Universal Studios Florida
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(9/22/2023) Universal Studios Florida Preparing To Shut Down Jurassic Park Tribute Store (MORE...)
(8/31/2023) Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Soundtracks Have Been Replaced (MORE...)
(8/8/2023) Universal Studios Florida Sets Official Grand Opening Date For Minion Land Attractions (MORE...)
(8/6/2023) DreamWorks Animation Land Construction Update (MORE...)
(7/27/2023) Universal Studios Florida - Minion Blast Passholder Previews Now Full (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - These dates are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate as refurbishments are subject to change.
Hogwarts Express - Dec. 10 through Dec. 16, 2023
Wizarding World of Harry Potter - DIAGON ALLEY Review!
Screamscape Previews Diagon Alley!! We’ve Got All The Details!
Screamscape Review Part II: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Screamscape Review Part III: The Hogwarts Express!
Other Features & Reviews
Volcano Bay (2017)
Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s (2017)
Fast & Furious - Supercharged - Offical Review (2018)
General Park News - (9/22/2023) If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Jurassic Park Tribute Stone inside Universal Studios Florida then you better hurry. Rumor has it that the last day of operations will be Sunday, October 1st. No word on what will replace it next so stay tuned!
(8/31/2023) Something interesting has taken place at Universal Studios Florida regarding the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster. According to a tweet from Orlando Informer, as of August 29th the music library of selectable soundtrack options has been reduced from 30 options to just 5. All 30 of the ride’s previous song options spread across five music genres, with six per genre, have now been removed in favor of five new ones, with just one song choice per genre, and some may be a bit odd…
Classic Rock / Metal is now represented only by “The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, which is technically neither Classic Rock or Metal, but I digress, and previous tracks like Born to the Wild, Gimme All Your Lovin’, Kickstart My Heart, Paralyzer, Rollin’ and Busy Child are no more, which is kind of sad really.
Rap / Hip-Hop is now represented only by “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar, replacing the previous tracks: Don’t Phunk with my Heart, Insane In The Brain, Pump It, Rock Star, Sabotage and Stronger. Note - In what may have been a hint of changes were coming, it was noted that Kanye’s Stronger as well as the song it was based on, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk were both removed from the coaster in Summer 2022 with no explanation.
Pop/Disco is now represented only by Waterloo by ABBA, replacing Bad Girls, Glamorous, Hella Good, I Will Survive, That’s The Way I Like It and U Can’t Touch This.
Country is now represented only by “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” by Shania Twain, replacing All Night Long, I Can Sleep When I’m Dead, Living in Fast Forward, Midnight Rider and The Devil Went Down To Georgia.
Club/Electronia is now represented only by Sandstorm by Darude, replacing Busy Child, Intergalactic, Keep Hope Alive, Le Disko and Pump Up The Volume.
For the big time Universal fans out there who are aware of the Secret Menu option of hidden songs embedded into the ride from Day 1, I’m told that those tracks are currently still available. Or at least most of them, as I doubt anyone has had time to check them all yet, and I think a couple have been dropped over the years, as well as having a couple of Blink-182 songs unexpectedly added in early 2022.
As longtime Screamscape readers know, I’ve had a the list of hidden track and instructions as to how anyone can play them posted to the sidebar of this very page since the ride opened in 2009, so you might want to commit a few new tracks to memory now that many of the ultra popular tracks are now gone. (For the record I was partial to Paralyzer, Daft Punk’s Stronger, Intergalactic or Rollin’ myself.)
On an interesting note, I was actually at the park the day before (Aug. 28th) and rode Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit myself, so I can personally verify that all the regular song options were in place just 24 hours before. I reached out to Universal Orlando for a comment on this and was told:
“The time has come for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit to welcome new music to the coaster experience, while saying goodbye to the former songs. The coaster now features one new song in each existing music genre. Moving forward we will only feature one song per genre to simplify the selection experience. We can’t wait for our fans to enjoy a new beat to this great attraction.”
