Get ready for the biggest party at Universal Studios! The 2023 Universal Orlando Mardi Gras celebration features epic weekend concerts, full parade, and delicious food. This annual festival at Universal takes place February 4 – April 16, 2023 and is perfect for date night.
In this post, we take a look at what to expect at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras including the food, parade, and concerts — and most importantly, include tips on how to make it an epic date night. Keep reading for the 2023 Concert Lineup and 2023 Parade Schedule.
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Food and Drinks
Besides the parade and concerts, delicious flavors abound. Each year Universal Orlando seems to improve the Mardi Gras food and beverage. It certainly has expanded from the days of being just a few booths in the New York area.
Sneak peek for 2023
Although the 2023 menu is not fully available, Universal Orlando released some photos from this year’s food and beverage lineup.
- Crawfish Boil
- Shrimp Ceviche
- Mofongo Flight
- Indonesian Black Congo Rice Pudding and Mango
- Chicken Coxinha
- Chicken Schnitzel with Kasespaetzel
- Fried Green Tomato Po’ Boy
- Gelato Stuffed Pressed Sandwich
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2023 – Stuffed Gelato Sandwich image from Universal Orlando
Plus, for the first time ever, Universal Orlando’s other theme parks are joining the fun by featuring a limited selection of Mardi Gras items, including Gumbo, Jambalaya, King Cake, and more at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and the Muffuletta Long Board Pizza at Universal’s Volcano Bay.
There are ten Mardi Gras food and beverage booths throughout Universal Studios Florida. Get those toes tapping and march throughout the park to explore all the delicious flavors. Let’s review the location of each booth, some of which are food trucks, and then I’ll share with you some of the best Mardi Gras food that my husband and I enjoyed on our date night (from 2022).
Each food both opens around 11:00 or 11:30am daily. A friendly reminder, there is only one drink per person per ID. Be sure to use your annual pass for a discount on the food. There is also a helpful Mardi Gras Food and Beverage Card which offers savings regardless or whether you’re an annual passholder.
Beignets and other traditional Cajun food at Universal’s Mardi Gras
Universal Mardi Gras Food and Beverage Locations
The following is from 2022, the 2023 locations are not yet confirmed but will be updated once announcements are made
- Louie’s Gelato Window, New York Area
- French Quarter Market, New York Area
- New Orleans Booth, Battery Park near Transformers
- Plant-Based Indian Food Booth, near Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone and Springfield USA
- Central America Booth, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
- Asian Inspired Booth, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
- Fusion Food Booth, World Expo, near Men in Black Alien Attack
- San Francisco Food Truck
- Two Mardi Gras Bar locations are near Monsters Cafe – near the Music Plaza Stage
- Bloody Mary’s booth near the edge of the New York area and San Francisco area
Best Food and Drinks At Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras
Here are the best Food and Drinks At Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras that my husband and I enjoyed the most in 2022:
- Crawfish Boil – New Orleans Booth, Battery Park near Transformers
Mixed bag of crawfish, andouille sausage, red bliss potatoes, corn on the cob
- Savory Sopaipilla – Central America Booth, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
- Cosmic Cornucopia Cocktail – Central America Booth, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
New Amsterdam Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Owen’s Cucumber, Lime, and Mint Craft Mixer, honeydew melon balls
- Shrimp Laksa – Asian Inspired Booth, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
Shrimp, tofu, chicken, hard boiled eggs, Asian noodles in a spicy coconut curry broth
- Creole Crab Beignets – Fusion Food, World Expo, near Men in Black Alien Attack
Cajun brown sugar-dusted beignets, stuffed with creamy crab dip and scallions
- Meatball Garlic Bread Pressed Slider – Louie’s Gelato Window, New York Area
Italian meatballs topped with mozzarella cheese stuffed between two slices of Texas Garlic Toast
Savory Sopaipilla and Cosmic Cornucopia Cocktail
The Traditional Bloody Mary, spiked with New Amsterdam Vodka is not only photo-worthy but is a fun drink to share on your date night. Choose from a MILD or WILD version. The WILD has Louisiana hot sauce and Sriracha hot chili sauce. The 24 oz version is $18.00 which seems a little pricey, but it’s double the normal drink size making it shareable. Plus, it comes topped with what amounts to a small snack platter. Note, the smaller drink sizes just come with a celery stick and lime wedge garnish.
Pro-tip: If you want to take advantage of the Mardi Gras souvenir refill cup, make your first purchase a beer with the cup. It will be a lower initial cost than getting a cocktail, and you can use the same cup to get the refill price on beer and mixed drinks.
