Mardi Gras World in New Orleans was an impromptu stop for us. Frankly, I hadn’t booked a tour in advance because it sounded like a tourist trap – but I’m so happy I did! Even though we missed Mardi Gras, it felt like we got a little taste of it by visiting Mardi Gras World. It was one of my favorite stops in New Orleans.
About Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World is actually the home of Kern Studios – a place where they construct and decorate many of the elaborate Mardi Gras floats. Blaine Kern made his first float in 1932. It was towed by mules on the back of a garbage wagon. Now, they have a huge team of artists, engineers, painters, sculptors and designers. Each year Kern Studios builds over 500 floats!
The Mardi Gras World Tour
The tour starts with a video on the history of Mardi Gras, the Mardi Gras parade and Kern Studios. It’s interesting to get the history before viewing the floats. Next – and super exciting – you get to try King Cake! This is the traditional cake of Mardi Gras – kinda like brioche with a sugary topping. Traditionally, a mini baby trinket is hidden inside and whoever finds the baby has to buy the cake next year or host the next Mardi Gras party. Luckily I didn’t find the baby and was off the hook!
Float Artists at Work
The studio walk was my favorite part of the tour because they have the floats for the next year in the works. I love that they post the artist drawings of the float in front of the work stations so we could see their vision. Many parts of previous floats get repurposed. They might change the painting and colors or add more details to an existing prop. We got to see the paper mache work and an impressive digital foam carver that works from 3d rendered art. The tour guide explained the float design process as we walked through the studio.
Mardi Gras Floats Up Close
After the studio walk, visitors then tour past some of the old floats. This is the perfect time for photos. You’ll walk by several ornate floats and then end up in the photo-op portion of the tour – a huge portion of the warehouse filled with statues from the floats. The guide lets you put on crazy Mardi Gras costumes and take photos! I loved that we didn’t feel rushed – there were so many places to take pictures!
Visiting Mardi Gras World
Tours run every half hour. Just show up and peruse the gift shop until the next tour begins. At the time of writing, adults are $22, but check the Mardi Gras World website for updated pricing, free shuttle and tour hours. I recommend taking the free shuttle. If you drive, you’ll have to pay about $15 for parking. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, check out our trip with the top things to do in New Orleans. Mardi Gras World is on it! You can create a fee Tripidee account and copy the trip or parts of the trip over to help you with trip planning.
Photos of Mardi Gras World Tour
Enjoy the rest of our photos of Mardi Gras World – there were so many fun floats to photograph!