So with that in mind, then the question becomes… what changed? The answer may simply just be that Universal’s licensing contract to use the original musical tracks may have come to an end. Licensing contracts can be for generated for whatever term both parties agree to, and while typically it seems that your average IP license for a theme park attraction is done in 10-year terms (with renewal options), my research shows that music licenses are frequently signed for much shorter terms, as the popularity of various music tracks are constantly shifting. Add in the fact that when Universal came up with the idea for the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster, they actually did intend to update the tracks every so often to keep up with current music trends.
It is fun to note that Universal also played with the idea of incorporating seasonal music additions as well, such as new tracks to play only during the Halloween Horror Nights or Christmas seasons, or even the idea of playing special tracks from visiting music artists performing in concert during the Mardi-Gras event, but unfortunately it seemed that the tangled issues of getting the various licenses became too much of a headache to bother for such short term use.
While Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was originally intended to open in the Spring or Early Summer of 2009, the opening was actually delayed until mid to late August 2009, which would currently put us right at 14 years. Given that the ride was to open earlier in the year, and that the possible licensing contracts were probably finalized and signed closer to the start of 2009, there is a good chance that Universal may have been rapidly approaching the end of their current contract and needed to either renew or make a deal for something new.
As I mentioned before, when it comes to license contracts, they not only come with the initial term of use, but will often spell out the terms for at least two additional extension terms of the same length. Assuming neither party is found in breach of contract, and Universal was willing to simply just pay the predetermined fee for the two renewal terms, then I can easily see how the timing of all this would work out to the completion of three successful 5-year terms, and the end of the licensing contract as written. And thus… dropping us exactly where we are right now with five brand new songs, and the removal of those that have come before.
So how does the secret menu work? To be honest, I don’t know for sure, but when it comes to music licensing rights another item to consider is that if the music is being used in synchronization with something (like when edited into a show with visuals) then there are some different uses that have to be negotiated. Meanwhile theme parks do pay for general music licenses (ASCAP/BMI, etc) giving them the rights to play just about any music they want in the parks as atmosphere music for pathways, in ride queues, or even in live shows, as long as they are not considered to be programmed to be in sync.
However, the specific tracks used previously on the coaster that were just removed were edited or timed out to play in sync with the motion of the roller coaster (such as the scream in Beastie Boys’ Sabotage playing perfectly as the coaster making the first drop). So in theory, if the songs in the secret menu have not been edited or timed out to work in sync with any of the ride’s motion, and are not being promoted as such (or not promoted at all, as they are in a Secret Menu) then the use of them on the ride may fall under the fair use of the park’s general music license contract.
Again, I’m not a contract lawyer, but this is just my general understanding of how these kinds of things generally work within the entertainment industry. So, assuming this is basically what has transpired, where do things go from here? To be honest, this is probably it. After 14 years of operation, Universal knows that the “Rockit” is probably their least popular roller coaster and just opted for a much cost-effective music license going forward. As Universal Orlando has already confirmed to Screamscape, there will now only be one song per genre, but this also doesn’t mean that they might not change those tracks up from time to time to keep things fresh from year to year, or perhaps maybe bring back the idea of featuring some seasonal selections to rotate through. We’ll just have to wait and see.
(4/29/2023) With the closing of the Mardi Gras Tribute Store experience, Universal Studios Florida fans can look forward to the new Summer Tribute Store expected to open sometime in late May. According to the rumor mill, the new experience will be a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the film Jurassic Park.
If this sounds slightly familiar, you may be recalling the Summer 2021 Tribute Store that was themed to “Jurassic World”, timed to go along with the opening of the VelociCoaster next door at Islands of Adventure that summer.
Even if you can’t visit Universal Orlando, the Universal theme parks across the globe will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Jurassic Park in a number of ways this summer with oodles of new 30th Anniversary branded JP merchandise and more.
(1/9/2023) Previously it was mentioned that the Universal Orlando Annual Passholder lounge would be moving to a new location at Islands of Adventure, but what will become of the former space in the Hollywood section of the park?
