Universal Orlando Goes All Out for Mardi Gras — Here’s What to Expect This Year

Hands tearing open an beignet

Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations around the world have been canceled or scaled back amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of Florida's best parties — the annual Universal Orlando Mardi Gras event — is no exception. But there's still plenty for parkgoers to look forward to this year during the modified event. From Feb. 6 through March 28, guests can try dishes and drinks inspired by Carnaval flavors from around the world during this year's culinary festival, Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval. 

Since reopening this summer, Universal Orlando has modified major events to adapt for health and safety measures implemented amid the pandemic, offering inventive and imaginative new ways to engage guests in beloved experiences. This year, the theme park will still be decked out with festive decor, and now, over-the-top Mardi Gras parade floats will be stationed throughout the park so guests can check them out up close on their own time, rather than gathering for the typical parades. There's even a new Mardi Gras Tribute Store with themed merchandise, and musicians and dancers will bring the celebratory spirit to the streets of the park, and don't worry — there will be plenty of beads, too. 

While the annual festival's nightly parades and concert series won't be happening this year due to the pandemic, guests will have the chance to try over 70 food and beverage items throughout the Universal Studios Florida theme park. And who could pass up beignets and jerk chicken? This year's lineup features dishes from countries around the globe — guests can take a culinary tour of the world's best Carnival destinations like Trinidad and Tobago or Brazil before snacking on classic New Orleans food all within one afternoon. 

Some of the highlights include Cajun dishes like crawfish boil, jambalaya, and beignets, pernil and mofongo from Puerto Rico, vegan pholourie from Trinidad and Tobago, and jerk chicken from the Bahamas. Then, hop on over to Europe: Germany is represented with pork schnitzel sliders and Bavarian pretzels; from Spain, guests can try paella and leche frita; there are even liege waffles from Belgium. Caipirinha drinks, German beer, and an alcoholic punch inspired by king cake are available to wash it all down. That's not all — there will be other dishes from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, France, Italy, and more, making this the ultimate foodie event for Universal Orlando fans. 

Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.

Elizabeth Rhodes is an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure who loves all things theme parks. Follow her adventures on Instagram @elizabetheverywhere.  

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