Opening of Dreamworks Theater

Universal Studios has been the home to monsters, Blues Brothers, Marty McFly, ET, and now that they have Dreamworks as a subsidiary, all of the characters from Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda.

One of the biggest complaints I’d have about Universal Hollywood is that unlike it’s counterpart in Florida, it lacks attractions, especially family friendly attractions. When Shrek 4D went away last year to make way for the new Dreamworks Theater I was skeptical, but wondered what they could do. Let me get this out right off the bat, I’m not a big fan of Univeral’s use of 3D glasses because they’ve played that trick to death so I was extremely happy to see this new attraction uses the 4D elements of smoke, air, and rain as well as being a motion simulator, but doesn’t use the glasses. In that respect it feels more like an upgraded version of the original Star Tours…but let me back up as I was there for the grand opening celebration.

Before the new Dreamworks Theater officially opened with it’s first film, “Kung Fu Panda Adventure”, (The theater was built with the idea to change out the films from time to time.) we got to meet Mr. Ping at the opening ceremony podium. He would introduce Universal Hollywood’s CEO Karen Irwin and after a bit of back and forth banter, Irwin stated that even though Dreamworks had been working along with Universal for a while, this was the first attraction collaborating along with the Dreamworks animation team and that does shine through.

Following her opening announcements, a cavalcade of Dreamworks characters from Shrek, Madagascar, Trolls, and of course Kung Fu Panda, made their way through traditional Chinese drummers, dancing parade dragons, and a little bit of fireworks and streamers, which all led to Irwin cutting the traditional opening ceremony ribbon with the biggest golden scissors I’d ever seen.

Press and executives were then allowed to walk into the theater, which is built in that classic Hollywood art deco style and awaiting you at the front (and fake) ticket booth is Pinocchio from the Shrek films. As you make your way past the ticket booth you enter a small zen garden which I thought was a nice touch. When entering the building you are greeted with all of the posters from Dreamworks films as well as their logo of the boy fishing off of the moon. That logo would would also be seen in the pre-show area.

The pre-show holding area was done up very well. It’s spacious so you don’t have to be shoulder to shoulder with anyone which was nice. Many of Dreamworks accolades and awards were displayed in a few cases, and the pre-show featured several of the characters from Dreamworks films. All of them vying for the film to be about their adventure but Po from Kung Fu Panda made sure everyone in the room knew what they were in for. What I can say about this room is that the walls and video screens are seemless. It was fantastic to see this play out, and without the need for glasses.
Once inside the theater I noticed a few seats say “non-moving seats” which gave away that this theater was going to be a simulator attraction, but I am glad to see that they are thinking of people who don’t want that type of experience. The attraction, which lasts around 5-7 minutes was pretty fun, although a bit jerky at times, but like the pre-show room the use of video screens here were flawless. The practical effects mixed in with the movie screen were wonderful and I think everyone from a family can enjoy it even if you’ve never seen Kung Fu Panda. I wouldn’t say this is the greatest attraction Universal has created, not by a long shot, but it does give families something that everyone can enjoy which is much needed at the Hollywood version of Universal and with this attraction one of the first you come across after entering the park, I’d expect it to be a major success.

All in all I’d recommend the Dreamworks Theater to anyone who has yet to give it a go. It might not be an overly repeatable attraction, at least not until they add in a new film, but it is worth checking out as long as it isn’t an hour wait or longer. 

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