Let it be known that my sister is awesome. And thoughtful.
I thought we’d agreed to skip Christmas gifts this year, but then that sly lady talked to my mom. She did some research online and found what she thought might be a fun activity for a group gift: Mardi Gras World.
I’d seen it online while doing research and for whatever reason, I discounted it. I didn’t think we’d like it. But I now officially take back those words. It was a lot of fun.
Parking is a bit of a pain (I mean, you can pay $15, but I’m way too cheap for that). So the guys dropped us off in the bitter cold, while they found street parking several blocks away. Part of the draw of the museum is that they’ll pick you up in their bus from several locations around the city. It might be worth it to investigate that, if you’re interested.
The waiting area for the museum is also the entrance, exit, and gift shop. We were early, and then had to wait quite a while for the guys to get back, so we had a lot of time to check out the gift shop (and maybe have a few extra servings of that complimentary king cake!). There’s a balcony out onto the Mississippi River that would be a nice spot in good weather, but we didn’t last long in the biting wind.
The tour starts with an informative video, which sounds boring, but was a good introduction to the whole Mardi Gras ethos. It’s so much more than a parade. It’s a lifestyle and a culture and an industry and actually… a whole bunch of parades.
Afterward, you tour the warehouse where old floats wait in repose, new floats are carved and painted and old floats get repurposed! It was a lot of fun to explore the colorful characters and marvel at that floats in progress. We loved the robot that carves Styrofoam into precise shapes in a glass-enclosed room. We got a kick out of the Chick-fil-a billboard cows posing in several corners. (You can see the business extends beyond Mardi Gras floats.)
I could have watched the artisans work for quite a while. But it was lunch time, and many were on break. (Including sleeping head-down on the desk while the tours filed by. Awkward!)
The tour was informative and fun, if a little hard to hear the guide in the warehouse from behind the large tour group. A certain little almost-four-year-old missed the tour, since she crashed in her dad’s arms and slept all the way through, waking up as we were leaving.
All in all, it was a fun way to learn about the culture of Mardi Gras and beat the cold for about $22 each.