Capture the Spirit of Carnaval at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2024

Betsi Hill Avatar

From rides to food to which park is best for which age kid, learn everything you need to know about Universal Studios theme park in Orlando.
Universal Studios Orlando brings Mardi Gras to life with beautifully themed floats. Photo Credit: Universal Studios Orlando.

If you think Mardi Gras is just for adults, then Universal Studios in Florida wants to change your mind. This fun fantastical adventure is great for the whole family! Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration has parades, concerts and fabulous food from across the globe — and, of course, some incredible cajun food straight from New Orleans.

This year there is a lot to love about Universal’s Mardi Gras – a fabulous concert lineup, amazing global foods celebrating the season of Carnaval at Universal Mardi Gras, and CityWalk, where the Mardi Gras celebration continues. So let the good times roll, or as they say in New Orleans, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration 2024

For more than 15 years, Universal Studios has been bringing the Mardi Gras celebration to life in Orlando. For 2024, Universal Studios is pulling out the stops with the International Flavors of Carnaval. From the flavorful international food selections inspired by Carnaval celebrations across the world to the Mardi Gras Tribute Store, there’s a lot to love about Mardi Gras 2024 at Universal Studios.

I have spent a lot of time in New Orleans and witnessed firsthand numerous Mardi Gras celebrations; Universal Studios Mardi Gras completely captures the spirit of Carnaval!

Read More: Universal Orlando’s Dockside Inn and Suites at the Endless Summer Resort

King Cake Whoopie Pies for sale at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras
The colors and tastes of New Orleans were a highlight at the 2023 Universal Orlando Mardi Gras. Photo credit: Jim Hill

Universal Mardi Gras 2024 Global Flavors of Carnaval Food & Beverage Offerings

A Global Taste Of Carnaval

For Mardi Gras 2024 Flavors of Carnaval, Universal Orlando once again is taking us on a global tasting experience.

Some of the Mardi Gras food features I experienced and loved at the 2023 event are:

  • Belguim’s Liège Waffle Berries and Cream, a delightfully sweet waffle topped with strawberries and a whipped topping with a crumbles
  • Brazil’s Picanha skewers, Linguiça skewers and Chicken Coxinha.
  • A shrimp ceviche tostada that was flavorful and well-presented and easily our favorite taste of Carnaval.
A shrimp ceviche tostado at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras

The shrimp cevice tostada from the 2023 Universal Orlando Mardi Gras. Photo credit: Jim Hill

Authentic Cajun: A Taste of the Big Easy at Universal Studios Florida

No Mardi Gras experience is complete without Cajun food. From beignets to jambalaya, the Cajun cuisine native to New Orleans draws millions of visitors each year.

At the 2023 celebration, Universal Orlando featured mouthwatering cajun food staples, including jambalaya, gumbo, king cake, beignets, and some signature beverages. Those included a Goombay smash, Category 5 punch (a take on the famous New Orleans hurricane cocktail) and Abita Purple Haze beer.

These food & beverage options are only a peek into the 70+ different food dishes inspired by Carnaval celebrations in 17 countries. You’ll find all of the offerings at the food booths located throughout Universal Orlando.

For those who love Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay, the theme park has you covered! You’ll be able to experience the tastes of Universal’s Mardi Gras and Carnaval at both of these venues.

SheBuysTravel Tip: For some sweet savings, be sure to purchase your Mardi Gras food & beverage card at the food kiosks in Universal Studios Florida.

Sign for Cursed Coconut at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras
Existing bar at Universal Orlando is transformed into a New Orleans-style lounge for Mardi Gras. Photo credit: Jim Hill

Mardi Gras Celebration at The Cursed Coconut Club Universal CityWalk

For the 2023 celebration, Universal CityWalk’s Red Coconut Club was transformed into the Cursed Coconut Club showcasing the darker side of New Orleans’ French Quarter.

We spotted features designed to transport us into the midst of New Orleans’s graveyards with above-ground graves on the outside of the club. Walking in the entrance, we felt as if we were entering a different world, with items reminiscent of the voodoo influence found in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

The lighting was dim, exactly what one would expect wandering into some of the bars of the French Quarter. There were lots of lounging areas in the two-story space, and three bars to celebrate the mythical spirit-filled Mardi Gras.

Interior of The Tribute Store at Universal Orlando
Reimagined interior of The Tribute Store for Mardi Gras from the 2023 celebration. Photo credit: Jim Hill

Mardi Gras Tribute Store 2024

The Universal Orlando Tribute Store is located in the former Williams of Hollywood location. This is the place to buy your masks, beads, and Mardi Gras-themed t-shirts and treats. 

If you’ve ever wandered the streets and alleyways of New Orleans, you know that things are not always as they seem. The Mardi Gras Tribute store creates that same vibe – traditional back alleyways eventually lead into a speakeasy where the Mardi Gras celebration continues.

Universal Mardi Gras 2024 Dates

The Mardi Gras celebration kicks off Feb. 3, 2024, and runs through April 7. Best of all, the fun is included with your park admission and runs throughout the opening hours and throughout the park.

