Following an incident that put a Guest operating a moving vehicle at risk, the Universal Orlando Resort has significantly changed its annual Mardi Gras celebration, which began yesterday, February 4, 2023.
Each year, Universal Studios Florida celebrates the Mardi Gras of New Orleans in Lousiana, a popular version of the global Carnaval festival preceding Lent in Catholic countries. In fact, Universal Orlando Mardi Gras festivities this year will include the International Flavors of Carnaval event, offering “flavors from the bayou to Brazil and beyond,” in addition to the annual live music concerts and glittering Mardi Gras parade floats that dazzle Guests each year.
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In fact, the Universal Studios Orlando website encourages visitors to “go ahead and get your beads and their party on,” but many fans have noted this is hard to do after a recent adjustment to the theme park’s policy regarding one special Mardi Gras tradition outside of the Mardi Gras float ride or celebrity concert lineup.
As many visitors to Universal Mardi Gras night will fondly recall, it has become common practice for Guests who received Mardis Gras beads, plastic necklaces thrown from the parade floats, to toss them onto a specific tree located just outside one of the Universal Guest parking garages and Universal Citywalk. Indeed, the tradition of decorating a tree’s branches with found objects such as beads, trinkets, and even glass bottles is a beloved occurrence on the streets of the real New Orleans, offering an additional immersive element to the Park’s festival and one in which the Guests get to have a direct impact.
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Unfortunately, revelers returning this week for Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval celebration have noted the balcony from which Guests once reached the affectionately named “Mardi Gras Tree” has known been barricaded off and manned by a Universal Studios security guard, preventing anyone from making the toss. As a result, the tree sits empty, its branches bare of the typical colorful adornments that have decorated it around this time in previous years.
Many fans have taken to Twitter to express their sadness at the loss of the tree. However, this is not the first time the Mardi Gras Tree tradition has come under threat: Universal Studios cut down the original tree in 2016, prompting Guests to elect its “sister” tree nearby as a worthy successor over the course of the next six years.
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Allegedly, Universal had to cordon off the tree after an incident in which a Guest flung beads at the tree and either missed or they slipped off the branch and into the path of a moving car as it exited the garage. Unlike last time, it seems as though the theme park aims to prevent the creation of a new Mardi Gras Tree amongst those bordering the lot, prompting fans to suggest they create a controlled setting in which this beloved condition can continue with Universal’s blessing from now on.
Are you sad to see the Mardi Gras Tree go?