The Allman Brothers Band

Draw a Bead on Some Fun

From the Orlando Sentinel.

The beads will fly as Universal Studios’ eighth annual Mardi Gras gets under way tonight. We’re talking millions of strands of beads, the ones that are pitched from the colorful floats, 14 of them, designed by Blaine Kern, whose New Orleans company has built Mardi Gras floats since 1932.

The theme of the 2003 parade is “The Best Things in Life,” with floats themed to favorite forms of entertainment. Besides the floats, the parade features stiltwalkers and street performers. Plus, this year’s lineup for the Saturday-night concert series contains bigger names than ever. Sugar Ray is the headliner Saturday with these acts to follow: Allman Brothers Band March 1, Lynyrd Skynyrd March 8, Hootie and the Blowfish March 15, LIVE March 22, Counting Crows March 29, KC & the Sunshine Band with the Village People April 5, Willie Nelson April 12, Smash Mouth April 19 and Chris Isaak April 26. All shows begin at 8:30 p.m.

On nights that big-name performers aren’t booked, various house bands perform. The concerts have moved to a new venue, the Yard, which is near the soundstages, between the Twister ride and Nickelodeon Studios. Such New Orleans foodie attractions as jambalaya, shrimp gumbo and crawfish etouffe are available for buying.

Mardi Gras runs on Friday and Saturday nights through April 5, then nightly April 11-26.

Admission to Mardi Gras is included in the regular one-day park admission of $55.33 for adults and $45.75 for ages 3-9. Live-after-5 concert tickets, which entitle guests to admission on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m., are $34.95 plus tax per person per night.

For details, call 407-363-8000.

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