Mardi Gras World – Uniquely New Orleans

Mardi Gras World – Uniquely New Orleans

The Educational Tourist with flowers on Mardi Gras float, Mardi Gras World,

We think of Mardi Gras as a uniquely New Orlean’s tradition. Mardi Gras makes us think of floats, grand costumes, and beads tossed into the crowds. We might think of it that way, but in fact, Mardi Gras has been celebrated all over the world for thousands of years. What IS unique about Mardi Gras in New Orleans is being able to watch the artists create the floats and props that go on them!

Some think of Mardi Gras parades as being far from a family friendly activity. As it turns out, naughty parades are the only ones that make the national news. There are 12 days of celebration and up to 55 parades – all but a very few are completely family friendly. Tune in to local New Orleans news channels for the family friendly versions. It is all surprisingly G and PG rated.

Mardi Gras World – Mr. Mardi Gras

Blaine Kern, an artist, has been making Mardi Gras magic since 1947! His first work was a mural in a hospital which led to his first float. The reception to that first float started the avalanche of offers for making floats which still continues. Now his business, Mardi Gras World,  makes wonderful creations for Disney, Universal Studios, Harrah’s and other company. Walking around the warehouse is a fun ‘I Spy’ game to see what stands out to you!

Blaine Kern, now known as simply as Mr. Mardi Gras, helped take care of people in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He opened the warehouse, turned on generators, gave shelter and served meals to anyone who needed. The Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the 82nd airborne used this warehouse as a staging area to help serve 775,000 meals. Mr. Mardi Gras is more than just fun – he has a real passion about New Orleans.

Mardi Gras World – The Floats

Troll from Mardi Gras floats, Mardi Gras World,

Mardi Gras world is THE maker of floats. Each year they put together 500 new floats for Mardi Gras. The process begins each year the day after Mardi Gras ends.

They are excellent at recycling and often take pieces from one piece and use it on another year after year. The warehouse is FULL of creations from past floats.

Floats weigh up to 21 tons and can hold between 40-5o riders. Each float has a porta potty on board, too. Riders, who throw treats like beads and coins, are required by city ordinance to wear masks.

Mardi Gras World – More than just Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras World makes more than just cool stuff for Mardi Gras floats. They make things for Disney, Universal Studios and the make all the Chick Fil A cows.

The Educational Tourist and Chick Fil A cow, Mardi Gras World,

I loved this mock up of the Laocoon and Sons statue from Vatican City. Everything in the studio is HUGE!

The Educational tourist with Mardi Gras world statue Laocoon and Sons, Mardi Gras World,

Mardi Gras World – Working art studio

Take a rare opportunity to see artists in action! These artists create the props, the animals and creatures decorating floats, and you can see them in every step along the way.

It was fascinating to see the props and floats in different stages of completion. See some pieces carved out of styrofoam and others covered only in paper mache. Still more pieces were being painted. This is going to be a referee but at this stage his head looks a lot like Sponge Bob Squarepants to me!

unfinished prop for Mardi Gras floats, Mardi Gras World,

Mardi Gras World – Find your favorites

Take your time wandering around. It was fun to see everything from the musical group KISS to Disney characters. It felt like a treasure hunt. It was SO much fun. I don’t know why this isn’t on the very top of any ‘What to see in New Orleans’ list!! Kids would LOVE it.

Flik from A Bug's Life, Mardi Gras World,

Mardi Gras World – The Tour

Your tour will include the warehouse and studio and a film. The short and very interesting film is included. Do not be tempted to skip it. The short film is a good brief history of all things Mardi Gras. Try on a costume and have a slice of King’s Cake.

King cake, Mardi Gras World,

Mardi Gras World – Visit information

Blaine Kern Studios is a fantastic workshop where everything is SO much larger than life! I had SOO much fun here and think everyone needs to visit! HUGE flowers, ants, people, footballs, cows…. too many wonderful things to mention!

The Educational Tourist and Academy Award prop for Mardi Gras float, Mardi Gras World,

Tours are available 7 days a week beginning at 9:30 and ending at 4:30.

Call for the FREE shuttle to come and get you from one of 20 downtown locations. I used the free shuttle and it was comfortable and easy.

Buy tickets and get more information here.

Mardi Gras world an absolute MUST for New Orlean’s visit with KIDS!

If you love all things Mardi Gras read about the fun things you can see at the mardi gras exhibit in the New Orlean’s Presbytere. The costumes are such fun!

Happy Travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

The Educational Tourist logo, Mardi Gras World,



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21 Responses

  1. Kudos to Mr. Mardi Gras not only for creating floats for so long but also for helping the people of his beloved city. I loved NOLA but wasn’t there during Mardi Gras. 🙁

  2. Fray says:

    Whaaaaaaaaat??? 21 tonnes??? That’s insane!

    Thank you so much! New Orleans is somewhere that is an absolute must on my American Roadtrip, and the parade looks unmissable, but now so too does the pre-parade tour!

    I honestly had no idea that so much work and dedication goes into each parade… literally every day of the year! That’s crazy.

    Awesome article! 🙂

  3. Gina Panozzo says:

    I didn’t know that Mardi Gras World was the maker of floats for all the parade floats! It must be a very busy year for them and a lot of planning. I also didn’t know the majority of the floats were family friendly. That’s great to know.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It was so interesting and I learned SOO much that day! They stay busy all year long. Such a fun place to visit!

  4. I love love love New Orleans! I have only been once and sadly not during Mardi Gras. Good excuse for a return visit I think as this looks all sorts of fabulous!

  5. So interesting and refreshing to know Mardi Gras can be family-friendly. We thought about going this last year, but didn’t feel like it was a place for kids, even if we skipped the “naughty parade”. Glad to see there are things for kids. Although, I think I would like touring this place even more than my daughter!

  6. I have always wanted to visit New Orleans just for being able to attend Mardi Gras. I see and hear so much about it and I would finally love to live it and take part one day!

  7. Janine Good says:

    Geez Louise! 500 floats per year and they begin the day after the current festival? That is dedication! I have yet to visit New Orleans but dream of strolling down Bourbon Street!

  8. MARINA says:

    That’s so cool! I have heard it was kind of the “USA most famous carnival/celebration” but didn’t know it involved all this… the museum, its story, its social activity to the american community.
    That’s probably what I love the most about reading “learning-post” like yours, that turns to be more a teaching class than a subjective experience of your Mardi Gras weekend.
    Whenever I go there (and hopefully won’t take long) I’ll already have quite a big background about Mardi Gras and I hope it will help me understand everything better!

    Thanks for sharing and congrats!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Thank you! I love learning things along the way – always makes it so much more interesting! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. liz cleland says:

    I will be visiting New Orleans this December super excited! Thanks for this great article.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      If you are there in December be sure to visit the Roosevelt hotel to check out their light display in the lobby. It is so pretty!

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