Despicable Me Minion Mayhem arrives at Universal Studios Hollywood in April 2014
Gru’s lovable yellow Minions have already wreaked Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida, and now we know when their popular Despicable Me simulator ride will arrive at Hollywood. According to the webpage for a contest sponsored by the retailer rue 21, at Universal Studios Hollywood Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem will debut in April 2014.
The new attraction, which replaced USH’s Terminator 2/3D attraction, is largely identical to the Orlando version, but features a much more elaborate facade depicting Gru’s home and neighborhood. Adjacent to the ride (replacing the Coke Soak area) will be Super Silly Fun Land, an amusement park-inspired playground with a “spinner” kiddie ride.
The addition of Despicable Me is the first of many changes coming to Universal Studios Hollywood, including the recent demolition of the revolving tunnel on the Studio Tour, the rumored addition of an expanded Simpsons area similar to the new Springfield USA in Orlando, and the eventual opening of a west coast Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Read the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland for complete info on USH, and keep an eye on this blog for future updates on the evolution of Universal.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Top Six Gift Shops at Universal Studios Florida. Until recently, gift shops were seen as a necessary evil at our favorite theme parks – annoyances that many people either dreaded being herded through or mocked the existence of outright. One of the best gags in The Simpsons Ride involves the alien Kodos saying, “Foolish Earthlings, don’t you know all rides must end near the gift shop?”
Thankfully, over the past several years gift shops at Universal have become better themed and well merchandised, and several have even started to incorporate interactive features for their guests. It’s almost unbelievable to say it, but just as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey became possibly the first attraction in the history of theme parks to have a queue guests wanted to spend more time in, gift stores themselves are becoming features of attractions that guests can look forward to experiencing. Here now, a look at 6 of the best gift shops at Universal Studios Florida.
“Thank you, come again!”
# 6 - Kwik-E-Mart
Despite the great joke mentioned above, the Simpsons Ride is one of the few attractions at USF that doesn’t exit into a gift shop. The Kwik-E-Mart, the ride’s merchandise location, is right next to the attraction and is filled with the high level of self-deprecating humor that is found throughout Springfield USA. Signs above the merchandise include sales pitches like, “Today’s merchandise at tomorrow’s prices!,” “These items won’t buy themselves!,” and “C’mon! If you owned a store we’d buy your junk!” There’s even a sign at the registers that has a call back to an episode of the Simpsons television show as it warns the cashiers not to take checks from various people including Chief Wiggum, Homer J Simpson, and Homer J Fong.
The walls and outside windows of the Kwik-E-Mart are laden with ads for fake products including Farmer Billy’s Choco-Bacon-Bars (“It’s like chocolate and bacon had a baby in your mouth!”) while the variety of actual Simpsons related products inside includes t-shirts, hats, plush, comic books and more.
Outside the store there is a photo-op available with Milhouse sitting on a bench and one of USF’s most hidden gems, the Simpsons pay phone. On the side of the Kwik-E-Mart closest to the Simpsons ride, there is pay phone mounted on a wall with the character Nelson next to it with a word balloon saying, “Answer the phone dingus…it’s for you.” Walking by this phone will trigger it to ring, and picking up the receiver will treat you to a gag line by one of the various Simpsons characters including Chief Wiggum, Moe Szyslak, and Bart Simpson.
With a pressed penny machine, the Big Pink donut, and lithographs of the hilarious attraction posters such as Captain Dinosaur’s Pirate Rip-Off (a jab at Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride), the Kwik-E-Mart is a must-do for any Simpsons fan.
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I have been fascinated by character meals for a long time now, probably because my parents would never take me to one when I was growing up. I’ve read all of Brian McNichols‘ articles on character dining at WDW and love listening to various podcasts talking about the different dining experiences Disney has to offer. One thing no one ever seems to talk about is character dining at Universal. Well, today that is going to change.
Every Sunday, from 8AM – Noon, Jake’s American Bar at the Royal Pacific Resort has a character breakfast. About a month ago, I made a reservation for our party through Open Table for 10AM. Upon checking in, while we were waiting for our table, a couple of Pink Berets from the movie Hop were at the front of the restaurant. The children we were with made a bee line for these characters despite never having seen Hop.
The sheer awe that these kids showed in their faces and reactions made me realize immediately that my parents blew it. Big time.
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Props from AMC’s The Walking Dead at USF
This past weekend I headed up to the Universal Orlando Resort to get some research done for the new Universal menu pages on TouringPlans.com, and while I was there I got to see some new things that have popped up around the parks.
Obviously the biggest change going on right now is the near daily arrivals of props related to Halloween Horror Nights 23 over in Universal Studios Florida. Fans of the hit television show The Walking Dead on AMC are going to recognize many of the elements showing up in the park. Right across from the main gift shop is a beat up truck that has Daryl Dixon’s famous crossbow laying on it while nearby is the “Sophia stay here we will come every day” car that was located in front of Disaster! for HHN 22 last year. Over by Cafe La Bamba there is a section that is mostly covered up except for a well placed bicycle. This could an area set aside for “Bicycle Girl,” one of the most well known zombie characters from both the Walking Dead show and comic book series.
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