Mardi Gras Guide 2022: Parade Map, Concerts, Food and More at Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios is fun at any time of year, but during Mardi Gras, there is an extra sense of celebration and colorful joy throughout the entire park.

If you are considering going, continue reading for everything you need to know to make the best out of your trip.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras French Quarter Courtyard

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When is Mardi Gras in Universal Studios Florida?

This year you can enjoy the magic of Mardi Gras at Universal Studios from February 5th to April 24th of 2022.

Every night there will be a street parade full of awe-inspiring street performers decked out in colorful costumes with sparkles, feathers, and beads, and performances by authentic New Orleans’ musicians.

Plus, delicious replicas of the same Cajun food you would eat if you went to The Big Easy.

The best part is, all the celebration (except for the food) is included in your purchase of a park pass, whether you bought one just for the day, a seasonal pass, or an annual pass.

Origins of Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a tradition started by Christians to celebrate the last day of eating before Lent, a time of fasting.

Minion Mayhem ride during Universal Studios Mardi Gras

Today, people with various religious backgrounds celebrate it as a day of fun, celebration, and, of course, eating.

New Orleans Mardi Gras Origins
New Orleans, LA

One of the biggest authentic Mardi Gras celebrations in America is in New Orleans.

During Mardi Gras, the streets of New Orleans turn into a festival complete with lots of colors (mainly purple, green, and gold), food, drinking, music, and entertainment.

New Orleans Mardi Gras Origins with Beignets sitting next to mask.

Universal Studios emulates the classic New Orleans’ street parties in a family-friendly way that everyone can enjoy.

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How did Mardi Gras start at Universal Studios in Orlando?

Believe it or not, this festive event evolved from the annual Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios.

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 30 Entrances to the Arches

During the second year of the haunted event, Joseph Curley, Universal Studios Florida PR Manager at the time, stated that the 1992 year would be like Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Twisted Taters in front of Black man on trumpet at Universal Studios Mardi Gras
Twisted Taters

From that initial statement, Mardi Gras would go on to make its official debut at Universal Studios in 1995.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras French Area

Now that you understand how Mardi Gras landed at Universal, let’s go over what you can expect at this epic celebration.

Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Halloween Horror Nights

What’s New for 2022 at Universal Studios Mardi Gras

Epcot is not the only Orlando theme park allowing you to dine around the world! This year Universal Orlando is giving you a new feel to the Mardi Gras celebration.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Jester

No More Lanyards!!!

This makes me sad because with this lanyard, you could get a certain number of food and drink options in a sample size from the food booths all over Universal Studios in Orlando. So, no matter what the cost of a dish was, you only used a certain “point” from your lanyard.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard

This made dishes average about $4 in the grand scheme of things.

Universal Orlando Resort “Food and Beverage Card”

Now Universal is offering the “Food and Beverage Card.” In essence, this allows you to spend a certain amount and get a few bucks back versus the previous “scanning for points” system that was used in years’ past.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Lanyard
What’s the cost of the Mardi Gras Food and Beverage Card?

This “tasting” card will be $65 for a $75 card and $120 for a $150 card. The card is available for purchase at Mardi Gras food & beverage locations throughout Universal Studios Florida.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Food Jambalaya Red Beans and Rice

Visit the “FLOAT FACTORY WAREHOUSE” TRIBUTE STORE

This year’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store is going to be so AMAZING! There will be rooms dedicated to the process of what it takes to bring the majestic floats to life!

Machine Float in Universal Studios Mardi Gras Parade in front of the Mummy ride construction

To say that I’m excited for this is an understatement. If you know Universal, then you know that they ALWAYS go all out in their seasonal tribute store.

While you’re there, be sure to grab the latest Mardi Gras merchandise and treats to help celebrate the BIGGEST party in Florida!

 

Safety at Universal Orlando Resort

Now I know you may be wondering how is Universal going to do all of this AND keep us safe?

Universal Studios Mardi Gras French Garden Area

Since the park reopened after lockdown, Universal Orlando has and will continue to keep guidelines in place for the safety of everyone. Such as:

  • Requiring face coverings at all restaurants, shops, indoor hotel public areas and at all attractions from the moment guests enter the queue to when they exit the experience
  • Increasing disinfection procedures

Let’s Talk About the Food at Universal Studios Mardi Gras!

This year instead of the few tasty booths to choose from, you’ll be able to delve into more than 50 tantalizing dishes and drinks at this Orlando theme park.

 Universal Studios Mardi Gras Food Chicken Po Boy

Below is a look at the Mardi Gras food for this year’s biggest celebration and the previous years.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Food

On your visit, you’ll be able to sample the delicious Carnaval flavors from places like New Orleans!