Beignets are available at both the New Orleans booth and the French Quarter Market. These are good if you’re looking to satisfy a craving, but the desserts inside the Mardi Gras Tribute Store are better and more memorable. More on that later.
24 oz Bloody Mary with loaded Cajun toppings (2022)
Plant-Based Options at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras
If you’re specifically looking for plant-based food at Universal’s Mardi Gras, know that there are nearly ten different plant-based foods and desserts!
2023 menus will be confirmed soon
Plant-Based Indian Food Booth, near Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone and Springfield USA
- Vegetable Vindaloo – $9.99
Romanesco cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes, braised in a hot and sour broth, served with basmati rice
- Chana Masala – $9.99
Spiced chickpea curry, served with tomato and onion salad, basmati rice, naan bread
- Potato, Pea, and Carrot Samosas – $8.99
Potato, pea, and carrot samosas, served with green chutney
- Vegan Golden Chai Chocolate Blondies – $4.99
Chai spiced vegan dessert bar with dark and white vegan chocolates
San Francisco Food Truck
- Sweet Corn Johnny Cake – $6.99
Pulled jerk jackfruit, blood orange crema, avocado, yellow mole sauce
Central America Booth, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
- Savory Sopaipilla – $5.49
Roasted butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, pebre salsa, cilantro
What is the Mardi Gras Food and Beverage Card?
A Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Food & Beverage Card can be purchased at any Mardi Gras food booth. It does not have an expiration date and gives you some savings on your food and beverage purchases.
Here’s how it works:
- Pay $65 to get $75 in value on a Universal Orlando Resort Food & Beverage Card
- Pay $120 to get $150 in value on a Universal Orlando Resort Food & Beverage Card (exclusive to Annual Passholders).
Universal Mardi Gras Traditional Crawfish Boil and 2022 Color-Changing Cup
2023 pricing and info confirmed
Related: Best Restaurants at Universal Orlando for Date Night
2023 Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Studios
Stretch out your hands and get ready to catch a tons of beads. Make your date night enchanting and grab a spot along the parade route about 30 – 45 minutes before parade time.
The parade starts at the Pantages Theater and Mel’s Drive-In, then marches up the Hollywood Area and into the New York area. If you want to see the parade right when it starts, then get your spot in the Hollywood area. Otherwise, if your goal is to catch both the parade and the concert (on select nights) then get a parade viewing spot near the Music Plaza Stage which is near Monsters Cafe and Rip Ride Rockit Roller Coaster.
Universal Mardi Gras 2022 Parade Band
Important Tip: An unofficial party usually kicks off about three hours before parade time. For example, we visited on opening night. The parade kicked off at 7:45pm, but at 4:30pm parade performers came out of the backstage gate near the exit of the Tribute Store. The performers spread out throughout the New York area and French Quarter market, creating a party atmosphere.
Have some fun together striking a pose for some great photo opportunities. If you’re feeling bold ask the parade performers how you can earn some beads.
Universal Mardi Gras 2022 Performer Greeting
2023 Mardi Gras Parade Schedule
Important note, there is no parade scheduled for March 31, 2023.
2023 parade schedule:
- Parade starts at 6:15 pm on the following dates:
Feb 5-9, 12-16
Feb. 26-Mar. 2
- Parade starts at 7:30 pm on the following dates:
Feb. 17, 20–24
Mar. 3, Mar. 6 – Apr. 16
- Parade starts at 7:45 pm on the following dates:
(Concert Nights) Feb. 4, 10-11, 18-19
How to Ride a Mardi Gras Parade Float
Make epic date night memories from atop one of the spectacular floats. Toss beads to the crowd while you make your way through the entire parade route – it’s unforgettable.
New for 2023 is the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience. This new offering is available on select dates and includes the exclusive opportunity to be a part of the festivities by reserving a spot to toss beads from a Mardi Gras float.
You’ll enjoy a 3-course meal with selections from the full menu at one of four participating restaurants – The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, NBC Sports Grill and Brew, Finnegan’s Bar and Grill or Lombard’s Seafood Grille.
The Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience includes one appetizer, one entrée, one dessert and one non-alcoholic beverage for $64.99 plus tax, per person, as well as one Mardi Gras parade float rider reservation on the same day. Guests can purchase this experience and reserve their spot by calling 407-224-7554 or visiting www.universalorlando.com/mardigras.
Annual and Seasonal Passholders receive a 15% discount off the ticketed price with a valid Annual or Seasonal Pass when purchasing in person at the Front Gate or a Guest Services location, or by calling 407-224-7554.
