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If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras in Orlando, then Universal Studios Florida is the place to be!
The theme park has been celebrating Mardi Gras each year for over 25 years. And this year, the event is bigger and better than ever! The New Orleans-style fun lasts from now until April 24, 2022.
In this Universal Studios Orlando Mardi Gras guide for 2022, we’re going to go over the fun things to do and food to eat. And then we’ll share some resources that will help you save money on your next Universal vacation!
Mardi Gras Parade
The Mardi Gras parade at Universal Studios Florida is a wonderful way to enjoy an authentic Mardi Gras parade outside of New Orleans. The floats are even created by Kern Studios, the company that’s been making floats for the New Orleans version of the parade since 1932.
2022 Parade Theme
This year, there are 12 floats in all: 6 fan favorites from the past and 6 brand new floats. The new floats all incorporate this year’s theme, which is “Planet Mardi Gras”. Those fun, otherworldly floats are known as:
- “Lift Off”
- “Volcano Planet”
- “Floral Planet”
- “Industrial Planet”
- “Journey to Planet Mardi Gras”
- “Planet Mardi Gras”
In addition to taking in the sights of these colorful floats, you can enjoy performances by live entertainers in the parade, like dancers and stilt walkers. And of course, you’ll want to grab some of the beads being tossed out to the crowd!
How to Be in the Parade
Speaking of beads, guests also have the opportunity to be the ones tossing the beads! A limited number of guests get to ride a float and throw beads during the parade. If you want to be one of those guests, you’ll need to sign up using the Virtual Line on the official Universal Orlando app. And you’ll also need to be inside the Universal Orlando Resort theme park when you sign up for that day’s parade (otherwise, you’ll get an “Out of Range” error message on the app). Please note that the float riding experience will take 2-3 hours (though the parade itself is only about 45 minutes in total time, and about 15 minutes long from any one viewing spot).
This parade is my family’s favorite out of any parade we’ve ever seen at Universal Studios. We highly recommend it! You can catch the parade at the following times:
- March 10-11: 7:15 PM
- March 12-13: 7:45 PM
- March 14-17: 7:30 PM
- March 18-20: 7:45 PM
- March 21-24: 7:30 PM
- March 25-27: 7:45 PM
- March 28: 7:30 PM
- March 29: 6:15 PM
- March 30-31: 7:30 PM
- April 1-2: No parade
- April 3-7: 7:30 PM
- April 8: No parade
- April 9-24: 7:30 PM
The parade will not be held on April 1, 2, or 8 because the park will be closing early those days due to a special event (Grad Bash).
Universal Mardi Gras Parade Video
See for yourself how much fun the 2022 parade is with this video!
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Food & Drink
One of the exciting parts about the Universal Mardi Gras celebration is that you get to enjoy delicious food and flavors from New Orleans – and from all around the world!
Let’s go over the food and drink offerings and where you can find them in the park. Please note that the food kiosk hours are from 11:30 AM until 30 minutes prior to park close.
And after that, we’ll let you know which food items we do and do not recommend!
New Orleans – Planet Mardi Gras (Battery Park)
At this food kiosk in Battery Park near Mel’s Drive-In, you can choose from great options like:
- Crawfish Boil
- Shrimp Boil
- Crawfish & Shrimp Boil
- King Cake
- Mardi Gras Marshmallow Pie
- Category 5 Punch
- Piña Verde
- Abita Purple Haze
- North Coast Brewing Co. Pranqster
New Orleans – Planet Mardi Gras (Gramercy Park)
You can find these food kiosks around Gramercy Park, across from the Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon ride. And they offer such delicious menu items as:
- Blackened Shrimp Po’ Boy
- Chicken & Andouille Sausage Jambalya
- Crawfish Boil
- Abita Purple Haze (Draft Beer)
- Piña Verde
You’ll find some scrumptious Italian specialties at this kiosk in the New York section of the park, located close to Louie’s Italian Restaurant. And those specialties include:
- Tomato Basil Arancini
- Meatball Garlic Bread Pressed Slider
- Orange Dream Spiked Float
- Vanilla-Amaretto Rum Gelato Float
- Triple-Raspberry Gelato Float
- Vietti Moscato
- Querceto Chianti
- Truffle Hunter Barbaresco
Fusion – Machine Planet
Are you a fan of fusion cuisine? Then you’ll enjoy trying out these delicious combinations of flavors, like:
- Ube Ice Cream Bubble Waffle (purple sweet potato ice cream in a matcha green tea bubble waffle, with toppings like toasted coconut, popping candies, marshmallows, and strawberry pocky sticks)
- Mardi Gras Bubble Waffle
- Creole Crab Beignets
- Carrot Cake Concoction
- Junk Barge Fuel
- Duclaw Sweet Baby Java (Beer)
- Fonseca Ruby Port
- Fonseca Tawny Port
- Croft Pink Port
You’ll find this kiosk at the bridge to the Simpsons section, Springfield USA.