Below are a few of my favorites for this year:

  • Crawfish Boil 
  • Beignets 
  • Coconut Curry Shrimp Laksa (a sweet and spicy noodle soup)
  • Salchipapas (a popular street food made with sausage and potatoes)

Enjoy Mardi Gras-inspired Food Throughout Universal Orlando Resort

Don’t forget to visit CityWalk and the other Universal Orlando Hotels who will be offering their own take of this year’s New Orleans festival. Check out what you MUST TRY below:

The French Quarter Milkshake The Toothsome Emporium
The French Quarter Milkshake The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium Photo Copyright: Universal Orlando Resort
  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium And Savory Feast Kitchen
  • Pat O’Brien’s
  • Voodoo Doughnut
  • Creamy Polenta Shrimp – Loews Portofino Bay Resort
  • N’awlins Po’ Boy – Hard Rock Hotel
  • New Orleans Bbq Shrimp & Dirty Rice At Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn And Suites & Dockside Inn And Suites
  • Chicken, Andouille & Shrimp Jambalaya At Universal’s Aventura Hotel
  • King Cake Pancakes At Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Shrimp Po’ Boys At Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

These are some of my favorites, but you can get the full list here!

Activities and Entertainment at Universal Studios’ Mardi Gras

Although the INCREDIBLE parade will not be happening at Universal Studios this year, the Team Members have made sure to make your day quite special with some fun activities happening around the park.

Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Studios Day King Gator Float

Enjoy a World-class Parade

The Mardi Gras parade is the main attraction of the Universal celebration, and you do not want to miss it!

Machine Float in Universal Studios Mardi Gras Parade in front of the Mummy ride construction 1

This colorful, high-energy parade is full of floats, street performers, and costumed revelers throwing beads and other goodies into the crowd.

Universal Studios Orlando Mardi Gras Parade Route Screenshot from official Universal Orlando
Universal Studios Orlando Mardi Gras Parade Route Screenshot from official Universal Orlando Website.

You can sit anywhere along the parade route to enjoy the show.

Universal Mardi Gras Parade Dates and Times

Parade times vary based on date, so here is a breakdown of the schedule:

  • 5:15 p.m. February 25th 
  • 6:15 p.m. February 6-11, 14-17, 22-24, 28 and March 1st
  • 7:15 p.m. February 13, 18, 21, 27 and March 2-4, 7-11
  • 7:30 p.m. March 14-17, 21-24, 28-31 and April 3-7, 9-24
  • 7:45 p.m. February 5, 12, 19, 20, 26 and March 5, 6, 12, 13, 18-20, 25-27

Live it Up at Florida’s BIGGEST Party!

My favorite part of Mardi Gras (minus the food) are the entertainers who roam the park dancing with so much high energy.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras party in the street

But I especially love the brass band musicians who truly make you feel as if you’re smack dabbed on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Brass Band during Universal Studios Mardi Gras Orlando Florida

Plus, be sure to look out for some beads to commemorate your trip to the park!

Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!

10 EASY Tips and Strategies for Your Mardi Gras Visit at Universal Studios Florida

Now that you know what to expect from this Cajun celebration, let’s go through ways to make the most of your time there.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras French Twisted King and Queen Thrown

1. Share and Sample

There are so many delicious foods to try out during the Mardi Gras celebrations at Universal Studios, just like in New Orleans and other locations throughout the world!

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Food Chicken and Shrimp Po Boy

Most likely, you will want to try as many different cuisine options as you can, and full-size meals do not allow you to do that, so it is a great idea to share and sample.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Food Cooker

If you are going with other people (you know and trust), you can order a single order (or a double order if there is a lot of you) of any menu item and share it between the group.

Do not worry if you are traveling alone; you can still sample with the best of them and try as many foods as your heart desires.

Recommended: What to Pack for Universal Studios

2. Have Fun Interacting with the Street Performers from a Distance

As previously mentioned, there are street performers hanging out and vibing to the New Orleans scene at Universal Studios. Especially around the French Quarter area.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras French Joker

Additionally, if you are trying to save a coveted parade spot, they can provide lots of fantastic entertainment while you wait. 

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Roller Coaster next to Jimmy Fallon Ride during Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida

Watching them perform and interacting with them can be a lot of fun. So, if there are musicians around, join in and dance to get the true feeling of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Read: How to Do Universal Studios in One Day

3. Make a List of Your MUST Eats

As you can see from the menu, Universal Orlando is coming out strong this year with their version of eating around the world.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras New Orleans Food with Red Beans and Rice

So, be sure to review the Mardi Gras food menu from above and make a list of your must-do’s for your trip!

4. Start Early

Coming early to Mardi Gras will give you a chance to pace yourself. You will be able to enjoy not only the amazing food that’s being offered, but you’ll also get to experience the attractions at the park.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras French Twisted Tater Booth

With everyone traveling more this year to make up for the past few years, the parks may reach capacity early. This is important if you try to visit on the weekends or holidays.

