Mardi Gras: Universal Studios
I went to Mardi Gras in Universal Studios for the first time in 2008—and got tipsy, rode all the rides, and danced the night away. This year’s celebration will begin on February 7. Because I don’t live in New Orleans, you will definitely see me at this party.
Ain’t No Mardi Gras Like a Universal Studios Mardi Gras
Beer. Hip-hop music. I ate my last bite of jambalaya and watched as bedazzled green and purple floats drifted down the road. Just moments earlier I had fought aliens after taking a picture with a large shark. A normal Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana doesn’t include fighting aliens or posing with sharks, but this is how we party in Florida…
…and the leader of Mardi Gras in Florida is the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando.
Never Been to Universal Studios?
Universal Studios is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Orlando, Fl. Its rides and shows are themed after popular shows from the past and present. The park’s most recent ride attraction is The Simpsons Ride which takes guests through a simulated flight through the TV series. The park is open 365 days a year which allows Universal Studios to throw different celebrations with the seasons.
During spring, the New York area of Universal Studios is temporarily transformed into the French Quarters and decorated with sparkling streamers and face masks. In the daytime, the party mood begins as everybody travels from one themed ride to another. Then, in the evening, the streets light up as the Mardi Gras celebration officially begins.
Besides a change in the music, decorated floats make its way down the streets as confetti blasts from the rooftops of buildings. The parade’s route doesn’t circle the entire park and is rather short, but it attracts the entire population of park-goers during that period. Stilt walkers make their way around for the average paparazzi. And what Mardi Gras parade is complete without beads? Those cheap, but I-gotta-get-one beaded necklaces are freely thrown from the floats into the rowdy crowd below. Unlike the real party in Louisiana, don’t expect any young ladies to bare anything for some jewelry. Remember, this is a family place.
Universal Studios also tries to bring in some classic New Orleans food to the party. Kiosks are scattered around the parade area selling Cajun and Creole delicacies such as gumbo, jambalaya, and sausages. As far as theme park food go, these dishes are reasonably priced and taste better, but the flavor still doesn’t approach the real thing from the bayou. Beer and shots can also be purchased to the older crowd.
Jazzing It Up
Only on Saturdays and on several select evenings, this Mardi Gras party goes above and beyond. According to the Universal Studios website, bands from New Orleans are invited to play at the park so that guests can dance in the streets to jazz, blues, and other styles.
Perhaps the best part of the festivities are not even Mardi Gras related. Also on Saturdays and select evenings, Universal Studios invites recognizable artists of different genres to its main stage. The crowd can become pretty thick depending on the artist. LL Cool J had to be the hottest ticket for 2008 as hundreds of Generation X and Y bounced their heads to his rap or danced if they had the space.
This year’s lineup is expected to draw crazier crowds as performers include Boys Like Girls, Kelly Clarkson, Nelly, and Ne-Yo (Cue the screaming fan girls!). Fans of old school music will also get a treat as the Village People and MC Hammer will perform on other days.
You Can’t Put a Price On This
Wait, we’re in an economic meltdown here and you want me to buy a theme park ticket? After all, one day in Universal Studios can set you back $75—that’s a lot of sacrificed beer and ramen. But Universal Studios is once again offering its season pass for $99.99 which grants you admission to both Universal Studios and its sister-park Islands of Adventure until December. Although there are blackout dates, all the Mardi Gras events fall conveniently within the time frame.
Now spending $99.99 at once may seem daunting, but imagine the value. Think of how much just one day in a theme park costs. Then think of how much concert tickets cost. The price of a season pass is tiny compared to the other costs put together. And don’t forget all the priceless fun.