Universal Orlando’s annual extended celebration of Fat Tuesday is once again letting the good times roll, and we survived the opening weekend festivities to bring you today’s Unofficial Guide to the updates and additions at Universal Studios Florida’s 2024 Mardi Gras event.
Universal’s 2024 Mardi Gras International Flavors of Carnaval event is running now through April 7, with daily parades and big-name concerts on select nights.
As always, all the Mardi Gras entertainment is included with regular admission and most annual passes (concert-night blockouts may apply), but you’ll want to prepare your bankroll for all the new food, merchandise, and other extra-cost options now available.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest changes you need to know about at Universal Orlando’s 2024 Mardi Gras party!
New 2024 Mardi Gras Parade Floats
Universal’s signature Mardi Gras parade begins and ends with a traditional lineup of New Orleans-themed floats, including the Riverboat, Jester, King and Queen, and the one-and-only King Gator.
However, the six floats in the center of the parade are swapped out every spring, and this year’s featured floats are inspired by celestial bodies and natural elements, such as earth, wind, fire, water, and the sun and moon.
Check out Universal’s entire 2024 Mardi Gras parade in this opening-weekend video recorded from the Annual Passholder viewing area:
Reversed Mardi Gras Parade Route
In the above video, you might notice the biggest change to this year’s Mardi Gras parade: It’s going backwards! After many years of traveling clockwise around the park, in 2024 the parade is traveling the same path but in the opposite direction, much as the defunct Superstar Parade used to do.
This change may make the parade take slightly longer to complete, as the longer floats struggle to now make sharp left-handed turns instead of easier rights.
It also means that certain spots that were once great parade-viewing locations—specifically the Annual Passholder corner near Mel’s Drive-In—are now too far from the path for viewers to grab many beads.
The best spots for watching are now near the main entrance (if you want a quick exit after the parade), outside Minion Cafe (for access to the concert afterwards), or in the New York area. The best spot if you want to be a part of the parade (and you missed out on the Annual Passholder or dining-package options) is right outside the Animal Actors stadium, about 2 hours before the parade steps off.
There’s no physical standby queue, so have your Universal Orlando smartphone app open and ready if available float-rider slots are announced via the app’s Virtual Line feature.
New International Flavors of Carnaval Food & Drink
Along with the parade, Mardi Gras means the return of food and beverage booths to the streets of Universal Studios Florida. In the past few years, the traditional Creole and Cajun favorites have been expanded with international flavors from other carnival-celebrating cultures and beyond.
Of course, we always have to kick off our Mardi Gras season with a bowl of shrimp gumbo and a fried green tomato po’boy. Portions may have shrunk slightly, but the authentic flavors are still on point.
This year’s souvenir cups offer refills with 8 extra ounces of the event’s signature cocktails or beers for only pennies more than the single-service price. If you like fruity rum drinks, we think the potent Category 5 Punch tastes just as good as the famous Hurricanes served at Pat O’Brien’s in CityWalk.
Of the several new items we sampled, our favorites were Spain’s surprisingly tender octopus salad and the green curry with chicken from Thailand.
The only featured new item that really didn’t sit well with us was the Mexican chilaquiles verdes, a small tray of soggy tortilla chips drowned in cold cheese crumbles and tepid shredded chicken.
No matter which items you dine on, you’ll save money with a Mardi Gras gift card, which offers $75 worth of food and drinks for $65. Annual Passholders get $150 for $125 and can apply their regular discounts for more savings. Best of all, the cards don’t expire and remain valid after Mardi Gras ends at most first-party dining locations inside the resort.
Tip: You can buy the discount gift cards at any Mardi Gras stand, but be sure to say you want one before placing your food order.
New 2024 Mardi Gras Tribute Store
The parade and food may get most of the attention, but Universal’s Mardi Gras Tribute stores have become a fan-favorite element of the event, and this year’s steamship-inspired shop is certainly no exception.
In fact, Universal’s 2024 Mardi Gras Tribute Store has some of the most elaborate effects and immersive environments ever created by the talented Visual Merchandising team.
If you’ve ever wanted to jump out of the ride vehicle and walk through Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Carribean attractions, this Mardi Gras Tribute Store is perhaps the closest you can get.
Enjoy our full walk-through video of the 2024 Mardi Gras Tribute Store below:
New Cursed Coconut Club Menu & Entertainment
After the parade has passed you by, you can keep the party rolling with a visit to CityWalk’s Cursed Coconut Club.
This post-pandemic addition to the Mardi Gras event has been updated for 2024 with a new bar menu, refreshed decor, and some spooky new atmospheric entertainment.
There’s no cover charge to visit the Cursed Coconut Club, so feel free to stop by to pre- or post-game your in-park party.
Bonus: New Monster Makeover Experience
Although not specifically a part of the Mardi Gras celebration, Universal Studios Florida debuted a new Monster Makeover experience at the 5 and Dime gift shop on Hollywood Boulevard. So if the recent news about Epic Universe’s upcoming monster-themed land has you eager to mark the halfway point until Orlando’s Halloween season, celebrate the creepier side of Carnaval by getting your face painted by a professional airbrush artist.
There are 38 different ghoulish looks to choose from, with full-face designs costing $125 and half-face makeovers for $65 (plus tax; no discounts apply).
Reservations are currently in-person only but will soon be offered online, with the application taking up to an hour.
What are you most excited to experience at Universal Orlando’s 2024 Mardi Gras event? Let us know in the comments below!
For all there is to see and do at Universal Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Threads, X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. #unofficialguide #theUGSeries