Mardi Gras livens Universal nights

ORLANDO -- For the fourth consecutive year, Universal Studios Florida launched its own version of Mardi Gras. The celebration, a free bonus for visitors to the park, is presented nightly through March 27, after Universal's movie backlot streets are converted into a colorful street party.

There are 14 floats and props, all used in original New Orleans Mardi Gras parades, top-name entertainers, doubloons and New Orleans food.

A number of top bands perform throughout the Mardi Gras celebration. Among them are Journey, 38 Special, the Pointer Sisters, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Olga Tanon, the Doobie Brothers and Chaka Kahn.

Other favorites include Jack Mack and the Heart Attacks, Wild Magnolias, BigShirley, Fat City and Mamou.

Spectators are entertained by more than 200 outrageous street performers including stilt-walkers. The float procession features the traditional Jester, King and Queen and King Gator floats.

Also included is a series themed, "Celebrating Cities Around the World." Among the destinations represented in this series of floats are Venice, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico and the Caribbean. Universal Studios Florida. Phone: (800) BE-A-STAR.

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