The early rumors suggest that the next version of the Tribute Store (likely to open for Mardi Gras) will be moving from the currently location in New York next to Revenge of the Mummy to a new home in Hollywood, with interesting clues being dropped in place next the exit of the tribute store to back up those claims.
The departing Annual Pass Lounge area could be merged with the space opened up by two other closed locations next door, namely the closed “Dark Room” store next door and then into the former Hollywood Prop Shop space that closed over the summer. The merger of all three of these spaces would likely be big enough to become a new Tribute Store location.
Of course, then the next question is… what will become of the former Tribute Store location? As I recall, the space there was once used as part of the queue for the old Kongfrontation attraction and in the late 90’s it was separated to become a preview center when Universal was preparing to build the Islands of Adventure theme park. So it wouldn’t be unthinkable that the space could be used again as a preview center for the new Epic Universe theme park at some point, or perhaps Universal has something entirely new in mind.
(7/25/22) An article posted to CinemaBlend speculates that Universal may be willing to give up on their rights to use the Simpsons characters in the theme parks at the end of the current contract. IP contracts typically will be drawn up for an initial 10-year term with terms pre-set for two more 10-year extensions. The Simpsons attraction opened in 2008, so if the typical term-timelines were used, Universal would be approaching the end of the 20th year sometime between late 2027 and 2028.
At that point they would have to renew for another decade or opt to let the contract expire and release the Simpsons from the parks. It is worth mentioning that prior to this Universal Creative would be neck-deep in finishing up their new Epic Universe theme park slated to open in 2025, but this would give them enough time to come up with a new replacement idea for Simpsons at the Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando if need be.
While the Simpsons rides still draw a crowd, I don’t think it ever drew in quite the crowd levels that the attraction building did when it was first opened as Back to the Future: The Ride. However, even if the ride itself is just a mild draw, Universal has invested heavily in offering Simpsons themed restaurant experiences and merchandise shops that probably do generate a healthy profit for the parks currently. So the final decision will likely come down to how much profit Universal is actually making compared to the money they would spend to extend the IP license for another 10 year term.
Summer 2023 - VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST & Minions Cafe - (8/8/2023) While many new features of the Minion Land have been open for the past month, and the new Villain-Con: Minion Blast attraction has been soft open since mid-July, Universal Orlando has now confirmed that Minion Land’s official opening date is now set for August 11, 2023.
(7/27/2023) According to various sources Universal Orlando Annual Passholders were able to reserve a spot to experience the new Villain-Con: Minion Blast attraction as part of a series of Passholder Preview events that will take place between August 4 - 7, 2023. Reservations were being handled through the official website, but according to the latest updates posted there, the events are now at capacity and they are no longer accepting new reservations. On the positive side, the attraction has been soft-open for technical previews to the general public, so I’m sure a number of passholders have already taken advantage of that as well.
Still no word on when the park might be planning an official Grand Opening however.
(7/17/2023) Our friends at Orlando Experience posted a quick video showing off some footage of what they were allowed to show of the new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction. Includes a look at the pre-show area, the blasters, guests stepping into the moving walkway and a look at a few scenes within. They also point out an interesting point, that this is an attraction without a height limit, making it available to every member of the family to enjoy. Since it fits into such a small footprint, it would be easy to see Universal create more of these, rolling them out to other Universal parks world-wide.
(7/15/2023) Screamscape is hearing that the Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction quietly soft-opened to park guests this morning. Be sure to have the Universal Orlando app downloaded to your phone, because you can use it to set up a “Villain Profile” that you can use to sync with your blaster on the attraction. This includes setting up a custom icon that you will see on the interactive screens to help you aim your blaster at the various targets and power-ups.
And yes… I said power-ups. This is a very video-game style experience and the blaster has two triggers, the primary trigger in the back of the grip as you would expect, and a secondary trigger placed so you can activate it with your secondary (forward) hand that will trigger various special power-up weapons items you can earn by striking special targets in various rooms.
(7/14/2023) Universal has released a few more details about the new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction.
