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Why Disney Fans Will Love Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras

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If you’re planning your first trip to Universal Orlando, now is a great time to visit! In addition to new attractions like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, no park reservations are required at Universal. Plus, Universal Studios is in the middle of its annual Mardi Gras event; and we can officially confirm that Disney fans will love it!

What is Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras at Universal Studios kicks off on February 5 and is offered on select nights through April 24.

Guests can expect New Orleans Jazz music, live entertainers, event souvenirs, and, just like an EPCOT festival, food!

Food Booths

Guests will find food booths scattered throughout the park serving up a variety of dishes and some New Orleans faves, including gumbo, jambalaya, King Cake, and beignets.

Live Music

Also, like some EPCOT festivals, there’s nighttime entertainment. At the Music Plaza Stage on select nights, guests can check out concerts featuring acts like Sugar Ray, Jason Derulo, Styx, and Lee Brice. And, yes, they’re included with the price of admission.

Universal Music Plaza Stage

Tribute Store

Another must-see is the Mardis Gras-themed Tribute Store.

(photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

While it is a store, it’s also a treat shop and somewhat of a themed, walk-through attraction. This year’s theme is a “Float Factory Warehouse” and is the spot to pick up that event-themed merchandise.

Mardi Gras Parade

Universal differs from Disney in that this event features a nighttime parade. For 2022, the theme is “Planet Mardi Gras” with floats decorated with rockets, planets, comets, and more. Parade start times vary by date.

Guests who are Annual Passholders have the chance to ride on one of the parade floats by joining a virtual queue at 12:00 p.m. The virtual queue has limited availability and closes one hour before the parade begins.

What Disney Fans Need to Know About Universal

Disney fans will be surprised at how easy it is to get into the flow at Universal, especially since this resort utilizes many of the tools guests at Disney are familiar with.

For instance, just like the My Disney Experience app, Universal Orlando’s mobile app showcases wait times, menus, and stores park tickets for easy scan access. Also, guests are encouraged to Mobile Order through the app at select restaurants at both parks and CityWalk, just like at Disney.

Home page of the Universal Orlando app (left) with pointer to side menu (red arrow). Side menu open (right).

The app is also where you can reserve a virtual line return time, similar to Disney’s previous virtual queues. And, instead of Genie+ and Lightning Lane, Universal has Express Pass where guests can pay an additional cost to skip the lines.

Example of a one-time use for a Virtual Line attraction closed.

So if you’re looking to catch Mardi Gras at Universal Studios, our TouringPlans Travel Agents can book your Universal tickets which grants you FREE early admission! No resort stay is needed. Check out touringplans.com/travel today!

Have you been to Mardi Gras at Universal? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

3 thoughts on “Why Disney Fans Will Love Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras

  • I was there a couple of weeks ago. The food I had was good but it took a little reconnaissance to find the booths. I also enjoyed the roving jazz band I saw several times as I was making my way around the park. The parade was fun for the music and for catching the beads being thrown from the floats. The floats themselves were all pretty similar in concept in that they all had people on them throwing beads, but they looked great. A fun thing for me was seeing how low key the management of the parade route was relative to how it’s done in Disney parks. The route management consisted mostly of a few crew members walking ahead of the parade shooing people out of the street. It worked fine and for me this fit the overall theme of how the Disney and Universal parks are different.

  • The food was hit or miss, the tribute store was cool and the parade was as good as any I’ve seen at Disney.

  • Is that a current screen shot of the Universal App? I don’t see the “Virtual Line” option on my app. I thought they went to an external VL system last year. Has VL been used lately?

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