Disney’s Port Orleans Resort’s annual Cast Member Mardi Gras parade tradition continues! This year, each division of the resort themed their float to “50 Years of Walt Disney World Resorts,” and hotel guests and Orlando locals came out to enjoy the parade and Mardi Gras festivities, which continued into the night.
We were invited to enjoy this annual tradition, as Cast Members from engineering services, housekeeping, merchandise, and more presented their hand-crafted Mardi Gras parade floats.
We were also able to interview John Reichert, a Disney manager for engineering services, who has been involved in this parade for five years (with his team of engineers known as “the team to beat”) – And in fact, engineering services’ design, themed to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, won for best overall parade float this year.
“I am so proud of the cast and what they come up with; it truly is driven by the cast for a great experience,” Reichert said. “We usually get a couple months to pick the theme, and then we just start planning and get going from there. We will do site visits, lots of pictures, they use those pictures and incorporate them on the float to add that theming detail. We are directly involved in the parade, but we help support everything, the banners, the theming, everything extra that happens…The overall enthusiasm across property, to have our guests, they are here at Walt Disney World, to stay and wanna see this, and experience this, its incredible. Even locals come in.”
Housekeeping “Pirates” Float, another fan-favorite design
This year also had some tradition firsts, such as the parade stopping near the Port Orleans French Quarter lobby, allowing guests ample time to walk up and enjoy the details. This was also the first year hotel guests could vote on their favorite float. We hope these two ideas continue, as it they really let us enjoy the cast members’ work and got the crowd interacting to pick the winners.
This event is free for all to enjoy, from Walt Disney World Resort guests to Orlando locals. Each year, the tradition grows. This year the crowds were higher than average, according to our friends at MouseSteps, who have been covering the parade for years (including the year of the viral bouncing Darth Vader golf cart).
The celebration didn’t end with the Cast Member Mardi Gras parade. From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., kids were invited to join the Mardi Gras Courtyard crafts activity, and from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., the Mardi Gras Party offers a live DJ, beads, games, crafts, and themed food items.
Which parade design is your favorite? Did you know Disney had this annual resort hotel tradition?