Take a look at Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando in this week's Theme Park Thursday

Theme Park Thursday - 2 18 18 - Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. — Mardi Gras at the Universal Orlando is back and bigger than ever with even more nights to catch beads, great concerts, and cajun food you will crave.

So let’s start at the beginning!

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras takes place from now until April 7th at Universal Studios Florida, and admission into the Mardi Gras party is included with admission…which on a side not might be one of my favorite phrases.

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Mardi Gras Concerts

One of the biggest draws during Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is the concerts that take place on special dates throughout the celebration at 8:30 pm on the Universal Music Plaza Stage.

I’m going to reiterate that these concerts are included with your admission and feature performances from many genres that you won’t want to miss!

2018 Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Concert Line-Up:

• Saturday, February 10: The Beach Boys

• Saturday, February 17: Kelsea Ballerini

• Sunday, February 18: Andy Grammer

• Saturday, February 24: Macklemore

• Saturday, March 3: 311

• Sunday, March 4: Phillip Phillips

• Saturday, March 10: Jason Derulo

• Sunday, March 11: Fitz and the Tantrums

• Saturday, March 17: Foreigner

• Sunday, March 18: Fifth Harmony

• Saturday, March 24: Jessie J

• Sunday, March 25: Bush

It is standing room only for these concerts with the best spaces available to those who wait (some arrive as early as park opening to wait for the front row), but if you arrive late there are two large screens on either side of the stage that broadcast close-ups of the performance.

There is an ADA concert viewing area near Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Universal Team Members can help with admission into this area.

Mardi Gras Parade

This year the Mardi Gras Parade has a constellation-theme that will keep the good times rolling every night throughout the streets of Universal Studios Florida with breathtakingly detailed floats, festive krewes of colorful dancers and stilt performers, and countless beads.

Six new celestial floats complete a lineup of 12 intricately hand-crafted floats engineered by Kern Studios, designer of the original New Orleans Mardi Gras floats for more than 50 years.

During this appropriately 20 minute parade, you'll be screaming 'Throw me something Mister' and singing along as the fun rolls through the park.

It is important to note that the start time of the parade changes, so you will want to pick up a times guide as you start your evening of fun at the park.

The parade has a step off time of 6:45 pm on February 7-9, 11-15

The parade has a step off time of 7:15 pm on February 16, 19-23, 25-28, March 1, 2, 5-9

The parade has a step off time of 7:45 pm on February 10, 17, 18, 24, March 3, 4, 10-31, and April 1-7

There are three special viewing areas along the Mardi Gras Parade route:

• The Little Jester's Parade Viewing Area for kids: near where the Terminator 2: 3-D attraction was (more about this in a moment),

• The ADA Viewing Area: Front of the Macy's facade in the New York Backlot next to Revenge of the Mummy attraction, and

• Annual Passholder Viewing Area: Mel's Drive-In.

My favorite spots to watch the parade are near Mel's Drive-In since you will see the parade twice and along the New York backlot.

French Quarter

While the Parade and Concerts are the flash, the French Quarter area is the heart and soul of the Mardi Gras Celebration at Universal Studios Florida with delicious food, drinks, and concerts from New Orleans finest!

There could be no Mardi Gras without the amazing Cajun cuisine, and the French Quarter has you covered with dishes like spicy Jambalaya, grilled Andouille sausage, shrimp gumbo, beignets, and more!

And music is the heartbeat of New Orleans, and you can find some of Louisiana’s most popular bands performing authentic blues, zydeco, and more playing on the French Quarter Stage.

The 2018 New Orleans Band Line-Up includes from February 3 – 20: Free Agents Brass Band, February 21 – March 6: Naughty Professor Brass Band, March 7 – 20: New Breed Brass Band, March 21 – 31: Young Pinstripe Brass Band, and April 1 – April 7: Dirty Bourbon River Show

Mardi Gras for Families

While at first you may be concerned that the Mardi Gras celebration may be too 'adult' for children based on the costumes some of the performers wear...don't be!!!

In the late afternoon/early evening Mardi Gras performers and Jesters can be found around the French Quarter Courtyard area handing out beads (and sometimes doubloons), playing games, dancing, and taking photos with guests.

If you have smaller children you might consider this as a test to see how they react, because later in the night it makes the parade less overwhelming.

The Little Jester's Parade Viewing, near where the Terminator 2: 3-D attraction, is wonderful are for families to watch the Mardi Gras parade, because it isn't as crowded, is near the parade stop, and parade throwers know to shower this area with extra beads! You will want to make sure you arrive at The Little Jester’s Parade Viewing area around an hour before the parade starts to grab your spot.

However I would totally caution you about bringing younger children to the free larger concerts, as the concerts are extremely crowded and can sometimes contain colorful language & stories.

Special Deal on purchasing Annual Passes

Florida Residents can get three months free on Power, Preferred and Premier Annual Passes with a UPC code from select Coca-Cola products.  For more information on this offer and others for Florida Residents, check out this website.

That’s it for this week’s Theme Park Thursday! I hope that you’ve enjoyed a look at what you can experience at this year’s Mardi Gras celebration at the Universal Orlando!

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