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Old animated ogres don’t die, they just find new outlets in which to interact with their fans.
At least they do if they’re Shrek, who is apparently poised to make the leap from the big screen to London in a new attraction set to debut next summer. Shrek’s Far Far Away Adventure is expected to feature an interactive walkthrough experience, character meet and greets and other themed facilities.
It may also represent another stage in the ongoing evolution of themed entertainment, a stage in which major industry players form partnerships based on the pre-existing appeal of popular characters.
“There are all these combinations coming together — Marvel and Disney, Harry Potter and Universal,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based theme park consulting company. “If the properties are popular and they blend well, visitors are the winners.”
In this case, the partnership is between DreamWorks Animation, creators of "Shrek," and Merlin Entertainments, the UK-based operator of the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and a host of other attractions.
In fact, although the Merlin name may be unfamiliar to many travelers, the company operates 100 attractions around the world, including the Legoland parks in Florida and California. Hosting 54 million visitors annually, it is, after Disney, the second-largest operator of visitor attractions in the world.
"We're excited to work with Merlin to build something that we think is going to be a singularly unique way to experience Shrek and his world,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation CEO, in a statement.
Once the London attraction opens, the companies plan to complete five more proposed Far Far Away Adventures over the next nine years. Coupled with DreamWorks’ character parades on Royal Caribbean cruise ships and rumors of a fifth installment of the movie series, any suggestion that the franchise has run its course is fanciful.
“Every time it comes around, it’s incredibly well-received,” said Speigel. “Look at 'Star Wars.' It came out in 1977 and it’s still going strong.”