Universal Studios Florida has released details and concept art for the new Minion Land that’ll feature rides, retail, restaurants, meet & greets, placemaking, and more. This post covers what we know about the upcoming Orlando addition, when it’ll open, and everything else we know so far.
Let’s start with basic background. Rather than being a brand-new addition or expansion, Minion Land is a reimagined area towards the front of Universal Studios Florida. Previously part of Production Central, the land is based around the existing Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction, while adding a reimagined ride and restaurant that replace Shrek 4-D and Monsters Cafe, respectively. Minion Land will also bring souvenir shops, meet & greets, and new themed design to the area.
As the name suggests, Minion Land features characters from the Despicable Me franchise of films. The new attraction, Villain-Con Minion Blast, is based on last summer’s smash hit, Minions: The Rise of Gru. The rest of the area includes characters and references to the other films in the highly successful franchise. Even if you’ve never seen a single movie, you’re probably familiar with the little yellow mischief makers.
Continuing with the background, let’s discuss Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. This attraction is now over a decade old, but remains one of the more popular rides at Universal Studios Florida–and for good reason. Minion Mayhem is a ride that moves in sync with a movie, which features the daughters of Gru and the Minions while touring and partying your way through Gru’s lab. It’s cute, funny, and endearing–a lot like the Minions movies themselves.
Calling it a tour of Gru’s lab undersells the action, as it’s fast-paced with drops, twists, and turns. However, it’s relatively mild as compared to pretty much everything else at Universal and it now is a 2D film that doesn’t require the 3D “minion goggles.” Being a film with motion simulator components, there’s obviously the potential for issues with motion sickness.
However, Minion Mayhem leverages relatively new technological enhancements, making it a pretty smooth and pleasant experience. In terms of a Walt Disney World comparison, think Star Tours meets MuppetVision but with Minions instead of Muppets. In case you’re unfamiliar with our stance on MuppetVision, this is a very favorable comparison–Minion Mayhem is a must-do.
Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – This is the other attraction in Minion Land, an all-new addition replacing Shrek 4D. Developed in partnership between Universal Creative and the filmmakers from Illumination, this is an interactive blaster game game inviting guests to put their villainous skills to the test as they compete against each other in a bid to join the ranks of the franchise’s most infamous supervillains.
Villain-Con Minion Blast transports guests to Villain-Con – the biggest criminal convention on the planet – to take part in an epic competition to see if they have what it takes to become the newest member of The Vicious 6, a notorious group of supervillains from Minions: The Rise of Gru.
Guests who are up for the challenge will grab an interactive blaster and step onto a motion-based pathway to put their skills to the test. They’ll wind through show scenes where they earn points by blasting items, causing as much mayhem and destruction as possible. Villain-Con Minion Blast combines screens and physical sets to create an interactive game-based adventure where guests encounter nefarious villains and tons of mischievous Minions. Villain-Con Minion Blast will open in Summer 2023 at Universal Studios Florida.
In terms of a Walt Disney World comparison, Villain-Con Minion Blast sounds a bit like Toy Story Mania (all screens) meets Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (all sets) but on a moving walkway instead of in ride vehicles. It’ll also reportedly integrate with the Universal Orlando app to track your score and achievements, making it a bit like Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge in Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood and Japan. (Also coming in 2 years to Epic Universe in Florida!)
Illumination’s Minion Cafe – It’s Minions in the kitchen and mischief in the dining room at the new Minion Cafe, which is the marquee dining location within Minion Land. This new eatery replaces Monsters Cafe and offers something for everyone in a restaurant that features three themed areas designed after beloved Minions Kevin, Stuart, Bob and Otto.
First, there’s the Kitchen. In this dining room, guests get a glimpse of the equipment and gear the Minions have used to whip up the cafe’s menu. There’s also the Breakroom, where guests can dine in the Minions’ break space that includes everything from “Office Safety Tips” to a vending machine stocked with mischievous items. Finally, the Dining Room; a vibrant space adorned with colorful artwork courtesy of the Minions and more. Guests can also enjoy their meal on an outdoor patio that overlooks the fun of Minion Land.
Minion Cafe will also offer a variety of fun foods. According to Universal Orlando, the menu features family-friendly fare and nearly 20 items inspired by characters from the Minions franchise, including eclectic “despica-bowls” such as Otto’s Noodle Bowl, Agnes’s Honeymoon Soup, and Carl’s Crispy Cauliflower.
