More Minions. Many more Minions. And you can become one, too.
The grand opening of Universal Studios Hollywood theme park’s newest two-pronged tribute to the moviemaker’s “Despicable Me” franchise — Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Super Silly Fun Land — is April 12.
The former is a motion-simulator ride — think Disneyland’s Star Tours or Universal’s own Transformers: The Ride — in which seated guests get bounced around while watching a 3-D adventure in which they’re all turned into those impish yellow troublemakers from the blockbuster animated movies.
Super Silly Fun Land re-creates the amusement park from the first film, the place where supervillain and Minion master Gru first connects with Margo, Edith and Agnes, the three orphan girls he adopts but plots to ditch. A theme environment designed for the first time primarily for families with young children, the new play space boasts more than 80 water features, plus a place to scramble and slide, carnival-type rides and the movie’s “Space Killer” arcade game, where, yes, players can win “It’s so fluffy!” stuffed unicorns.
In addition to the ride and play zone, the Universal Hollywood folks have been working like ... well, you know ... to transform the park’s former “Terminator” spot.
“The Hollywood park is quite different from Orlando in scope,” said Universal Creative President Mark Woodbury; only the ride portion has been up in Florida for about a year. “Hollywood has an entire land, if you will, that we developed around the idea. We’ve got Gru’s neighborhood, which has multiple components, a big retail presence, a restaurant — and Super Silly Fun Land, which has its own rides and interactive experiences. It’s a really broad scope in Hollywood.”
While queued outside for Mayhem, guests ring neighbors’ doorbells and hear responses from the films’ beloved characters, voiced, of course, by the likes of Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove and the other big-screen stars. Or maybe they’ll just bask in the dulcet tones of the Minions’ favorite instrument, the fart gun (banana scented, anyone?).
Visitors grab their 3-D Minion goggles from inside Gru’s ever-devaluing home and enter one of two theaters where the visual aspects of the ride run through bright, 4K projectors at 60 frames per second. Each theater’s curved screen is 36 feet high by 52 feet wide.
All the while, people are exploring detailed replicas of Gru’s nefarious lair, from the living room to the lab.
“It was important to take people to that place inside the movie that they recognize,” said Jon Corfino, Universal Creative’s project director and show producer for the “Despicable” elements. “That’s why a tremendous amount of attention and detail went into every aspect of this.”
Universal Creative, which is responsible for designing and creating the two attractions, worked closely with Illumination Entertainment, the company founded and run by “Despicable Me” producer Chris Meledandri.
“We pretty much were entrenched in the process from the beginning, to make sure that everything was authentic,” said Gail Harrison, Illumination’s executive vice president of creative, who works on marketing extensions for the films. “From using our key voice actors to using park characters in the way they’re portrayed in the films, from the pre-show through to the 3-D experience, it is completely authentic to our brand.”
That includes the mountains of Minion merchandise that awaits in the expansive emporium where guests land after exiting the ride. And naturally, there are Minion-licious treats, including the Asian-themed “Dr. Nefario’s Lab Salad.”
“The one thing we wanted was to not do the typical hamburger/hot dog thing,” noted chef Eric Kopelow, who oversees all the park’s food. “So we watched the movies, then kind of brainstormed what would be something that you wouldn’t see in a typical theme-park environment and play on it.”
Other edibles: grilled cheese and pulled-pork sandwiches with seared Gru logos, banana shakes and slushies (favored by all Minions) and meatball sandwiches too big for most mouths. Coming soon are chicken and waffles with syrup that squirts out of injection needles.
And though everything is delicious, Corfino joked some items look, fittingly, like they “have gone terribly wrong.”
Not in the mood to ride? Then just relax while the kids revel in Super Silly Fun Land.
“It’s one of the first things we’ve done for this kind of age group,” Corfino said, adding the space was constructed with impact-absorbing recycled materials and has ample changing rooms for children and adults. “It’s where kids can have fun. It’s a dinosaur/scary thing, like some of the rides.”
But it’s not all kid stuff, according to Illumination’s Harrison.
“We feel like our movies are relevant to a variety of people,” she said. “We have an all-ages target audience, and this brings all those elements of humor and entertainment and laughter and heart, which transcends every age group.”
SPRINGTIME AT area Theme parks
New Attraction: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, a 3D ultra-HD adventure; and Super Silly Fun Land play zone, both based on the film “Despicable Me”
When: Daily beginning April 12
Where: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
Tickets: $84 adults; $76 children ages 3-9
Information: 800-864-8377, www.universalstudioshollywood.com
Event: Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party, where kids can dress up for rides and attractions.
When: 6 a.m. May 23-6 a.m. May 24
Where: 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim
Tickets: $92 adults; $86 children ages 3-9
Information: 714-781-4636, www.disneyland.disney.go.com
New Attraction: LEGO Movie Experience, complete with soundstage, movie footage and more.
Where: 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad
Tickets: $83 adults; $73 children 3-12; $15 parking.
Information: 760-918-5346, www.californialegoland.com
KNOTT’S BERRY FARM
Event: Knott’s Berry Bloom, with floral displays, family activities, food and wine tasting and more.
When: Daily April 12-27
Where: 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
Tickets: $62 adults; $33 children ages 3-11 and seniors 62 and over. United States veterans, retired and active military and one guest free, up to 6 additional tickets $27 each.
Information: 714-220-5200, www.knotts.com
Event: Backwards Blast — ride Batman the Ride and Colossus backwards
When: Daily through spring
Where: 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy., Valencia
Tickets: $68 adults; $43 children under 48 inches; free for 2 and under
Information: 661-255-4100, www.sixflags.com/magicmountain
Events: Diana — Legacy of a Princess exhibit
When: Daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 31
Where: 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach
Tickets: $31 adults; $21 children 4-11; optional tour and tea, $40 adults and $30 children
Information: 877-342-0742, www.queenmary.com
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