Mardi Gras 2012

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Mardi Gras 2012 at Universal Studios: Pre-party in the French Quarter Courtyard.

Mardi Gras 2012 at Universal Studios

Mardi Gras 2012 at Universal Studios Florida has officially begun! This page includes basic information, insider tips, and one-of-a-kind info you won’t find anywhere else. Let’s get started…


Mardi Gras 2012 at Universal Studios Florida

This spring, the fun and excitement of The Big Easy makes its way to Universal Orlando Resort for Mardi Gras 2012 – an authentic celebration that completely transforms Universal Studios Florida into a family-friendly version of the famed New Orleans street party.

On Saturdays and select nights starting February 11 through April 14, Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration combines unparalleled theme park entertainment with an elaborate Mardi Gras parade, dozens of colorfully costumed performers, authentic New Orleans bands, delicious Cajun cuisine and live concerts by some of today’s most popular artists.

With a combined total of more than 350 million albums sold, guests will rock out to 14 of the biggest names in music.

Saturday, February 11, 8:30pm – B-52’s (official bio)

Saturday, February 18, 8:30pm – Kelly Clarkson (official bio)

Sunday, February 19, 8:30pm – Boyz II Men (official bio)

Saturday, February 25, 8:30pm – Diana Ross (Facebook page)


Saturday, March 3, 8:30pm – Goo Goo Dolls (official bio)

Saturday, March 10, 8:30pm – Big Time Rush (official site)

Friday, March 16, 8:30pm – J Cole (official bio)

Saturday, March 17, 8:30pm – Jill Scott (official bio) Sugar Ray (official bio)

Friday, March 23, 8:30pm - Hot Chelle Rae (official bio)

Saturday, March 24, 8:30pm – B.o.B (official site)

Friday, March 30, 8:30pm – Plain White T’s (official site)

Saturday, March 31, 9:30pm – Prince Royce (official bio)


Saturday, April 7, 9:30pm – Cyndi Lauper (official bio)

Saturday, April 14, 9:30pm – KC & The Sunshine Band (official bio)

Universal Studios Florida Summer Concert Series 2011: Boys Like Girls performs.

The Universal Music Plaza in Universal Studios Florida.

Before enjoying the live concerts, guests can experience all the fun and excitement of The Big Easy as Universal Studios Florida is transformed into a family-friendly version of New Orleans’ famed Mardi Gras. The celebration includes an elaborate Mardi Gras parade, where guests can dance along with street performers and collect beads by the handful as colorful floats wind down the street of Universal Studios. This year’s parade will take guests on a journey through the earth’s different ecosystems with elaborately themed floats including: bayous and swamps, rainforest, coral reefs, the deep blue sea and Polar Regions. Every year, the parade’s hand-crafted floats are built by Blaine Kern Artists – the same company that designs the floats for the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.

Please note that the Mardi Gras parade starts one hour before the concert times listed above.

The heart of Mardi Gras is Universal Studios’ French Quarter Courtyard, where guests can groove to the soulful sounds of authentic New Orleans bands every night before the headliner concert. Since 2006, more than 20 bands have traveled straight from The Big Easy to Universal Orlando to perform Blues, Jazz and Zydeco music for partygoers – adding to the authenticity of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration. The French Quarter also features delicious Cajun cuisine, including jambalaya, gumbo, beignets and much more.

Mardi Gras 2012: The French Quarter Courtyard.

The French Quarter Courtyard.


Is Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida appropriate for young kids?

The Mardi Gras parade is really well done and totally family-friendly. I would definitely recommend bringing along everyone to see it!

The part of Mardi Gras that may not be quite so family-friendly is the free concert after the parade. Universal is able to get some pretty big names to play, and since the concert is free to anyone who has admission tickets or annual passes, they can get packed! I wouldn’t recommend bringing the kids around the Music Plaza area anytime towards the end of the night, unless you happen to be going when a decidedly unpopular or older band is playing.

Luckily, it is very easy to enjoy Mardi Gras’ family-friendly party atmosphere and parade while steering clear of the Music Plaza area when the concerts start. In fact, Universal has set up a special viewing area just for kids called the Little Jester’s Parade Viewing Area. It is located next to the Terminator 2: 3-D attraction, and it opens an hour before the parade starts (and the parades start an hour before the concert times listed above).

Not sure where Terminator is? Click the map below to open it full-screen and look for the number 8 close to the center of the map.

Speaking of kids, it may also be good to know that there is a special Mardi Gras themed stage show in Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone called KidZone Mardi Pardi Krewe. The shows run daily (even when there isn’t a Mardi Gras parade and concert) at 11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm, and 5:00pm.


Where is the best place to watch the parade?