5. Map Out Your Day

This is another classic tip for any avid Universal traveler. Mapping out your day will save you the headache of missing out on any of your must do items, especially if you’re only able to visit once.

Universal Studios guide and tips
Sign up and get your FREE Universal Orlando Resort Theme Park Traveler’s Planner and Guide. Click the image to get started.

6. Go During the Weekdays

For the best time I recommend attending the festival during the weekdays (Monday through Thursday). These days tend to be the least crowded days at Universal Studios.

Universal Studios Mardi Gras View of parade from the float

This will help you be able to make the most of your time at Mardi Gras.

7. Plan Ahead Your Parade Spot

The later the time the parade starts, the more you have to strategize getting to your spot. Which spot you want really depends on what the rest of your night looks like. 

Machine Float in Universal Studios Mardi Gras Parade in front of the Mummy ride construction Sahara Traders

If you are planning to go to a concert right after, try to get a spot at the edge of the street by the Music Plaza Stage. 

Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Studios in front of the mummy ride

Beyond that, some of the best places are in front of the Mummy Ride, in an area reserved for families by the Brown Derby Hat Shop, and if you are a pass-holder, in front of Mel’s Drive-In. 

If you are banking on any of these spots, make sure you get there EARLY as the spots fill up fast.

Universal Studios Concerts Stage at Mardi Gras

No matter where you are planning to watch the parade from, you want to try to get there at least 30 minutes early (earlier on weekends) and an hour if you have a larger group and want to sit upfront. 

You may be able to find front row spots a little later if you are a small party or going solo, but you should still plan to get there early.

8. Getting a Spot on the Mardi Gras Float in the Parade

Yes, it is true, you can get a spot in the parade if you are lucky. The easiest way to do this is if you are a Passholder. 

Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Studios Day Jesters Float

Passholders can sign up themselves and up to five guests online for a chance to ride on a float in the Mardi Gras parade. 

NikkyJ in Mardi Gras clothing to ride the parade at Universal Studios Florida
Putting on my Mardi Gras uniform as I wait ride on a float.

After you sign up, you wait to get a confirmation email if you are selected. If you are not a Passholder, you still have a chance to get in the parade, but it is not as high.

How to Ride a Mardi Gras Float using the Virtual Line at Universal Studios.
Screen Capture from the Universal Orlando App.

You used to have to go to the stand-by line for up to two hours before the parade starts, but now you can use the Virtual Queue Line that’s on the Universal Orlando App.

NikkyJ getting ready to board Machine Float at Universal Studios Mardi Gras
Waiting to ride on the Machine Mardi Gras float at Universal Studios.

Usually around 12 p.m., Universal will open up spots throughout the day for you to get that coveted spot. So, be sure to keep trying just in case it doesn’t work for you the first time.

9. Get to the Concerts Early

Front row seats are claimed fast (sometimes two or more hours before the concert even starts), so if you want good seating, get there as early as you can. The concerts start at 8:30 p.m. 

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Bell Biv Devoe performing on the stage
Bell Biv Devoe at Mardi Gras

If you are planning to spend several days at Universal Studios during the Mardi Gras celebration, it may be a good idea to see the parade and go to a concert on two separate nights. 

Universal Studios Orlando Mardi Gras 2022 Concert Lineup:

  • Sugar Ray: February 5th
  • Diana Rose: February 12th
  • Barenaked Ladies: February 19th
  • Styx: February 20th
  • Jon Pardi: February 26th
  • LL COOL J feat. DJ Z-Trip: March 5th
  • Marshmello: March 6th
  • Lee Brice: March 12th
  • Becky G: March 13th
  • Khalid: March 18th
  • Seal: March 19th
  • Gavin DeGraw: March 20th
  • The Revivalists: March 25th
  • Jimmie Allen: March 26th
  • Jason Derulo: March 27th 

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10. Have Fun!

You’re really going to have a great time, so try not to stress too much if you find yourself spending too much time at the food booths or dancing along with the brass band.

Mardi Gras Universal Studios
Riding on the Float in the Parade with Friends

Whether you’re going solo or with friends, just have fun enjoying this incredible Orlando theme park!

Final Thoughts

No matter who you are, you are sure to find something fun to do at Universal Studios during Mardi Gras Season.

Mardi Gras Springtime Food Booth

You can spend the day enjoying all the fun that Universal already has to offer, and as it gets a little later in the afternoon, you can enjoy the Mardi Gras festivities.

Universal Studios Orlando Mardi Gras Guide
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Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

NikkyJ

Are you read to make you trip over to Universal Studios? If so, read 19 Amazing Ways to Do Universal Orlando on a Budget.

(Original Article Date: January 15, 2015/Updated January 31, 2022)

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