Saturday SixUniversal Orlando Resort

The SATURDAY SIX Explores DREAMWORKS LAND (Trollercoaster, Meet-and-Greets, the Shrekzel and more!)

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX checks out DreamWorks Land in Universal Studios Florida! Recently we’ve done some articles in this fine blog series on the 25th Anniversary of Islands of Adventure where – outside of the Wizarding World – not much has changed since the park opened back in 1999. Meanwhile, Universal Studios Florida (USF) has gone through a ton of changes in the same time period, with almost every single attraction being replaced during the timeframe. This includes one of my personal favorite attractions: Shrek 4-D (you can read my love letter to Shrek 4-D by CLICKING HERE.)

Heaven needed a 4-D simulator. (pixie dust by Scott Walker)

Not only did the Shrek attraction bring a lot of joy, but the Shrek meet-and-greet was one of the best in ANY theme park, let alone at Universal (in large part thanks to his wise cracking friend, Donkey.) The replacements for Shrek 4D and the meet-and-greet were fantastic (Villain-Con and other elements of Minion Land) but there was still a hole in the park with everyone’s favorite ogre gone. The good news is that Universal was making a new home for Shrek in an upcoming DreamWorks Land, which would replace the former Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone area of USF.

Earlier this month, DreamWorks Land officially opened for guests and we’re here to check out the new land, see our old pals and meet some new ones along the way!

DreamWorks Land. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

# 6 – SHREK is Back!

As good as the old Shrek meet-and-greet was, it had minimal theming considering it was located at the back of the former Monsters Café restaurant. DreamWorks Land did justice for Shrek and created his iconic swamp house for the new meet-and-greet.

Shrek’s new swamp house meet-and-greet area.

The signage outside displays the next time that the characters will be out for meets.

Shrek’s Swamp Meet. (photos by Hedgehogs Corner)

When the meet-and-greets are done for the day, you’ll see a fun “makin’ waffles, see ya tomorrow!” note on the board.

Swamp Meet-and-Greet signage. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Guests may encounter one, two, or even all three characters during any given meet-and-greet during the day.

Donkey, Princess Fiona, and Shrek.
Shrek and Donkey.
Shrek meeting a fan. (photo by Nick Exley)
This is what it’s all about folks. (photo by Nick Exley)


When Universal Orlando teased details coming to DreamWorks Land earlier this year, they mentioned an item called the Shrekzel would be coming. No one knew exactly WHAT a Shrekzel was, but it was assumed that it would be similar to a Mickey Pretzel, except shaped in the image of Shrek. Turns out that’s exactly what a Shrekzel was, and it’s even more glorious than we ever could have imagined.

Shrekzel with green cheese. (photos by Hedgehogs Corner)

As is, the Shrekzel ranks a 9.5/10 on the snack scale, but a little bit more salt crystals added on top would immediately put it onto the Mt. Rushmore of theme park snacks.

The One. The Only. The Shrekzel.

The dipping cup that comes with the Shrekzel is green colored cheese.

Shrekzel with green cheese.

Also available at Swamp Snacks is the SWAMP DOG. This is a hot dog with some of that green cheese you get with the Shrekzel inside what Universal calls “pizza cheese bark.”

This definitely could have used a marinara dipping sauce on the side.

There are two versions of the Far Far a Waffle, pepperoni and ham & cheese. Essentially stuffed waffles. A little dry and not exceptional.

Pepperoni Far Far A Waffle.
Cross section of the pepperoni Far Far A Waffle.

The surprise hit at Swamp Snacks at the two frozen treats they offer. One looks like Shrek and is sour apple flavored.

The fun part of the frozen treats is that while there are directions on the back of each package, most guests buying them don’t take the time to read the directions and then try to get the treat out by any means necessary, including using their mouth to try and rip it open.

This will hit the spot considering most days this Summer in Florida are expected to hit 300 degrees with 110% humidity.

I’m more of a fan of the Chonkey Donkey, which is essentially a themed Fudgsicle.

