If you were a ’90s kid, the highlight of any trip to Universal Studios Florida was the Nickelodeon Studios Tour. Nearly every Nickelodeon show ended with ” ______ was produced before a live studio audience at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios Florida!” For nearly 15 years, park guests got to take a behind-the-scenes look at how television shows were made at Nick Studios. While several popular Nickelodeon shows were represented in the park during that time, “Ren and Stimpy” was barely one of them.
To be fair, Ren and Stimpy were represented in the park on a few two-dimensional signs. Plus, there are these ultra creepy walk-around characters that roamed around in front of Nickelodeon Studios signing autographs.
However, there was a movement to bring what were arguably the most crude Nickelodeon characters to Universal Studios Florida. In scripts and documents recently unearthed, it turns out that Universal executives were trying to bring them to Nickelodeon Studios in a few different ways. The way I understand it, Jay Stein (former CEO of Universal Studios Recreation Group) bought the theme park rights to use Ren and Stimpy in Universal theme parks. Why? It was the number one show on cable television and ratings were three times higher than any other show on the Nickelodeon network.
The first treatment I am going to reference (above) focuses on a show that would have taken place just outside of the queue for Nickelodeon Studios. Ren and Stimpy were going to be represented in puppet form (think similar to a Muppet with a puppeteer’s hand controlling the head movement, while the other hand moves the arms with rods.
The centerpiece of the show was “Starship Fertilize” which is exactly what it sounds like: a spaceship filled with fake poop. It would roll in for the show and later parked behind one of the Nickelodeon soundstages while not in use. The idea was to have something that could also be utilized for promotional purposes around town or even a parade if Universal ever decided to go that route.
While the stage show never made it past a few drafts (more on that later), it wasn’t the only pitch to get the chihuahua and cat duo into Nickelodeon Studios Tour. Seen above and below are pages of a draft where similar puppeteered characters were going to ambush the post-production part of the Nickelodeon Studios behind-the-scenes tour.
You may recall, the Nick Tour at USF had a tour guide that escorted you through the soundstages, into post-production, down into the Gak Kitchen and eventually into the Game Lab. The idea here was to surprise tour guests with Ren and Stimpy who have taken over the post-production control room. Again, these would be puppeteered behind the consoles in that room and their dialogue would be pre-recorded.
Television monitors scattered throughout the control room would interact with the pre-recorded dialogue. Even if you aren’t a fan of Ren and Stimpy, you’ve got to admit, Ren shouting, “Cram it, Nametag!!” at the Universal Studios Florida team member would have been fantastic.
Neither the outdoor stage show or the control room portion of the Nick Tour saw the light of day. However, I can share with you the first draft of the script of that outdoor show slated to take place right in front of Nickelodeon Studios, adjacent to the Slime Geyser.
Now if you’re a fan of the show, you may think that a Ren and Stimpy theme park presence like this would have been fantastic. No doubt, fans would have flocked to see a live-action version of the infamous duo. However, what reads well as a cartoon (and on paper) may not have gone over so well with theme park guests.
As an internal memo reads, the crude nature of the characters had to be intact if either of these projects were going to be bought off by Nickelodeon. Fans would expect nothing less.
However, if the story I heard is correct, Jay Stein pulled the plug on this project before it went any further beyond these drafts. Why? If you had no clue who Ren and Stimpy are, and you saw a spaceship filled with poop, heard a few minor curse words and even saw cat fertilizer being flung across the stage, how would guest services explain that to upset tourists? It’s a no-win situation. Regardless, I am glad I could share this tiny sliver of unknown Universal Studios Florida history exclusively with TPU readers.