Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration is the perfect combination of the Big Easy tradition and theme park entertainment. // © 2018 Universal Orlando Resort
Feature image (above): Fast & Furious - Supercharged will bring the film franchise to life. // © 2018 Universal Orlando Resort
After kicking off 2018 with the magical Celebration of Harry Potter event, Universal Orlando Resort is continuing its plans for a fun-filled year with a Mardi Gras celebration of the Big Easy, an attraction based on a blockbuster film franchise and a new on-site hotel.
“This year, there’s no slowing down for Universal Orlando Resort,” said Robyn Ryan, director of travel industry sales for Universal Orlando Resort. “We’re constantly adding new experiences and upgrading our annual events so that travel agents always have new suggestions for clients who want an epic vacation.”
Summer 2018 will bring the grand opening of Aventura, the newest on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort. The sleek and modern 600-room high-rise will offer views of all three Universal Orlando theme parks — from guestrooms as well as from the rooftop bar — but with a price tag that won’t break the bank.
“Aventura will include modern and stylish surroundings, but it will be one of our most affordable hotels,” said Christina Heflin of Universal Orlando Resort. “It’s perfect for value-savvy travelers who don’t want to miss out on anything that Universal Orlando Resort has to offer.”
As with all on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort, Aventura guests will enjoy early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay (one hour before the parks open), as well as complimentary shuttles to the theme parks and the many dining and entertainment options at Universal CityWalk.
Fast & Furious
Also this summer, Universal Orlando will also bring one of the hottest film franchises to life at Universal Studios Florida’s newest attraction: Fast & Furious – Supercharged. Guests can currently get a sneak preview at the Fast & Furious Custom Gear Shop and take photos with the cars out front.
When Fast & Furious - Supercharged opens, it will be the only place to see 15 cars from the “Fast & Furious” franchise, including Dom’s iconic Dodge Charger and Letty’s Turbo Truck.
The attraction will provide an action-packed ride along with the “Fast & Furious family”: Dom (played by Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) will also join the attraction’s cast. In addition, Fast & Furious - Supercharged will tell an original story that invites riders to a race after-party but gets them caught up in a high-speed chase instead.
“‘Fast & Furious’ is an epic adventure,” said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative. “It’s perfect for a theme park ride.”
Fast & Furious - Supercharged will be the second attraction to feature the park’s virtual line system, through which guests can select a time to ride and then enjoy other experiences in the park while they wait. When they return to the ride, guests will enter the underground headquarters of the “Fast family,” where they will be immersed in the culture of the franchise as memorable scenes from the series play to the accompaniment of songs from the films’ soundtracks. In addition, guests will be able to walk through locations inspired by the movies, including the Family Room and Tej’s high-tech War Room.
“Everybody wants to live vicariously through the characters and through the intense action,” Ludacris said. “What better way to feel a part of it than to be on the ride?”
Mardi Gras Celebration
The good times started rolling Feb. 3 at Universal Orlando Resort’s 2018 Mardi Gras Celebration, but guests can enjoy New Orleans style entertainment, music and food until April 7.
The authentic New Orleans celebration — which this year has been extended longer than ever before — includes performances by Louisiana jazz, blues and zydeco bands, along with delicious treats such as jambalaya, gumbo and beignets. On each night of the celebration, a lively parade parties through Universal Studios Florida with street performers and colorful floats designed by Kern Studios, the creators of Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans for more than 60 years. As a special perk for kids, the Little Jester’s Parade Viewing Area in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop offers an unobstructed view of all the fun.
“Whether you choose to start a bead-catching competition with family and friends, or relax and enjoy a mouthwatering shrimp po’boy while listening to authentic sounds of New Orleans straight from Bourbon Street, the opportunities to celebrate Universal’s Mardi Gras are endless,” said Denielle Ricci, content development representative for Universal Orlando Resort.
On select nights during the celebration, some of the biggest names in pop, rock, country and R&B will perform on the Music Plaza Stage at Universal Studios Park, including American Idol winner Phillip Phillips (March 4), rock band Foreigner (March 17), multiplatinum pop group Fifth Harmony (March 18) and alt-rock band Bush (March 25).