Algiers - Mardi Gras World, New Orleans
I took the boat across the Mississippi with a friend and walked along the riverfront. About 10 minutes or so and then we climbed down a very steep, grassy hill to get into the storage space of Mardi Gras World.
This is not a formal visiting site - ask the workers if it's ok for you to look around. Here are fabulous floats from years past.
On the commuter boat, you'll notice people coming in to New Orleans to work from the much more modest Algiers area. Proof that the tourist economy is important to the city.
I brought my brother here when he came for a visit, and I have to say I can't remember when I've had so much fun playing dress-up! You get free beads with the tour, and while you wait for a short film about the history of Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras World, you get to dress up and take photos in various costumes - the best one of me is posted here. After the movie, you get a slice of king cake (watch out for the baby!) and coffee before heading out for the tour. The tour guide takes you through different rooms in the barn showing off floats at various stages - some being repaired, some being re-done, and some being created for the first time. You get ample time after the guided tour to walk around and take pictures of and with your favorite floats and sculptures. We both had a blast, and I would go again in a heartbeat!
UPDATE DECEMBER 2010 - Location has moved to the Quarter side of the river - very nice new location. You still get to play with the costumes, have a piece of king cake, and watch the movie about Mardi Gras. The tour of the facility has upgraded now that the tour guide has a microphone so you can hear them in the work area. Still awesome to see the floats being created, refreshed and repaired. I love seeing the new floats for next years parades - too cool!
Adult ticket prices have gone up to $18.50, but my tourist map had a $3 off coupon for each admission.
We took the free shuttle bus next to Harrah's to the Mardi Gras World warehouse on the Mississippi River.
The colors, the lights, the music, the whole experience; this is where we could peek behind the curtain and see Mardi Gras in the making. Since we weren't in New Orleans for Carnival we felt the experience at Mardi Gras World. Since 1947, Blaine Kern Studios has been as much a part of Carnival as the parades New Orleans loves. In fact, we create most of those parades, from concept through completion. We’re the world’s leading makers of floats, sculpture and props
Our hour long tour of Mardi Gras World was well done because Mardi Gras World is literally the place where Mardi Gras magic is made. Nowhere else can you watch the artists of Blaine Kern Studios—the world-renowned masters of Carnival sculpture and floatbuilding—at work in their shops, weaving spells of wonder. We saw a short film about the Mardi Gras and tried on costumes. We walked behind the scenes to see the skill and technology that animate mega-floats. Our guide explained the history, financing and the Kreu clubs that sponsor the floats. We were allowed to wander around in the warehouse and take photographs after the tour.
Mardi Gras World is open 7 daily from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Tours are offered every 30 minutes, with the last tour starting at 4:30 PM. I felt that we wasted a lot of time standing around the gift shop. We were ready ready and there at 9:30 but our tour finally started at 11:30. There were many large school groups and our 11:30 group was broken up into two large groups.
This is a business that makes a good majority of the floats you see in the parades. They're located across the river, but it's easy to get to and from because there is a free boat ride across every half hour, and when you arrive, there is a free shuttle bus that will take you there.
THere's a 50 minute tour you get for the price of admission ($17 or so for adults, but coupons can be found in all the local tourst guides). First you get to try on some crazy mardi Gras coistumes they have, take some photos. You see a short movie about floats and Mardi Gras. THen you take the tour, seeing all sorts of the figures. You see some that are being made, but most of them are already done, and from previous years. They reuse some of them painting them differently and such. You'll see a joker that in previous years was a figure of Jack Nicholson.
The figures are made of styrofoam, and covered with paper mache and painted. It's a nice tour, seeing things you wouldn't see unless you're there in February.
"Across the river" - as the locals call it, is Algiers Point -- a mostly-residential area showcasing historic buildings. Accessible by a ferry which leaves the convention center, you'll immediately begin to feel as if you've left New Orleans -- keep in mind that the post in this area is still New Orleans. You'll find find super-friendly neighborhood bars like Old Point bar and a quasi British pub like Crown and Anchor complete with grub and local fare. A walk through this area will prove and showcase all the architecture this and curb appeal the residents have become so proud of.
A must do for a truly unique experience.
