When Universal’s Woody Woodpecker KidZone closed recently we wondered what would replace it. A replacement was immediately announced but details were not given. All we were told was that the area would remain a kids area which is good news because Universal struggles with a reputation of not being kid-friendly.
New characters will be coming to the area and rumors have swirled trying to guess which characters would bring the outdated kids area to relevance again. How to Train Your Dragon was an immediate front runner but we don’t think that is the case. The incredibly popular franchise, we think, will be featured at Universal’s brand-new Epic Universe instead.
New developments have us leaning in a different direction: Kung Fu Panda. A report by Orlando Parks Stop recently uncovered a patent filed by Universal that gives support to this theory. The patent shows a meet and greet that is both interactive and entirely digital. Before you groan about more screens at Universal (trust me, I get it), this one seems pretty cool.
The basic concept would be similar to experiences like Turtle Talk With Crush at Disney’s EPCOT. A digital character would be controlled by a voice actor who could use programming to move the character on screen in specific and interactive ways. The actor would be able to talk, via voice changing software, in the easily recognized voice of Jack Black who voiced the character.
Design sketches from the patent filing lead us to believe this technology is being developed for a Kung Fu Panda meet and greet. The intended use drawing clearly shows Mr. Ping’s noodle shop from the film with the beloved Panda inside. One guess is that this will be home base for the meet and greet and that it will operate similarly to the Stanley Shunpike meet and greet over at the Wizarding world of Harry Potter, a mix of entertainment/ personalized interaction…whichever you prefer.
Construction walls also lead us to believe this assumption is correct. Universal loves to play games with Guests–dropping hints and hiding things in plain sight is a particular favorite. The walls in the area clearly depict Kung Fu Panda and characters from the wildly popular Trolls franchise. If you ask us, we thi k a Trolls playground is in the works (but that’s a story for another day).