Get a Look Inside Mardi Gras World in New Orleans
Colorful parade floats are receiving their finishing touches. Costumes are getting the once over. The loot, also known as “throws” as it will be tossed to parade goers, has been gathered and the parade schedules and routes announced. Mardi Gras is almost here. Though it’s celebrated all over Cajun Country, the largest crowd swells will likely be in the New Orleans city limits. If you’d like to get a closer look at those floats and how they’re made, my family suggests you visit Mardi Gras World.
Work on these visual spectacles actually begins only a few days after the previous Mardi Gras celebration ends. If you’re lucky, your tour will include a glimpse of artists at work creating designs and getting to work on the next floats. They’re built from the ground up, not just for Mardi Gras but also for 40 other area events, which leaves no doubt that the New Orleans area loves a good festival!
Tours at Mardi Gras World kick off with an education on the Carnival celebration rituals and traditions. Visitors are shown a short video then given an opportunity to sample one of the season’s most scrumptious traditions, King Cake, a ring or oval shaped cake covered in sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: green for faith, gold for power and purple for justice. Each cake has a plastic baby inside of it. The “lucky” person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by having the next King Cake party.
The warehouse showroom is a feast for the eyes. Groups follow a path that winds through areas that have been set up as small sectioned studios before opening up to a larger area crammed with characters, many of whom look very familiar. Super heroes, American Presidents, Disney characters and more peek out from behind barriers and other characters.
My kids were delighted by the sight of Shrek and Flick from, A Bug’s Life. We laughed a while looking at two enormous gorillas in sunglasses. The level of detail is amazing. You’ll find yourself expecting to hear the jesters laugh or see the Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots to go after each other.
Krewes, organizations who host the parades and whose members ride the floats, have been relying on Mardi Gras World to design and construct stunning floats that align with their themes since 1947. While the company does not handle costuming for those on the floats, they take care of everything else connected to them, including how to keep Krewe members on them. One extra measure they’ve taken is actually not required of float builders, the installation of safety harnesses. They’ve proved successful more than once, reducing the injuries of those who have taken spills over the top level of the often two-level floats. “Now they dangle until we can shove them back into the float rather than hit the pavement,” our guide joked.
At the end of the tour our group was allowed to linger in the showroom where a few fully assembled floats were parked nearby. Getting close to them was a great opportunity to really take in their size and the artistry that goes into constructing them.
Whether you’re headed to Mardi Gras or find yourself curious but not quite ready for the experience, Mardi Gras World will have you giving a call of Laissez les bon temps roulez! LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!
You may also enjoy:
- Mardi Gras for Kids
- Enjoy the Best Beignets in New Orleans
- Top Things to do in New Orleans with Kids
- Best Mardi Gras Hotel for Families: Hilton New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue
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Mardi Gras World graciously hosted Kristine’s family visit. All opinions are her own.
Know Before You Go
- New Orleans is known as “The Big Easy.”
- The National WWII Museum is one of the top-rated museums in the country. Don’t miss checking it out!
- The famous Café Du Monde is open 24 hours a day to get your beignet fix.
- If you plan to go during Mardi Gras, pack comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.