first float) and the King Gator (typically the last float).

Mardi Gras Food and Beverage Offerings

The 2022 Mardi Gars experience at Universal will also include the traditional culinary adventure with traditional New Orleans style cuisine including Beignets (our favorite) and crawfish along with tastes from India, Southeast Asia and central America.  Guests will find a number of pop up kiosks in the New York area as well as throughout the park. 

Even Universal Orlando Hotels are getting into with food & beverages offerings as shown below:

Hard Rock Hotel

  • Abita Amber Ale Shrimp (Velvet Bar)
  • N’awlins Po’ Boy (The Kitchen)
  • Muffuletta Sliders (beachclub)

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

  • Creamy Polenta Shrimp (Trattoria del Porto)
  • Masquerade Cannoli (Trattoria del Porto)
  • Magari (The Thirsty Fish)
  • Mojito Lampone (Splendido Bar & Grill)

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

  • King Cake Pancakes (Islands Dining Room)
  • Orchid (Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar)
  • Chocolate Bomb (Tuk Tuk Market)

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

  • Andouille Sausage & Pulled Chicken (Amatista Cookhouse)
  • Cucumber Hurricane Twist (Strong Water Tavern)
  • Traditional King Cake (New Dutch Trading Co.)

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

  • Shrimp Po’ Boy (Galaxy Bowl Restaurant)
  • Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler Hurricane

Universal’s Aventura Hotel

  • Chicken, Andouille & Shrimp Jambalaya
  • Mini King Cake
  • Hurricane
  • Sazerac

All Mardi Gras food & beverages offering at Aventura are at Bar 17 Bistro.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites

  • New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Dirty Rice (Beach Break Café)
  • Dockside Beignets (Beach Break Café)
  • The Endless Carnival (The Oasis Beach Bar & The Sunset Lounge)

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites

  • New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Dirty Rice (Dockside Pier 8 Market)
  • Dockside Beignets (Dockside Pier 8 Market)
  • The Endless Carnival (The Oasis Beach Bar & The Sunset Lounge)

Mardi Gras Tribute Store

The Mardi Gras Tribute Store returns and the 2022 theme is the “Float Factory Warehouse”.  Guests will not only be able to purchase Mardi Gras merchandise but also enjoy themed snacks and treats just for the season

Click here for the PHOTO GALLERY for Mardi Gras 2022

Where to stay during Mardi Gras?

Local area hotels book up quickly so it is our recommendation that you get your reservations as early as possible.  Crowd levels are typically particular high during the Mardi Gras season due not only to this special event, but there are always school holidays as well as “Spring Break” during this time.  And in the spring time there are always large conventions coming to Orlando where many hotels block off room for the convention attendees.

With the high crowd levels we feel that it’s best to try and stay on site at Universal for your Mardi Gras experience.  If you don’t want to fight the crowds for boat or bus transportation, our recommended hotel would be The Hard Rock.

Although one of the more expensive hotels at Universal, The Hard Rock is the easiest walk which will lead you at the entrance just outside of the main gate at Universal Studios Florida.  The wait to get through security is never long and at the end of the night, you will back at your room in less than 10 minutes.  This is especially good if you have enjoyed a few adult beverages during the evening.

If the Hard Rock is outside your budget, the next best hotel would be the either the Loews Sapphire Falls or the Aventura Hotel.  The wait for boat transportation to Sapphire Falls may be lengthy, but so is the walk and after a long night in the parks, you will be glad you waited for the boat.  

ENDLESS SUMMER TIP:  If you are staying at the Aventura Hotel, don’t take the bus as the wait can be long.  Just walk across to Sapphire Falls and hop on the boat. 

If any of these hotel recommendations don’t work for you, CLICK HERE to see a list of other on site hotels as well as local area hotels near Universal.   You will be glad you did come check out time.

Endless Summer

Endless Summer Florida is all about amazing places to vacation in Florida. From world class theme parks to white sandy beaches, there is so much to see and do in our state.

Recent Posts