“A whole new level of Minion mischief and diabolical fun will be unleashed this summer at Universal Orlando Resort with the official debut of the first-of-its-kind blaster game attraction, Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast, as well as the expansive new Minion Land on Illumination Ave. at Universal Studios Florida. Created in partnership between the visionary teams at Universal Creative and Illumination, the new experiences will invite guests of all ages to step into the beloved world of the Minions franchise like never before as they blast their way to supervillain stardom, savor flavorful fare courtesy of the Minions, meet some of their favorite characters and so much more.”
Located at the entrance to Minion Land, Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast blends immersive sets, interactive game-based technology, custom animation and an original storyline to create a one-of-a-kind blaster attraction where guests can put their villainous skills to the ultimate test.
Upon entering the attraction, guests will immediately be transported to Villain-Con – the largest convention for villains around the globe – where the headlining event is a challenge to see who has what it takes to become the newest member of the notorious supervillain group, the Vicious 6, featured in the hit film, “Minions: Rise of Gru.” As guests make their way through the convention, they’ll venture through the trade show floor, stocked with the latest gadgets, vehicles, and fashion to pull off the most heinous schemes, before picking up an “E-Liminator X” blaster to compete against their friends, loved ones and fellow guests to prove how bad they really are.
Throughout the competition, guests will use their blaster – equipped with Freeze Rays, Banana Bombs, Explosive Nunchucks and more – to cause as much mayhem and destruction as possible to earn points. As they wind and glide through the experience aboard a moving pathway, they’ll encounter each member of the Vicious 6, voiced by the original cast from the film, in a setting inspired by their character, including:
Belle Bottom (voiced by Taraji P. Henson), the cool, confident leader of the Vicious 6, in a groovy disco
Stronghold (voiced by Danny Trejo) – named after his giant iron hands – in a museum filled with tons of fragile and priceless art just waiting to be destroyed
Nun-Chuck (voiced by Lucy Lawless), a fierce warrior with prized nun-chucks who will travel aboard her flying organ as she challenges guests to create musical mayhem
Jean Clawed (voiced by Jean-Claude Van Damme) – outfitted with a giant mechanical lobster claw – in an evil, underwater lair filled with hidden loot and robotic sea creatures
Svengeance (voiced by Dolph Lundgren), the roller-skating champion with spiked skates, in a floating roller derby filled with blimps, jumbo-trons, and speed-skating robots
Villain-Con Minion Blast will also be the first Universal Orlando attraction to feature a connected gameplay experience via The Official Universal Orlando Resort App. By syncing their blaster to the app with just a tap, contenders can take their game to an entirely new level and track their scores, embark on special missions within the attraction, unlock evil perks and extra powerful blasts to help them gain more points and earn digital collectibles. The more guests play and the higher they score, the more perks and bragging rights they’ll earn. Plus, this digital experience connects to the visitor’s Universal Guest Account within the Universal Orlando app – unlocking a deeper connection that enhances their in-park experience and sets the stage for even more digital-to-physical world benefits.
(6/20/2023) Our friends at Orlando Experience dropped into Universal Studios Florida to take a tour of Minion Land, as several of the shops and food options are now open. This includes a look in the Bake My Day bakery, Freeze Ray Pops, Minion Cafe and a look at various characters now appearing for Meet & Greets.
(6/11/2023) Screamscape sources tell us that members of the attractions team at Villain-Con: Minion Blast were given the chance to give it a test run on Thursday. Beyond the installation team, this is the first time I’ve heard of anyone getting the chance to experience the new attraction.
While this doesn’t mean the attraction will be ready to open right away, it is an important step in the process. If everything goes well, then the rest of the Universal team members could be given a chance to give it a try next, as they work out a schedule of when they can open the attraction to the public. As far as that goes, I’ve still not heard any rumors about a possible opening date, but how well the testing goes will probably play a big part in deciding if they are willing to try and open it before or after the busy July 4th holiday period.
(6/8/2023) While Villain-Con: Minion Blast isn’t ready to open, Universal Studios Florida did open the new “Evil Stuff’ gift shop at the exit of the attraction this week. You can take a peek at the various merchandise inside in the video clip below.
