Hollywood Boulevard looks different this Mardi Gras season. The new Tribute Store façade arrived this past Friday. On Feb. 2, the Tribute Store opened for team members and then annual passholders later that day.
An all-new space in the Hollywood area of Universal Studios Florida started being used for the Mardi Gras Tribute Store. Universal Orlando stated that guests would enter an international jazz celebration that leads to the traditional alleyways of New Orleans and ultimately into a speakeasy where the Mardi Gras celebration continues. This Tribute Store offers special Mardi Gras merchandise and tasty themed treats also.
The initial façade presents a simple but clear indication of the type of place you will be entering. Once inside the Tribute Store, guests experience three different rooms with a final area for sweet treats.
The initial room places guests in a fancy ballroom setting. Guests earned invitations to the Ambassador Ballroom.
Those familiar with this location’s former annual pass lounge will see a significant transformation in this area. As guests enter, one suspects the fabulous jazz celebration has begun. The posters on the walls represent other celebrations like Mardi Gras from other countries. These posters also coordinate with the countries used for food and beverage tents for Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando this year. Also, there exist rumors of a speakeasy.
A Mold-a-Rama resides in this bright room.
Another Mold-A-Rama can be found further in the Tribute Store.
The second room takes visitors into the alleyways of New Orleans.
You leave the pristine-looking ballroom to enter a less refined area. The bright light of the first room contrasts with the darker tones of this second room in the Tribute Store. For those familiar with previous Mardi Gras Tribute Stores, some décor and concepts will look familiar. This Tribute Store contains plenty of “Easter Eggs” to last Tribute Stores, including references to Earl the Squirrel.
The alleyway room continues with the jazz theming. Jazz music can easily be heard and enjoyed in this area. Also, shallow background sounds like dogs barking and people talking enhance this room.
The third room moves guests from alleyways to a loading dock area of a former hotel.
Evidence of a former speakeasy-style bar sets the tone for this room.
The final area brings guests to the bakery case.
Some returning favorites exist here, like trifle cakes, brownies, and chocolate-covered bacon. Some reimagined Mardi Gras-themed treats reside in the former “prop shop” area.
Of course, various displays of Mardi Gras merchandise inhabit each section of this Mardi Gras Tribute Store.
The vast majority of the merchandise here is also sold in other portions of the resort.
This new location works well. Some experienced guests will need time to adjust to the new site and design. A notable weakness involves guests walking directly out of the store’s environment into one of the outdoor seating areas at Mel’s Drive-In. Still, this change in placement within Universal Studios Florida creates a lovely Tribute Store. Yet, many will miss the prominent “Easter egg” section at the end of the previous location.
What do you think of this Tribute Store? Are you visiting Universal Orlando for Mardi Gras this year? Let us know in the comments below.
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