Really nice place to visit, with floats as you could never see them during Mardi Gras. The characters in paper mâché (papier mâché SVP...) are wonderful and really pretty. Unfortunately my guide was not really good... But a friend of mine who did it another day had a really great guide ! Hope you'll have a good guide.
You can try some costumes if you're in the mood to, but I would encourage you to, it is really fun and wonderful to imagine we are part of the great Mardi Gras !
You can even book the place for group dinners !
It did not have to be Mardi Gras for there to be a Mardi Gras parade. Today is Sunday, September 4, 2005, and the city is not the same, but the spirit it. I hear there will be a parade today, in defiance of the disaster.
We took the free (to pedestrians) ferry over to Algiers to visit Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. There was also a free bus to Mardi Gras World
The price of these tours was
Children 11 and under: $7.25
Student with college or high school ID $11.00
[All tours include free King Cake & Coffee]
I thought the tour was too expensive, and we didn't take it. But according to the website: .. you can dress up in authentic, ornate carnival costumes. Visitors tap into their imaginations, as the ladies don sequined headdresses, gowns, and the gentlemen wear regal coats of armor, imagine yourself as a noble king or queen of the ball!
During the self-guided portion of your tour, you'll enter a maze of amazing props of all sizes. In one area, heaps of props await repair, and you'll see artists, painters, and sculptors creating before your very eyes. A 15-foot torso of the lovely and captivating Cleopatra stands nearby.
Follow the yellow arrows to next "den" (float artists' warehouse). It's a big carpentry and paint shop, where workers build and decorate sensational floats. For each "krewe" (club), artists paint each float with brightly-colored themed scenes. Gold and silver foil on the sides of the floats glisten and flutter in the breeze. The floats appear as colorful and animated as any imaginative Hollywood movie, with strings of lights tracing their outlines to illuminate them at night.
The tour starts with a movie.
Doors open: 9:30 a.m. Last Tour: 4:30 p.m.
The rest of those pictures are under my Algiers page.
The ferries go from the New Orleans side (east) on the hour and half hour. They go from the Algiers side (west) on the quarter hour and quarter of the hour.
Pedestrians are free. It is a car ferry, although Bob insisted at first that it was not. They load the cars on the side instead of the end like they do with the NC ferries. That means the ferry doesn't have to turn around.
The ferry was named the Thomas Jefferson. It was a nice enough day that we could ride outside, and I took some pictures.
After you get over there, you can just ride the ferry back, or you can walk around historic Algiers
I enjoyed visiting the the Mardi Gras World and touring the location where they make most of the floats. It is interesting to see how they are made and modified from year to year. The tour guide gave us some interesting information about the organization that is not only involved in Mardi Gras but provides "props" to many festivals around the world.
If you want to cruise the Mississippi River for free, hop on board the ferry at Canal Street and ride across to Algiers and then either disembark or stay on the ferry and ride back to New Orleans. It's a nice and breezy ride....especially if it's hot and humid in New Orleans, which it usually is and the views of New Orleans from the water are nice.
If you have never been to a New Orleans Mardi Gras before or are unable to go to one, visiting the Blaine Kerns Mardi Gras Museum will give you a good introduction to the world of Mardi Gras as well as the behind the scenes look at what happens to the floats after the parade. You are ushered to a small room, where you will watch a 15-20 minute "history of Mardi Gras" movie. After the movie, you are directed around the museum with a tourguide while you sample some king cake and beverages. After the tour, you are free to walk around the maze of amazing floats and props of all sizes. In one area, heaps of props await repair or recycling. You will also get to see artists, painters, and sculptors at their work.
Doors open: 9:30 a.m. Last Tour: 4:30 p.m. Adults: $13.50
Children 11 and under: $6.50
If you want to see more of the Museum check out my travelogue.
Have you ever wondered how those Mardi Gras floats were made? This is you chance to find out. You can go into the workshop and see these mammoth creations take shape. You are given a tour, a brief history of Mardi Gras, and a chance to try some king cake. Getting there on the free Canal Street Ferry is fun. It gives you a nice view of the city. There is a Mardi Gras World shuttle waiting, at Algiers Point to take anyone to the site.
Blain Kern's Mardi Gras World - see where the fantastic floats are stored throughout the year, being refurbished for the coming celebration.