(6/4/2023) Our friends at Orlando Experience have posted a video look at the new Minions Land at Universal Studios Florida as crews work to finish it all up.
(5/29/2023) MouseSteps ventured over to Universal Studios Florida this week to check in on the latest construction taking place for the new Minion Land area. New themed props, signs and colorful paint are now being applied everywhere as we get an idea of what to expect from Minion Land.
So what about Villain-Con Minion Blast? From what I’m now hearing, it is moving right along, but from the sound of things, the rest of Minion Land might get finished before the actual attraction is ready to open. They’re still “shooting” for a Summer 2023 opening, it may be more of a mid to late summer timeline, depending on how things go. We’ll have to wait and see.
(5/18/2023) Universal Orlando has finally released some new concept art and promotional images for the new Minion Land, featuring the Minion Cafe, Bake My Day bakery, and the new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction. They’ve also sent out some preview photos showing off some of the crazy new food items they will be offering guests in the Minion Cafe. Speaking of the Minion Cafe, inside guests will be seated inside one of three different themed dining rooms: The Kitchen, The Breakroom and The Dining Room. There will also be an outdoor patio dining space offered as well.
Meanwhile in Minion Land you’ll also get the chance to try new snacks, such as Banana flavored pop-corn at the Pop-a-Nana stand or Freeze Ray Pops. There will also be a character meet & greet space to visit with the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes plus some other visiting friends from the movie “Sing”.
In the promotional posted for Minion Blast we also get our first look at what the super-vilain themed ray guns you’ll get to test out inside Villain-Con will look like. “Guests can put their villainous skills to the test in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – an all-new attraction where guests compete against each other in a fully interactive gaming experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime. Afterward, guests exit through Evil Stuff, an all-new retail location where they can stock up on Villain-Con and Minions merchandise. More details about Villain-Con Minion Blast will be revealed soon.”
(5/13/2023) At last a dedicated new Minion piece of theming has been added to the corner of where the new Minion Cafe is under construction. As you can see in the video clip below, a massive pink cupcake has been installed to the top corner of the building, complete with a minion standing on the top with a pair of binoculars. Of course the cupcake itself may be a bit more than it seems, as the cherry at the top that the minion is standing on looks more like gun turret with the business end of the weapon pointed straight at the Villain-Con building. I’m wondering if this thing may be able to turn, as the video points out it is similar to one at Universal Beijing on top of a Minion Bakery building there. Given that this is Florida, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went a little further and given the cupcake the ability to shoot water just for the heck of it. (Not a rumor, just me thinking outlloud…)
(5/10/2023) A great set of photos showing off the current state of the new Villain-Con: Minion Blast attraction at Universal Studios Florida can be seen below.
(5/6/2023) Yesterday we posed some questions about the new Villain-Con attraction, but if you are also curious how things are going on the rumored new Minion Cafe restaurant, you can check out some construction photos of that as well over at WDWNT.
(5/5/2023) Is it just me or does anyone else feel like Universal Orlando has kind of forgotten to promote their upcoming Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction? The social media team which is normally on top of their game seems to be ignoring it, and upon visiting the Universal Orlando website, I not only found no mention of their “new for Summer 2023” attraction on the front pages of the website, but I had to actually do a search for the attraction name just find anything at all on a tucked-away “Coming Soon” page. I mean, when your “Summer Tribute Store” is getting more coverage on social media than your big new attraction, that’s a red flag to me.
So is the project behind schedule and they are avoiding talking about it on purpose, or is the marketing team just kind of phoning this one in this year? I mean come-on… Minions? A visit to Villain-Con?! The Vicious 6 characters? Crazy mad-genius style weaponry demos to try out? On top of everything else, this will be a unique attraction concept never built anywhere else before, so what’s not to like here? Sounds like a heck-of-a-party to me.
(3/17/2023) WDWNT has some new pictures showing off the outside of the new Villain-Con attraction where the giant “V” and other signage is being put into place over the entrance. Very little information has leaked thus far about just when this new attraction might open so far. On a related note, while the outside of Villain-Con looks to be finishing up the outer look of the attraction, there appears to still be a ways to go for the nearby Minion Cafe restaurant.
