Bead Bush

Bead Bush


Tecticornia pergranulata (Blackseed Samphire)

Tecticornia pergranulata (Blackseed Samphire) is a small, erect, succulent subshrub up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall. The stems are woody and…

Mardi Gras Weekends becomes the newest festival in the seasonal event scheduled at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, running on select days through February 16, 2021. You’ll find the Mardi Gras festivities in the Bird Gardens section each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus Presidents Day and Fat Tuesday. Booths open at noon each event day, with the fun continuing until closing time each evening.

The park is continuing with its enhanced safety guidelines, including physical distancing and requiring face coverings for all employees and guests ages 2 and above. In addition to your admission, be sure to make a free reservation online before your visit, and be prepared for a mandatory temperature check along with the normal security check before entering the park.

In the interest of full disclosure, some of the items reviewed were obtained by using a sampler lanyard we received from the park as a media outlet. However, we visited the event using our own admission, some items reviewed were obtained by using the free sample vouchers as part of the pass member rewards, and others were purchased a la carte. As always, all opinions shared are our own based on our experiences.

Let this article be your guide to Mardi Gras Weekends 2021 at Busch Gardens Tampa with a look at everything it has to offer, including full menus with prices, reviews of items we tried, and more. While we’ve done our best to be as accurate as possible, all information and availability of items are subject to change without notice. This post was last updated on February 12, 2021.

Mardi Gras Weekends Basics

Running a total of five weekends, Mardi Gras at Busch Gardens Tampa brings some of the New Orleans seasonal flavors with food, beverages, and entertainment. Access to Mardi Gras Weekends is included in any admission, with food & beverage items available for purchase.

Mardi Gras Weekends 2021 had its beginning in 2020 when the park tested the new event for one weekend. Last year, the event was held in the courtyard around the Moroccan Palace Theater. This year, the event is expanded in just about every way with more food & beverage options, more decor, more entertainment, and more weekends to enjoy the festivities. It also has a new home in the Bird Gardens section around Garden Gate Cafe, where most of the special festivals at the park take place throughout the year. The booths are open from noon to close on each event day.

A map of the location available online and on a board near Xcursions points out the 10 special Mardi Gras Weekends locations.

Keep an eye out for signage and markers on the ground designating entrances & exits for each of the booths and six-foot spans to keep socially distant from other guests. There are regular tables with chairs and standing high top tables throughout the Mardi Gras area.

Please drink responsibly and remember to keep your distance from other guests while enjoying Mardi Gras Weekends and the rest of your visit to Busch Gardens Tampa. When not eating or drinking, don’t forget to keep your face covering over your mouth and nose as a courtesy to all of the other guests and hard-working ambassadors!

Pass Member Perks

Busch Gardens Tampa annual pass members get several special benefits at Mardi Gras Weekends 2021, including their regular discount on single items or sampler lanyards, free samples, and an option to buy an exclusive sampler lanyard with three extra punches.

Pass members have been able to get a voucher for one free sample each weekend so far. Pass members should log into their account online or stop by the self-service kiosks in Zone A outside the gates and scan their pass to redeem. Look under Pass Member Rewards and be sure to choose the option for Mardis Gras Weekends. If you’re having trouble redeeming online or at the kiosks, stop by the ticket booths or guest relations inside the park for assistance, but expect the lines to be long on weekend mornings. There is no word if the benefit will continue through the festival, but it’s certainly worth checking before your visit. This benefit was available only on weekends in January.

There is an exclusive sampler lanyard available to annual pass members to purchase for Mardi Gras Weekends. It’s for 15 items at the price of a 12 item lanyard (no further discount applies, however). Pass members can also opt to get their regular discount on the 5, 8, or 12 item sampler lanyards. See more details on the Mardi Gras Weekends 2021 Sampler Lanyards in the next section.

For those not wanting to purchase a sampler lanyard, standard pass member discounts apply when purchasing food & beverage at Mardi Gras Weekends. Since pass discounts apply to most culinary and merchandise purchases at the park, it never hurts to ask for a discount anywhere in the park.

Sampler Lanyards

For Mardi Gras Weekends 2021, Busch Gardens Tampa is offering sampler lanyards as an option for guests to use at the food & beverage cabins. Paying upfront for a sampler lanyard for a set number of items can be both a convenience and cost savings. A sampler lanyard can be used by one guest or shared among multiple people and can be used all in one day or across multiple event days. They are only valid at the Mardi Gras Weekends locations and expire at the end of the event on February 16, 2021.

There are a total of three Mardi Gras Weekends 2021 Sampler Lanyard options – two that are available to any guests, and one exclusive to annual pass members. They are:

  • 5-Item Sampler Lanyard – $34.99 + tax
  • 10-Item Sampler Lanyard – $49.99 + tax
  • Pass Member Exclusive 12-Item Sampler Lanyard – $49.99 + tax

Annual pass members can use their discount on the 5 and 10-item lanyards (discount amount varies based on the annual pass type). There is no additional discount on the pass member exclusive 12-item sampler lanyard.

Whether or not getting a sampler lanyard is a good deal depends on how many items you plan on eating or drinking and the a la carte pricing of those items. If you plan on visiting multiple times and stick to using the punches on higher-priced food items (they range from $5.99 to $8.99 each), it can be a great value.

Another factor to consider – drinks are served as a smaller size using the sampler lanyard than if you purchase them a la carte. Generally, using a sampler lanyard will get you about a 7-ounce pour for the various adult beverages. Paying out of pocket will get you the full size of the beverage (based on the type of drink).

Beverages & Bites

There are a total of 10 locations serving a variety of drinks and food items as part of Mardi Gras Weekends 2021 at Busch Gardens Tampa. All are located around the Garden Gate area of the Bird Gardens section of the park. The locations are a mix of permanent locations (like those inside Garden Gate Cafe and Xcursions gift shop) and pop up “cabins” used for special events like these.

Each item on the menus can be purchased a la carte and most can be enjoyed by redeeming one punch per item on a sampler lanyard (see the menus and descriptions below for exceptions). Remember, for food items the serving size is the same whether purchasing a la carte or using a sampler lanyard punch drink sizes are smaller when using a sampler lanyard punch versus paying a la carte. If you’re a pass member and paying out of pocket, be sure to ask for your discount each time.

#1 Xcursions

The first of the Mardi Gras food & beverage locations is inside of the Xcursions gift shop.

You can enjoy several adult beverages and cupcakes here. Sampler lanyards can not be used for the Jello Shots.

Here’s a look at the souvenir hurricane glasses stacked up on the counter:

The cupcakes are available as a 2-pack for $5.99, or a 4-pack for $9.99. The sampler lanyards are not valid on the 4-pack of cupcakes but can be used for the 2-pack.

Bead Bush - garden

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