At long last, Shrek 4D is finally closing on January 10, 2022, at Universal Studios Florida. After 18 years, one of the longest-running shows in theme park history will close its doors. At one point, the attraction was so popular Universal added a second theater for increased capacity.
Of course, now that second theater has been gutted and serves as a flexible space for a house at Halloween Horror Nights. You may also be surprised that Shrek 4D, even after all these years, has some of the higher guest ratings over any attraction in the park. That said, Universal knew the franchise was declining in popularity. For years, there have been ideas pitched to replace Duloc, but for one reason or another, nothing stuck until now.
Before we go into what we believe will be replacing Shrek and Donkey, let’s take a brief look at other ideas we’ve heard Universal has passed on over the last several years to get there. Remember: all of this is speculation until Universal says otherwise. Nothing here is official and considered rumor until Universal makes an announcement or statement.
The Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash
When this attraction was being developed for Universal, the plan was for it to go into both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando. Keep in mind, the ride started development before the first film’s release. The parks felt this was going to be so much of a slam dunk, design moved along quickly.
Originally, the attraction featured guests riding on an oversized Roomba. Yes, the ride vehicle would have been trackless and the rider’s feet would have dangled around the outside. All the sets would have been themed 360 degrees and even one version of the attraction featured a dumbwaiter elevator. Meaning it would have spanned two floors similar to Transformers.
For safety and budget reasons, the ride got cut into what you see today at Universal Studios Hollywood. Even that has its own fascinating story where it started out on the lower lot. Yes, it was where the mini-Nintendo land is being built today. Then it shifted to the upper lot near Minion Mayhem. This made way more sense to be a family-centric area of the park. However, building a new attraction on top of an active parking garage posed its own challenges, but that’s another story for another time.
Regardless, The Secret Life of Pets is not destined for Universal Orlando anytime soon. It was slated for either the Shrek 4-D spot at Universal Studios Florida or the outdoor theater in Toon Lagoon that is barely used was also considered. Alas, the box office numbers for The Secret Life of Pets 2 were at least part of the reason the ride was passed on at Universal Orlando. They felt that the franchise wouldn’t even be that popular by the time they could build the attraction in Florida, thus the odds of that ever being duplicated outside of Hollywood remains slim.
What is a franchise that Universal had enough legs to make it into a permanent theme park attraction? Yes, Trolls has been talked about for quite some time. Aside from the fact that the film did well at the box office, the soundtrack could help make for a really fun attraction.
All the songs are upbeat and fast-paced and it lends itself to being a really fun ride without taking itself too seriously. The ride system would have been similar to the one used at Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters at Disney California Adventure. It would start off as a traditional dark ride and then end up in a finale scene where your ride vehicle “danced” with others in one big show scene.
Unfortunately, this was also passed on due to budget reasons and timeline (plus the pandemic didn’t help). So what did Universal decide on? Keep your expectations low for this one.
Villain-Con Walk Through Based on Minions Movie
Yes, the concept from this attraction is based on one scene from the Minions movie which hit theaters in 2015. Why another attraction based on Minions when you have Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem directly across the street? Well, part of it has to do with the franchise itself. It’s easily one of the most popular in the history of animation, not just Illumination, the Universal-owned company that produces the films.
Not only is there a Despicable Me 4 in the works, but there’s also a sequel to the spin-off with Minions: The Rise of Gru debuting in 2022. Believe it or not, those things pale in comparison because Minions features one key scene that takes place in… you guessed it….
I’m not making this up. This attraction was pitched and eventually bought off due to the simple fact that this particular scene had the Minions hitchhiking to Orlando. Once they arrived, they got a chance to explore Villain Con.
Here’s the bad news. This is not a ride, nor is it a theater show. For most of the attraction’s development, this was slated to be a walk-through. However, anyone will tell you that the throughput on an attraction that forces guests to walk at their own pace (or even being herded from one room to the next) on foot can be abysmal. Thus, the decision was made recently to add a moving belt to this attraction.
Think of it as a Toy Story Midway Mania, except you’re not in a ride vehicle. You’re standing on a moving walkway. While there will be some three-dimensional show scenes and set pieces, this attraction will feature mostly screens.
I don’t understand it either. With as many screen attractions that dominate Universal Orlando, you’d think they would start to move away from them. However, at least we are just replacing one big screen at Shrek 4-D, with about a dozen smaller screens where each game/interactive trade show booth takes place.
So what do you think? Is a Minions “glide-through” attraction a worthy replacement for Shrek 4-D? Or should they have just upgraded the film and made it more Dreamworks films like what they put in at Universal Studios Hollywood? Or perhaps one of the ideas I mentioned earlier in this article. Let me hear your thoughts.
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