Welcome to Extinct Attractions. My name is Cole, and I’ll be your guide on today’s blast to the past with some classic Nickelodeon shows.
The year is 2001. Academy Award season is rolling around and there are three films up for the Oscar for Best Animated Film, Shrek, Monsters, Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Today, there is still a lot of love for the Shrek and Monsters, Inc. franchises, with both of them having theme park attractions in three different parks around the world as well as Shrek 5 and a Monsters, Inc. television show in the works. So needless to say, both of them are still huge forces in the entertainment industry, whereas Jimmy Neutron hasn’t held up quite as well. However, all three of these movies eventually had theme park attractions, making it the only year every where all of the Best Animated Feature nominees had theme park representation. But before we get ahead of ourselves and disregard Jimmy, we’ve got to jump forward a few years.
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera was a staple of Universal Studios Florida since its opening in 1990. But by the early 2000s, Hanna-Barbera had lost a lot of its luster and the attraction no longer commanded crowds, especially with company being merged into the Warner Animation Group in 2001.
With this in mind, Universal contacted their friends over at Nickelodeon and got their approval to create an attraction themed around their animated shows. In fact, Nickelodeon went one step further and actually did most of the attraction’s design and story work themselves, basically leaving Universal to provide the actual land for the attraction as well as pay to license the Nickelodeon characters.
With Jimmy Neutron continuing the film’s success with a television show that lasted for three seasons, it seemed like the perfect choice to center this new attraction around. When designing the new attraction, Universal opted to use the same ride system as Hanna-Barbera, Thus, it was a quick five month turnaround after Hanna-Barbera’s closing until when Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast opened on April 11, 2003.
I didn’t watch too many Nicktoon television shows as a kid (thanks Mom and Dad), but one that I actually did watch quite often was Jimmy Neutron because the movie was so much fun and then the show managed to carry a lot of that fun along. So never having been on the attraction myself, I was pretty excited to check it out and see what it had in store.
The attraction’s story begins with you entering the Nickelodeon Studios soundstage where Jimmy Neutron is “filmed.” I was a little confused by the story to be honest because it seemed like the characters lived on the soundstages as opposed to being actors in the shows, but I decided to let that one go because thinking about it too much would have led me down a dark rabbit hole.
Anyways, Jimmy had created a rocket ship that he could use to fly around from soundstage to soundstage to visit his friends along with his best friend Carl and his dog Goddard. But then, disaster strikes when one of the egg aliens from the film appears and steals the ship, leading Jimmy and company, you included, into one of the older model’s of his ship as you chased down the nefarious villain.
After you blasted off, your journey took you through a myriad of different Nicktoon shows like The Fairly OddParents and SpongeBob Squarepants as you and Jimmy attempted to get his ship back. After disrupting a bunch of different shows and visiting the alien home world, you and the gang managed to recover the ship and make it home safely.
I would say that I enjoyed the attraction as a whole, but it was certainly nothing to write home about. Not really growing up with these Nickelodeon shows definitely affected the experience because I didn’t quite understand a lot of the references that were made throughout the attraction.
One thing that felt a little odd visually was the juxtaposition of 2D and 3D animation. Almost all of the backgrounds that they used were in three dimensions, but a lot of the characters from the Nicktoon shows were two-dimensional making the whole thing just feel a bit off.
The other issue that I had was it seemed like you were just along for the ride as opposed to being a part of the experience. There was no real purpose for your being there like you see in a lot of attractions, and it made the entire ride feel a lot less personal, keeping you disengaged.
But I did still think that the whole story was really clever and made Nicktoon Blast fun to experience. Having this crossover event was ahead of its time in this era of cinematic universes and connected television shows, so you have to give the show creators a lot of credit for creativity (even if Hanna-Barbera did a similar thing).
Ultimately, Jimmy Neutron and the rest of the Nicktoons began to lose popularity, so the attraction moved to seasonal operation at the beginning of 2011. After a final summer, the attraction closed for good on August 18, 2011 to make way for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Now, I’m no fan of Minion Mayhem because it stole my beloved Terminator 2: 3D in California, but I do think it’s a better attraction than Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast. The Nicktoon Blast was fun, but it’s time had correctly come to an end and lead to bigger and better things.
So with that, let’s look at what’s coming in three weeks because the next couple of weeks will be dedicated to box office looks at the Disney films coming out.
- This attraction was a 3D film.
- This attraction was in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.
- This attraction featured Jim Henson characters.
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!
Cole Geryak is a college Disney fan making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.