Universal update: DreamWorks Theatre, Potter Christmas, Fast/Furious opening

June 5, 2017, 7:17 AM · Updated throughout. We've got three news items from Universal Parks and Resorts today. First, the integration of DreamWorks Animation into the Universal theme parks is beginning to accelerate at Universal Studios Hollywood.

NBCUniversal last year acquired the animation studio, which long has had an association with Universal's theme parks via the Shrek franchise. Today, Universal Studios Hollywood announced that it will open a redesigned DreamWorks Theatre attraction for 2018, which will feature a new Kung Fu Panda show.

So what happens to the Shrek 4-D show, you might ask? It's going away, as the DreamWorks Theatre will be replacing that experience. A Universal Studios Hollywood spokesperson said, "We continually evaluate our entertainment options. The ‘Shrek 4D’ attraction enjoyed a successful run since 2003 and we look forward to offering our guests this new multi-sensory experience next year."

USH also will feature DreamWorks Animation characters in expanded meet and greets in Universal Plaza, starting this summer. The line up will include: Kung Fu Panda’s Po and Tigress; Madagascar’s Alex the Lion, The Penguins—Skipper, Rico, Kowalski and Private, and King Julian; Trolls’ Poppy and Branch; plus Shrek’s Puss ‘n Boots as joining currently appearing characters Shrek and Fiona.

The park also announced today that it also will be getting the new Christmas show at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, previously announced for Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure. IOA's getting the food that Hollywood had last year, too, so it looks like we will have twin holiday celebrations in Hogsmeade at the Wizarding Worlds on each coast.

USH now is soft-open testing the non-holiday version of the castle projection light show, which debuts officially on June 23.

Finally, Universal Orlando today committed to a Spring 2018 opening date for its upcoming Fast & Furious – Supercharged attraction, which is replacing the old Disaster! ride. A stand-alone version of the encounter on Hollywood's Studio Tour of the same name, Fast & Furious – Supercharged will feature a simulated 120-mph race through the streets of Los Angeles, as the crew from the popular Universal street racing franchise tries to take down the bad guys.

The Orlando version will feature Universal's new Virtual Line system, recently introduced on Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. That means no stand-by queues for the attraction, which will feature show car exhibits in a waiting area before guests board ride vehicles for the 3D encounter.

Replies (22)

June 5, 2017 at 10:38 AM · Another "classic" leaves Universal (classic is probably a bit of a stretch here - let's just say another "old standby" instead). And in this case, it was probably past due. However, is Kung Fu Panda the best option? The third film showed declines across the board in box office... is anyone really clamoring for a Kung Fu Panda experience? HT Train Your Dragon 3 comes out in 2019... it would have been my choice. But they can always change things out as needed...
June 5, 2017 at 10:56 AM · Still holding out hope for a Train your dragon ride. It would be awesome to choose your dragon and have an indoor dark ride type experience or even *gasp* a simulator. Flight of Passage at Disney may have put a serious damper on that possibility though.
June 5, 2017 at 10:57 AM · They should update this shrek 4D attraction in Singapore and Orlando adding more movies, with Shrek facing other villains, so everytime that you ride is a different one.
June 5, 2017 at 10:59 AM · Exactly. Frankly, Universal even could rotate Shrek 4-D back in if it thought there was any demand. I would expect to see other DWA franchises put into this mix, as Universal needs new attractions to fill the gaps between major construction projects in the park.
June 5, 2017 at 11:22 AM · A non-specific Dreamworks Animation show is a better choice. Disney constantly have a fab 5 or greatest animated film clips show. Add Panda with Shrek and Madagascar and people will see it more than Panda alone although I think Universal is catering to the Asian demographic especially with Chinese visitors.
June 5, 2017 at 11:53 AM · Is this live action? Universal used to have so many great live action shows and now is severely lacking. I agree with Anton a Mickey Magical Map type show where multiple stories are presented would be a great fit for Universal Studios.
June 5, 2017 at 12:02 PM · I think the DreamWorks Theater is a good idea, it allows them to implement whatever Dreamworks property they currently want, & give them a presence in the park, without designing a full on, long term attraction.

I'm guessing Universal might be reserving the bigger, singular attractions for it's own illumination Animation. The Despicable Me / Minions franchise is strong & Secret Life of Pets outearned all of the Dispicable / Me films (and is getting it's own sequel). Even Sing did well (it made more than all the dreamworks films except Shrek 2 & 3)

It seems like, at least recently, Illumination Animation is making more money than Dreamworks Animation, so I'm thinking that having the theater / characters means they can possibly put a bigger focus on their own animation company.

