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DreamWorks Land recently had its Team Member preview at Universal Studios Florida, and our intrepid reporters Annie and Nana were there to check it all out.

Annie and Nana’s Honest Review: DreamWorks Land

DreamWorks Land is located in the former home of Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, and is comprised of experiences themed to “Shrek,” “Trolls,” and “Kung Fu Panda.” An easy comparison for us is to liken it to Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in more ways than one.

However, if there’s one takeaway we have from this land as a whole, it’s this: DreamWorks Land is the biggest downgrade since Fast and Furious: Supercharged.

There are a lot of redeeming qualities of this land, but overall, it disappoints. Starting off with decor, we’ve seen birthday parties with better decorations. The land is filled with character flats, which we feel are a cheap alternative to what could’ve been offered instead. There is also hardly any shade, which will no doubt be brutal in the summer months.

The former KidZone entrance sign had a spinning spiral at the center, but the new DreamWorks Land entrance is flat and offers no movement.

Shrek’s Swamp area is the best part of the entire land, and it shows. We also love that Donkey and Shrek are back in a new, permanent meet and greet location, alongside Fiona.

Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres is a playground area made for smaller guests to splash and slide. Not only is there an outhouse slide that farts as you slide down, but there is also a Pinocchio animatronic that tells you true (or not-so-true) facts. The animatronic is a highlight for us here, and we hope it will last a long time in the area. Other than that and the farting slide, we’d liken it to a McDonald’s playground without shade. It’s fine but there’s nothing special about it beyond that.

Compared to Fievel’s Playland, the former playground area had much more theming, a water slide, more interactive aspects, and more water features. Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres feels so small and simple when considering its predecessor.

We loved King Harold’s Swamp Symphony. The animatronic frogs are awesome and well-made. You can also make them say “Budweiser,” which we found extremely amusing.

Mama Luna’s Feline Fiesta is a screen-based interactive experience in which guests can utilize cranks and buttons to cause the cats onscreen to react. Universal has had a long-standing trend of putting screens in every attraction, and we had hoped that we had moved past that. However, Mama Luna’s Feline Fiesta is just fine, and a good distraction for kids.

Trolls Trollercoaster is the only actual ride in the new land, and is a retheme of Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster. To us, the coaster car seats are very small, and barely big enough to fit two adults. It’s still the Nuthouse Coaster, just with new colors, signs, and a coaster train.

In addition, the entrance to its predecessor featured Woody in a ride vehicle that spun around. Here, we get a bunch of flats of Trolls. The queue is also quite empty.

Poppy’s Playground is located near the DreamWorks Imagination Celebration entrance. We thought it was cute, and wish we were kid-sized so we could take advantage of the bouncy pods. Like with the rest of the land, we wish it offered more shade, so parents could relax while their kids run around.

However, thinking back to Barney’s Backyard, this area once had a fantastic and beautiful indoor play area, and now we have a troll tree with seed pods planted in front of the bathrooms. While it is cute, it’s not up to the standard we expected given the previous offering.

Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp is a play area located at the back of DreamWorks Land, where Curious George Goes to Town once was. Much of this area is shaded, and will no doubt be a great place for kids to run and cool off once the water features are activated.

That being said, the two too-difficult-to-push noodle bowl spinning structures are likely not going to be enough for young crowds. The noodles that hang down and spin around are nothing compared to the laundry washing area of Curious George, where you could open doors, pull strings, dump water buckets, and more.

Po Live! is very much like Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT. We think it’s a great spot for kids and parents to hang out in the shade, with additional interaction for the younger kung fu masters. The performer for Po was also incredible, and an excellent, near undetectable voice match for Jack Black, who voices Po in the “Kung Fu Panda” films.

However, once you walk into Po Live, you’ll immediately see it’s just the corpse of The Ball Factory, with just an added screen and a few benches. It’s a two-story experience reduced to a single-story sitting area. It deeply disappointed us, and felt like inhabiting the dead shell of a place we loved. However, the longer we sat there, it eventually started to grow on us. We also kept returning to Po Live! because it offered the only shaded area in the entire land.

To us, this is the worst of the worst when it comes to DreamWorks Land, as it pales in comparison to what the Curious George area had to offer. We’re not saying that kids won’t love Po, but this feels like a storage structure when some birthday party cut-outs and decor.

The crown jewel of the land is no doubt DreamWorks Imagination Celebration. Not only were the performers amazing and so talented and the puppets beautifully detailed, but it takes a lot to keep kids fixated on a stage show with minimal distractions, and this entertainment offering accomplishes that. The theater also has nice air conditioning, which we’re thankful for.

We are disappointed that the holding area for the show no longer offers any kind of pre-show, and instead just had screens that play clips from DreamWorks films.

The two snack stands — Swamp Snacks and Trolls Treats — offer some hits and some misses. But with no tables to eat at or shade to eat under, everything melts fast and is a mess rather than a refreshing or refueling treat. We hope that Universal will take this into consideration and potentially add umbrellas or standing tables ahead of the land’s official opening. Read our reviews for Swamp Snacks and Trolls Treats.

One major disappointment for us was the removal of the theming in the former “Barney” bathrooms. Before, the walls featured characters and kites and other embellishments, and now they’re plainly decorated in blue and white and just plain sad.

To us, this is the biggest downgrade the park has seen in a long time purely because we loved so many aspects of Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone. Curious George Goes to Town, The Ball Factory, and Fievel’s Playland all had so much interactivity and fun to offer, and this land feels like it’s missing so much.

In addition, the land’s water features weren’t operational on the day of our visit, so that does have some impact on our opinion of the entire experience.

All that being said, DreamWorks Land might be a downgrade for us, but we think most kids will enjoy it. We understand that not everything at the parks is made for everyone, but this land has so much potential wasted. Still, it is a welcome addition to the park for younger guests.

Hear all of Annie and Nana’s thoughts on DreamWorks Land in their honest review video below:

DreamWorks Land opens to all guests on June 14. Passholder previews are now open for registration.

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The post VIDEO: Annie and Nana’s Honest Review of DreamWorks Land at Universal Studios Florida appeared first on WDW News Today.