One of the more traditional snacks is the Mud Puddle Pudding, which is basically the standard “worms and dirt.” Kids are going to love it.

While the themed spoon in the shape of a shovel gets major points for creativity, it’s unfortunately not as practical as you’d hope it would be when eating the snack.

The perfect accessory for any of your WWE action figures to use in a buried alive match.

# 4 – Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres

Like the former KidZone area, the majority of DreamWorks Land are play areas for kids. In the Shrek section of DreamWorks Land this play area it called Shrek’s Swamp For Little Ogres. It is filled with slides, a splash area, rope course and more stuff to let the kiddos burn off some energy.

Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres. (photos by Hedgehogs Corner)

The highlight of this area is PINOCCHIO!

After pressing a button, Pinocchio will give guests some “alternate facts.”

An underrated aspect of Shrek’s Swamp is the signage throughout the area.

This sign featuring the three blind mice is one of my favorite signs in all of Universal Orlando.

Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres safety Signage. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Similar to the movie Shrek, several signs are designed to look like they originally were intended for something else, but converted once Shrek had a change of heart and accepted people into his swamp.

There are some truly great details in this kid’s play area.

Water shooter at Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres. Lady Beetle as the aiming sight. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres ropes. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Kids are going to get a huge kick out of the slide themed to an outhouse, as it comes with its own sound effect as people slide down.

The Shrekzel is definitely #1 in the area but this outhouse slide is a solid #2. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Our last area of the swamp to visit is King Harold’s Swamp Symphony. This is next level bonkers in the best way possible.

Many kids areas have sound effects that happen when you step on an item, but in this area when you step on a lily pad a frog will start croaking.

King Harold’s Swamp Symphony. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Each frog makes a different croaking sound when you jump on their lily pad.

Rumors & Innuendo suggest that a certain combination of the lily pads will produce a sound effect that will instantly hit home for those guests of a certain age.

Croaking frogs at King Harold’s Swamp Symphony. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 3 – Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp

Our next themed area in DreamWorks Land is the former home of Curious George: Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp.

Entrance of Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

At the front of the training camp is the Gong of Resounding Resonance. Each pull of the rope will produce a different sound effect, including a traditional gong song along with wacky cartoon-like sound effects.

The Gong of Resounding Resonance. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

Mr. Ping’s Noodle Kaboodle is an area for kids to run around in and play with hanging ropes.

A spinning playground feature in Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp. There are four seats, with seatbacks. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Throughout the day there are live training exercises with the Kung Fu Panda himself, Po.

Think of this interactive experience like Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT.

It is pretty amazing how far this technology has come in the theme park world.

One of the effects at the former Curious George play area was a large bucket dump that poured water onto people below. That tradition continues in Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp with the Laundry of Ultimate Cleanliness.

The Laundry of Ultimate Cleanliness bucket dump in Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp (photo by @bioreconstruct)
LOOK OUT! (photo by @bioreconstruct)

There is a splash area as well with the Pond of Perpetual Wetness. Are these names great or what?

Pond of Perpetual Wetness. (photo by @bioreconstrut)
Pond of Perpetual Wetness. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Pond of Perpetual Wetness. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)
Good news, there are dryers near every splash area in DreamWorks Land.

DreamWorks Land gets a lot of the “little things” right, such as cute stroller parking signage in each of the various sections.

Stroller parking sign in Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

In a theme park world where some companies (no names mentioned) seem to be cutting every corner they can to save money, its refreshing to see the level of thought put into all areas of a land that we used to always get. Themed drainage gates are certainly not much in the big scheme of things, and something that 99% of guests won’t even notice, but taken all together all these little details add up to a better overall experience.

Themed small drainage grate in Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 2 – Trolls

The colorful area in DreamWorks Land themed to Trolls is home to the one and only TROLLERCOASTER.

TrollerCoaster. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

Move over Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train as we have a new leader in the clubhouse when it comes to ride vehicles with the Caterbus.

