We dare say Mardi Gras World is one of the happiest places in New Orleans by day – but at night it must turn into one of the most terrifying funhouses this side of Hell. It’s all those faces, the dragons, clowns, kings and fairies, leering and dead-eyed… That said, we love touring Mardi Gras World – the studio warehouse of Blaine Kern (Mr Mardi Gras) and family, who have been making jaw-dropping parade floats since 1947. Tours last 30 to 45 minutes.

Visits start with a 15-minute movie – which is followed by king cake – then continue into the depths of the warehouse. You can see many of the floats up-close, any time of the year. There are never less than 2000 props in the inventory, and the company builds about 50 or 60 new ones each year. Kern learned the trade from his father and passed it down to his sons. You might also see figures built for the studio’s other commercial projects, including the ubiquitous cows representing the Chick-Fil-A fast-food chain.

If you’re staying at a nearby hotel, you may be able to catch the company's free shuttle. Otherwise, parking costs $10 in the lot beside the entrance.