Florida Guide > Universal Parks
What can I say? Are there any superlatives to describe this wonderful attraction? Apart from the fact that it was horrendously crowded, (well it WAS August) and there was no express pass, and we had to stand outside in the blistering sunshine for over half an hour with no shade - even though they could have unrolled the canopy – and even then we had another 40 minutes to wait - I would not have missed this for the world. It was simply wonderful, well worth the wait, and if we could have coped with the long wait we would have gone straight back on it. If you get the chance, try and read the safety instructions for dwarves, fairies and magical guests while you wait to be let into the pre-show area – there are also very amusing personal adverts from various fairytale characters on the Bulletin Board!
Once you get inside the pre-show area, which is designed to look like the dungeon of Lord Farquaad’s castle, you become part of the story. There are cages overhead with the 3 little pigs, and Pinocchio imprisoned in them, and a host introduces us to the story – if you get a witty one it makes all the difference to the long wait before you are let into the theatre. We soon realise that Lord Farquaad – now a ghost, since being eaten by a dragon - wants to know the whereabouts of Shrek and his lovely bride, the Princess Fiona, who are setting out for their honeymoon. He tortures the pigs, Pinocchio and the Gingerbread Man in order to get them to reveal the exact location of the honeymoon hotel, but it is the Gingerbread Man who lets the secret out. He urges us to run away, like him! At this point we are ordered to enter the dungeon – actually the theatre – for questioning. Unfortunately, although the pre-show sets up the premise that we are going next door to be tortured, once we step inside the rather bland theatre there is no further mention of it! However, the little boy beside me buried his head in his mum’s shoulder all the way through the pre-show, and begged to be allowed to leave, so perhaps it’s a good thing that this really is the last of the scary bit.
When you take your seats in this very large theatre the fun really starts, as the seats are motion synchronised, so you will feel every bump, every shake, every roll of Shrek and Princess Fiona’s magic onion carriage as it careers through forests on its way to their honeymoon destination. Watch out for the joke about Princess Fiona crying – well, who wouldn’t in an onion carriage? The happy couple, together with Donkey, are unaware that Lord Farquaad has risen from the dead and is seeking revenge – he is still set on marrying the Princess! Predictably, Shrek makes a wrong turning and they get lost. Despite Donkey’s best efforts to dissuade him, Shrek decides to take the short cut – through the Forbidden Forest. There waits Lord F’s trusted henchman, who ambushes them, ties up the princess, throws her on the back of his horse and rides off.
With a combination of superb graphics, great sound and amazing 3-D effects we pursue Princess Fiona. At one point the road is so bumpy that Donkey actually bounces right out of the coach, and through the wonders of 3-D he appears to be about to land into your laps. But at the last moment, Shrek grabs his tail and yanks him back into the coach. There are the usual hilarious one-liners from donkey that often come so fast that you are in danger of missing the humour. It is a rip roaring chase and one of my favourite bits is when Shrek and Donkey drive the carriage straight through the Gingerbread House. As the house disintegrates, a shower of 3-D candy cascades into the audience.
I won’t spoil it by telling you more, as it is such a wonderful experience that you need to see it for yourself. Needless to say there are plenty of adventures on the way, including being chased by a stone dragon, aerial dogfights between fire-breathing dragons, and a breathtakingly steep plunge down a waterfall as Princess Fiona is being rescued at Fairy Tale Falls, and of course there is a happy ending. Donkey, as usual, steals the show with his throw-away lines.
It will certainly be on my list of must do’s next time we are there. All I can say is that the graphics were superb, the sound and 3-D effects were amazing and all the waiting around was well worth it. The children will love it, and so will the adults too. If you go to Universal, you will find Shrek very near the entrance, and so it does get very busy, as people pass it on the way in, and on the way out. There was no express pass available in August but it really does need it.
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Page added on: 25 October 2004
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