The Caterbus at Trollercoaster. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” – Frederic Nietzsche

Front of the Caterbus at Trollercoaster. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts. The Caterbus has a themed butt at the back of the ride vehicle!

Closer look at the decorative legs of the Caterbus at Trollercoaster. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

For those wondering, the Caterbus is just as creepy once the sun goes down, if not more so.

The Caterbus at night in Trollercoaster. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

While the spider’s in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey may give kids nightmares, the spiders that are part of the Trollercoaster are much more goofy looking.

You gotta love those jeweled eyes though.

Jeweled spider eyes at Trollercoaster. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Poppy’s Playground is a play area for smaller kids.

A bouncy attraction in Poppy’s Playground. An adult raises and lowers it at a cadence suitable for their child. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Poppy’s Playground is the closest thing we have to stepping into a cartoon in DreamWorks Land.

Themed shade structures. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

You’ll find some character meets in this area, including Poppy herself.

The Permit Princess Alicia Stella with Poppy.

We also have Branch…

Trolls meet-and-greet with Branch. (photo by Nick Exley)

…and best of all, GUY DIAMOND.

E-Ticket meet-and-greet character.

Snack wise, you can find some ice cream options available at Trolls Treats.

Trolls Treats ice cream stand. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The Poppy-Licious Pink cone is one of the best treats in all of DreamWorks Land.

Brozone Berry isn’t as tasty (huckleberry flavored?!) but it also seems to be sold out pretty regularly.

# 1 – Imagination Celebration

We all love our air conditioning in Florida theme parks, so after a while enjoying the play areas in DreamWorks Land, you may want to head over to the Imagination Celebration and catch the dance show.

Imagination Celebration. (photo by Brandon Glover)

There is a gorgeous mural outside and inside the Imagination Celebration building featuring many DreamWorks characters drawn in cloud form. It’s really cool.

Imagination Celebration Mural. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

But what’s really interesting is that it is one of the only pieces of artwork at any Universal or Disney theme park in which the artist of the piece was allowed to “sign” their work. I hope we see more of this in the future.

Artist signature (Pat Vogtli) on the DreamWorks character mural. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The near 20 minute show features various DreamWorks characters from the world of Shrek, Madagascar, Trolls and Kung Fu Panda. It’s a blast.

Imagination Celebration. Shrek. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Any time you use puppets in a show, I’m in.

Imagination Celebration. Donkey. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Imagination Celebration. (photo by @ThatJakeKid91)
Imagination Celebration. Po. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Imagination Celebration. King Julien. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Imagination Celebration. Poppy. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Imagination Celebration. (photo by Declan O’mara)

You’re in dire need of an upgrade. Systemic, top to bottom. 100-point restoration.” – Tony Stark to Spider-Man, Captain America: Civil War

Universal took everything that was in the former Woody Woodpecker’s  KidZone and made it better.  That’s not to say there are things I don’t miss from the old area, including the incredible Curious George Ball Factory, but the new area is so much better all around. The characters are more relevant, the merchandise is actually good (compared to non-existent at KidZone), and the area is just plain fun.

Let’s take a look at the former KidZone Pizza, which has now been converted over to Imagination Cafe. This is a small quick service area that you walk by before you even officially enter DreamWorks Land. There’s not much special about it, but it needs to be stated that the former KidZone Pizza was one of the worst locations in all of Universal when it came to food. KidZone Pizza came from a different era of theme parks where “well, it may not be good but it’s good enough” was the overall mentality when it came to quick service food at both Universal and Disney parks. Thankfully, since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter made its debut in 2010, the food and drink component for lands have been elevated to the nth degree compared to what we had when I was going to the parks as a kid. In particular at Universal Studios Florida, which for years was by far and away the WORST when it came to quick service dining. Now it make actually be one of the BEST with a lineup that includes Today Café, Minion Café, Fast Food Boulevard, and the Leaky Cauldron.

Imagination Café.

The menu at Imagination Café isn’t anything to write home about, but the pizza is MUCH better than what they were serving at KidZone Pizza.

