As the wise Dirty Harry once said: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” And so it was that Kevin and I decided we were not going to stick around New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The problem with Mardi Gras is you’re surrounded by drunken idiots. And while we enjoy BEING drunken idiots, we don’t want to deal with thousands of OTHER drunken idiots.

But, we were right in the middle of New Orleans!  And Mardi Gras is the quintessential New Orleans experience!  We had to at least get a taste of Mardi Gras, right??  What to do, what to do….  That’s when, while looking around on Tripadvisor one day, I came across the perfect solution…. We would go check out “Mardi Gras World”!!!  Now, you’re probably thinking Mardi Gras World sounds like some awful, corny, tourist trap. And you’re right.  That is what it sounds like.  But that’s not what it is. Mardi Gras World is actually the facility where they build many of the floats used in the Mardi Gras parades. It’s open to the public for tours and if you’re lucky, you can actually watch the artists at work. Which is pretty neat.  At least, it’s a lot neater than trying to navigate vomit covered sidewalks!

mardi-gras-world-63-of-102

As most everyone knows, Mardi Gras is all about the parades. “Krewes” which are basically social clubs, host their own parades, their members riding floats along the parade route and tossing beads and other items (called “throws”) to revelers who line the streets. Each krewe will have a theme for their parade, and their floats will reflect that theme. “Props” are the large figures or statues that decorate the floats.

mardi-gras-world-2-of-102
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest these two props were from different “themes.”

Each “prop”is made by hand, starting with a Styrofoam block that is hand carved into proper form. The prop is then covered with paper mache, detailed by hand, and then painted. The props are actually rented out to the krewes and then returned to Mardi Gras World where they are oftentimes re-purposed for further use in subsequent years….which is why there are hundreds of props randomly (and humorously) displayed throughout the building.

mardi-gras-world-16-of-102
McGruff: “Shush. He doesn’t know I’m standing right behind him.”

 

mardi-gras-world-18-of-102
Alice can’t even bring herself to look….

 

mardi-gras-world-22-of-102
The “side-eye” perfected.

 

mardi-gras-world-7-of-102
Sorry about the nightmares…

The amount of detail in the individual props is incredible.

Detailed character props at Mardi Gras World

 

mardi-gras-world-8-of-102

 

mardi-gras-world-9-of-102

 

mardi-gras-world-75-of-102

 

mardi-gras-world-68-of-102

Gene Simmons of Kiss prop at Mardi Gras World

Many of the pieces are enormous.  This King Kong prop was about 30 feet tall.

King Kong prop at Mardi Gras World

You can see how big these ones are by comparing them to the guy walking down the aisle on the right side of the picture.

mardi-gras-world-65-of-102

The floats also sport thousands of huge, colorful flowers, made of heavy duty paper with wires running through them to hold their shape.

prop-flowers for Mardi Gras floats

We were lucky enough to see several artists creating pieces that would be used in the 2017 parades.

Paper mache artists

prop-artists at Mardi Gras World

Here are some of the almost-finished products ready to head out the door…

Floats for Mardi Gras

Float for Mardi Gras

If you go to the company’s website, you can see how the finished products look at Mardi Gras and various other events and facilities around the country.  Speaking of which, when not preparing for Mardi Gras, the facility’s artists are hard at work on their corporate accounts. Some of the big theme parks in Orlando, including Universal Studios, several Las Vegas casinos, and companies like Chick-Fil-A, contract with Mardi Gras World to build the figures that decorate their properties. For these corporate accounts, the company relies heavily on this automated styrofoam cutting machine, named Pixie. You can see the mountain of styrofoam “pixie dust” the machine produces as it cuts the styrofoam blocks with precision.

Pixie - Robotic prop cutting machine

Of course, after visiting the facility, we decided he really did want to go to Mardi Gras at some point.  And since we had such a great time in New Orleans, we might just buy some galoshes and go for it one year.  We’ll see….

In the meantime, today is Fat Tuesday which means all the cool floats we saw being built are heading out on the road.  We wish all the krewes and visitors well.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!!

 

Where we stayed: French Quarter RV Park

10 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like a great place to visit! I loved our time in New Orleans but after spending just a few hours after dark on a Friday night on Bourbon Street we decided going there during Mardi Gras wasn’t for us ????

    • Yeah, we felt the same way. Bourbon Street on any given night can be crazy. On Mardi Gras? I can’t even imagine. One thing that made us reconsider going to the parades though is we learned that all of the big ones are now held on main thoroughfares (like St Charles Avenue), not Bourbon Street. So the actual parades are a little less packed in. There’s still tons of people, but it’s slightly less claustrophobic than Bourbon Street. I don’t know… we’ll see. It sounds like fun, but it could definitely be a bit much….

  2. That was fascinating. But, seriously, I have no clown phobia but that prop will be starring in my nightmare tonight.

    • There were a lot of clowns too. I didn’t even post all the pics. I’m probably gonna need therapy eventually. Clowns = the worst.

    • Yup! We are now bound even farther west. It’s like Manifest Destiny…Kevin and Laura go westward in search of the perfect BBQ and margaritas!

  3. As much as we love visiting New Orleans, Mardi Gras isn’t on our bucket list. A stroll down Bourbon Street dodging the drunks on any regular day is bad enough. Fun to see your colorful photos of Mardi Gras World, though.

    • Yeah, we really are torn on it. On the one hand, it feels like something we really should do once. On the other, it sounds terrible. Hmmmm. Well, we already we know we won’t be in New Orleans next February, so we don’t need to worry about it anytime soon. 🙂

Comments are closed.