13 Amazing Things That Happen To You At Universal Studios' Mardis Gras Partaaay
Mardi Gras took over Universal Studios Florida and it was like nothing you’ve ever seen...
Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. What is it? Something to do with beads and floats. And doughnuts. People might show their boobies. Are pancakes involved? Oh, that’s Shrove Tuesday.
These were just the start of my questions before going to Universal Studio’s Mardi Gras party - a season of Louisiana-inspired celebrations, parades and performances by some of the biggest artists on the planet taking over the iconic resort in Orlando, Florida every weekend 'til summer. Which I admittedly didn't know much about.
After some intrepid on the ground reporting in the name of MTV and all things Cajun, I can confirm it is the most bonkers and utterly FABULOUS party in the USA.
This is your handy guide to what will DEFINITELY happen to you when you join the madness. Consider yourself prepared.
There were no boobie flashes, thankfully. This carnival was family friendly. The Jell-o shots, however? Not so much… ;)
1. These floats will blow your mind
The parade of Mardi Gras floats steams through the Universal Studios Florida park every Saturday and Sunday evening. Every float is different, some even breathe fire, and all are spectacular productions.
They’re also totally authentic - they’re made by exactly the same people as the iconic Mardi Gras floats which parade through New Orleans each year.
2. You will see Shawn Mendes performing in front of a giant roller coaster and no, it won’t feel TOTALLY CRAY at all
Hey, this is the most bonkers party in America, anything could happen. That includes Shawn Mendes singing to a massive crowd in front of a just-as-massive roller coaster. Or Jesse J, or Fall Out Boy, depending on when you go.
Every Saturday and Sunday after the parade, a different A-list performer takes to the open-air stage at Universal Florida. There’s so much going on it’s all a bit mind-blowing. Besides, you haven’t REALLY seen your fave band until you’ve seen your fave band perform by a massive ‘coaster.
3. So of course, you will need to ride said roller coaster for yourself
If its good enough for the Mendes, it’s good for us. The Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida is the biggest ride in the park, but what really sets this ride apart from anything in Orlando is that you get to select you own music track which is blasted around your head during the ride - all while a camera films your every moment of terror (we went for Limp Bizkit - Rollin', natch). Afterwards, you can watch your whole ride back, and if youre a complete lunatic you can buy it to put on your social media and embarrass the heck out of yourself. A Universal insider tells us that there’s actually a secret menu of hidden tracks, accesible only by a top secret cheat code on the song selection screen. But if you're thinking about that when the rest of your fellow riders are cacking themselves in the run up, you’re one fearless mofo.
4. You will want to emigrate to Diagon Alley
Apparently, Ariana Grande is a HUGE fan of the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Florida. Ari has stellar taste.
A perfect recreation of Diagon Alley will make you want to stay looking round the wand and sweet shops all day. Simulator-come-thrill rides like Gringotts Bank will make you keep coming back and the Hogwarts Express will take you handily between Hogsmeade and an uncanny-valley recreation of Kings Cross station.
And of course, if you do one thing, you’ve gotta get yourself a real life Butter Beer. On a hot Florida day of Mardi Gras partying, go for a frozen one. Perf.
5. You will stuff your face with funnel cake
Stalls selling Louisiana treats pop up for the Mardi Gras party and godammit you’re gonna wanna try it all. The funnel cake is 100% hot doughy goodness, covered in icing sugar, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Saucy.
6. ...And with gumbo
Because Mardi Gras.
7. And bring on the King Cake (yes, this is a real thing.)
Hey,when in Louisina…
8. You will become an ANIMAL for beads
The iconic Mardi Gras strings of beads are thrown from the floats during the parade, so grab a prime spot on its route and get ready to catch as many glossy jewel-coloured necklaces as you can handle. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself screaming at the people on the floats to chuck some in your direction, or when you find yourself scrabbling on the ground for the colour you REALLY want to complete your collection. Beads, it will turn out, will do that to you.
9. You will realise you were born for the stage
Like a young Cher Lloyd, you and your swagger WILL crack America. And Rising Star karaoke bar on Universal’s City Walk is the place to do it. Everyone is encouraged to go on stage and belt out cheestastic tunes with your very own live band and professional backing singers - to a three story venue packed with partygoers.
10. You will discover burgers with sushi is totally your new jam
Arguably the coolest restaurant at City Walk, Cowfish is a fusion of big American burgers and delicious, delicate sushi - and the result will stay in your taste memory for ever after. Finish it up with a super-thick ice cream shake and bring on the food coma. MOAR SASHIMI PLS THX.
11. You will rock like a Hurricane
As long as I have been obsessed with American teen movies, I have wanted to chow down a Jell--o shot (so much more rad than a boring British JELLY shot. Rubbish). So get the party going then because people selling the little wobbly alcoholic treats roam the crowd at the Mardi Gras headline shows. The Hurricane is the New Orleans cocktail of choice, so if you’re over 21, having one at Mardi Gras is totes the thing to do. What happens after, however, I’m taking zero responsibility for.
12. You will start dressing like Don and Betty Draper on vacation
If you stay at Universal's Cabana Bay resort, anyway. One of the newest and coolest resort hotels, it's gorgeously '50s themed.
With the interiors oozing mid-century style and a Beach Boys soundtrack never far away, it rubs off on your STRAIGHT away. No joke, our group looked like a pack of T-birds within 24 hours. Pass the hair gel.
13. You will want all you butter forever to look like this
I was lucky enough to eat at Mythos restaurant in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which has won the coveted ‘Best Themepark Restaurant’ award for multiple years. And it was delicious. But the main thing I can’t get over is how they serve their butter. JUST LOOK AT IT.
- Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras runs on select nights until April 16th and is included with admission to Universal Studios Florida. For more information on Universal Orlando Resort and Mardi Gras see www.universalorlando.co.uk. 7 nights staying at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort with Ocean Florida from £869pp
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