Vote of the week: What's the top animated franchise you want to see in a theme park?

May 17, 2013, 11:16 AM · Yesterday's opening of the new Madagascar stage show at Busch Gardens Tampa surprised a few readers who hadn't heard the news that Universal no longer holds the rights to use all the DreamWorks Animation characters in its United States theme parks. Universal and DreamWorks did not renew that licensing deal, though Universal has re-upped for the theme park rights to the Shrek franchise.

From the Shrek land at Universal Studios Singapore: Go home, Gingy, you're drunk.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment then signed for the U.S. theme park rights to the Madagascar characters, setting the stage for the new production in Tampa this week. Another production of the same show will debut at sister park SeaWorld San Diego next month. Character meals and meet-and-greets are on the way, too.

These deals apply only in the United States, though. A trip abroad can blow the mind of any American theme park fan who's gotten used to seeing certain characters in certain parks. Merlin Entertainments has had the rights to use the Madagascar characters in its parks in Europe. And Universal retains the rights to these DreamWorks characters for its park in Singapore, where Universal's built entire lands devoted to Shrek and Madagascar. Universal also holds the rights to use the Sesame Street and Peanuts characters in its Asian theme parks, where SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Cedar Fair don't have a presence.

The "Madagascar: A Crate Adventure" ride from Universal Studios Singapore

Licensing rights are multi-million-dollar deals for film studios that don't have their own theme parks, and for parks looking to expand beyond their own intellectual property. Market leader Disney's long relied on its in-house collection of animation franchises to populate its parks. And Universal's going all-in with its own Despicable Me franchise, building a new attraction and Super Silly Fun Land area at Universal Studios Hollywood, to complement the existing Despicable Me ride in Florida. But before Gru and the Minions came along, Universal had to rely on licensing deals, including DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, and Jay Ward characters.

But these licensing deals pay off for theme parks only when they move people to visit. Of the top movie animation franchises out there today, which is the one that would most influence you to visit a particular theme park, if it featured those characters? We'll make this our vote of the week. We're looking only at feature film animation franchises not developed by Disney or Universal. For our five selections, I've included four of the top-grossing animated film franchise, according to, along with an up-and-coming franchise that promises to be the next into the top five, based on the success of its first film (of three now planned).

Obviously, the number-one grossing franchise, Shrek, already is in several Universal theme parks. But consider both existing attractions and the potential for future rides and shows when casting your vote. Or, if that's too complicated, let's just make this easier: Which franchise's characters would you most want to take a photo with in a meet-and-greet?

Please tell us in the comments how you'd like to see theme park use some of these franchises. And, as always, thank you for reading Theme Park Insider!

Replies (10)

May 17, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Based off of the footage for the How To Train Your Dragon touring stage show, I think the Dragons franchise would make a great attraction/land for a theme park. It helps that the movie is great without being snarky/cynicial. Come on, Dreamworks. Don't screw this up with sub-par sequels.
May 17, 2013 at 2:32 PM · HTTYD.
May 18, 2013 at 12:48 AM · The only problem that I see with a "How To Train Your Dragon" themed land at UOR is that there is already (almost) an overdose of dragons in both parks. They are heavily featured in IOA's Wizarding World (FJ and DC) and a gigantic dragon will sit on top of Gringotts in the Studios (and will likely be featured in its main attraction).
I still think that "How To Train Your Dragon" could be an interesting basis for a themed land, but maybe not at UOR.
May 18, 2013 at 2:08 AM · Come to Australia! We give you Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda (Dreamworld), one with Looney Tunes (and Ice Age 4d movie)(Movie World) and one with SpongeBob and Dora (Sea World)! I can say, characters aren't the be all and end all. If we are talking any IP not just movies I'd love to see Mario from Nintendo. Or Adventure Time, that show is amazing.
May 18, 2013 at 2:43 PM · How about "none of the above"? I want to see original attractions that have no tie-in to an existing franchise. Surprise me! Show me something I haven't seen before. I'm quite excited by Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland.

May 19, 2013 at 4:57 AM · I wish Islands of Adventure would do another retro cartoon ride. How about a Jonny Quest Adventures ride? I'd enjoy something so out of trend that it might appear timeless.
May 19, 2013 at 12:08 PM · I absolutely vote for Adventure Time.

Or Rango... Though if one of the proposed Paramount Parks happens, we might see that actually happen.

May 19, 2013 at 6:12 PM · about a limited menu.

Although it's not a franchise, I recently watched..and somewhat liked...Hotel Transylvania. Would probably fly as an attraction, if not a park.

May 19, 2013 at 6:56 PM · A Jonny Quest attraction would be wonderful! All that retro-futuristic goodness. I think the best approach would be the motion base theater in the round approach that I have seen as a possibility for Avatar.

Of the listed franchises, I think that an Ice Age land would be a very real possibility. A major ride, possibly a boat ride ala Madagascar Crate Adventure, and a couple C-tickets, with one focusing on fan favorite Skrat, would do well as a mini-land in just about any non-Disney park in the country.

May 19, 2013 at 11:18 PM · Here in Australia on the Gold Coast, Dreamworld Theme Park, has re-invented their kids area and have spent a great deal of Money with the Shrek franchise, Kung Fu Panda and Dreamworks related character theming.

Which is very well done to the minute details, which you wouldnt normally pick up on, from the animated Penguins that assist with the launching of the kids coaster - Escape from Madagascar, to the under side of gingy's gliders that are in the shape of ginger bread men.

With retail outlets that reflect the theming from Shreks tree house, right down to having shrek in the 'mud bath' bathing making his own jacuzzi.

Which has all been done very well, and fits the current area. That was looking tired and well passed its use by date.

As every time we visit always pick up on something different, or that has been added to the area. Now we challenge each other, to see what we can spot that has been moved, painted or added.

Theming is great in theme parks, just needs to be well thought out, not just a hash job and thrown together at last minute, as it makes a big difference to the thought process and much more appreciated by the guest when waiting for people that are on rides etc.

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