This past weekend, Busch Gardens Tampa invited us out to check out their family-friendly Mardi Gras event. Featuring live music, festive entertainment, and Cajun cuisine, this event brings all the essentials from the “Big Easy” down to Tampa Bay. Read on to find out our thoughts below, and be sure to check out the event which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday now – March 6th!
If you’ve been to any of Busch Gardens’ or SeaWorld’s other “festival” events, then you’re probably already familiar with the concept of the tasting lanyard, and Mardi Gras is no different. You can purchase either a 5 or 10 sample lanyard (pass members can purchase 12 samples!) and then use it at any of the 11 booths at the event. You can even use it across multiple visits, so if you fill up too quickly on po’boy’s and beignets, you can always come back before the event ends for more delicious food!
We arrived to the park shortly after noon and headed straight to the event area, lanyards in hand! Our first stop was the Jackson Square booth where we tried the Creole-Style Jambalaya, Shrimp & Grits, and Spiced Vanilla Old-Fashioned. The Shrimp & Grist were delicious, and the Old-Fashioned was very sweet, but still had that bourbon kick you’d expect!
Next up was a stop at the Esplanade Street Bites booth, where we sampled the Smoked Pepper Brisket and Smoked Chicken Po’Boy. The Po’Boy was overflowing with chicken, and the brisket was served nacho-style. Both items were great, and I almost went back for seconds of the brisket… but we still had to save room for dessert!
In our excitement to eat dessert, we totally forgot to take pictures, so this stock photo of the beignets will have to suffice, but believe us when we say they were amazing! We also sampled the new Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake Waffle Cone from the nearby NOLA Sweets booth which was absolutely to die for. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss that booth!
After taking in the ambiance of the live music it was time for our favorite part of any visit to Busch Gardens – the coasters! It was a bit chilly during our visit, with a high in the mid 50s, but we made sure to take a lap or two on Sheikra, Tigris, Kumba and Cheetah Hunt! Cheetah Hunt is looking great after its recent repaint, and Montu is currently undergoing a similar transformation – we can’t wait to see how fresh it looks when it’s complete!
Overall we had an excellent day visiting Busch Gardens Tampa and sampling all the Mardi Gras event had to offer! We’ll be sure to be back before the event ends to finish up our tasting lanyards, and of course to ride Iron Gwazi during pass member previews!