Where will we see Shrek next in theme parks?
Fifteen years ago this month, Shrek
hit movie theaters for the first time, establishing a sarcastic animation icon that challenged Disney and entertained parents in the audience as much as their kids.
Earning hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, Shrek inspired multiple sequels and went on to become the top-grossing animation franchise of all time, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. With that level of popularity with families, perhaps it was inevitable that Shrek would become a theme park fixture, despite the many jabs thrown at parks in the original and its sequels.
Two years after its debut, in May 2003, Universal Studios opened Shrek 4-D at its parks in Florida and California. True to its source story, the show took plenty of shots at other theme park attractions, including Disney's Star Tours. I reviewed the show for the Los Angeles Times, writing:
It's not the only reference to Disney in Shrek 4-D, which opens with a frog trying to eat Tinkerbell and ends with the poor little Disney fairy smashed into the theater wall. The original "Shrek" ridiculed the shallowness of Disney's animated fairy tales and the sterility of its theme parks. Shrek 4-D doesn't directly attack Disney's parks, but it does land its punch by being far more entertaining than anything a Disney park has opened in years.
Seven years later, Universal expanded its use of Shrek at the new Universal Studios Singapore, placing Shrek 4-D into King Harold's Palace in a Far Far Away-themed land that also included an Enchanted Airways Vekoma family coaster, an indoor kiddie Ferris wheel, a live show, meet and greets, and, as of last year, a Zamperla inverted family coaster, Puss In Boots' Giant Journey.
And this fall, Motiongate Dubai will create a full replica of Shrek's swamp in a theme park for the first time, as part of the indoor DreamWorks Zone at the new park, which opens in October.
Shrek's swamp will include Shrek's Merry Fairy Tale Journey, "a heartfelt interactive ride where Shrek meets Fiona for the first time, reincarnated as puppets and animated figures," according to the park. In addition, Shrek, Fiona, Puss in Boots, and the Fairy Godmother will appear in meet and greets and the area also will feature a table-service restaurant, The Candy Apple, serving "British-American" fare.
Shrek's Merry Fairy Tale Journey. Concept art courtesy Dubai Parks & Resorts
Motiongate is part of Dubai Parks & Resorts, not Universal, so it won't include the Shrek 4-D show. But with Universal's parent company recently buying DreamWorks Animation, it's likely that Shrek — in some form or another — likely will continue to find a home in theme parks for many years to come.
Thelonious is my favorite Shrek character. I'm glad he made it into the 4-D show. Shrek is a franchise that has some untapped potential, and fits Universals more sarcastic overtone well.
With 3 movies, one spinoff, a musical that reached about 20 countries around the world this ip is huge. About a year ago Merlin entertainment opened Shrek's Adventure as a stand alone mini theme park offering.
Rumors are the dueling dragons attraction will go away for more Harry Potter. I hope they decide to save the tracks and split them as separate installations. Save one track as the Shrek dragon ride.
The first comment Anon Mouse has posted without any hint of negativity. This really is a great day!!
Singapore have devoted a quarter of their park to Shrek !
I hope they don't get rid of Dragon Challenge. I can understand why they might, but Rip Ride Rockit is the one I'd be chucking in the trash.
Given the age of the franchise, I somewhat question whether Shrek would be popular if there aren't more films in development. According to recent rumors, Shrek 4-D is closing at USH in the next couple years (not sure about the Florida installation) and there are no future Shrek attractions under development. Therefore, assuming it would be at least 5 years before a new Shrek attraction would open, I just don't see it being a lucrative option. Universal is probably better off focusing on Dreamworks attractions based on Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon at this time. All that said, if there are more Shrek feature films in development, a Shrek Land would be an excellent choice for inclusion in a 3rd Florida park or 2nd California park. It's just one of those properties that really doesn't connect well if you don't know the source material.
Shrek is just on a break. Far too big not to return in some capacity in the future. They really rinsed the hell out of it for a few years, and the quality and box office numbers was getting lower with each quick new release.
Why do we have different standards for non-Disney films? Disney doesn't rely on sequels to decide on basing an attraction. The original's popularity is sufficient. Shrek already has three films. They don't need another. This is where an attraction can support a film in reverse to get people interested in the film. Disney's classic attractions are all based on the original films. Peter Pan, Little Mermaid, Snow White, Dumbo, Lion King. Universal needs to develop classic Dreamworks attractions that can last decades and not go away for something new. That's how Disney builds nostalgia.