You can also enter a Virtual Line using the Official Universal Orlando App to attempt to secure a spot on a parade float without purchasing the Ride and Dine Experience.
Be sure to hydate beforehand — throwing these beads during the entire parade route can wear you out!
Ride a Float in Universal’s Mardi Gras Parade 2022
NEW PARADE THEME FOR 2023: “Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras” theme inspired by fantastical creatures like dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and more – with a Mardi Gras twist.
2023 Mardi Gras Concert Lineup and Tips
Universal Orlando always attracts a dynamic lineup for their Mardi Gras concerts. The performances take place on Saturday nights and other select Friday and Sunday evenings. Each concert kicks off at 8:30pm.
I suggest getting a spot on the Music Plaza Stage lawn by 7:30pm. Arrive with a drink and food in hand from one of the nearby booths. You’ll be able to catch the parade while you wait for the concert. Bring a picnic blanket or towel so you can sit comfortably on the plaza lawn.
Here is the Universal Mardi Gras 2023 concert lineup, as of January 17, 2023:
- Patti LaBelle – February 4
- JVKE – February 10
- Goo Goo Dolls – February 11
- Maren Morris – February 18
- WILLOW – February 19
- 3 Doors Down – February 25
- Sean Paul – March 4
- Lauren Daigle – March 5
More 2023 Universal’s Mardi Gras concerts may be announced soon, though it seems this may be it for this year’s lineup, leaving Universal’s Mardi Gras to roll through most of March and to April 16, 2023 without any additional live concerts.
Mardi Gras Tribute Store
During your Mardi Gras date night, take a stroll through the Mardi Gras Tribute Store. Located in the New York area of the park, this store changes themes throughout the year, highlighting the park’s current events. You should see this place during the holidays.
For 2023, the theme of the Tribute Store is perfect for music lovers and a great tribute to New Orleans itself. An international jazz celebration leads to the traditional alleyways of New Orleans and ultimately into a speakeasy where the Mardi Gras celebration continues.
The 2022 Mardi Gras Tribute Store was transformed into a float factory. As you stroll around the themed store browsing Mardi Gras merchandise, you can see sketches of Mardi Gras parade floats and props.
Universal Mardi Gras 2022 Tribute Store includes displays of props from past years
If you’re really big fans of Universal Orlando you will probably notice hidden details and tributes to the park’s history.
Don’t miss the back section of this massive store, where you’ll walk through a hallway that is adorned with details of the history of Universal’s Mardi Gras, which started in the 1990s. And save room for dessert! There are a ton of delicious sweet treats in the back room including chocolate-dipped bacon, layered cake served in a souvenir Mardi Gras shaker, and so much more.
Sweet treats at the Mardi Gras Tribute Store
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras at CityWalk
Whether you want to keep the party going at CityWalk or just prefer not to spend the money on tickets to get into the park, there are some festivities to enjoy outside the park gates. At a few bars at CityWalk you can enjoy some of the signature Mardi Gras beverages found inside the park.
NEW for 2023: The Red Coconut Club will transform for the Mardi Gras season into the Cursed Coconut Club – more details and dates of operation will be shared soon.
For something sweet head over to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium for a special Mardi Gras milkshake. The main event for Mardi Gras at CityWalk is at Pat O’Brien’s. Recreating the original dueling pianos bar in the heart of New Orleans, Pat O’Brien’s brings a Mardi Gras flavor all year that is kicked up a notch this time of year. Special food and beverage items plus Mardi Gras decor make this an epic addition to your date night.
The Ultimate Universal Mardi Gras Date Night Itinerary
This itinerary is based on visiting on a Saturday night with the concert at 8:30pm and the parade at 7:45pm.
- Arrive to Universal Orlando to park around 2:30pm
- After entering Universal Studios, grab some food and drink from the New York area booths
- Hang around the New York area and French Quarter market for the pre-parade party which usually starts at 4:30pm
- After enjoying the pre-parade party, stroll through the rest of the park for more Mardi Gras food and beverage
- Enjoy a ride or two depending on wait times
- Head back towards the New York area and walk through the Tribute Store around 6:30pm
- Settle in to a parade viewing spot by 7:30pm near the concert plaza
- Rock out to the concert at 8:30pm
- Party it up afterwards at Pat O’Brien’s and the rest of CityWalk
Be sure to hydrate and take breaks, I try to have one full cup of water in between each alcoholic beverage. If your epic night takes place on a Saturday night you’ll need to be prepared for crowds, so just relax together and let the good times roll!
Universal Mardi Gras 2022 New York Area Food Booths and Performers
All images by Dani Meyering