We Toured Universal Studios' New Kung Fu Panda Attraction, Here's What We Saw

Kung Fu Panda attraction at Hollywood Studios

Going to a theme park is a quintessential summer activity enjoyed by folks all around the world. Rides and snacks are obvious staples of the experience, but so is the act of getting away from the heat to duck into a show. We've seen some massive advancements in how theme parks entertain visitors in recent years, and Universal Studios' Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest looks like a major leap forward. In fact, CinemaBlend recently got a chance to check out the attraction during an early look at the park's upcoming DreamWorks Theatre, and it should be a must-visit element of the Universal Studios Hollywood experience when it opens this week.

On May 17, CinemaBlend and other outlets were invited to check out the new DreamWorks Theatre in the final stages of construction and given a tour by Universal Creative Senior Director and Executive Producer Jon Corfino. The DreamWorks Theatre is located in the heavily renovated Shrek 4D theater at Universal Studios Hollywood, and it was created to look like classic Hollywood -- complete with much of the same Mediterranean architecture that has defined the look of some of the most iconic studios in the film industry.

dreamworks theatre

However, despite the classical look of the outside of the structure, the inside of the DreamWorks Theatre is where Universal has opted to show off some of the most cutting-edge advancements. Once inside the building, guests are treated to a pre-show in the lobby area that consists of Po and Shrek debating over who the show truly belongs to right now, as the theatre used to be a Shrek-themed attraction.

The pre-show lasts about two and a half minutes, takes place on a series of LED panels that line the walls and are nearly indistinguishable from the standard architecture when turned on. This tech not only allows the building to show animation from a wide variety of angles, but it also adds a sense of depth to the interior of the building. You can check out what the pre-show looks like, below!

Kung Fu Panda Shrek DreamWorks Theatre pre-show

Once inside the actual theater, the real show begins. The DreamWorks Theatre uses an advanced projector system to bring the environment to life. The Christie 4K Boxer Cinema projectors put the audiences in a six-minute POV boat ride with Po that takes some pretty wild fantasy twists and turns. Original voice talent from Kung Fu Panda like Jack Black did not return to the roles for the attraction (though it's difficult to tell that it's not them in the show), but the folks behind the DreamWorks Theatre did make sure to note that The Emperor's Quest was developed in collaboration with senior members of the DreamWorks team.

The projectors also create the detail on the interior of the theater, which is completely white when the projector system is turned off, and the lights come on. It's pretty staggering to see the amount of detail and precision that Universal Studios has put into the mapping technology, and it creates a lot of exciting opportunities to blend the show with the environment around the audience. You can check out what the show looks like in its most standard form, below.

dreamworks theatre kung fu panda the emperor's quest

However, there are also moments where the projection really kicks into high gear and blends the scenery with the adventure. You can check this out, below, as well.

Kung Fu Panda The Emperor's Quest DreamWorks Theatre Universal Studios

One interesting thing to note about the Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest attraction at the DreamWorks Theatre is the emphasis on a 2D experience for the audience. The decision to not use the 3D format was intentional, and while the seats do move in coordination with the action on-screen, the focus is on offering up a unique viewing experience.

The technology used to create Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest inside of the DreamWorks Theatre is breathtaking, and it also raises one crucial question: What other properties does Universal plan to adapt in this venue? As of right now, Jon Corfino confirms that there are no plans to introduce any other pieces of Universal IP to this theater. That said, the idea has apparently been discussed, so the possibility of seeing another Universal or DreamWorks property introduced in this theater is not entirely off of the table. For now, however, we're going to have as much fun as we can with Po and the other members of the Kung Fu Panda ensemble.

If you plan to make your way down to Universal Studios in the coming days, Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest will be open to the public starting on June 15 when the brand-new DreamWorks Theatre officially opens at Universal Studios Hollywood. Make sure to check it out, and as always, check out our movie premiere guide to get more information on all of the films set to hit theaters this year!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.