Laissez les bons temps rouler! It’s Mardi Gras season at Universal Orlando, with the popular Springtime event bringing another year of parade, food, and fun!

Taking place daily through April 7, 2024, Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval – features a dazzling Mardi Gras parade, mouthwatering cuisine inspired by global Carnaval celebrations, and, on select nights, live concerts. The event has become one of the most popular events at Universal in recent years – merging the entertainment & parade with an outright food festival and striking the right balance between the two.

This year’s Mardi Gras theme is centered around the Elements, which brings to life six new & incredibly detailed parade floats that will join the traditional lineup of New Orleans-inspired floats – such as the iconic, two-story Riverboat and nearly 50-foot-long King Gator.

Lora Sauls, Senior Manager of Creative Development and Show Direction for Entertainment Art & Design, explains they went to Kern Studios in New Orleans – the same Kern Studios that handles the Mardi Gras floats every year – with a theme in mind before they made the switch over to the Elements.

“We went there and couldn’t find anything to fit the original idea,” she explains. “We immediately started seeing all these really cool Element-type of things and thought ‘I think we have a theme here…'”.

The next issue was filling out and creating 6 new floats for the line-up. The Design team had found fantastic floats and props to use for 5 of the floats but, admittedly, hit a creative wall when it came to creating the 6th float. Sauls stated one person was missing from their annual trip, and after spending a night trying to figure out an answer, they called him the next morning.

“We have our Elemental float, we have Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, what’s the 6th Float?” Sauls asked.

Curtis Hopkins, Senior Manager of the Design Team, responded quickly with “Sun & Moon”.

The end result is what Sauls calls, “one of the most beautiful Mardi Gras parades we have ever done.”

Of course, besides the parade, the most important part of the event is all the food! Over 60 items inspired by 14 different countries are available for guests to try this year. “We want to be as authentic as possible, out of respect,” says Chef Jens Dahlmann, Vice President Executive Chef at Universal Orlando.

“In Colombia, you have Arepas grilling right in the kiosk, so you get those multi-sensory experiences of food cooking right in front of you,” he explains. “That’s what really makes a difference”.


During our few visits, we were able to try a good amount of all the offerings available this year and there are some standouts.

Our favorite booth of the event is Puerto Rico. The Pastelon is one of the best dishes throughout the park. The dish is a layered casserole of sweet plantain, picadillo beef topped with Edam cheese. The best part? You can make it combo and order a Pina Colada with it! For dessert, we finished off the booth with Pastelitos de Guayaba aka Guava pastries – which were great, too!

Other standout booths include Mexico, with Quesabirria and Chilaquiles Verdes being our favorites, and Germany with our recommendations of the Currywurst and Chicken Schnitzel.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with traditional Mardi Gras dishes like beignets and jambalaya.


To maximize your Mardi Gras visit, we highly suggest the Universal Orlando Resort Food and Beverage Card, especially if you’re a Passholder as you will receive special savings with the purchase of an exclusive $150 card for only $120. Any unused value does not expire, so you can purchase snacks including soft pretzels, popcorn, and bottled water during normal hours.

The Tribute Store returns, taking guests on a haunted river cruise through the Mississippi complete with beads, treats, and a gator or two. Here, guests can shop for ultra-festive Mardi Gras merchandise to commemorate their visit – ranging from t-shirts, jean jackets, and hoodies to bucket hats, cups, and a King Gator light-up popcorn bucket.

In CityWalk, guests can continue the party in the Cursed Coconut Club. While not as highly detailed as last year’s version, the club does offer a decent drink menu – featuring some New Orleans classics like Sazerac and the Grasshopper – as well as live entertainment; which is ultimately the most important features of a nighttime club experience.

As we’ve stated time and time again, Universal’s Mardi Gras is a must-do. The concert acts should appeal to a lot of guests, the food is delicious, and the parade is always the highlight of the event. Universal’s Mardi Gras 2024 will run daily from April 7, 2024.

Make sure to read our Mardi Gras 2024 Guide for more information on this year’s event.

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