(12/17/2022) A current look at the outside of the Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction at Universal Studios Florida.
(12/8/2022) Exactly like Screamscape first reported in October 2021, VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST has now been officially confirmed by Universal Orlando to open in Summer 2023. Inspired by the scene in the first Minions movie from Illumination, guests will get to experience the fabulous VILLAIN-CON in version for an “interactive, blaster game experience” that will invite you to put you “villainous skills to the test” in a competition against each other in order to impress the film series most infamous supervillains and join The Vicious 6.
The attraction will involve a combination of “state-of-the-art gaming interactity” via screen technology mixed with elaborate physical sets “to create a one-of-a-kind, game-based adventure where guests encounter immersive environments, nefarious villains and tons of mischievous Minions from Illumination’s films in a whole new way.”
Ready for the challenge? “Grab an interactive blaster and step onto a motion-based pathway” and put your skills to the test! “They’ll wind and glide through various scenes where they earn points by blasting a variety of items and causing as much mayhem and destruction as possible. It’s a unique, mischief-filled experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime.”
The new attraction, located across the payway from Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem will combine with a new Minion’s Café and other surprise additions to create a new official “Minion Land on Illumination Ave.” themed area.
(5/14/22) As I warned everyone several days ago, Universal Studios Florida has now officially closed the Monsters Cafe for good. According to the memo sent out to team members the restaurant has been retired after over 20 years of service “serving dreadfully-delicious” offerings, to “make way for a new dining experience”.
While they are not ready to announce what will replacement, our previous rumor stands that the sitte will be transformed into a new Minions Cafe to go along with the yet-to-be-announced Minions themed attraction replacing Shrek 4D next door.
(5/8/22) Fans of Universal Monsters visiting Universal Studios Florida may want to visit the Monsters Cafe sooner than later. Word is that the themed restaurant may be transformed to take on a new Minion theme in the future due to the location being next to the existing Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction and the upcoming rumroed Minions themed attraction set to take over the former Shrek 4D site.
While it will be sad to see the Monsters Cafe leave, the Universal Monsters are supposed to be the theme of an entire land at the upcoming Epic Universe theme park, so I’m sure there will be some fantastic new themed eateries to enjoy there.
(2/11/22) Looks like Screamscape’s rumor about the new attraction planned to replace Shrek 4D is quickly turning out to be rock solid. First the Minion themed construction walls went into place overnight, and now a new building permit uncovered confirms Glidepath Limited as the contractor. Glidepath isn’t a company traditionally known for their work in the amusement park sector, but they are known in the travel industry for their work in building moving pathway systems used to move and sort luggage around airports as well as package sorting systems. From time to time, they’ve also build a moving walkway here and there to move people around as well, with unique systems actually able to move standing guests about complex pathways, including corners.
As we stated previously, the theme of the new ride would place guests on a moving walk-way system that would transport them into the world of the Villain-Con expo, guiding them past various convention booths and displays. The thought was that guests would get to try out various gadgets and super-villain style experimental weaponry along the way. From what I understand the new experience is still looking to open in 2023.
(1/11/22) Shrek 4D is now no more as many guests came to the park last night for one final viewing experience of the 4D theater attraction. The next morning construction walls had already surrounded the building featuring Minions theming, which seems to indicate that our rumor of an upcoming Minions themed replacement attraction is right on the money.
(10/16/21) Ready to know more about what’s replacing Shrek 4D? Then know that the new experience (not your typical new ride from what I understand) will actually tie in closely with those neighbors across the pathway. Yup… the popular Minion presence at Universal Studios Florida will be expanding to include a second attraction in addition to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
We don’t have a name for the new project yet, but I’m told it will tie heavily into a theme from the first Minions movie, as park guests will be allowed to visit “Villain-Con” for the first time, the annual convention held in Orlando for supervillains and criminals from around the world. I don’t know if guests will enter through the hidden entrance disguised as a bait-shop or not, but I’m told the overall experience will allow you to visit the trade-show floor and go booth to booth.
