Welcome to Extinct Attractions. This week, we’ll be going on a journey Far, Far Away to a land of mystical creatures.
This week, Universal Pictures is releasing The Invisible Man, a remake of the 1933 Universal Monsters film. Originally, an Invisible Man film, with Johnny Depp set to star as the titular character, was set to be a part of the Dark Universe before flop after flop grounded that expanded universe. Instead, we got this Blumhouse Productions version, still produced by Universal. From what I’ve heard, the movie is great, so I’m excited to get to see it this weekend.
Thinking about Blumhouse and Universal reminded me of the proposed DreamWorks-Blumhouse film Spooky Jack. For now, the film looks cancelled, but it was such an interesting idea to combine an animation-centric studio with a horror-movie production company. You don’t see that combination very often, and I’m a bit bummed that it doesn’t look like it is going to come to fruition.
However, DreamWorks still continues to put out quality films with Abominable and How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World both doing well last year, but DreamWorks probably wouldn’t be the major studio it is today without Shrek.
Shrek was an instant hit, finishing the year as the second highest-grossing movie of the year domestically and fourth-highest worldwide and won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Personally, I love the film and think it still holds up amazingly well today. At the time, Universal didn’t own DreamWorks, but they saw the potential of the film and began working with DreamWorks on a new attraction for their parks.
Via The Studio Tour
On May 23, 2003, Shrek 4-D opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, with an opening at Universal Studios Florida less than a month later on June 12, 2003. We’ll get to the show in a minute, but in a very interesting move, Shrek 4-D was also released as Shrek 3-D as an add-on to a new DVD release of Shrek. It came with those fun (terrible) blue-red 3-D glasses, hitting stores around the same time as the attraction. As far as I know, this was the first time that a theme park attraction had been commercially released on home video. It was such an interesting strategy to expand the reach of the short film to those who may not have been able to go on the attraction.
Shrek 4-D was such an easy people-eater of an attraction that Universal Studios Japan added it, too. But Universal Studios Singapore took it one step further by creating an entire land based around Shrek, fittingly called Far, Far Away, with Shrek 4-D a part of the land, as well.
But what’s even more interesting to me is that Shrek 4-D even made its way to other non-Universal theme parks.
Shrek 4-D opened at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia on September 17, 2005 as well as at Movie Park Germany on May 27, 2008. It is an extremely rare occurrence for a Universal or Disney attraction to have any kind of representation outside of their own bubbles, so I thought it was fascinating to see these versions were out there. They didn’t last as long as any of the other versions (Movie Park’s closing July 4, 2011 and Movie World’s, August 29, 2010), but it was still enough to show that the attraction was primarily a DreamWorks creation that was simply licensed to Universal for its parks.
I remember some small bits and pieces of when Shrek 4-D first opened and how excited I was. I went to Universal Studios Hollywood a lot when I was younger, and with Shrek being one of my favorite movies, I always asked my parents if we could watch the show.
I won’t talk too much about the actual experience of the attraction, but it was a hilarious time from the preshow on. The attraction was a direct follow-up to Shrek, taking place mere minutes after the film ends. The creators did an awesome job capturing the humor of the movie and putting together an engaging story.
Thinking about it now, it was always a great place to go and get away from the heat, especially since it almost never had a long wait. The seats would bounce and you might get a little wet (hence the 4-D), but it was still a relaxing time nonetheless.
That short queue became even more obvious every Halloween Horror Nights when most of the the queue was utilized for a maze. They simply did not need the space even when the attraction was open during the day. With that in mind, Shrek 4-D officially closed in Hollywood on August 13, 2017.
In its place, there is now the DreamWorks Theatre, currently housing an attraction featuring the characters from Kung Fu Panda. Though I loved Shrek 4-D, I understand the move that they made. Luckily, it still exists in all the other Universal Parks (but I would not be surprised if it closed in Florida soon).
Throughout the post, Shrek 4-D has been a part of a few firsts and unique things, but to me the most scintillating is that you can actually find it right now on Netflix. It has been streaming on the service for nearly a decade now, known as The Ghost of Lord Farquaad. Again, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty positive that this is the first ever theme park attraction to also have a home on a streaming service. In fact, with its appearance in parks around the world and on Netflix, I think an argument could be made that Shrek 4-D is the most accessible theme park attraction in history. Sure, you don’t get the moving seats at home, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Well, that’s all for today. Next week, I’ll be writing about Onward’s box office and the week after I will be on vacation, so check back in March 18 for the next Extinct Attractions post based on these clues.
- This attraction was based on a Disney Channel show.
- This attraction just closed last week.
- This attraction made you walk around an entire land looking for clues.
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.