Universal Orlando hasn’t officially announced what is replacing Shrek 4-D, but we have reported that it will be a Minions Villain-Con attraction. We expect this attraction will be interactive, where guests can earn score for zapping targets. Unlike rides like Men in Black: Alien Attack, this one will have us standing on a moving platform.
While much of the work seems to have been taking place inside the large sound stage at Universal Studios Florida, new construction near the attraction’s future entrance is starting to catch people’s attentions. Let’s check in on construction, and dig into what we know, and what we think we know about the Minions Villain-Con Stand-through attraction. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.
Known in permits as Project 331, the new Minions attraction is being built inside of the former Shrek 4-D attraction, which is Building 40 (or Building 4D, as the gag on the side says). Shrek 4-D closed permanently back in January, after running for 18 years at Universal Studios Florida.
To create the new Minions experience, the interior of the building has been partially demolished. To save on costs, creative decisions may have been made to make good use of some of the existing partitions within the structure.
One of the more interesting decisions made when designing the new attraction, was leaving space empty within the large structure to be utilized as multi-purpose space later. The Shrek 4-D attraction actually used to contain two identical theaters, each with their own preshow. And only one of these theaters will be used for the main area of the new attraction.
The second, unused theater, is rumored to have been cleared out and left empty. This large empty space will be saved mainly for use during the park’s annual Halloween Horror Nights event. In recent years, one of the two Shrek theaters was used as a haunted house location during the event. Now, that space will be permanently set aside for that purpose.
Of course, by allocating a large section of this building’s interior as multi-purpose space not related to the new Minions attraction, that doesn’t leave much room to construct a new ride. And that’s probably part of the reasoning behind the type of attraction they have chosen to build. It is not a ride. It is a walk-through… Sort of.
The idea of a Minions Villain-Con attraction has gone through many iterations over the years. We’ve been talking about it and its long history since 2017! Originally it was being designed as a trackless ride, where ride vehicles would take different routes each time to create unpredictability. Then later it was redesigned as a walk-through, where guests would make their way through the attraction on their own.
By the time the attraction was finally greenlit however, it was designed as a moving walkway attraction. This way the throughput would not be affected by guests taking too long to walk through the experience.
Instead, guests will stand on a specific point on a continually moving belt, and the moving belt will take them from scene to scene. It’s like a ride, where you stand up! It’s a stand-through. (Or, a ‘stand-Gru’, if you will.)
Documents we shared all the way back in February show that Glidepath Limited was hired to install equipment for this attraction. They are a company that creates moving walkways which are used in everything from airport baggage carousels to moving walkways in aquariums and other entertainment venues.
One of their specialties are moving walkways that can turn around corners, similar to a baggage carousel at an airport, but for people! This type of moving walkway is used in museums and aquariums, to keep people moving through an exhibit. And now, it will be used in an interactive zapper attraction at a theme park!
It is rumored that we will pick up some sort of blaster as we enter the attraction. After stepping onto the moving pathway, we will stand in place, firing at targets from scene to scene. It is not know yet if our scores will be recorded like on other shooter attractions, or if this one is more about the story and not being competitive.
It was rumored that an earlier iteration of the plans may have utilized gesture technologies, like Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure at Disney California Adventure, where you point your hands as a way to fire at the targets. New rumors suggest we will be holding a blaster though.
The rumored story for this attraction has us visiting the Villain-Con convention as first seen in the Minions spin-off film. Set in the past, this location will allow us to visit the world of the spin-off films, which is separate from the Despicable Me films, represented by the existing Minion Mayhem ride across the street on the same area of the park.
The new Minions Villain-Con attraction is expected to feature characters from the second film in the spin-off series, Minions: The Rise of Gru. We will enter a section of the Villain-Con convention floor after waiting in the same outdoor queue areas that were used for Shrek 4-D.
The queue will continue inside, taking us around different villain-related gadgets and products being shown off at the convention. This area may act as a sort of preshow, teaching us how to use whatever blaster we are about to use on the attraction.
It’s rumored that we will then be heading backstage, behind the convention floor. This is where we are going to be tested to see if we have what it takes to join the Vicious 6, the clan of bad-guys that young Gru wanted to join at the start of the second Minions film.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Minions attraction if the Minions themselves didn’t get involved, and in true theme park fashion, I’m sure somehow everything goes wrong.
We are rumored to pass through multiple scenes within this short moving walkway ride path, which will mostly be contained within one of the two former Shrek theaters. Scenes will be divided by large rounded screens, which may also involve practical projection mapped objects and other props in the foreground to create the illusion of depth, despite the small space.
A similar effect was created for a couple moments on The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, where projected fireworks appear to be going off in front of you. Parts of these scenes use projections on rounded screens in the background with practical set pieces, and even projection mapped objects, in the foreground.
One of the first permits for this attraction featured the company Holovis, Inc. as the contractor. They specialize in interactive and immersive screen and projected media installations, which is in line with rumors for the attraction.
The attraction’s moving walkway will be a continuous loop, but it will drop us off at the gift shop before making its way back to the loading zone. It’s rumored the exit gift shop for this attraction will be located directly across the street from the exit gift shop at Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, putting two Minions gift shops directly across the street from one another.
And in case that’s not enough Minions for you at Universal Studios Florida, it is also rumored that the former Monsters Cafe is ALSO being rethemed to the little yellow guys. The Monsters Cafe closed permanently back in May, and the clear front runner for a replacement is a Minion Cafe, like the one at Universal Studios Hollywood.
While Universal Orlando has not yet announced that either of these construction projects will be replaced with Minions, it is already apparent that they will. That’s because all of the work walls around both the former Shrek 4-D building and the former Monsters Cafe are covered in Minions designs.
If you pay close attention to the colors and designs used on each of the walls, you can see that while the graphics around the cafe feature characters from Despicable Me, the walls around the former show’s building only feature Minions.
As if the Minions on the walls weren’t enough evidence for us, the closest thing we have had to an announcement so far, was Universal’s official social media accounts sharing a quick video of someone replacing an onion with a banana. Bananas just so happen to be the Minion’s favorite food, and Shrek always said that ogres have layers, like an onion.
Today, work is happening for the entrance facade for the attraction. This is where we will enter the Villain-Con convention area. While the attraction will likely still use the existing covered open-air queue, it does look as though the entry arch is being beefed up a bit.
Lots of layers here. pic.twitter.com/5AJmEqiFRU
— Universal Orlando Resort (@UniversalORL) January 10, 2022
For just about five years, the leading rumor for a Shrek 4-D replacement has been a Minions interactive experience, and now it looks like it is finally happening.
The latest rumor has this stand-Gru attraction opening next year in 2023. It was originally set to open this year to coincide with the debut of the second Minions film in theaters, but they may have ran into issues during construction.
Plus, with the Harry Potter expansion to replace Fear Factor Live canceled, they may be spreading out new attractions a bit more ahead of Epic Universe opening in 2025. We do at least have the Escape Rooms at CityWalk to look forward to this year at least.
Stay tuned for more news on this upcoming attraction as we learn more in the coming weeks and months! Be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals and subscribe to the news feed to never miss an update.