I’ve also been told this will be an interactive experience, where I’m guessing you get to try out various super-weapons as you move from booth to booth. So in a way, you can sort of think of this as a Minions themed version of Toy Story Midway Mania… just without the ride cars.
Whaaaaat? Yeah, as crazy as it sounds, you won't be seated in a ride vehicle for this experience. Anyone who has been to a major convention (IAAPA? Comic-Con?) knows that the true experience is found while walking past the endless aisles of trade show booths. But trust me, you’ve got to keep the crowd moving and not just standing there, so guests will take this rapid, and potentially explosive, tour of Villain-Con while standing on some kind of moving walkway.
I know it all sounds crazy… and kinda weird, but those two things fit right into the world of the Despicable Me and Minions films beautifully. I’m also very intrigued by the unique sounding experience this could offer, as something we’ve never quite seen before. So stay tuned, because with Shrek set to go dark in January, I’m told that our trip to Villain-Con will begin sometime in 2023.
(10/6/21) Huge news leaked out from Universal Orlando a few hours ago… some of which ties directly into our rumor on Shrek 4D closing in the near future. The bottom line, not only is it true that Shrek 4-D is closing, but an internal memo at to Universal Orlando team members confirms that Shrek 4-D will close forever in January 10, 2022. Shrek 4-D has hosted nearly 75 million guests over the last 18 years, and the time has come to retire the big green guy for something new.
(10/3/21) Screamscape is sending out a very early warning for fans of Shrek 4-D. Go see it, enjoy it, take it all in as if it was your last time to experience it. After after number of years of living on the chopping block, our sources tell us that it no longer is a matter of "IF" Shrek 4-D will close, but now only a matter of exactly “WHEN” it will close.
A new attraction concept to replace Shrek 4-D is in the works and before you know it, the big green guy will be heading back to the Swamp for good. It was often thought that Shrek 4-D was given an extension on life because a new Shrek feature film was greenlit for production. While prodcution on a "Shrek 5" film has been said to be in the works for a number of years now (the release window was delayed by COVID of course), the new film isn't expected to hit theaters until late 2022 at the earliest, but from the sound of things, Shrek 4-D isn't likely to be around by then.
If would be a nice touch if they could put a 2D version of the attraction film onto a future Blu-Ray and Digital Release in much the same way that the Back To The Future ridefilm was included in a Blu-Ray release of the BTTF Trilogy a few years ago.
2024 - New Night Show - (4/12/2023) Screamscape sources tell us to keep an eye on the lagoon at Universal Studios Florida. Big things are said to be in the works there, and that will become evident sooner than later. While Universal’s Cinematic Celebration closed for good there not along ago, our intiial assumption would be that something new would arrive to replace it in time for this summer. While the something new part seems to hold true, I’m hearing that it won't be ready to thrill guests until 2024.
(3/11/2023) Uh oh… if you never got a chance to see Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration show on the lagoon of Universal Studios Florida, you are now too late. According to posts on social media, the show’s run has now ended.
The good news is that an all new show will be coming soon to take its place. Based on past history with the park, the system of projectors and colorful fountains has proven very popular and very open to modification, as we’ve seen from the two extremely spectacular but temporary shows created to run for Halloween Horror Nights thus far. So with all that in mind, I’d expect we will soon be treated to a new and updated show concept ready to premier in the near future.
On a related note... did you catch our post from last month (copied below) where an armada of aerial drones with lights were spotted making test flights over the Universal Orlando resort? Could this new show involve some drone action too?
(2/1/2023) Is Universal Orlando working on their own aerial drone night show? A few Screamscape readers spotted the drones testing in the night sky this week over Universal Orlando, and Amusement Insider even posted a brief video which you can see below. Various shapes and patterns were being tested, including what looked like a swimming fish. Of course, this doesn’t mean any of this will be part of any future show, they may just be testing out a proof of concept to see what such a show would look like when viewed from select locations.
