DreamWorks-ification of KidZone at Universal Studios Florida – New Ride Rumors

Alicia Stella Everything We Know / Theme Park News / Theme Park Rumors This article contains affiliate links. Learn More

For 20 years this section of Universal Studios Florida has been trapped in time. For the better part of a decade plans for at least a half-dozen properties set to replace KidZone have failed to get off the ground. But could DreamWorks finally be the one to break ‘the curse’?

Let’s check in on what attractions have been dreamt up for this area, and how it looks as though DreamWorks is already slowly taking over, in today’s rumor update. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.

Theme park fans have jokingly theorized that this area of Universal Studios Florida has been cursed ever since the Bates Motel and house sets from Psycho 4 were removed more than 20 years ago. For whatever reason, none of the plans to replace the family-friendly attractions in this area have worked out over the years, and not for a lack of trying.

The Psycho house looms in the background as KidZone is under construction, Photo: Bioreconstruct

Super Nintendo World got the closest to replacing the entire area. Permits for demolition of all the existing structures (except E.T.,) and the construction of several attractions, were filed with the county in 2017. At the last minute, all of the Nintendo plans were moved to the upcoming Epic Universe theme park down the street instead.

Super Nintendo World, Image: Universal Studios Japan

A year later, it looked as though Pokemon was about to be greenlit to take over this area instead. This new land was rumored to receive a Mack Inverted Powered Coaster with indoor and outdoor scenes, a battle arena show that would have used augmented reality technology, as well as multiple interactive Pokemon activities. These proposed plans would have replaced everything in this area except for Animal Actors and E.T. Adventure.

No one is certain why the Pokemon plans were cancelled, although some believe they’ve only been put on hold hold, for now. Whether Pokemon will still end up taking over KidZone, be built as an expansion for Epic Universe, or maybe even take over a section of Islands of Adventure, remains to be seen.

The first big change to happen to the KidZone area in over two decades came when the Barney show officially closed in February 2021.

A few months later, a quick replacement moved in. Named DreamWorks Destination, this interactive meet and greet with a dance party vibe features popular characters from franchises like Trolls, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and Shrek. Some took it as a sign for things to come.

In recent weeks, even more DreamWorks representation has moved into the area. Shrek lost his home when Shrek 4-D closed permanently near the front of the park at the start of this year. When the Monsters Cafe next door closed shortly after, Shrek’s original meet and greet location was closed as well.

Now, a new meet and greet has taken over the former Barney gift shop, themed as Shrek’s Swamp Meet. Here you can meet Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey.

Could these last two additions signal the start of a larger take over? Maybe we are witnessing it happen, but in slow motion, rather than all at once. And the funny thing is, it wouldn’t be the first time DreamWorks was planned to take over the area.

Universal may have been dreaming up a DreamWorks replacement for KidZone years before Super Nintendo World would be slated for the area. Named “DreamWorks Fun Works” according to rumored early concepts, this area would draw from some of the popular characters and settings of the era.

Funnily enough, in the older concept, Shrek’s Swamp meet and greet would have been located near the entrance to the area on the left, just about where it is now. The area also would have contained a Madagascar play area, Rise of the Guardians flat ride, Kung Fu Panda tracked ride with both indoor and outdoor scenes, a How to Train Your Dragon mini-land with a small show and a retheme of the existing Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse kiddie coaster, and a Quick Service location featuring Wallace and Gromit.

These plans would have replaced Barney, Curious George, Fievel’s Playland, and rethemed the existing kiddie coaster. They would have left the Animal Actors show and E.T. Adventure ride intact. It’s not clear if this concept was being worked on before or after the company acquired DreamWorks in 2016, but it seemed like Universal was interested in bringing more of these characters into the parks as soon as possible.

Since these plans were drawn up, a land based on Kung Fu Panda has found its way into Universal Beijing, and a land based on How to Train Your Dragon is being built at Epic Universe in Orlando. Although, both the Dragons stage show and roller coaster for this iteration will be much, much larger.

There are new rumors that say a modern take on a DreamWorks land here in KidZone would feature an indoor dark ride at the back of the area based on the popular Trolls franchise.

The land would also feature attractions based on Madagascar and Shrek characters, including a new play area to replace Fievel, and a retheme of the Woody Woodpecker coaster.

Shrek’s new meet and greet would likely get to stay, as well as DreamWorks Destination in the old Barney theater for sing-alongs and meet and greets. Although the theater entrance may be rerouted through the old indoor play area side of Barney, so the Courtyard space can be utilized for the Trolls ride entry.

There are rumors that Universal Studios Florida may still be getting a new attraction for 2024, despite the Harry Potter expansion that would have replaced the Fear Factor Live stage being cancelled. The still unannounced Minions Villain-Con shooter attraction replacing Shrek 4-D is expected to open in 2023, but a possible 2024 addition remains a mystery.

Perhaps this DreamWorks-ification of the KidZone area will continue in stages, and one of those updates would be our attraction for 2024? Fievel’s Playland just receive a refresh with a new coat of paint on most of the area, so it may still have a few years left in it.

Other rumors for 2024 keep coming up, featuring a new attraction based on a old favorite. Although, the internet is torn on whether it would be Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, or something else. It’s hard to tell if these are actual rumors, or just hope. Either way, perhaps a KidZone replacement is being held off until after Epic Universe opens, currently scheduled for summer 2025 at the latest.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled for progress, because with DreamWorks slowly taking over the area bit by bit, maybe there’s a chance the curse might be lifted.

That’s all for now, but if you’d like to bring a piece of the parks home, Souvenir Scents has candles and wax melts that smell like the the ET ride, Butterbeer, and even HHN houses. Save 15% off every order with my promo code PARKSTOP at SouvenirScents.com.

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  • Eric G


    There was literally a poster for Gabby’s Dollhouse over in that area. Wouldn’t surprise me to be themed to that. Incredibly popular among younger children.

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