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Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2023 Guide

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Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebrates all things carnival from around the world with food, concerts, a themed parade, and much more. In this article, we will cover all there is at Universal’s Mardi Gras including concert schedules, parade times, food options, and touring tips.

Universal’s Mardi Gras 2023 runs from February 4 through April 16, 2023, and is included with park admission.

What is Universal’s Mardi Gras

Universal’s Mardi Gras celebrates carnivals celebrated all over the world, but mostly focuses on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, LA. The party started in 1996 with a parade furnished by the New Orleans fabrication firm Kern Studios. Designed to bring in the locals during a quiet period of the year, Mardi Gras kept expanding with bigger musical acts and a longer season. In 2018 the event went to daily operations with Universal stepping up its food festival offerings. Now guests can sample exclusive foods from around the world, ride on a New Orleans parade float, walk through the Tribute Store, or catch a headliner concert.

New for 2023 is an expanded focus on food with food booths in Islands of Adventure, CityWalk, and the resorts. Grab a cocktail at the new Cursed Coconut Club in CityWalk, a themed bar experience.

Mardi Gras Food Festival

MOFONGO FLIGHT – A mix of smashed plantains, bacon, and chicharrones with shrimp criolla, crispy chicken thigh, and mayo ketchup.

Mardi Gras is Universal’s premier food festival and features over 50 dishes and dozens of cocktails from all over the world. Similar to Epcot’s foot festival, temporary structures are placed throughout Universal Studios Florida, with booths featuring food and beverage options appropriate to the host country. This year the fun expands to Universal’s Islands of Adventure Port of Entry, CityWalk, and the hotels with New Orleans and Medeterranian-themed options.

Booths open at 11:00 am and close half an hour before the park closes. Menu items range in price from $5 to over $15 with most dishes around $9-12.

Below are the food menus for the 2023 Universal Mardi Gras.

Universal Studios Florida Menus

Bridge between Simpsons and Men in Black

  • Brussels Fries
  • Orval Trappist beer
  • Rochefort Trappist beer
Animal Actors/E.T.

  • Picanha Skewers (beef)
  • Linguiça Skewers (sausage)
  • Chicken Coxinha
  • Brigadeiros Trio
  • Mango Caipirinha cocktail (cachaça)
  • Guava Caipirinha cocktail (cachaça)
New York (across from The Mummy)

  • Canadian Snowshoe (Maple or Nutella)
  • Candied Maple Bacon taffy
  • Slocum Maple Smash cocktail (vodka)
  • Collective Arts NE IPA beer
NOLA Central City
Central Park

  • Crawfish, Shrimp, and Combo Boils
  • Beignets
  • Category 5 Punch cocktail (rum)
  • Abita Purple Haze wheat beer
  • Oh Baby exclusive beer

  • Colombian Empanadas 
  • Arepas de Queso
  • Refajo shanty beer
  • Coco Loco cocktail (rum and tequila)
  • Choladas shaved ice
Old Fear Factor Live theater

  • Rød Pølse (Danish hot dog)
  • Frikadeller Meatballs with Danish Gravy 
  • Mead options
  • Carlsberg pilsner beer
Central Park

  • Muffaletta Crepe
  • Wine selections
NOLA French Quarter

  • King Cake
  • Beignets
  • Oh Baby exclusive beer
  • Category 5 Punch cocktail (rum)
  • Abita Purple Haze wheat beer
  • Goombay Smash cocktail (rum)
Bridge between Simpsons and Men in Black

  • Chicken Schnitzel with Käsespätzle 
  • Potato Pancakes
  • Reissdorf beer
  • Warsteiner Pilsener beer
  • Weihenstephaner Helles beer
  • Tucher Helles Hefe Weizen beer
  • Gaffel Kolsch beer
  • Ayinger Celebrator beer
San Francisco (across from Fast & Furious exit)

  • Pav Bhaji (vegetable-based stew)
  • Onion Bhaji
  • Gulab Jamun with Rose Water Syrup (fried dough balls)
  • Nimbu Pani (Indian lemonaide)
  • Aam Panna (mango drink)

  • Indonesian Style Chili Crab with Fried Mantou 
  • Nasi Goreng 
  • Bubur Ketan Hitam
  • Bali Punch cocktail (rum)
  • Java Cooler cocktail (rum)

  • Tour of Italy Arancini Flight (tomato basil, mushroom, seafood)
  • Gelato Stuffed Pressed Brioche (aka fancy ice cream sandwich)
  • Wines
New York (next to Haagen Dazs ice cream store)