2024 - DreamWorks Animation Land - (8/6/2023) So what’s going on in the new Dreamworks Animation themed land under construction at Universal Studios Florida? So far it will appears to be aa lot of dirt at the moment, but a few structures are rising, including what is thought to possibly be Shrek’s swamp house located next to the queue for E.T.
The old Nuthouse coaster is still standing of course, as it is expected to be kept but given a new theme when it reopens as part of the new land. Surprisingly the large structure that housed the former Curious George themed ball factory play area, and the superstructure that held up the facades for the buildings leading up to it on either side are all still standing and could be repurposed for the new DreamWorks land as well.
(7/21/2023) Universal Orlando has confirmed the rumors that a new DreamWorks themed area will open at Universal Studios Florida in 2024. As speculated for months, the new DreamWorks area will take the place of the former KidZone area, just past the E.T. attraction. According to the press release the land will feature “interactive play spaces” based on DreamWorks IPs like Shrek, Trolls, KungFu Panda and more. No specific new attraction names were released at this time, including whatever the new name or theme for the former Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.
(3/5/2023) A great aerial picture of the former KidZone area at Universal Studios Florida has been posted by Bioreconstruct this week. The only things left standing right now are the former Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse Coaster along with the theater building that was being used for Dreamworks characters. Everything else appears to have been leveled, including the former Fieval play area, and machinery can be seen in the back taking apart the steel that used to house the Curious George town area and splash works. It does look as if the large two-level structure at the very back that used to house the Ball Factory play area may still be standing, with just the themed facade removed. So this could possibly be re-purposed for whatever Universal has planned here.
(11/1/22) The big breaking news this evening is that KidZone at Universal Studios Florida will be closing down in early January 2023. This closure will include the Woody Woodpecker family coaster, the Curious George wet and dry play areas, Fieval’s Playland and even the DreamWorks Destination building and recently moved Meet Shrek & Donkey area.
In fact, from the sound of things the only areas staying open will be the Animal Actors show, E.T. ride and the Spongebob gift shop up front, everything beyond here will close down and go behind a wall in January.
So what’s replacing it? Not Pokemon, and with Super Nintendo World is already under construction for Epic Universe something else is in the works. So what’s left? Well the hints have been arriving for months now as Dreamworks character after Dreamsworks character has been arriving and making their homes here. But I have to warn you... don’t get too excited.
Come 2024 the entire land and the closed attractions will all be staying, but getting a makeover to become a new DreamWorks Animation land. From what Screamscape has been told, expect the former Fieval’s Playland to be rethemed to the Shrek films. Woody’s Nuthouse coaster will likely be rethemed to fit into the Trolls movie universe, who will also be used for a new kids show in the theater building. And finally look for Kung Ku Panda theming to take over the wet and dry Curious George play areas in the back.
Oh, and if you’ve gotten a survey request from Universal Orlando this week, chances are it was hinting at this very project, but unless you have kids age 2 to 6, the survey will end immediately without getting into better details.
And just a bit of speculation, look for DreamWorks to play heavily into the planned new kids character parade, now expected to open in 2024 as a replacement for the old Universal Superstar Parade.
2024- New Parade - In Development - (5/7/22) Screamscape sources tell us that the Universal Superstar Parade will be coming to an end sometime around the end of May. Given the crowds that Universal is expecting this summer based on advanced booking, this may be for the best. Many of the themed floats however are expected to be set up in various locations around the park to serve as stages for character meet & greets to take place throughout the summer.
Rumor has it that an all new parade is being developed as a new future attraction experience that will launch sometime before the opening of the new Epic Universe park in 2025. If I had to guess, Universal will likely include a number of new characters and IP’s coming to Epic Universe into this new parade experience to help serve as a sort of preview of the new park. Of course this will also serve as an early gage of guest response to the various characters to help guide the future marketing (and merchandise) efforts of the new park as well.
So if the rumored themes of the lands for the new park hold true, I’d expect to see characters from Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon in this production along with the expected cast of characters from Minions, Secret Life of Pets and along with maybe some other surprises. But come on… MarioKart in Parade form? Who wouldn’t want to see that.