Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation debuts at Busch Gardens Tampa

May 16, 2013, 6:46 PM · Busch Gardens Tampa's Stanleyville Theater will be bursting with thermonuclear "tween" energy when the park premieres its newest live stage show Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation on May 18th. Backed by a live band and a cadre of fresh-faced dancers, the production features characters from the popular DreamWorks Madagascar franchise.

Busch Gardens' Park President Jim Dean and Alex the Lion
Busch Gardens' Park President Jim Dean poses with his newest star Alex the Lion.

While the park's May 16th media event unveiled the show for the press, Busch Gardens' marketing team wisely packed the theater with a boisterous crowd of elementary school students who were ready to sing and dance with a familiar collection of Madagascar characters. Live on stage to lead the charge were Alex the Lion and Gloria the Hippo, as well as Skipper and his team of penguins – although the loudest squeals were reserved for the Lemur King Julian.

While the show's premise was a bit thin (the vacationing characters must cheer-up Gloria who misses her friends Marty the zebra and Melman the giraffe -- both of whom are absent from the production), the re-designed theater, music, dancers and gorgeous character costumes were more than enough to bring the younger crowd to their feet.

Julian and his fans
Julian, King of the Lemurs, welcomes his demographic... er, "subjects."

Clearly the jungle setting featured in the film fits nicely with Busch Gardens' theme. Park President Jim Dean expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with the DreamWorks films, noting that the Madagascar films "in particular complement our brand."

Vice President of Entertainment Nancy Hutson reported that the characters presence will extend beyond the Stanleyville Theater. Park meet-and-greets as well as character dining is planned.

While "Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation" will be most popular with the tweener set that turned the film franchise into a billion-dollar enterprise, Associate Marketing Manager Kelly Heckinger correctly points out that the films' humor and charm "work on many levels with adults as well as kids."

Another production of the show will debut at sister park SeaWorld San Diego in June.

Replies (6)

May 16, 2013 at 8:39 PM · It still baffles me to this day how successful Madagascar is! I did not enjoy those films within an inch of my life. The best park of the entire trilogy was the lemurs dancing and it was recycled in the sequel.

But if it's a decent show then I can accept it. I've been amazed before with a theme park turning a tired movie into something nice. So Move It, Move It Busch Gardens!

May 17, 2013 at 10:41 AM · Thanks for the write up..
May 17, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Sad Gwazi was a amazing woodie and they take it down for Madagascar!!! YOU GOT ANOTHER THEATER USE THAT ONE!!!
May 17, 2013 at 1:33 PM · Why the zebra and the giraffe are not in the show?
May 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM · Not sure if Manny is referring to another Busch Gardens, but Gwazi is open. The show is in the Stanleyville Theater.
May 21, 2013 at 11:33 AM · Madagascar was licensed to many companies that it's almost impossible to keep up. Sands, the gambling company, bought Shrek and Madagascar rights for its Macau property.

Frankly, I think Dreamworks is making a mistake by diluting their franchise. Achieving consistent quality control will be difficult to manage.

This is no different with Snoopy that at least two theme park chains have licensing rights.

While Disney have the most characters, they don't use them enough. They seem to license new characters first. It is weird that they are going with Avatar when Star Wars is staring at their faces. Do a Star Wars Land. Get a hint.

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