Universal's Mardi Gras 2022 is one of the best events the parks have ever hosted, and it often makes efforts to closely align itself with its Louisiana-based inspirations. Whether in food or in function, Universal's Mardi Gras comes close in several areas that make for a respectable effort.
Food is arguably the biggest part of Cajun culture, and Universal gets that (mostly). There are outliers, as some items are labeled Cajun (like the Cajun twisted tater) and have little to do with the culture outside of seasoning, while some dishes (the gumbo and the chicken po'boy) get the flavors and construction completely wrong, even if the dishes themselves are quite good.
But several dishes have the Cajun flavor nailed. Though Universal doesn't ratchet the spice as high as Louisiana locals do (as should be expected when serving a wider audience), the flavors and the interpretation are there. The seafood boil is a notably close interpretation, while the jambalaya and beignets are respectable efforts, too.
When the festival leaves the already-good food behind is when it gets even more authentic. Street performers in regal costumes and in-park decorations embody the spirit of New Orleans exceptionally, paving the way for the near-nightly parade. Its space-themed floats are built by Louisiana’s Kern Studios, making this shortened parade feel like it was pulled directly out of the celebration's home state. Beads are plentiful too, so guests who want to participate in catching them should have no shortage of activity.
Universal should be commended on its dedication to preserving the look and feel of real Mardi Gras, with its atmosphere, parade and most of its dishes hitting the mark.