Universal Studios Florida trip report – February 2013 (construction updates & lots of Mardi Gras coverage)
Saturday marked the opening of the Mardi Gras festivities at Universal Studios Florida. The celebratory feel started right away as I approached the entrance of the park and saw 2013 Mardi Gras medallion.
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Decorations and merchandise throughout the park added to my “Need for Beads” feeling, one of Universal’s marketing slogans this year. Booths specific to the Mardi Gras celebration were set up in the “French Quarter Courtyard” — the park area across from Twister and between the new Transformers ride and Revenge of the Mummy. Music all over the park was Zydeco-style, and it added to the fun atmosphere.
Transformers: The Ride continues to be under construction with workers painting different motifs on the outside of the building. On the construction wall facing the French Quarter, there is a new, extra large Bumblebee, which has become a popular photo opportunity. There are also several kiosks and shops throughout Universal Studios Florida and CityWalk that now have Transformer merchandise for sale, including toys, clothing and refillable cups.
Although it is not very wide, the walkway between the Shrek 4D attraction exit and Mel’s Drive-In is now open, making the restrooms in that area accessible again from either direction.
We also use this alleyway as a shortcut from Rip Ride Rockit to Mel’s Drive-In and beyond.
In the old Amity section, the rumored Gringotts building and Diagon Alley area continue to be under construction with more visible changes when viewed from a zoom camera lens. Tracks of the ride inside the framework of the rather large building have been visible since December.
The construction in The Simpsons Ride lagoon area has not changed much since my last trip report. However, the restrooms between the ride and the Animal Actors stadium are now completely blocked by construction walls and not accessible to the public. In addition, the new queue area at the Simpson’s ride, across from the Kwik-E-Mart, now has poles and chains for queue alignment.
Wait times for rides and attractions were moderate throughout the day, but the lines for food and drink were busy. The weather was beautiful, though it became chilly after sunset. As a result, I purchased a Universal Studios Florida sweatshirt to stay warm. While doing so I learned that, because I am an annual passholder and spent more than $30.00, I was able to receive free Mardi Gras beads with a Passholder medallion! What a great perk, and it helped feed my “need for beads”!
The Superstar Parade time was changed to 2:00pm due to the Mardi Gras parade scheduled for 7:45 pm. This will be the new time for the Superstar Parade on Saturdays and select dates the Mardi Gras parade occurs through April 20. Character party zone performances and their meet and greets will still take place but check your park map for times.
The French Quarter Courtyard booths opened around 4:00pm. They offer several different New Orleans foods from Jambalaya, Gumbo, and potato swills to Beignets. I purchased the red beans and rice for dinner and it was very tasty.
Both alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks were available in addition to Jell-O shots sold by costumed servers walking around the French Quarter Courtyard. There is also a stage set up for the live bands “straight from New Orleans” to perform. During this visit, it was John Lisi & Delta Funk! who performed three times that evening prior to the parade.
The stilt walkers in fabulous Mardi Gras costumes started appearing on the streets around 4pm as well. Their meet and greet is a lot of fun for park guests with great photo opportunities. Tip: If you dance for them, you may receive some Mardi Gras beads.
Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular show was at 7:00 pm. This is a unique and enjoyable show that includes fireworks and synchronized water fountains along with film clips projected on a wall of water. It was enjoyable seeing all the clips from Universal movies from the past 100 years.
The highlight of the day, the Mardi Gras parade, began at 7:45pm. The parade music was fun and upbeat, with a unique Zydeco sound. Colorful floats, beads tossed by float riders flying everywhere and stilt walkers in various elaborate costumes added to the fun and the Mardi Gras celebration. I was even able to catch a few beads.
After the parade, the band Lifehouse began their performance at the Universal Music Plaza. Guests seemed to be enjoying the concert as I headed out of the park, tired but happy after having a fantastic day at Universal Studios Florida and the Mardi Gras celebration. I’m looking forward to going back again to Universal Studios in the next few weeks to celebrate Mardi Gras again, enjoy a few concerts and fulfill my need for beads!
I hope you enjoyed this trip report. If you’d like to catch up on all our trip reports, click here.
And if you’re planning to visit Universal Orlando for Mardi Gras, you definitely want to check out Orlando Informer’s complete insider’s guide to the event.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – photo gallery
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