  • Ube Ice Cream Sesame Bubble Waffle Cone
  • Nikuman Bun Sampler (stuffed buns)
  • Okonomiyaki (savory cabbage pancakes with fillings)
  • Japanese Highball cocktail (whiskey)
  • Sake selections
  • Sapporo Silver and Kirin Ichiban beers

  • Al Pastor tacos
  • Baja Shrimp Ceviche Tostada
  • Vegan Churros 
  • Elote
  • Grapefruit Paloma cocktail (tequila)
  • Modelo beer and beer cocktails
Puerto Rico
New York (across from The Mummy)

  • Mofongo Trio (bacon, shrimp, chicken)
  • Alcapurrias (beef and vegan options)
  • Classic Piña Colada cocktail (rum)
  • Shaved ice
San Francisco (across from Fast & Furious entrance)

  • Paella Mixto (seafood paella)
  • Spanish Bocadillo (ham and goat cheese sandwich)
  • Leche Frita 
  • Sangria options 
Trinidad and Tobago

  • Crab & Dumplings 
  • Chickpea Doubles flatbread
  • Pholourie (spicy deep fried dough)
  • Carib beer and beer cocktails

Islands of Adventure Menus

Mardi Gras Hits
Port of Entry

  • Jambalaya
  • Shrimp Gumbo 
  • Oh Baby exclusive beer
  • Category 5 Punch cocktail (rum)
New Orleans Desserts
Port of Entry

  • Beignets
  • King Cake
  • Oh Baby exclusive beer
  • Category 5 Punch cocktail (rum)

CityWalk Menus

New Orleans

  • Shrimp and Smoked Cheddar Cheese Rice Grits 
  • Yakamein (cajun beef stew with noodles)
  • Cauliflower Dirty Rice
  • Crawfish Etouffee
  • Oh Baby exclusive beer
  • Category 5 Punch cocktail (rum)
  • Abita Purple Haze wheat beer
Taste of the Mediterranean

  • Crepe Suzette
  • Grilled Octopus with Potatoes
  • Wine selections

Hotel Menus

Portofino Bay

  • Trattoria del Porto – Canjun Jambalaya Pasta and Masquerade Cannoli
  • The Thirsty Fish – Boulevardier cocktail (bourbon)
  • Splendido Bar & Grill – Mojito Lampone cocktail (vodka)
Hard Rock

  • The Kitchen – Bourbon Street Beignets, French 75 cocktail (gin)
  • Velvet Bar – N’Awlins P0’ Boy Sliders, French 75 cocktail (gin)
  • beachclub – Hurricane cocktail (rum)
Royal Pacific

  • Islands Dining Room – King Cake Pancakes
  • Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar – Orchid cocktail (gin)
  • Tuk Tuk Market – Chocolate Bomb
Sapphire Falls

  • Amatista Cookhouse – Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Gumbo Pot Pie
  • Strong Water Tavern – Cucumber Hurricane Twist cocktail (rum)
  • New Dutch Trading Co. – Traditional King Cake
Cabana Bay

  • Galaxy Bowl Restaurant – Shrimp Po’ Boy With Zapps Chips and Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler Hurricane cocktail (rum)

  • Bar 17 Bistro – Crawfish Etouffee and Muffuletta Sandwich
  • Bar 17 Bistro and Bar Ventura – Hurricane cocktail (rum) and Sazerac cocktail (whiskey)
Endless Summer – Surfside

  • Beach Break Café – New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Dirty Rice
  • Sand Bar – The Endless Carnival cocktail (rum)
Endless Summer – Dockside

  • Pier 8 – New Orleans Cajun Roasted Chicken & Dirty Rice
  • Sunset Lounge and Pool Bars -The Endless Carnival cocktail (rum)

The Universal Orlando Food & Beverage Card is a prepaid food gift card accepted at all food booths and restaurants. Cards cost $65 and include $75 worth of dining credit, a $10 savings. Cards have no expiration date and prior years’ card balances are still valid at this year’s Mardi Gras food booths. Since the card works at all restaurants in the parks and CityWalk you can save some serious money on meals. For example, guests can purchase $525 in dining credit for $455.

Touring Tips: Long queues form quickly at some booths, such as the France booth at Central Park Crepes. Booth waits fluctuate, with afternoons on weekdays being the least crowded and evenings on the weekend is the most crowded. We suggest picking up a tasting card and planning your route to start at 11:00 am sharp.

