Let the good times roll! Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval has begun at Universal Studios Florida. Each night through April 7, guests can enjoy a Mardi Gras parade. This year’s event and the parade have an Elements theme. Parade times vary between 5:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., depending on when the park closes that day.
2024 Universal Mardi Gras Parade
Pre-Parade Meet & Greets
Some of the dancers, performers, and stilt walkers come out before the parade on the streets of New York to meet and greet with guests.
This year’s “icon,” Baron Tonton, appears as a stiltwalker in the parade.
Some represent this year’s theme, which is the Elements of Mardi Gras.
The parade re-uses floats from previous years but also has new floats to fit with the year’s theme.
The parade kicks off with performers and stilt walkers in colorful costumes, including the Baron Tonton stiltwalker.
The first float of the parade is always the Miss New Orleans riverboat. Since these are supposed to be imitative of a real New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, the floats are drawn by truck through the streets of Universal Studios Florida.
Performers in jester-style outfits follow the riverboat.
The Krewe of Dionysus is another staple float used each year.
The jester float is also a returning feature. In addition to the jester statues, the float is decorated with giant bead strings and masks.
The next set of performers lead the way for a float representing the four main elements: earth, fire, water, and air.
The elements are represented by physical manifestations such as a wave, the wind, a cliffside with trees, and a volcano.
Earth is represented again by flower stiltwalkers and mushroom dancers.
A float for Air features a hot air balloon, a face blowing, a bird flying, and more.
The next set of dancers and stiltwalkers herald the arrival of the fire float.
It drips molten lava and flame-like designs burst from the sides.
The water float is led by fish dancers and cephalopod stilt walkers.
The float has a giant octopus in the front and an ocean of wildlife throughout.
The last elemental section features the sun and moon.
The returning French Quarter float is designed to look like the balconies of Bourbon Street and has a statue of a trumpet player on the front.
The Kings and Queens are stiltwalkers that precede the penultimate float.
And finally, as is traditional, the King Gator closes out the parade. He’s become something of an icon in recent years and appears on much of this year’s merchandise (including a plush King Gator).
Guests can ride on a Mardi Gras parade float either by using a virtual queue when in the park or through the Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience. Guests on floats are given beads to throw to the guests viewing the parade.
Mardi Gras is the Carnaval celebration that takes place between the Epiphany / Three Kings Day and Lent each year, culminating on Shrove Tuesday a.k.a. “Fat Tuesday” (which is what “Mardi Gras” means in French). “Fat Tuesday” 2024 is on February 13, with Ash Wednesday on February 14.
Carnaval and Mardi Gras are celebrated in several countries, but the New Orleans, Louisiana celebrations are probably the most well-known and serve as the model for Universal Mardi Gras.
2024 Mardi Gras Parade Video
Watch the full 2024 Universal Mardi Gras parade in our video below.
2024 Mardi Gras Parade Route
The Mardi Gras parade starts and ends on the Hollywood street next to Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show. The parade passes Transformers: The Ride 3D, loops through New York, goes down Illumination Avenue, and then returns to Hollywood.