Ogreroni Pizza.
Cheese pizza.

Imagination Cafe also offers Boss Baby Beignets. That’s right, beignets – a staple of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration – are finally going to be offered in the parks YEAR ROUND. This is a theme park foodie’s dream come true and now putting “pizza fries” in my theme park year round wishlist.

Boss Baby Beignets. (photo by Brandon Glover)

You may be asking, what does Boss Baby have to do with beignets? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING outside the alliterative name. Very similar to another offering at Imagination Cafe, Strawberry Softpaws. This is a bowl of strawberries named after a character in Puss in Boots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cat eat a strawberry before, but here we are.

Imagination Cafe. Strawberry Softpaws.
Can’t Stop the Donut! (official name)

There is some seating located right outside Imagination Cafe. It’s worth stopping by for a slice.

Honorable Mention – Mama Luna Feline Fiesta

One area I was looking forward to the most in DreamWorks Land is Mama Luna Feline Fiesta, because it based on the character of Mama Luna in the movie Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (which is one of the best animated films of the last decade in my book.) Mama Luna takes in stray cats, and a hilarious sequence of events in the movie takes place when she tries to domesticate Puss in Boots when he is in her care.

There are some terrific design elements in and around the building, including this great weather vane.

Weather vane at top of Mama Luna Feline Fiesta. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Cat mosaic at Mama Luna Feline Fiesta. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Inside Mama Luna’s house there is a virtual game play area where you can interact with the cats on the screen in front  of you. There are controls in the front of the room (which you can see at the very bottom of the picture below) and some controls in the back of the room. When  you see items superimposed on the screen like on the left side of the photo below, you activate them with the controls in the back. Actions include a fun spray bottle to scoot cats away. When you see items highlighted on the screen, like the cat on the seat below, you operate the controls at the front of the room for some fun shenanigans.

Mama Luna Feline Fiesta. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

There are portraits of cats all around Mama Luna’s house, but one is of particular note. In a ParkStop Podcast episode, Alicia Stella revealed that this picture below is Universal paying tribute to Woody Woodpecker himself. I love when Disney and Universal make references to extinct attractions in the areas that replaced them, so this was fantastic to se..

A portrait in Mama Luna Feline Fiesta. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Guests can also meet Puss in Boots along with Kitty Softpaws in this area.

Kitty Softpaws.

Double Secret Honorable Mention – Themed Trash Cans

When we lost Shrek 4D, we also lost the gorgeous themed trash cans that sat outside the attraction. As I said earlier, the difference between theme parks and amusement parks are details like.

Trash Can outside Shrek 4K. (photo by Alicia Stella)

Millions of guests experienced Shrek 4D during the near 15 years it was at Universal Studios Florida. How many of those guests actually noticed these trash cans? Probably very little, but their existence alone added to the overall atmosphere of the area.

Shrek 4D trash can. (photo by Alicia Stella)

While some theme park companies today are fine with just slapping a decal on a trash can and calling it a day (again, no names mentioned) DreamWorks Land has trash cans with intricate designs etched into them.

Themed trash barrels in the Shrek section of DreamWorks Land. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Themed trash barrels in the Trolls section of DreamWorks Land. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Themed trash barrels in the Kung Fu Panda section of DreamWorks Land. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Hey, I get it. You can sit there and think “Themed trash cans? Derek, that means nothing.” My answer to that? It does mean nothing, and That’s why it means everything.

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Explores DREAMWORKS LAND! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

The SATURDAY SIX Celebrates Ten Years with TouringPlans

SATURDAY SIX Presents: The Disney Merchandise Hall of Shame

SATURDAY SIX Presents: The Disney Signage Hall of Shame

SATURDAY SIX Presents: The Disney Food Hall of Shame

SATURDAY SIX: Tribute to Josh easyWDW

SATURDAY SIX: Tribute to Ian Barritt

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, the permit princess Alicia Stella, master cartographer Tommy Hawkins, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.


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