The Universal Studios Mardi Gras event creates a great atmosphere to visit this Orlando theme park from February through mid-April. Add to it the theme park ticket offer of “buy a two-day ticket, get a third day for free” and you have a real good atmosphere! Plus, the free concerts help make higher attendance weekends more bearable. A two-day, two-park pass is $194.99, so make the most of your visit. Here’s how…
Discounted Theme Park Tickets
First, let’s clarify the ticket deal. The third day free is valid for residents of the U.S. and Canada. The park-to-park tickets let you go to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the same day. The ticket deal is on sale through April 12, however, April 16 is the last concert of Mardi Gras. All 3 days of your ticket purchase must be used by May 31. Good news is there are no black out dates. If you are a Florida resident only wanting to get in on the Mardi Gras event, there is an “after 5pm” ticket for $69.99 plus tax. Call 407-224-7840 to get the deal, or pay $10 more at the gate.
Best Days to Attend Universal Studios Mardi Gras
If you have the luxury of choosing the days to visit this theme park, check out the concert schedule and find the artist performing that you enjoy the most. Remember, if they are your favorite, chances are they are a favorite of many others. Use one of your 3 days on this Saturday (or Sunday). Spend the other 2 days that are included with your ticket on a day that is less busy so you can ride the popular attractions without the long lines. Once the parade starts, the attractions and rides close. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The least busy days of all during Mardi Gras are the first two weeks of February during week days. Crowds become heavier leading up to Spring Break the last few weeks of March and do not slow down until after mid-April.
The concert line-up for 2016 is:
- Saturday, February 6: Hunter Hayes
- Saturday, February 13: Diana Ross
- Sunday, February 14: Barenaked Ladies
- Saturday, February 20: Nate Ruess
- Saturday, February 27: Fall Out Boy
- Saturday, March 5: Kool & The Gang
- Saturday, March 12: The Fray
- Sunday, March 13: Adam Lambert
- Saturday, March 19: Shawn Mendes
- Sunday, March 20: 3 Doors Down
- Saturday, March 26: REO Speedwagon
- Saturday, April 2: T-Pain
- Saturday, April 9: Jessie J
- Saturday, April 16: Yandel
Mardi Gras Parades
The Universal Studios Mardi Gras parades are held on event nights only. They usually begin at 7:45 p.m. (or earlier depending upon concert schedule) and last approximately 25 minutes. Unfortunately, if you want to see the concert, you may need to skip the parade. It isn’t uncommon for people to start lining up for the best concert viewing several hours before the concert starts. Expect the concerts to be packed. If viewing the parade is more important than the concert, the parade route allows good viewing and bead catching just about anywhere. Hollywood Blvd. and New York are great places for viewing and getting some nice photos. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you have children, stay close to the Little Jester’s Parade viewing area in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop (near the Terminator 2: 3-D attraction). In the past, this has been a parade stop with special entertainment. The area near the Music Plaza (adjacent to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem) is not as kid-friendly. Regardless of where you view the parade, an early stake-out is required to get front row viewing (at least 45 minutes prior to the parade start).
Zydeco Music and Great Food
Be sure to visit the French Quarter Courtyard located in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida near Battery Park. Other performers provide music before the headliner concert and can really get you into the Mardi Gras spirit. While these artists are less-known, many come straight from The Big Easy and offer authentic zydeco music. Enjoy some New Orleans cuisine as you listen. Cajun favorites are available such as beignets, jambalaya or gumbo for about $8 to $10. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The Courtyard opens at 4:00 p.m.
Additional Party for Adults
If you are 21 or older and want to continue partying after the Mardi Gras concert, be sure to use your theme park ticket at CityWalk. Your admission ticket to Universal will also get you into clubs that stay open until 2:00 a.m. Stop in at Pat O’Brien’s which is CityWalk’s Mardi Gras headquarters.
Hopefully these pointers will help you get the most out of your days visiting Universal Studios Mardi Gras. It is tagged as “Florida’s Biggest Party” and not to be missed if you are one to “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” – Let the good times roll!