Universal’s Mardi Gras Adds Spice

Universal’s Mardi Gras, which kicks off at Universal Studios theme park Saturday has added some fresh sights and sounds to the mix for 2018. Universal’s Mardi Gras parade runs every night through April 7, with concerts on the Music Plaza Stage on 13 select evenings. Saturday’s headliner is Sean Paul, known for singles such as “Get Busy” and “Temperature.”


The event is cooked up from a New Orleans recipe to which we’ve grown accustomed: colorful parade, with plenty of beads; Cajun cuisine and entertainers; and big-stage performers thrown in.

The performances – including ones by Fifth Harmony, Macklemore and Andy Grammer – are preceded by the park’s parade, which this year has new floats representing a celestial theme, said Blake Braswell, show director at Universal Orlando.

Each float is loaded with bead-throwers and surrounding by elaborately themed characters, some perched on stilts. Orion will be a gold-armored performer fronting the float with a crest shield, Braswell said.

“We’ve got animals and huntresses – performers that are roaming with this float,” he said. Parkgoers will see folks dressed as antelopes, zebras and lions – and their stalkers.

“One of our floats actually has Perseus, and he’s got the head of Medusa with her eyes glowing and this gorgon creature on the ground,” Braswell said.

Each constellation-themed float has a celestial character alongside. Braswell described their look as “very reflective and sparkly. … They represent the heavenly bodies of the floats they’re with.”

“They’re kind of a Vegas/disco ball walking kind of thing,” Braswell said.

The performers also are available before the parade for meet and greet/photo opportunities. The plan is for the celestials to group together there, Braswell said.

Additional newness in the air comes in the form of the atmospheric music piped into the park.

“We went through and completely changed the music that we play in the park all day long. We have a ton of traditional Mardi Gras fare that will be playing throughout the day,” Braswell said. “It should have a very Mardi Gras/New Orleans vibe the second anybody walks in the gate at any time, well before the parade gets up and going.”

That’s 2.5 hours of music, he’s talking about. And none of it is “Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now,” the ditty long associated with Universal’s Mardi Gras parade.

“If there was something in the specific parade … it’s not in the overall,” Braswell said.

Mardi Gras festivities, including the concerts are included in regular admission to Universal Studios.

This year’s acts

Concerts are scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. The 2018 lineup, subject to change includes:

Feb. 3: Sean Paul

Feb. 10: The Beach Boys

Feb. 17: Kelsea Ballerini

Feb. 18: Andy Grammer

Feb. 24: Macklemore

March 3: 311

March 4: Phillip Phillips

March 10: TBA

March 11: Fitz and the Tantrums

March 17: Foreigner

March 18: Fifth Harmony

March 24: TBA

March 25: Bush