India – Floral Planet
If you’re looking for some delicious vegan offerings – or enjoy Indian food – then this kiosk is a great option for you. It’s located near Animal Actors on Location! and includes:
- Potato, Pea and Carrot Samosas (with green chutney)
- Vegetable Vindaloo
- Vegan Golden Chai Chocolate Blondie
- Chana Masala
- Emerald Mojito
- Gaea Smash
- Allagash White (Draft Beer)
- New Belgium Dominga Mimosa Sour (Canned Beer)
- Raventós I Blanc Cava
Central America – Comet Cruisin’
Sample a taste of Central America at the food kiosk that’s located at the KidZone Pizza Company. Your choices include:
- Salchipapas “Pizza Fries”
- Choripan with French Fries
- Guava Comet Margarita
- Ommegang Neon Rainbows
- Finca Resalso Ribera Del Duero
- Finca Nueva Rioja Crianza
- Carro Yecla
Near Richter Burger restaurant, you’ll find a food kiosk with some classic Southern favorites.
- Nashville Hot Chicken Mac & Cheese
- Chicken Biscuit with Red-Eye Gravy
- Ommegang Neon Rainbows IPA
- Hazy Little Thing IPA
- Bud Light
- White Claw
In the New York section of the park, near the Tribute Store, you can find this flavorful food kiosk. A particular standout is the mozzarella arepa, which we talk about later in our food reivew (scroll down if you want to check it out now!).
- Carnitas Arepas
- Picadillo Arepas
- Mozzarella Arepas
- Yucca Fries with Chimichurri
- Ommegang Neon Rainbows IPA
- White Claw
- Bud Light
Floribbean – Cape Canaveral
At the kiosks near Lomard’s Seafood Grille, you can enjoy tasty Floribbean cuisine.
- Sweet Corn Johnny Cake
- Shrimp and Avocado Ceviche
- Conch Fritters with Roasted Pineapple Remoulade
- Buttermilk Strawberry Chortcakes
- Cape Guayaba
- Tampa Bay Old Elephant Foot
- Mohua Sauvignon Blanc
Bloody Mary Bar
Enjoy a traditional Bloody Mary that’s been spiked with New Amsterdam Vodka. You can choose between a traditional mild version, or a wild version with Sriracha hot chili sauce and Louisiana hot sauce. This is located across from Rosie’s Irish Shop (near the Revenge of the Mummy ride).
This food kiosk, located near KidZone Pizza Company, offers food with a Spanish influence, such as:
- Papas Bravas
- Savory Sopaipilla
- Cosmic Cornucopia
- Stiegel Radler Zitrone
- Sauvion Vouvray
Southeast Asia – Volcano Planet
Close to the entrance to Woody Woodpecker’s Kid Zone, you’ll find a Southeast Asia-themed food kiosk. You can try dishes like Roujiamo (a Chinese meat sandwich) or Shrimp Laksa (a Malaysian spicy noodle soup).
Have you ever tried chicken or beef Coxinha? These savory fried croquettes are a popular street food in Brazil. Stop by the food kiosk in the Hollywood section near Cafe La Bamba to try this tasty Brazilian food.
Universal Orlando’s Food & Beverage Card
As you can see, you have a lot of Mardi Gras dining options!
An excellent way to save money on food and drink during the Mardi Gras celebration is with a Food & Beverage Card. It’s like a gift card, but specifically for food and beverages.
For $120, you can buy a card that gives you $150 in food and drinks. Or, for $65, you can buy a card that is worth $75 in food and beverages. You can buy these cards inside the park at food kiosks and select dining locations.
Universal Mardi Gras Food & Drink Review
So now you know about the menu options as well as a way to save money on food and drinks. But how do you know what you should order?
Well, we tried some of the food here and we’re going to share some of our favorite and least favorite options.
I tried arepas for the first time at this festival. We got the Mozzarella Arepas. I thought it was delicious! it was kind of like a mixture of cornbread and mozzarella cheese bread. I loved every bite and definitely want to have arepas again.
Yucca Fries with Chimichurri
We also tried the Yucca Fries with Chimichurri. The Brazilian Picanha Steak topped with Chimichurri has always been one of my favorite menu items I try at SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival, so I had high hopes for it. And the sauce was great! The fries tasted great when you dipped it in the sauce. The only negative for this food was that the fries were a bit hard and dry without the sauce. But dipping it in the sauce definitely made it better. In terms of food from this marketplace, I liked the Arepas better, but I also liked the Fries.
Mardi Gras Marshmallow Pie
The Mardi Gras Marshmallow Pie was delicious. I really loved the Marshmallows in it. It was really delicious and soft. And the combination and amounts of marshmallow, graham crackers, and chocolate worked well together.
The beignets, unfortunately, were a bit of a disappointment. And I was so expecting to like them I ordered a couple of bags of beignets. Beignets are one of my favorite foods. But the beignets I got were a bit hard. I think they had been cooked too long. Hopefully, if you get beignets, you will get a better batch. But for me it was a bit of a disappointment, especially since I had just had some of the best beignets I had ever had at the Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld.
