With the opening of Minions Land, Universal Studios Orlando has also introduced a brand-new ride experience themed around the Illumination animated franchise. And while that attraction–Villain-Con: Minion Blast–may be primarily appealing to younger visitors and families, it’s also a clear indicator of what Universal believes is the future of its theme parks. It’s not enough to simply have an arsenal of rides that cast visitors into the role of passive passengers. Now, Universal wants guests to become the star of their own story.
It all started when Universal Studios launched its first Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 2010. Instead of traveling through the land en route to a ride or gift shop, Islands of Adventure’s Hogsmeade brought the Wizarding World franchise to life in a new way, as in-character performers dotted the beautifully crafted recreation of the small town where Harry and his friends went to school.
Disney followed suit with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019, letting guests go on their own adventures on a newly revealed planet in the Star Wars galaxy. However, in the lead-up to the debut of that land at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World, the company shared big and bold ideas of a themed land that was alive and thriving. Unfortunately, many of those ideas never made it past that initial stage. The land wasn’t humming with excitement or filled with familiar Star Wars characters. What’s more, the promise of your reputation following you around the land based on how well you scored in the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride simply never happened.