Thank you to Universal Orlando for providing me with theme park tickets, food and lodging for the #UORGirlsGetaway event. Universal Mardi Gras 2015 #UniversalMardiGras
Mardi Gras has been celebrated for centuries in countries throughout the world. But I have to say, Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras is the one not to miss! I was just there last week – and could not have had a better experience. This annual family-friendly celebration takes place on select nights February 7 through April 18, 2015. It’s Florida’s biggest party and the largest Mardi Gras event outside of New Orleans!
Universal Orlando wants you to feel right at home in N’awlins. An entire section of the park recreates a New Orleans French Quarter Courtyard. The sights, sounds and even smells of food made me feel like I was actually in New Orleans. Mardi Gras performers in colorful costumes and many who were walking around on stilts (!!!) greeted everyone in the streets.
Live jazz bands – literally plucked from the New Orleans music scene and brought to Universal Orlando – provide outdoor entertainment. You can listen to the sounds of The Big Easy (a nickname for the city of New Orleans) while grabbing a bite to eat. Be sure to bring your appetite because you’ll want to try all the classic New Orleans food. There’s jambalaya, gumbo, Andouille sausage, beignets and more. I recommend trying at least one bite of everything. (That’s what I did – and then some!) Everything was delicious.
It would not be an authentic Mardi Gras party without a parade! And Universal is second to none when it comes to getting it right down to the last detail. Each of this year’s 12 parade floats were spectacular. In the spirit of keeping it real, the parade floats are made by the same company (Blaine Kern Studios) that designs New Orleans Mardi Gras Floats. I got up close and personal with this glittery Gator – this has got to be the longest float I have ever seen! I could not even fit the entire length into my photo.
In addition to traditional Mardi Gras floats, this year’s parade features a Travel-themed float as well as floats representing other countries like China and Mexico. One of my personal favorites was the Day of the Dead float. I got a quick behind-the-scenes with Parade Director Jason Horne, who said that this year’s parade is more interactive than ever before. There are 2 show stops, and lots of free stuff for the audience to catch (t-shirts and 1.8 MILLION beads!)
I was lucky enough to ride on the traditional King and Queen float, tossing bead necklaces into the crowds gathered along the parade route. It was such a thrill for me to see thousands of people having so much fun. Everyone was smiling, laughing and waving their arms in hopes of catching Mardi Gras swag. These were good times that I will never forget!
The Mardi Gras parade is followed by a Live Concert at the Music Plaza Stage. This year’s concert line-up includes some of music’s biggest names in pop, rock, country, R&B and more, including Kelly Clarkson, Phillip Phillips, Barenaked Ladies, Trace Adkins and MKTO. Seeing MKTO live in concert was definitely one of the highlights of my Mardi Gras trip. My #UORGirlsGetaway group got to meet MKTO right before their performance. It was exciting to have the chance to snap a photo with them.
Visit Universal Orlando and Experience Mardi Gras
All of the Mardi Gras festivities are included with paid admission to Universal Studios or with a Universal Orlando Annual Pass. Visit Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras to learn more. Plan your visit and purchase tickets online at Universal Orlando .