Crawfish & Shrimp Boil
We also got the Crawfish & Shrimp Boil, which was exciting since we had never had Crawfish before. The crawfish, shrimp, and red bliss potatoes were all really good. But they were really spicy. But I should preface this by saying I don’t eat a lot of spicy foods on a regular basis. So if I had, I may not have found this as spicy. As it is, it made my mouth feel like it was on fire. Which I actually kind of liked, though. But definitely make sure you have a drink close by when you eat it.
As for drinks, the Piña Verde was light-tasting and sweet. It was very enjoyable. But the bottom fourth of it was a bit bitter. Maybe I should have stirred it as I went along. I didn’t drink it very fast. I just sipped on it. But the first three fourths was very excellent.
Mardi Gras Food & Drinks at Universal Hotels
You can keep the party going even after you leave the park! The Universal Orlando hotels have some Mardi Gras specialties on their menus.
Dockside Inn (Universal’s Endless Summer Resort)
- New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Dirty Rice at Dockside Pier 8 Market
- Dockside Beignets at Dockside Pier 8 Market
- The Endless Carnival at Sunset Lounge
- The Endless Carnival at The Oasis Beach Bar
- The Endless Carnival at The Wave Maker’s Pool Bar
Surfside Inn (Universal’s Endless Summer Resort)
- New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Dirty Rice at Beach Break Cafe
- Dockside Beignets at Beach Break Cafe
- The Endless Carnival at Sand Bar
- Shrimp Po’ Boy with Zapps Chips at Galaxy Bowl Restaurant
- Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulér Hurricane at Galaxy Bowl Restaurant
Universal’s Aventura Hotel
- Chicken, Andouille & Shrimp Jambalaya at Bar 17 Bistro
- Hurricane at Bar 17 Bistro
- Sazerac at Bar 17 Bistro
- Hurricane at barVentura
- Sazerac at barVentura
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Andouille Sausage & Pulled Chicken at Amatista Cookhouse
- Cucumber Hurricane Twist at Strong Water Tavern
- Traditional King Cake at New Dutch Trading Co.
- King Cake Pancakes at Islands Dining Room
- Orchid at Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar
- Chocolate Bomb at Tuk Tuk Market
Hard Rock Hotel
- Abita Amber Ale Shrimp at Velvet Bar
- French 75 at Velvet Bar
- N’awlins Po’ Boy at The Kitchen
- French 75 at The Kitchen
- Muffaletta Sliders at beachclub
- Hurricane at beachclub
- Creamy Polenta Soup at Trattoria del Porto
- Masquerade Cannoli (mixed berry insalada) at Trattoria del Porto
- Magari (Italian for wish) at The Thirsty Fish
- Mojito Lampone (Italian for raspberry) at Splendido Bar & Grill
Universal Mardi Gras Concerts 2022
One of the great parts of the Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Studios is that it actually features live concerts… included in the cost of park admission! They take place at 8:30 PM on select nights.
These live concerts are held on the Music Plaza Stage, which is located near Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. It’s standing room only and first come, first served, so be prepared to wait if you have an act that you really want to see up close. Otherwise, you can use the large video screens to get a better view if you end up in the back (or even in the Battery Park part of the New York section).
There is also an ADA-accessible viewing area, which is located near the Race Through New York restrooms.
Here is the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras concert lineup:
- Saturday, March 12 – Lee Brice
- Sunday, March 13 – Becky G
- Friday, March 18 – Khalid
- Saturday, March 19 – Seal
- Sunday, March 20 – Gavin DeGraw
- Friday, March 25 – The Revivalists
- Saturday, March 26 – Jimmie Allen
- Sunday, March 27 – Jason Derulo
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Tribute Store
The Tribute Store, located in the New York section of the park, changes its theme seasonally. This year, in honor of the Mardi Gras celebration, the store has turned into a float factory!
There are three great reasons to stop by the Mardi Gras Tribute Store.
Enjoy the detailed decor, which provides a fun “behind the scenes” look at how the parade floats are designed and created.
Go shopping and pick up some great Universal Mardi Gras merch, including shirts, lanyards, hats, and more.
And buy one of the delicious treats found in the last room of the store!
Universal Orlando Vacation Planning
So after learning about all of the fun things to do at the Universal Studios Mardi Gras celebration, I’m sure you’d love to visit Orlando to attend this special event.
But I’m also sure you’d like to save money on your Orlando vacation!
The Mardi Gras event is included with the price of admission, but you will need tickets to Universal Studios Florida. Click here to get discounted tickets through Undercover Tourist (we’ve been a fan of them for years). You can save up to $68 on your ticket.
Need a place to stay on your trip? Click here to get discounted rates for onsite Universal Orlando Resort hotels.
And if you want to learn more about Universal Orlando in general, we recommend this book.