Jazz music fills the air. Colorful beads of purple, gold and green scatter the ground. The smell of beignets meets your nose. You know what that means – it’s time for Mardi Gras!
Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts have a rich tradition of recognizing the holiday with events led by cast members, such as themed recreation activities, an evening party and the famous Mardi Gras golf cart parade that winds through both Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and French Quarter. It truly feels like you’ve stepped into the heart of New Orleans, right here at Walt Disney World!
Guests travel from near and far to celebrate the day, and it takes cast members from across the resort to make the festivities a reality. Javier is the hotel manager at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, and this will be his first year participating in the planning of the Mardi Gras celebrations. Javier went to college in Louisiana and attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so having the chance to be part of Port Orleans’ Mardi Gras preparations is a dream come true. “I remember going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans in college, and it was so fun,” Javier said. “And now, getting to help put together the event and support our cast members is heartwarming. It’s like I’ve come full circle.”
Javier says getting ready for the day can take weeks or even months of planning. The Mardi Gras golf cart parade has been a resort tradition for over ten years, where teams of cast members from across the resort decorate their golf carts to fit an annual theme. This year’s theme is “The Legacy of Walt Disney World Resorts!” Teams have been stretching their creative muscles so they can make their floats the best they can be for the guests who celebrate Mardi Gras with them. Javier says it’s the cast behind the floats that make the parade an event guests will never forget.
“The cast members here really take the Mardi Gras parade and make it their own,” he said. “I’ll walk the halls, and cast will come up to me and excitedly tell me their plans for their floats. And to see the different teams – from housekeeping, to front desk, to food & beverage and beyond – working on their floats as we approach Mardi Gras, makes me proud to be a cast member here at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.”
Whether cast are sprinkling the perfect amount of powdered sugar on a fresh batch of beignets or adding the finishing touches to their teams’ float, one thing remains the same: they are always thinking of the best ways to bring the magic of Mardi Gras to our guests. New this year, guests will be able to take a photo with the floats at the end of the parade and meet with the cast that created each masterpiece. They’ll also be able to go “down the bayou” from Riverside to the French Quarter on a Sassagoula River Boat specially decorated for the day. A special Port Orleans Mardi Gras pin will also be available for purchase. And of course, guests are more than welcome to take home as many Mardi Gras beads as they can catch!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!