June 5, 2017 at 12:57 PM · Will this be a show or just a performance on a blasted screen ?
June 5, 2017 at 2:36 PM · I hope the motion program for the new shows will be an improvement on the atrocious Shrek show.
June 5, 2017 at 4:33 PM · Jeffrey Katzenberg stated in an interview with Empire that actually, we could see three more films after the latest one is released, bringing the total up to six Kung Fu Panda movies!

Great choice. And a theater can always house a new show.

June 5, 2017 at 4:46 PM · Is Universal porting their 360 experiences from their Studio Tour in Hollywood to Orlando? Skull Island: Reign of Kong was basically an extended, modified version of the Kong 360 experience that was in Hollywood, and now it seems like the current Fast and the Furious experience is coming across the country too.
June 5, 2017 at 8:02 PM · O T, are people really clamoring for more Kung Fu Panda movies? The third film dropped 22% in box office from Panda 2, despite increased ticket prices from the five years between the two films. Just doesn't seem like the demand is there.
June 5, 2017 at 10:10 PM · Bringing in Kung Fu Panda means opening up another merchandise revenue stream for Universal. Purchasing Dreamworks Animation was not only about making Universal more family friendly but selling more merchandise (souvenirs) it is about which IP has the most potential as a merchandise moneymaker. This is why Cars/Toy Story are getting yet another sequel yet we are still waiting for the Incredibles sequel.
June 6, 2017 at 2:16 AM · @Yeowser Incredibles 2 is coming next year, Toy Story 4 isn't due until 2019.
June 6, 2017 at 4:50 AM · Okay, but both of the Toy Story sequels made significant box office increases over their predecessors (the last one making over a billion dollars), and we know that Cars merchandise races off the shelves in a way that makes the films' mediocre box office irrelevant. Panda movies have performed well but are in decline, and I can't find anywhere that says the related merchandise is selling like hotcakes. Also, looking at future Dreamworks releases, there is no mention of any upcoming sequels for Panda, not next year nor in the next three years.

Regardless, as we have always said, it isn't as much about the IP as it is about the quality of the attraction. So as long as Universal does a good job, and there is no reason to expect anything other than a good job, the attraction will have its fans.

June 6, 2017 at 8:58 AM · Universal is probably delaying Kung Fu Panda 5 and Shrek 5 until Universal Beijing is open.

Kung Fu Panda is easily one of their biggest movie properties in China (behind only Fast and the Furious and Jurassic World), so don't underestimate that.

After Universal Beijing is finished in 2020, that's when we're likely to see a refresh on Kung Fu Panda/Shrek.

June 6, 2017 at 9:00 AM · I just checked and yeah Kung Fu Panda 3 made over $150m in China alone. That alone will push them towards Kung Fu Panda 4, but they'll want to do a world premiere for that at Universal Beijing after that is open in 2020-2021. So keep that in mind when thinking about why Kung Fu Panda is so important to Universal/DreamWorks.
June 6, 2017 at 2:22 PM · Since Universal bought DreamWorks they've axed most of the original films in development and reduced the output. How they hope to succeed long-term with fading characters like Panda and Puss and licensed ones like Captain Underpants and Trolls is beyond me.
June 7, 2017 at 4:16 PM · @ Kung Fu Panda 3 made $154m in China... great. So how does that explain it being put in a park in the United States where it only grossed $143m (on a production cost of $140m)?
June 7, 2017 at 11:11 PM · @James Rao

The DreamWorks Theatre attraction won't just be for Kung Fu Panda in the long run; I assume that attraction will end up covering all of the various groups of characters in that brand. It sounds like they're just starting with Kung Fu Panda and will rotate through Madagascar, Shrek, Trolls, etc.

As far as including it in a US attraction, I guess that's just as mostly a test run to see what works.

From what it sounds like, the Chinese parks will mostly be copying from the best elements of the US parks (like how Disney approached Shanghai).

I assume they're just testing things here to see which DreamWorks characters work best in a theater like setting. Universal Beijing will likely get a similar theater based off it.

June 8, 2017 at 5:48 PM · They should do it with shrek, or trolls or someother movie that did better
June 9, 2017 at 3:52 AM · ^At the rate Universal turns over and trashes their attractions, you're exactly right: Pu Pu Panda won't be in that theater any longer than necessary. Which is a good thing. Keeps the park fresh and an update gives the park brass something to bark about in a off year when nothing major comes to the park.

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