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Universal Studios Florida – Production Central: Shrek 4-D

Rating: * * * * +
Type: Theater show
Time: 25 minutes
Our Take: Another boffo 3-D entertainment

Welcome back to Duloc, that magical kingdom where everything is perfect — or would be if it weren’t for all those pesky fairy tale characters that Lord Farquaad tried to do away with. If you remember the film (and if you don’t, don’t worry), Shrek sent Lord Farquaad to his eternal rest while rescuing and falling love with the beautiful Princess Fiona.

But it’s hard to keep a good villain down, it seems, and as we enter Duloc we find ourselves in a dungeon antechamber where Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs are being tortured under the direction of the ghost of Lord Farquaad. On the “Dungeon Cam” we see the gingerbread man tacked down to a torture table awaiting an even worse fate. Apparently, we’re next.

In a very funny preshow we learn, courtesy of the Magic Mirror from the old Snow White tale, that the evil Lord still carries a considerable torch for the lovely Fiona, who is now off on her honeymoon with Shrek and Donkey. (Not most people’s idea of the perfect honeymoon perhaps, but there you have it.) The preshow also does an excellent job of reprising the plot of the film for those who were foolish enough to miss it.

The ghost of Farquaad vows to steal Fiona and make her his spirit bride and, just to cover all the bases, decides to torture us for information as to her whereabouts.

Tip: Sidle to the right as you wait in the first chamber and take the time to read the instructions for “Duloc Express,” a witty send-up of Universal’s own Express Pass Plus system.

The next stop is a spacious, 300-seat 3-D theater where the story continues on film. The 15-minute film that follows would be a minor masterpiece of 3-D animation just by itself. But the clever designers of this show have added so many little extras that Shrek 4-D ends up in a virtual dead heat with T2 as the top 3-D theater attraction in all of Orlando.

Best of all are the seats. They aren’t quite simulators, but let’s just say they make the tale unfolding on the screen a truly moving experience. There we see Shrek and Donkey trying to plot a course to the Honeymoon Hotel when Farquaad’s henchman, Thelonius, appears and kidnaps Fiona. The chase that follows packs enough thrills and cliffhangers (literally) for a full-length action film and involves not one but two fire-breathing dragons. Good prevails, Fiona is saved from a watery death, and in true fairy tale fashion everyone lives happily ever after. Except Farquaad.

Both the preshow introduction and the film do a wonderful job of poking fun at the conventions of films based on fairy tales, theme park attractions, and theme parks themselves, making Shrek 4-D Orlando’s most subversive attraction. And it must be therapeutic for theme park employees to be able to visit an attraction where guests are actually warned, “Cell phone users will be flogged. Flash photographers will be burned at the stake. Enjoy the show!”

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Universal Orlando 2011


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