Of course, Minion Cafe will also offer adorably-themed desserts such as Bob’s Teddy Bear Chocolate Cream Puff. The restaurant will offer a kids’ menu for the “mini-Minions” in the family that includes items like the Mini Boss’ Mega Melt, and more. Minion Cafe will also feature an express window with a limited menu for grab and go options.
Bake My Day – Topped with a massive pink cupcake that’s visible from anywhere in the land, Bake My Day is a whimsical retail location and bakery featuring a selection of Minion-themed sweet treats, including cupcakes, macarons, s’mores and more, along with exclusive Minion-inspired merchandise like apparel, plush, drinkware, accessories, keychains and more.
Pop-A-Nana – Banana-flavored popcorn, anyone? This walkup location features sweet and savory popcorn inspired by the Minions’ love for bananas. Here, guests may also find an assortment of cute popcorn buckets, including the Minion Selfie bucket.
Freeze Ray Pops – Featuring a variety of colorful popsicles inspired by Gru, the Minions and Vector – along with beverages.
Illumination Theater – Guests can meet, greet and interact with characters like the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes–plus new additions from Sing, including Rosita, Gunter and Johnny–at an outdoor Illumination Theater facade. There will also be murals, photo ops and more throughout Minion Land that celebrate additional characters from popular movies.
In terms of when, specifically, Minion Land will open in Summer 2023, we haven’t the slightest idea. Although we offer a surplus of speculative posts about Walt Disney World, that’s because we have far more insight and experience with Disney. Those predictions, even when wrong, are predicated upon past precedent or our understanding of how things work at Walt Disney World. We are far more casual and less-connected when it comes to Universal Orlando.
With that said, I would not expect Minion Land to open any time in the next month or so. Universal Orlando just shared more details and concept art for Villain-Con Minion Blast, Minion Cafe, and the other dining. If they had a concrete opening date–or even an anticipated month–it’s likely they would’ve shared that. We’re only a couple weeks from the start of summer season!
The absence of that information suggests that something (or things, plural) is not ready with Minion Land and the timeline is not established for some reason. It’s possible that Universal Creative is still working on test & adjust for Villain-Con Minion Blast, or that something about the underlying technology is proving troublesome. It’s also possible that it’s more routine, perhaps delays with suppliers or contractors working on the projects. It’s difficult to say.
All we know is that if Universal Orlando had a firm internal date for the opening, they would’ve announced it by now. The absence of that strongly suggests opening probably won’t occur until July or perhaps even August 2023. Then again, Universal Creative is usually faster and more nimble than Imagineering, so perhaps they can scramble and have Minion Land ready to roll before the Independence Day holiday weekend.
Ultimately, we’re looking forward to Minion Land at Universal Studios Florida. Admittedly, we aren’t huge Minioniacs (or whatever Minions fans call themselves) but the same could be said for us and many of Disney and Pixar’s biggest franchises. Our interest in or fondness for film franchises has little bearing on whether we view them as good theme park additions.
Minions is, without question, a great franchise for theme parks. The little buggers are adorable, mischievous, and fun–absolutely bursting with personality that makes them tailor-made for rides, restaurants, physical environments, and–something that shouldn’t be overlooked for repeat visitors–fun foods. Universal already did a fantastic job with Minion Park at USJ, creating an area with a lot of charm and appeal. This doesn’t look quite that good, but it’s a nice retrofit of a bland land that makes it more engaging.
In general, we love to see Universal Orlando taking tired areas of its existing parks and injecting new life and personality into them. While we were huge fans of the ‘ride the movies’ classic attractions of Universal Studios Florida, it’s also great to see the company leveraging newer and more popular franchises. That’s necessary to make Universal’s theme park complex more appealing to younger audiences and competitive with Walt Disney World.
We also love original parks IP just as much as any park fans, but it’s undeniable that established characters from pop culture resonate more with the general public.) Between this, Super Nintendo World, and everything else on the horizon for Epic Universe, the future is bright for Universal Orlando Resort!
What do you think of Minion Land at Universal Studios Florida? Excited for Villain-Con Minion Blast, Minion Cafe, or the placemaking in general with this reimagined area of USF? Any other updates you’d like to see to Universal Orlando? Which movies, games, or characters do you think Universal should adapt into theme park attractions? What kind of rides would you like to see built? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!