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 2022 at the Universal Studios Florida

The 2022 Mardi Gras event at Universal Studios Florida is in full swing and this annual event 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).

Parade start times differ and are as follows:

6:15 PM start time

  • Feb 6–11, 14–17, 22–25, 28

7:00 PM start time

  • Feb 5

7:15 PM start time

  • Feb 13, 18, 21, 27
  • Mar 2–4, 7–11

7:30 PM start time

  • Mar 14–17, 21–24, 28–31
  • Apr 3–7, 9–24

7:45 PM start time

  • Feb 19–20, 26
  • Mar 5–6, 12–13, 18–20, 25–27

** IMPORTANT NOTE:  There is no parade on the nights of April 1st, 2nd and 8th.

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 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)

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

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.

Mardi Gras Tribute Store

The Mardi Gras Tribute Store returns from 2021 and this years 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

Amazing Florida Beaches
Amazing Florida Beaches
The 2021 Mardi Gras Experience – International Flavors of Carnival

Due to the COVID pandemic Universal had to cancel most of the 2020 celebration but has made some adjustments to it’s Mardi Gras lineup for 2021.  Beginning on February 6th and running until March 28th, this years experience is a bit toned down as compared with prior years, but a welcome way to turn the page to a new year.

This years Mardi Gras celebration includes a number of unique experiences and offerings which include:   

Mardi Gras Food and Beverage Offerings

The International Flavors of Carnival is a food festival featuring specialty cuisine and drinks from a variety of international regions.

In addition to the delicacy from those regions above, there were also be food & beverage offerings from Spain, Belgium, The Bahamas, Brazil, Cuba, Canada, Italy, Colombia and France.

Click here to see the food and drink menus for Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnival.

Mardi Gras Tribute Store

First there was the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store, then the Holiday Tribute Store, now there is the Mardi Gras Tribute Store.  Fully set up for this years celebration, guests will enjoy a number of Mardi Gras themed rooms that include fresh pastries as well as merchandise and souvenirs.

Mardi Gras Entertainment

Guests will find a number of “Pirate Treasure” themed floats as well as several of Universal’s Mardi Gras floats on display throughout the streets of Universal Studios Florida.  In addition, there will be live entertainment including roving musicians and street performers providing the famous Mardi Gras beads.

In place of the concerts the Music Plaza Stage will be set up as an outdoor courtyard with tables and three themed floats.

Click here to see our Photo Gallery for 2021 Mardi Gras Experience

How do I get on a Mardi Gras Parade float?

Typically Universal Orlando offers its annual passholders the ability to volunteer as a bead tossing float rider on a first come first serve basis.  The requirements are that the passholder be at least 18 years of age or 48 inches in height and accompanied by an adult.  Last year 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. 

With the exception of the years where the parade was not held, 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.  We consider this one of the best benefits of being a passholder. 

Watch our video below which shows the action while riding on “The Gator” float.

At times there may be last minute openings to ride on the floats and typically we see a “stand by” line form in the Kid Zone area of the park.

For those interested in watching the parade from a special viewing area, Universal offers a parade, dessert and Cinematic Celebration viewing experience.  In 2019 the cost was about $50 per person which included a reserved viewing spot in front of the Pantages Theatre Courtyard where you can watch the parade while enjoying non-alcoholic drinks following by another designated viewing area to see Cinematic Celebration.  There is a number of specialty deserts and beverages available during this viewing.

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.

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