Monday, February 24, 2014

Shrek Coming to London

Shrek Wants YOU... To Come to his Theme Park

Shrek DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation is taking a page out of the Mouse Factory's playbook and is finding a new home for the world's favorite ogre. Shrek is coming to London!

The animation studio is partnering with Merlin Entertainments to open a "live interactive adventure" devoted to Shrek and his friends. The "adventure" will open in summer 2015, right in time for tourist season.

I'm not really sure what a "live interactive adventure" is, but it sounds awfully similar at first glance to the kinds of meets and greets that are a top attraction at Walt Disney World.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks' CEO, fills in a bit of the detail:
"It's not like anything else, if you can imagine a theater-like experience where you the audience are part of the story. This is just a continuation of what we have been working on in the last 18 months, which is a broad diversification of DreamWorks into a family entertainment company."
Now, I am no legendary impresario of animated feature films like Mr. Katzenberg, but I'm not so sure that people going to theater necessarily want to be part of the show. But maybe that's just me.

Current plans are for there to be an interactive walk-through as the main attraction. In addition, Merlin is designing a 6,500-square-foot courtyard where visitors will be able to meet Shrek, along with characters from other DreamWorks movies including "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar" (see what I was saying about Walt Disney World?). Included will be a rotating exhibit showcasing DreamWorks Animation film and DVD releases, with a handy store nearby should the original thought strike you that perhaps buying a DreamWorks DVD would provide a memorable memento of your day there.

The company made it clear that the "adventure" won't be just about Shrek, but also Princess Fiona, Donkey, and fan-favorite Puss In Boots who will be part of the ensemble. And all the other beloved DreamWorks characters, of course.

Merlin, for those who don't know, is behind all sorts of London, er, entertainments. These include the famous EDF Energy London Eye, the London Sea Life Aquarium and Madame Tussauds wax museums. Basically, if you have been a tourist in London, you have become good friends with Merlin without, perhaps, even knowing it.

The Shrek "experience" will be on the South Bank near Merlin's other properties, making it convenient to go from one to the other and perhaps get a bundle ticket that you would actually use.

According to a statement from Merlin Chief Executive Nick Varney:
"Developing an attraction based on Shrek and his friends is hugely exciting for Merlin Entertainments and the start of what we hope will be a wider collaboration with DreamWorks Animation." 
By "wider collaboration," CEO Varney means plans that are already in the works to put similar exhibitions in six other cities around the world. And, who knows, maybe more cities. And then Mars. And then...

This is not a first for DreamWorks. It previously licensed its characters for exhibits in Russia, China and ... New Jersey. And that is not to even mention the popular Broadway Show "Shrek the Musical."

It sounds like a right jolly time to be had by all. If they keep this up, we may even eventually see that ill-fated fifth Shrek film.

Puss in Boots


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