Welcome, party people, to the biggest bash this side of the bayou! You’ve just found the world’s most popular insider’s guide to the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in Orlando.
Every spring, the fun and excitement of the Big Easy makes its way to Universal Orlando Resort for an authentic celebration that completely transforms Universal Studios Florida into a family-friendly version of the famed New Orleans street party.
To learn everything there is to know about Mardi Gras 2023, we strongly recommend that you read this guide from top to bottom.
Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida will be held on select nights starting February 4, with festivities concluding on April 16, 2023. The event is included with your theme park ticket or annual pass (though passholder blockout dates apply).
- Insider’s guide to Mardi Gras 2023’s Exclusive Food and Drinks
- Insider’s Guide to Mardi Gras 2023’s Parade
Mardi Gras 2023 Overview and Explanation
The annual event runs daily from Saturday, February 4 through Sunday, April 16. All of the crowd-favorite components of Mardi Gras will return: the colorfully costumed performers and authentic New Orleans bands, the Mardi Gras parade, and even the weekly headliner concerts.
To double down on an element that has, in recent years, clearly come to be one of the most beloved at Universal’s festivities – the company has greatly expanded its lineup of delicious Cajun cuisine, broadening it to include carnavals from all over the world and locations all over Universal Studios Florida (instead of having it be mostly confined to the French Quarter Courtyard in the New York backlot).
What about admission?
Here’s the best part about the Big Easy party – it’s completely free! As long as you have a ticket to get through the theme-park turnstiles on a Mardi Gras event date, you have access to everything, from the music to the food.
What about the weather?
Concerned about the weather the night you plan on getting some beads? Check out our Orlando weather page to learn more and be fully prepared for your visit.
Mardi Gras 2023 Concerts
Music constitutes such a big part of New Orleans’s Mardi Gras traditions, and it’s no different at Universal Orlando. At Music Plaza Stage in Universal Studios Florida, guests can attend concerts on select nights during the Mardi Gras season. These concerts are included with park admission and have begun at 8:30 in the past, but the showtimes have not been announced yet for 2023.
Here are the headliners for Mardi Gras 2023:
4 – Patti LaBelle
10 – JVKE
11 – Goo Goo Dolls
18 – Maren Morris
19 – WILLOW
25 – 3 Doors Down
4 – Sean Paul
5 – Lauren Daugle
No announcements have yet been made for concerts in April.
Mardi Gras 2023 Parade
The parade will feature music, lights, and – of – course – beads being thrown from six brand-new and six returning authentic floats drafted and created in New Orleans, the heart of Mardi Gras.
The theme for this year’s Mardi Gras parade? “Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras” – a completely original parade theme that’s inspired six all-new floats. The theme will heavily incorporate fantastical creatures with Bourbon Street flair in the popular Mardi Gras parade that uses floats designed and made in New Orleans. Entertainers, performers, and music make this a spectacle that can’t be missed. The parade will take place on select dates throughout the Mardi Gras season.
Parade starts at 6:15 pm on the following dates:
- February 5 – 9
- February 12 – 16
- February 26 – March 2
Parade starts at 7:30 pm on the following dates:
- February 17
- February 20 – 24
- March 3
- March 6 – April 16
Parade starts at 7:45 pm on the following dates:
- February 4
- February 10 – 11
- February 18 – 19
- March 4 – 5
No Parade on the following date(s):
- March 31
Registration to be a float rider in the parades:
A special perk for annual passholders is the option to be a float rider. This exclusive experience is between 2-3 hours in duration, and annual passholders get to throw beads and goad parade spectators from the best seats in the house. Additional details regarding registration will be available closer to the celebration.
New to this year’s festivities is the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience. Enjoy a three-course meal at one of four participating restaurants in Universal Studios Florida or Universal CityWalk while also having a reserved spot on board a parade float! This offering begins at $84.99.
Mardi Gras 2023 Food and Drinks
It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras if you couldn’t eat, drink, and be merry.
Universal’s annual event features an array of delicious “N’awlins-style food and spirits,” usually including over 50 dishes and drinks inspired by a variety of different carnaval countries or cities.
The good times don’t stop rolling at Universal Studios Florida when it comes to cajun cuisine. For the first time, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay will be adding some Mardi Gras flavor to their menus. Select dishes will also be available throughout Universal CityWalk and Universal Orlando Resort Hotels.
Pick up a Universal Orlando Resort Food & Beverage Card to aid you in the journey through the tastes of the world’s carnival celebrations.
Here’s the pricing for the Food & Beverage Card:
- Pay $65 for a $75 Universal Orlando Resort Food & Beverage Card
- Pay $120 for a $150 Universal Orlando Resort Food & Beverage Card (Annual and Seasonal Passholder Exclusive)
Mardi Gras 2023 Food Booths
The Mardi Gras food scene has expanded so much in recent years, we’ve dedicated a whole page to the tasty endeavor! Check out that guide here for the delicious details. From Ube Ice Cream served in a Matcha Bubble Waffle to a savory Crawfish Boil, Mardi Gras has you covered.
Mardi Gras 2023 Tribute Store
2023’s Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration has paved the way for a new Tribute Store location. Previously found in New York, this beloved, seasonal shop is now housed in the star-studded Hollywood section of Universal Studios Florida.
For those unfamiliar, the Tribute Store started off life as a part of Halloween Horror Nights 2015, instantly becoming a fan-favorite – and, therefore, perennial – part of the event (which is Universal’s biggest and the one that Mardi Gras seems to inch more closely towards with every passing year). This shop has grown in size and sophistication over the years and has also become something of a themed attraction unto itself. This emporium has even expanded to cover other celebrations, like the Holidays at Universal and Mardi Gras.