Shrek actually has 4 feature films.
I so badly want more Shrek stuff at the parks - my husband and I (who fell in love playing Shrek and Fiona in the stage version) are going to Orlando in January, and I'm so disappointed that we won't have a chance to be photographed with Shrek...
Universal should focus on Princess Fiona before her transformation and the human Shrek. The full princess route might work better in the theme parks. The kids might not necessarily love the green ogre for the meet and greets.
As noted by Brian, there are 4 feature length Shrek films plus Puss and Boots along with the ride film (chronologically between the original and Shrek 2), and Christmas and Halloween TV specials.
Mr Toad (a short), Alice in Wonderland (a full length film), and Pinnochio (a full length film) been around for decades at Disneyland. Their popularity has more to do with the attraction than the film. Peter Pan, Mr Toad, and Alice dark rides are significantly more popular than Snow White and Pinnochio. Shrek is rumored to go away. If it stays, it'll be a good decision. Disney has constant references to sorcerer Mickey from one film, Fantasia. No sequels needed. The sequels are essentially the attractions.
So this is where I look at Harry Potter and wonder... As I had mentioned, I am not a HP fan and really don't know much about the IP...but am I correct that the books and films are done? I totally understand Harry has legions of fans but Universal has dedicated an entire land to an IP that isn't moving forward. And yes, Star Wars @ Disney has proven its worth all these years later and has resurged...but what about Harry? If Shrek has started to wane, wouldn't a larger presence help extend the life of the IP? I'd like to think that Shrek has a fanbase equal to HP though I doubt the numbers come close. So what happens if Harry's popularity drops in 10 years?
@Sarah Books live longer, much longer then movies.The Brother Grimm stories (you know those stories Disney sweetened and made into movies) are around from 1812. The book Lord of the Rings was published 1954, How the Grinch stole Christmas is from 1984 and is still read and sold by kids.
All seven Harry Potter books have been made into movies (the last book was split into two movies). However, there is a related/prequel-ish book called "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" that is coming to theaters this November, and is initially planned as a trilogy.
Anything with Gingy is a must have for me. Keep it so Universal.
I could not disagree more with your view of Disney parks. Universal Parks are, to my eyes, crass, loud and in your face everywhere outside of Harry Potter lands. Disney has childlike charm, subtlety, refinement. I think you are mistaking your own personal tastes (which are maybe more attuned to extreme experiences) for objective evaluation of any kind.
I really loved the pack of Princesses (very un-Disneyfied) in the Shrek movies and wish they could be at the parks in some way.
@O T - Thanks, that makes perfect sense to me! I had completely forgotten up and coming generations still reading the books. Granted new movie buffs can always see a Shrek film for the first time too but books do have a longer "shelf life!" OK...that was really bad but I'm quite proud of it! :)
@Russell: Aside from ignoring what I wrote that these Fantasyland rides last for decades and are based on original films and shorts and no sequels are needed to justify them as attractions, its nice to know they aren't Pirates and Haunted Mansion for they are not Pirates and Haunted Mansion, which are rides in another land. On the other hand, there's The Little Mermaid that uses the same doom buggies ride vehicles that somehow escaped your mind. It is also a ride that is based on a single very popular film. A very good people eater. With Winnie the Pooh, you can have both new tech or old tech. Old tech has lower attendance like at Disneyland that has lines usually 10 minutes even on busy days. New tech with the trackless ride vehicles can have three hours lines at Tokyo Disneyland. Oh well.
Beto Carrero, a theme park in the south of Brazil also have rights to Dreamwork's IPs, including Shrek.
Don't forget Merlin's Shrek Adventure in London. There's supposed to be another 5 or 20 on the way...
Anon - Little Mermaid is a relatively new attraction. There's way of telling right now what the lifespan will be. I can tell you the last time we were at Disneyland 3 years ago, that the line for that ride never exceeded 10 minutes. I think the WDW version will have a longer shelf life because of the added ambiance created by the exterior themeing, but let's face it, it has not yet reached "classic" status.
"Those are shoe-horned into such small spaces that there's very little that can be done with them."
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