Here is the official Mardi Gras 2012 parade route (click the image to view it full-screen):

Mardi Gras 2012 at Universal Studios: Pre-party in the French Quarter Courtyard.

Official Mardi Gras 2012 parade route through Universal Studios.

I recommend watching the parade right by Mel’s Drive-In, on the side of the restaurant that is closest to the Lagoon. Try to position yourself so you are standing right at this corner (but stay behind the tape on the street):

Mardi Gras 2012 at Universal Studios: The parade.

My recommended viewing spot for the parade.

I find this to be an ideal spot because you get to watch the parade from two points of view: First, you get to watch as the floats come straight toward you. This is great because you get watch the floats and the people yelling for beads at the same time. Then, as the floats turn in front of you, you can do your own yelling! Check out the video and photos at the bottom of the post to see exactly what I’m talking about.

But there’s more. Because this location is so close to the point where the parade route begins and ends (just around the corner next to the Horror Make-Up Show building), you can take a hop, skip, and a jump over there and watch the whole parade again.

Just for the adults: This spot is also ideal because there are two places to buy drinks, that do not get too crowded, very close by!

Try to get to your desired parade viewing spot about 30 minutes before the parade starts. Keep in mind that the parades are scheduled to start one hour before the concert times listed near the top of this page.


How to I sign up to ride the floats and throw beads?

Method 1 – Passholders

Each week, a limited number of passholders can be a part of the festivities and ride through the streets of Universal Studios on one of the colorful Mardi Gras floats, tossing beads to thousands of cheering spectators. Sign up for a chance for you and one guest to have the ultimate Mardi Gras experience:

  • Offer is only available to Preferred & Premier passholders
  • Space is limited
  • Sign up does not guarantee a spot
  • Must be 18 years of age (or accompanied by an adult)
  • Must be at least 48 inches tall
  • No bags or strollers
  • Can accommodate guests in standard push wheelchairs with advance notice

Method 2 – Amex cardholders

Purchase ANY Universal Orlando multi-day ticket or annual pass with ANY American Express Card and receive one of these special experiences:

  • Entry to the American Express Reserved Parade Viewing Area
  • Your chance to be a Float Rider in the Mardi Gras Parade
All the same restrictions listed in method 1 apply to Amex cardholders.


How does concert seating work? How far in advance should I get there?

There is no concert seating. It is all general seating — or really, general standing. The Universal Music Plaza is an open field, so to speak, so you get to watch the concert from wherever it is that you’re standing when they start playing music. There is no VIP area to upgrade to, and no special viewing area for guests with Express Passes or guests staying at Universal’s on-site hotels.

So, how early do you need to get there? If you want to be somewhat close to the stage, you need to get to the Universal Music Plaza at least two to four hours before the concert starts — the more popular the band, the earlier you need to get there. Saying that the Universal Music Plaza gets crazy crowded is a little bit of an understatement. If there is a band playing and you want to be close, plan on getting there early and don’t plan on seeing the parade.


Where can I get a UPC code from a coke product so I can save $25 on a new annual pass?

Did you see this Mardi Gras Coke promotion for Universal Orlando annual passes?

Save up to $25 off Universal Orlando annual passes with a Coke UPC code.

Well, that’s easy. You don’t actually need a UPC code –just click here to open up the sales page, click the pass you want, and enter the word “coke” as the UPC code. Betcha it works. Guess what? It doesn’t work anymore! Please stay tuned while I figure out another work around. Or keep reading…

If you are worried about doing that, I recommend that you call Universal directly (407-224-7840) and ask for the Mardi Gras Coke promo. Even without a UPC code, they will usually give you the discount just because you mentioned it.

Please note that this discount is only available for Florida residents. And no, there’s no way of getting around that.


If I just want to see the parade and concert, do I still have to pay for a full-day admission ticket?

It is your lucky day, because Universal does offer an After 5:00pm ticket during Mardi Gras. It is $59.99 if you buy it in advance online by clicking here. Please note that the ticket is only valid on any one Mardi Gras night.


Mardi Gras and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

What do these two things have in common? Something you will definitely want to know. Check out number 4 in our list of The only guaranteed ways to beat the crowds at the Wizarding World.


Mardi Gras 2012 – HD video & photo gallery

Want to see what all this action looks like? Well, we’ve got plenty of media from the first night of Mardi Gras on February 11. Let’s check out the HD video I shot first. You’ll see some of the pre-party activity in the French Quarter Courtyard (near the Universal Music Plaza), followed by footage of the parade, with a minute or two of Universal CityWalk at the end:

Here is the photo gallery from the first night of Mardi Gras 2012. Remember that you can click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right to advance through the gallery.

[tag-gallery tag=uo-mardi-gras-2012 columns=5 theight=110 twidth=110]

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