This year’s Mardi Gras tribute store is somewhat of a love letter to the city of New Orleans. The first room resembles a ballroom with a bandstand as its centerpiece, holding various brass instruments. Additional jazz essentials, such as a piano and double bass, lie in the corner of the dancehall as if its players have just taken a brief pause after playing a set.
As New Orleans was one of the prominent players during American Prohibition, the second room of this year’s Mardi Gras tribute store is a nod to NOLA history with decor resembling items from that era. Moving from the ballroom to this backroom was a step back in time, with empty glass bottles, old clocks, and cobwebs adorning the variety of trinkets.
This is also the spot to find some delicious and themed treats for you to enjoy! Here’s what is on the menu:
- Chocolate Cookie Dough Ball – $4.50
- Vanilla Cookie Dough Ball – $4.50
- Maple Bacon Cookie Dough Ball – $4.50
- Marshmallow Pop – $4.50
- Mardi Gras S’more – $4.50
- King Cake Macaron – $5.00
- Bananas Foster Macaron – $5.00
- Maple Bourbon Macaron – $5.00
- Chocolate Dipped Bacon – $7.00
- King Cake Whoopie Pie – $7.00
- Fleur de Lis Enrobed Brownie – $10.00
- Mardi Gras Mask Brownie – $10.00
- Trifle Cake – $12.00
The final scene in this journey takes us to the streets of The Big Easy, known for its familiar architecture. You can take in the recognizable New Orleans sights of a wrought iron balcony, an angel statue, and a Spanish moss tree – all adorned with Mardi Gras beads, of course.
Between the beautiful and intricate details of this year’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store, you’ll find plenty of merchandise to aid you in celebrating carnival! Some can be found below!
Mardi Gras 2023 Merchandise
While beads are the traditional Mardi Gras garb, Universal has a plethora of options to join in the celebration, from apparel to drinkware. Here is what you can find near Universal Music Plaza:
- Black Reptile Print Gator Tee – $35.00
- Purple Gator Hoodie – $65.00
- Spirit Jersey – $75.00
- Cropped Hoodie – $40.00
- “Lookin’ Snazzy Feelin’ Jazzy” Tee – $35.00
- “I’m Kind of a Bead Deal” Tee – $35.00
- Black & White Tee – $35.00
- White Fitted Tee – $35.00
- Gray Skull Tank – $35.00
- Mardi Gras Socks – $20.00
- Bucket Hat – $34.00
- Black Hat – $30.00
- White Hat – $30.00
- Headband – $16.00
- White Shotglass – $10.00
- Coffee Mug – $18.00
- Cup – $17.00
- Beer Can Cup – $15.00
- Coaster – $6.00
- Poster – $34.00
- Candle – $20.00
- Decals – $12.00
Mardi Gras 2023 Krewe Crawl
While we await details regarding this year’s Krewe Crawl, please enjoy information from last year’s search.
It turns out the Tribute Store isn’t the only annual-event item that’s being deployed year-round now.
After starting with the Holiday Tree Hunt in 2019 and then proceeding to the Scarecrow Stalk in ’20, Universal’s scavenger hunt arrived at Mardi Gras 2021. “Gather your krewe,” the brochure read, “and take a walking tour around Universal Studios Florida to experience the rich history of Mardi Gras.” Sure enough, there was a bit of actual historical info to be had at some, at least, of the 12 different locations, along with some rather interesting designs, to boot. The tradition has continued for Mardi Gras 2022, so assemble your crew for the Krewe Crawl.
The concept is simple: go to the Universal Studios Store near Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and ask a team member for a Krewe Crawl pamphlet. You’ll have to pay $10 for the paperwork, but then you can start your hunt! Across Universal Studios, 12 stations can be found in gift shops and merchandise venues. This year, the theme is Mardi Gras masks. Your task? To seek out the masks and collect stamps for your pamphlet. After you’ve found all 12 stations, find a team member in the Hello Kitty Store (Hollywood) to redeem your prize, which (fittingly) this year is a Mardi Gras mask.
Here are all 12 of the stops on the 2022 Krewe Crawl scavenger trail:
- Custom Gear (San Francisco)
- Fallon Gift Shop (New York)
- Universal Studios Store (Production Central)
- Film Vault (New York)
- Five & Dime (Hollywood)
- Hello Kitty Store (Hollywood)
- MIB Gear (World Expo)
- Rosie’s Irish Shop (New York)
- San Francisco Candy Factory (San Francisco)
- Spongebob Storepants (Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone)
- Transformers Gift Shop (New York)
- Monsters Tribute Store (New York)
Mardi Gras 2022 – FAQ
Let the good times roll with these answers to your questions about Universal Studios Florida’s Mardi Gras bash.
Is Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida appropriate for young kids?
In a word, yes. Everything is totally kid-friendly, and we definitely recommend bringing along everyone in the family. Many Mardi Gras “characters” walk the streets, handing out beads and posing for photos. Mixed with the New Orleans party music filling the air, it’s a very festive atmosphere.
I need beads, beads, and more beads, please
Beads are the central icon of Mardi Gras, and don’t you worry – you’ll be able to collect them ’til your little heart’s content. And, even better, the vast majority of these quintessential items are absolutely free to you.
How do you collect beads? The usual way – by cheering and raising your hands at the parades.
And in case the standard-issue beads just aren’t to your liking, Universal also sells specialty ones (for $6.00+) at the main Universal Studios Florida gift shop, the Mardi Gras Tribute Store, and at two merchandise stands: one across from Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and the other across from Fast & Furious – Supercharged.
Are there any benefits for annual passholders?
Passholders can save 15% on the previously mentioned Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience. Enjoy a delicious, three-course meal and participate in this exciting parade!
(Need some more info or explanations on what all these various levels of Universal Orlando’s annual passes are? No problem – check out our complete guide to annual passes.)
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