Take a stroll along Convention Center Boulevard, past the Port of New Orleans where the cruise ships dock and the enormous New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. One block after you go under the Bus. 90 bridge, you come to a long green-roofed building. This relatively non-descript structure is home to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World.
Kern Studios, aka Mardi Gras World, is where all the magic happens when it comes to building the incredible floats used in the Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans.
History of Mardi Gras World
The Kern family has been building Mardi Gras floats since 1932, when Roy Kern and his son Blaine built the first float on the back of a mule-drawn wagon. Blaine even traveled around Europe to work with some of the world’s leading float and costume makers. Along with learning the art of animation, Blaine was inspired by the extravagant concepts the Europeans were using on their floats.
Blaine Kern has created countless floats throughout the years, so many in fact, that he became known as “Mr. Mardi Gras.” Since 1947, his group of artists and craftsmen have made the oldest and biggest parade floats for each Mardi Gras season. Each year, they produce over 500 floats!
In 1984, Kern Studios created Mardi Gras World as a way to showcase the amazing floats, and also the technique and work that went into creating each one. This self-guided tour gives one a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making each float.
Work on the next year’s floats begins the day after Mardi Gras ends. From conceptual drawings to building the wooden structure to layering styrofoam sheets to build the large structures, this is a fascinating glimpse into how each float is made.
As you’ll see from the video, they also keep parts from past floats and restructure them in new ways. Nothing goes to waste.
A glimpse into how the magic happens
- Adult Admission: $22.00
- Children, Ages 2-12: $14.00
- Military/Students/Seniors: $17.00
Hours of Operation
- Open 7 days a week, from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
- First admission begins at 9:00 am
- Last admission begins at 4:30 pm
- Tour is currently self-guided and a visit lasts approximately one hour.
Mardi Gras World is closed on Christmas and Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, Easter, and, of course, Mardi Gras Day.
If you’re ever in New Orleans, definitely check out this unique experience. It’s not very often that you can get up close and personal with a Mardi Gras float. Oh, and after the intro video and before you go on the tour, they give you a piece of King Cake! Yummy!
Next Week: Our Cruise down the Mississippi on the City of New Orleans Riverboat
We’re Mike & Jennifer Skinnell, and together we are The Rambling Quilter. We travel the country full-time in our 41ft. fifth-wheel pulled by our F-350 – affectionately named Beauty & The Beast. Mike still works part-time, and Jennifer writes our blog, travel articles, and contemporary fiction. Our blog is purely for information and entertainment purposes. However, if you’d like to support Jennifer’s writing career, her author link is below.