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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Universal Orlando finally gets a DreamWorks attraction, but it's just a glorified dance party

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2021 at 12:48 PM

  • Image via Universal Orlando
Just in time for the summer crowds, Universal Orlando is set to debut a brand-new character experience. DreamWorks Destination gives a home to characters from multiple DreamWorks franchises. The experience combines a dance party-like show with numerous socially distanced character photo opportunities.

After Universal showed Barney no love earlier this year by booting him from his longtime home within the Kids Zone section the park, there was speculation on what may replace the purple dinosaur. DreamWorks Destination has now taken up residences in Barney’s building. Guests remain standing during the song and dance numbers with around six characters, in two sets of three, posing for photos afterward.
  • Image via Universal Orlando
Kids Zone, one of the least updated sections of Universal Orlando, has been rumored to be on the chopping block for years, with Trolls as one of the most talked about potential replacements. The new DreamWorks experience features Trolls characters, and in announcing the new attraction, Universal used images for Trolls. Prior to the new attraction being revealed, there were strong rumors of a Trolls-themed show planned for the venue. But that show would have required longer downtime.

With vaccines quickly rolling out and mask mandates dropping, visitors are flocking back to Orlando theme parks far quicker than had previously been expected. That has forced area theme parks to greenlight paused projects and reopen previously closed offerings. The DreamWorks Destination reflects this rush. It feels like a quickly put-together show with no character dialog and little in the way of props or theming.
  • Image via Universal Orlando
The low budget feel of the experience is surprising, considering DreamWorks is behind some of the highest-grossing animated films ever made. Characters from blockbuster franchises, including Trolls, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda, all appear in the attraction.

Other Universal resorts have a much stronger representation of DreamWorks characters. At Universal Studios Singapore, Madagascar has its own mini-land with a carousel, an indoor boat ride, and a quick-service dining venue. In Hollywood, the DreamWorks Theatre is home to a 4D attraction that replaced that park’s Shrek 4D attraction. Kung Fu Panda will have an entire land at the soon to open Universal Studios Beijing. How to Train Your Dragon is expected to be one of the four main themed lands at Universal Orlando’s upcoming Epic Universe theme park. But at Universal’s original Florida theme park, the kids area still relies on outdated characters such as Woody Woodpecker, E.T. and Fievel.
  • Image via Universal Orlando
This new experience brings fresh characters to the land while providing Universal with real-time information on which characters are the most popular. But it’s clear this isn’t the long-term plan for this aging corner of the theme park. Instead, the new experience seems to be a budget-friendly stopgap, filling the void in kid-appropriate offerings at the park while also putting something in one of the nearly half a dozen theaters at Universal Orlando that are now sitting empty.

Of course, the park will eventually need something more substantial than a dance party if Universal is serious about being a true destination for the entire family. With massive crowds this summer looking to make up for 2020’s financial losses, Universal leadership may soon be willing to finally invest in this seemingly forgotten corner of the resort.

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