On any trip you hope to have sunshine and clear days, but that’s not always the case. We recently spent a few days in New Orleans and had one day of torrential downpour. But a New Orleans rainy day didn’t stop us from having fun! Oh no, we celebrated Mardi Gras when Mardi Gras wasn’t even going on!
New Orleans Rainy Day Fun
The tour started with a free ride on the Mardi Gras World shuttle that picked us up from one of their many shuttle stops. Located south of the French Quarter and outside the main downtown area, we really appreciated the free ride as it is not a convenient walk (especially in the rain).
Once we received our “ticket” which is in the form of beads (of course), we headed over to the theater to watch a short introductory film about the history of Mardi Gras. We were pleasantly surprised with a tasty slice of king cake from a local bakery at the end of the film.
King cake is a Mardi Gras tradition. It’s similar to coffee cake, but with a small baby inside. Yep, you read that right. A baby is hidden in the cake and whoever finds the baby is supposed to host next year’s festivities, is king or queen for the day or is then responsible for purchasing next year’s cake. The significance of the baby depends on who you ask and what party you are at. No baby was hidden in the king cake at Mardi Gras World so after we finished gobbling it down, we were off to the warehouse.
Delve into the history and current undertaking of creating the flashy and outrageous floats that belong to the parades surrounding Mardi Gras. The gigantic warehouse of Mardi Gras World is a working environment with employees cutting, gluing and pasting away while tourists walk by and snap pictures.
About 80% of the extraordinary floats that are paraded down the streets during Mardi Gras are designed and built at this warehouse. The artists use papier mâchè to cover the Styrofoam to create an easy medium to paint on. And the result is stunning pieces of artwork!
The tour guide starts in the workshop area then leads the group through the warehouse to the amazing parade floats. They are INCREDIBLE! They informed us of all the important information that everyone really wants to know about Mardi Gras. For instance, that there are two bathrooms on each float. I always wondered what they had to do if they had to use the bathroom!
Who pays for the floats? We were fascinated to find out that the parade floats are funded by members of private clubs called krewes. They collaborate year round to choose the parade’s theme, costumes and throws. So these members pay thousands of dollars in dues AND they have to supply their own beads or whatever is decided to be thrown from the float.
At this point the tour guide allowed us free time to independently walk around anywhere as long as we didn’t climb up on the floats. We also were able to try on some authentic Mardi Gras costumes.
We made the most of our New Orleans rainy day. We enjoyed our time learning about Mardi Gras and its history. So much, that if you have free time, I would recommend the tour even if it’s not raining. It’s probably the closest we will ever get to celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans minus the crowds!
Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World Details
1380 Port of New Orleans Place
New Orleans, LA 70130
- Open 7 days a week
- From 9:00am to 5:30pm
- First tour at 9:30am and last tour beginning at 4:30pm
- Adults and children $19.95
- Seniors, 65+ $15.95
- Students with college ID $15.95
- Children, 2-11 $12.95
Thank you New Orleans CVB and its associates for providing my admission ticket. All thoughts and opinions, however, are my own.
Do you have any other suggestions for what to do on a New Orleans rainy day? Tell us in the comments below.
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