Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Universal Studios in Orlando is Celebrating Mardi Gras!

This long weekend was great for us because we headed to Orlando to take in a couple of the amusement parks. Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure offer you the chance to seamlessly see two amusement parks in one day. We arrived to Universal Studios first thing in the morning, which I highly recommend. The park wasn't open yet but we got a great parking spot in the nearby garage. Since we were early, we got to leisurely stroll the replicated streets of California before many people arrived.

The California area, including the replicated Hollywood Walk of Fame 
is open before the park.

From the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame to the Beverly Hillshire Hotel we got to see what the sites might look like in person. You could sit down and enjoy a cup of tea (or coffee) while people watching. You could also head into the stores to do a little shopping.

Check the Weather

It got warmer as the day went, but when we first got there, it was a little chilly!

We'd forgotten to check the weather. I didn't realize it was going to be a somewhat chilly day in they typically sunny and hot Orlando, Florida. We went shopping for hoodies that said 'Universal Studios' on the back. They made our day far more comfortable than it would have been without them (in fact, we barely took them off for most of the day and night).

Biggest perk for me? The teen and I wearing matching sweatshirts. He is waaayyy past the stage of thinking that's cute, so I was delighted when he picked out one like the one I had in my hand. Of course, I did not make a big deal of it, lest the teen change his mind.

Mardi Gras decorations everywhere!

It's Mardi Gras Season at Universal

When we were visiting it was Mardi Gras season at Universal, so NOLA themes were everywhere. We enjoyed hearing the live music. Tasting the favorite culinary dishes of New Orleans was on the agenda. So was taking in the decorations and floats one might see in the city itself. Seems like everyone was wearing Mardi Gras beads. You could buy them in the stores if you didn't have your own.

Mari Gras season at Universal Studios, Orlando runs from February 4th to April 16th, 2023.

Don't forget the Lard Lad Donut in Simpson Land.

The Simpsons Land

My teen had the best time in Simpsons Land. Everything he was seeing was from the cartoon and each exhibit had him talking about what he'd seen in the shows. Of course, he purchased one of the giant donuts at Lard Lad Donuts (just under $10 and he said it was worth every bite). And his souvenir at the end of the day was a Homer Simpson stuffed doll (I love that this trip brought out the kid in him).

Highly recommended to get the game pass.

If my older kids are reading this, no regrets or apologies. LOL I didn't let them watch the Simpsons when they were little. I still think the themes are too adult for kids. Like many parents though, I relaxed a bit by the time my youngest was born.

Variety of Things to Do

Rip, Ride, Rockit Rollercoaster at Universal Studios

Walk around and enjoy cultures from different countries. Enjoy the simulator rides (we rode the Transformers ride which was awesome and would be magical for an older small child or tween). Catch a thrill on one of the rollercoasters. There are so many things to see and do. Even though the space was smaller than I'd anticipated, there really was such a large variety of things to do.

train station at Hogwarts Express
The Hogwarts Express takes you between the two parks.

Hogwarts Express Takes you Between the Two Parks

We played some games (I recommend purchasing the game pass). Then we headed on over to Islands of Adventure. We made our way to the back of the park where we found the famous train from the Harry Potter novels. The Hogwarts Express is a novelty and it takes you between the two parks seamlessly.

Hogwarts Express Universal Studios
The train ride from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure was part of the fun.

If you only purchased a ticket for one park, you can upgrade to have the two-parks-in-one day ticket; that's what we did. It took just a few minutes to do, and it was worth it to do so. I recommend just buying the two park pass from the get-go (or if you live close enough, why not get the annual pass because it's actually very reasonably priced).

Your two-park ticket gets you a ride on the train which leads you directly into Islands of Adventure (so if you upgrade, keep that paper ticket, you'll also need it to come back if you choose to do so, and to use the free lockers for the rides that don't allow carry-ons).

Various cities are recreated throughout the park.

Tips for visiting Universal Studios

  • Get their early to avoid long lines for the rides you most want to experience.
  • Catch the live shows. We were there during Mardi Gras, so there was a lot of live music going on. We saw Jazz, Blues, construction workers (this was so good!) and a concert in the evening with Maren Morris (different artists were performing nightly).
  • Get a map so you know where everything is (you don't want to miss anything!). You can pick up a hard copy or download the app.
  • Check out the times of the parade and get a spot up front early. This will give you time to relax a minute and you'll appreciate the view when the parade rolls around.
  • There is a light show and it got very crowded, very fast, on the day we visited. Find a more secluded spot further away and you can see the same show without the crowds.
  • If you don't have a multi-park pass, upgrade to a dual park ticket. There are spots all around the park to do so. Then, catch the train over to Islands of Adventure half-way through the day.
  • Take Hogwarts Express back and forth between parks (you need the two-park pass to do so).
  • Check concert times during Mardi Gras season at Universal. The concert we saw was at the end of the night and it was not overly crowded. Still, you'll want to find a good spot early since portable chairs are not permitted in the park.
  • It is a bit of a walk from the parking garage to the park. There are motorized walkways alongside sidewalks.
  • City Walk stays open after the park closes (the area between the park and the parking garage) and it is jam-packed with things to do.

Universal Studios Orlando is a top destination for theme park enthusiasts.

Universal Studios is a top Destination for Theme Park Enthusiasts

In conclusion, visiting Universal Studios in Orlando is worth experiencing. From the exciting rides to the immersive themed areas, there is something for everyone at this iconic amusement park. Whether you're a fan of Harry Potter, The Simpsons, or good live music, you'll find plenty to enjoy on your visit.

Even without Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios offers a wide variety of attractions and experiences that can easily fill a full day or more. If you wish to add on a ticket to the additional amusement park, however, it will just double your fun and it is literally, a short train ride away.

Overall, if you're looking for a fun-filled day with family and friends, a visit to Universal Studios in Orlando is an excellent choice. This was our first trip here, and I now see why this park remains a top destination for theme park enthusiasts from all around the world.


  1. Hi Rosey - it must have been a lovely trip - and I quite agree 'prepare' ... sounds fun for you all. Cheers Hilary

  2. Love all of the decor they put up to celebrate the occasion, this looks like a lot of fun!

  3. I've never been to a Mardi Gras celebration. This looks like a lot of fun! And the weather looks lovely, too.

  4. I would like to visit Universal.

  5. It is years since I visited Universal Studios - but what a fab way to celebrate Mardi Gras! Matching hoodies too! I hope you still have them and get the chance to wear them again. Some great tips for visiting too.

  6. It has been years since I have been to mardi gras, Your trip sounded so fun and got me thinking. I must put this on my wish list for vacation place to go.

  7. This would be a fun place to celebrate Mardi Gras. I need to travel during this time.

  8. So fun! It's been ages since I've been but we had a blast when we visited.

  9. Celebrating Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando with music, and food is spectacular. I also love their parades.

  10. I haven't been to Universal Studios since I was a little girl. They're done so much it looks so fun.

  11. Thanks for the tips - it's always useful to hear from someone who has been and experienced it themselves.

  12. I’ve never celebrated the Mardi Gras, I would love to celebrate my first at Universal Studio too! This sounds wonderful

  13. I love holidays! And this is the perfect place to celebrate Mardi Gras!

  14. The live music sounds good and the parade is spectacular. I wish we can celebrate Mardi Gras in Universal orlando.

  15. This place looks amazing. I would love to visit.

  16. This article has me in 'travel dreaming mode.' What a wonderful way to enjoy Mardi Gras for all ages. Stephanie

  17. Mardi Gras at Universal Studios is for sure not to be missed! This is a must see for sure, I would love to go there soon.

  18. Looks like you had a wonderful trip! Loving all the images and I bet it was a lot of fun.

  19. Could you believe I live so close to Universal, and I've never been for Mardi Gras? I need to get over there. Glad you enjoyed it.

  20. These decorations look fantastic and like it would be a whole lot of fun!

  21. Nnniiiccceeeee...I would love to do the roller-coaster, once here! I wanna visit Universal Studios one day.

  22. It must be nice going to Universal when there are seasonal things on as you get quite a unique experience. I've never been to Orlando but I'd love to go to all of the parks x

  23. The Mardi Gras celebrations look awesome. I live in the UK but I would so love to visit Universal.

  24. I have never been to Universal Studios, but this looks like an amazing time to visit! Mardi Gras looks so fun!

  25. My sister is there with her family as we speak! Looks like such a great time!

  26. I hope you liked this NOLA Mardi Gras experience better than your trip to NOLA a few years back. Hurrah for matching sweatshirts. I bet you were both so adorable in them. Allison is going there for spring break in April. She's excited to be going back even though we were just there in October. Universal is just fun no matter what time of the year you go.

  27. I've never celebrated Mardi Gras before. I think it would be fun to celebrate at Universal Orlando. It sounds like you had a lovely time too.

  28. It is so cool to see all of the themeing and decorations! It looks like you had a lovely time checking them all out too.

  29. It looks like a great time there. I would love to visit here sometime .

  30. Wow, it looks fun there. I thought it's Singapore Universal Studio at the first glance.

  31. Is that teen your son?? I still think of him as being 8 yrs. old. What a heck of a time you had!! There is an Universal studios up in the LA area. Worth the drive I would say (we live in Riverside county).

    1. Yes! He's 6 ft. tall now and driving!! I'd like to visit California. That's a state I haven't gotten to see yet. :)

  32. Wow, this look so much fun and would love to be part of this celebration if I was able to go there.

  33. Wow . Definitely somewhere I would love to go and experience . Looks so much fun! . Kira


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