Universal Orlando unveils Mardi Gras 2006 plans

January 12, 2006, 11:04 PM · Universal Orlando has announced details for its 11th annual Mardi Gras celebration. This year, of course, the celebration of Mardi Gras takes on a defiant poignancy, as New Orleans struggles to overcome the devastation of the flooding following Hurricane Katrina.

This year, Universal is bringing in 11 acts from New Orleans area to perform at the Orlando resort. "Celebrate The Music of New Orleans" runs Saturday nights from Feb. 11 to April 22 at Universal Studios Florida. Thousands of New Orleans musicians were left homeless and unemployed following Katrina, and Universal's gesture is one of many made by entertainment and arts organizations around the country to provide gigs for those musicians. (My wife, Laurie, covered another prominent effort when she blogged the Louisiana Philharmonic's performance with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center last October.)

In addition to "Celebrate the Music of New Orleans," the Mardi Gras Concert Series will run the same nights, featuring pop and rock acts from Bonnie Raitt to Kid Rock. A one-night Mardi Gras "After 5 p.m." ticket will be available again this year for $42.85. Florida residents can get $10 off with a coupon from Wendy's or marked Coke cans from Winn-Dixie. The Mardi Gras passes also include free admission to CityWalk for the evening.

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