Universal Mardi Gras

So we cut out of work early one weekday and swung over to Universal Studios for their annual Mardi Gras event.

Universal has been doing an annual Mardi Gras event for years.  The first time Karen and I went to the resort (back in 2002) they were doing Mardi Gras.  The event runs from February to early April and features free concerts on the weekends.

Festivities kick in around 4pm daily, with lots of street performers coming out in the Production Central and New York City section of the park.

I gotta tell ya – I thought working Halloween Horror Nights was a lot of work, but it doesn’t compare to how hard these folks are going.  It doesn’t seem like they have a moment to catch their breath (also, they have to be nice and fun and energetic and that’s a bunch of things I don’t excel at).

But the dancing folks aren’t the only people busting their asses.  They’re dancing to music provided by authentic New Orleans-style brass bands.  My upper lip hurt just thinking of having to play for as long as they were going…

The costumes are incredibly elaborate and many of them are part of the overall theme.  The theme this year is “party animals” and you’ll see that reflected in both the costumes and in some of the floats in the parade.  It’s really hard to pick a favorite character.  

Okay, that was a lie.  Lobster Man refuses to stop bringing it!

I also thought she was really cool, though I don’t quite understand what Serpentor has to do with Mardi Gras…

The design and color on these costumes is just incredible.

Here’s the king of the festivities – we’ll see the queen later!

Anyways, they all come together for dancing and photo opps and all that jazz.  Wait, did you see that up in the right-hand corner?

Apparently, this is “Hashtag Panda” from The Tonight Show with Jimmy hold-on-I-have-to-stop-and-laugh-at-my own-joke Fallon.

So before the parade rolls around, let’s hit the food stalls!  For Mardi Gras, the food stands are all situated in the “French Quarter Courtyard” which is located in the New York section.  The stalls are set up along Park Avenue, which runs between Revenge of the Mummy and Transformers.

First, we hit the drink stand.  There were two different specialty alcoholic drinks for the event – the Ragin’ Rumbalaya and the Carnival Cocktail.  We were under the impression that we could order both and they’d be served in a two-compartment cup making it possible to have a bit of both.  I guess they ran out of those cups, and instead we just got both drinks slammed together into one rather generic Universal plastic cup.  It was just kind of a disappointingly bland sweet concoction.

So here’s a pic of a few of the food stalls.  The set up is a bit confusing at first, as you make your purchase, then give your receipt to someone else to pull the food.  When they get backed up, it makes for a bit of a mess because there’s too many people and no real organizational system (we saw at least one person get the wrong food because they weren’t sure what was going on). We were there on a Wednesday night, so I can’t imagine what a clusterfuck it must have been on a concert night.

We opted to get the Food Sampling Lanyard.  This was a tricky proposition, because we had to do the math to determine if it was worth it.  It seems like a great deal, but you can very easily screw up and end up losing money on it.  There were two options available: five items for $30 or 12 items for $50.  If you get the first option, you’re basically paying $6 per item.  That’s well and good, but here’s the trick: there are plenty of items that are $4.99 each, meaning you could end up paying $30 for $25 worth of food.  Of course, there are also items that were $6.99 so it ultimately all depends on how you work it.  We went with the $50 lanyard, because we figured $5 per item would work to our benefit and (more importantly) it was just easier to not have to deal with money or cards anyways. 

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