Mardi Gras parade float at Universal Orlando at night
Traditional New Orleans-style floats were the highlight of the 2023 Mardi Gras parade. Photo credit: Jim Hill

Throw Me Some Beads, Mister: Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras Parade

Throughout the day, stilt walkers and street performers entertain in spots around Universal Orlando and CityWalk. Stick around for the evening’s colossal Mardi Gras parade that winds through the theme park.

The 2023 parade featured six new floats with astonishing fantastical creatures – dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and more from the mythical realms of Mardi Gras and the park promises more new floats for 2024.

Stilt walkers perform in Universal Orlando Mardi Gras parade
Stilt walkers perform during the 2023  Mardi Gras parade. Photo credit: Jim Hill

Universal Orlando Resort Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine

For the ultimate Mardi Gras experience at Universal Studios Florida, purchase a Mardi Gras float ride and dine experience. With prices starting at $84.99 per person, you get a 3-course meal at a Universal Orlando Resort restaurant and a ride on one of the parade floats. (Note that the ride experience is limited to guests ages 18 or older or kids at least 48 inches tall accompanied by an adult and riders must wear a Krewe costume and be able to stand for the duration of the parade.)

This is a fantastic memory-making experience. You’ll climb on your assigned parade float and spend the ride throwing Mardi Gras beads to the audience. 

SheBuysTravel Tip: Find your spot on the Mardi Gras 2024 parade route early.

Universal’s Mardi Gras 2024 Live Musical Concerts

Music is an enormous part of any Mardi Gras celebration. At Universal Orlando, concerts happen on select nights at 8:30 pm on the Music Plaza Stage.

Universal Orlando’s 2024 Mardi Gras concert lineup is:

  • Feb. 3: Walker Hayes
  • Feb. 10: The All-American Rejects
  • Feb. 17: Elle King
  • Feb. 18: KC and the Sunshine Band
  • Feb. 24: Barenaked Ladies
  • March 2: DJ Khaled
  • March 9: Ava Max
  • March 10: Queen Latifah
  • March 16: Luis Fonsi
  • March 17: Zedd

Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2024 Concert Tips

There is no seating at the concerts. Nor are there any VIP locations. This is a first come, first serve situation.

If you want a prime concert viewing spot, you’ll need to forego watching the parade and head to the stage area early to stake out your spot. If you want to be near the front row, plan to arrive at least 2-3 hours before the show. Yes, seriously.

The concert begins shortly after the parade, so if you watch the parade (and you really should!), head straight to Music Plaza Stage the minute the parade ends. There are large viewing screens, so regardless of where you stand, you will still be able to see the performers.

While this is a very kid-friendly event, there will be guests consuming alcohol. Typically it is well-controlled and shouldn’t cause any issues.

Interior of Pat O'Brien's club at Universal Orlando
Want to keep the party going? Head to Pat O’Brien’s for music and hurricane cocktails. Photo credit: Jim Hill

Mardi Gras Continues at CityWalk

When the park closes, the party ends. Or does it? If you’re not quite ready to call it a night, head on over to CityWalk and party the night away at Pat O’Brien’s.

The reproduction of the famous New Orleans establishment celebrates Mardi Gras year-round. Conclude your evening in traditional New Orleans style with a hurricane cocktail at the piano bar.

Things to Know Before You Go To Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2024

No Additional Ticket to Buy

Most importantly, Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration is included in your park ticket. 

SheBuysTravel Tip: Buy a Food & Beverage Card & Lanyard for $65 to get $75 worth of treats and drinks on the Mardi Gras Tasting Menu.

Universal Florida Mardi Gras Parade Viewing Areas

  • Children can go to the Little Jester’s Parade Viewing Area at the front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop an hour before the parade starts for their own fantastic experience.
  • Annual Passholders have a reserved viewing area near Mel’s Drive-in.
  • Guests with disabilities have viewing access near Macy’s.
  • Make sure to bring a bag for all of your Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2024 loot. You are sure to catch some beads and doubloons. The larger beads, masks, t-shirts, hats and yard glasses are available for purchase throughout the park at various gift shop locations.

Betsi Hill is your sun-soaked guide to global wanderlust, crafting stories from every corner of the globe and bringing you closer to each destination. Specializing in luxury escapes, multi-generational journeys, and all-inclusive, all-you-can-enjoy resorts, she’s got the inside scoop on unforgettable adventures. Got a passion for fine dining and great wine? Betsi’s got you covered, taking you along to some of the top wine and cocktail bars across Florida and the globe. Eager to paint the world with the colors of each place she visits, Betsi teams up with the top Destination Marketing Organizations and tourism boards to unveil the heartbeat of every location and share its unique narrative. If there’s a travel story out there, trust Betsi to tell it, and tell it well!
Read full bio

4 responses

  1. This would be a sea change from loving Mardi Gras in Louisiana and Alabama. Your tips are appreciated.

  2. Never been to the universal Mardi Gras, but in my opinion Mardi Gras in New Orleans is petty kid friendly as long as you stick with the day time parades around uptown.

  3. 5

  4. 4.5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *