Last weekend I was invited to Universal Studios Florida for a lesson in fun. We got to see behind the scenes at Mardi Gras, learn how to cook up some authentic New Orleans gumbo, caught some beads, and then partied into the night at a marvelous concert featuring the B-52s. It as an amazing experience.
The night started off with a cooking lesson from the resort’s executive chef Steven Jayson.
Thankfully there was no slicing and dicing required. All the ingredients for our gumbo were ready to go when we arrived as well as a cooking station.
The final product was supposed to look like this
but mine was more like this…
we didn’t really have the time required to bring out all the flavors, but it was still pretty good.
From the kitchen we went out into the studios to enjoy some of the festival atmosphere the park creates to take the park from the day into a mardi gras experience at night. You won’t find this at Walt Disney World
Although some of this did look familiar
That’s sort of like Main Street or the recent Princess and the Frog.
Nearby, in the Universal Studios “French Quarter Courtyard,” the celebration continued. This area featured New Orleans-inspired food creations by Universal’s chefs – including jambalaya, Po Boy sandwiches and more. I enjoyed the beignets.
The highlight of the night for me was the Mardi Gra Parade. The floats were much more impressive than I thought they would be, some even approached the side of the floats you might see in New Orleans.
The creative team and Universal actually flew to New Orleans and shopped the great Mardi Gras warehouses for some of the best pieces from last year’s floats.
Mardi Gras continues on Saturdays and select nights through April 23rd. Here’s a video that captures a few highlights from my experience:
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.universalorlando.com/mardigras.