Mardis Gras Parade

Len Testa throwing beads

Straight from New Orleans is Universal’s Mardi Gras parade, featuring floats designed by the world-renowned Kern Studios of NOLA. This ain’t no Disney parade, this one starts with a full police motorcycle escort followed by dozens of dancers, stilt walkers, and decked-out floats full of guests. Did I mention guests can ride the floats? Yup, guests can ride the floats, and as is New Orleans tradition, toss beads to the crowd. Don’t get any funny ideas, this is a PG parade where the most risque thing is some bare midriffs.

This year’s theme is the “Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras” and features fantastical creatures from around the world. New floats with this theme will join the perennial classics like the King Gator and Riverboat floats. The parade runs daily in the evenings:

6:15 pm:
• February 5 – 9, 12 – 16, February 26 – March 2
7:30 pm:
• February 17, 20 – 24; March 3, March 6 – April 16
7:45 pm:
• February 4, 10 – 11, 18 – 19; March 4 – 5

Float riding is available for Universal Orlando Annual Passholders online, regular day guests can book a reservation using the Universal Orlando app on the day of. If you want a guaranteed spot then consider purchasing the Float Riding Ride & Dine Experience starting at $84.99 per person. Your float riding spot is guaranteed plus you get an appetizer, entree, dessert, and soft drink at one of several USF and CityWalk restaurants. Be warned, dining spots are in the late afternoon, around 3:30 to 4:30 depending on the parade time.

Touring Tips: Universal’s Mardi Gras parade lasts for 15 minutes and takes 45 minutes to make its way through the park. The parade starts at the Horror Makeup Show and then moves clockwise through the park. We suggest picking a spot between Transformers at the lagoon for the most elbow room. If you know someone on the floats pick a spot in Hollywood for photos then head over to Mel’s Drive-in and Transformers for a second chance at photos and beads.

Concert Series

Photo by Wandering_Witches on Instagram

What is a party without some music? This year Universal features big-name acts to smaller jazz bands. Jazz Bands perform in the New York section of the park daily, afternoon through evening. Larger musical acts perform on weekends at the Music Plaza stage located next to Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon.

  • February 4: Patti LaBelle – Come on it’s Patti LaBelle. ‘Nuff said.
  • February 10: JVKE – Singer-songwriter famous for his viral music hits on Tik-Tok and YouTube.
  • February 11: Goo Goo Dolls – 90s hits factory including their most famous Iris (trust me you know this song)
  • February 17: Marren Morris – a singer-songwriter who blends their country roots with pop, hip-hop, and R&B
  • February 18: Willow – SNL musical artist, raved by NYT and Rolling Stone, what more do you want?
  • February 25: Three Doors Down – Multi-platinum artists who are best remembered for their hit, Kryptonite
  • March 4: Sean Paul – Nominated for 9 Grammys and is one of dance music’s most prolific artists
  • March 5: Lauren Daigle – Closing out Mardi Gras concert series is a NOLA native and two-time Grammy winner

The concerts start at 8:30 pm and run for approximately 80 to 90 minutes.

Touring Tips: Concerts vary in popularity from fun diversions to crowds so large they shut down the park. If you are planning on attending a concert we suggest showing up at least two hours early to Universal and staking out your spot 30 to 45 minutes prior to showtime. If you are not interested in attending the concert we suggest avoiding the Production Central and New York areas of the park and staying towards San Francisco, London, World Expo, and Hollywood.

Mardi Gras Misc

2023’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store moves to a new location in Hollywood. Photo courtesy Inside Universal.

Universal’s Tribute Store combines intricately themed spaces with exclusive merchandise and snacks. Each Tribute Store features a new theme, with this year’s store pulling inspiration from New Orleans jazz clubs and speakeasies. Inside guests walk through several decorated rooms filled with Mardi Gras apparel, home goods, souvenirs, snacks, and photo opportunities. Tribute Stores are free to experience and open with the park, tour at any time.

Cursed Coconut Club, located in CityWalk by Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom, is a themed bar that embraces the spooky side of New Orleans. Universal has remained tight-lipped about this experience, we will update this post with more information once the bar opens for guests. The Cursed Coconut Club is open on select event days from 5:00 pm till CityWalk closes.

What is your favorite part of Universal Marid Gras? Have a dish you have your eyes set on? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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Joseph Matt

Avid amusement park and video game fan. Enjoys picking up rare beers at breweries, exploring cities, cooking, and sports.

One thought on “Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2023 Guide

  • How about 1 or 2 low carb menu items to go along with all that high sugar, carb dense crap?


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