Popular kids’ characters made their street entertainment debut in a sneak preview performance of Universal’s Superstar Parade. Featuring familiar faces from “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Despicable Me,” “Dora the Explorer,” “Go, Diego, Go!” and “Hop,” the new parade doesn’t officially debut until Tuesday, May 8, 2012, but today’s preview gave Universal Studios Florida guests a first look at the new entertainment offering.
As Universal’s Superstar Parade winds its way through theme park streets, it makes two stops, giving its many characters a chance to come down off their floats, dance in the street, and interact with guests. Set to music from each of the represented TV shows and movies, the parade features characters such as SpongeBob, Squidward, Patrick, and Gary the snail, Gru and his Minions, Dora the Explorer and Diego, and E.B. along with plenty of other bunnies from “Hop.”
Watch as they groove through the park in the full parade video below.
Video: Universal’s Superstar Parade sneak preview at Universal Orlando
As a whole, Universal’s Superstar Parade will thoroughly entertain fans of the characters it features, with kids getting the most enjoyment out of it. It’s a great way to see popular characters that span age ranges, with Dora and Diego a focal point for younger generations, Gru and his Minions appealing to a wider audience, and SpongeBob appealing to anyone who enjoys his wacky antics.
SpongeBob’s pineapple under the sea is instantly recognizable, as are all his Bikini Bottom pals.
The “Despicable Me” unit is the most varied and detailed, with several vehicles and floats - and lots of Minions.
The “Hop” unit is bright, cheerful, and colorful, though seemingly a bit out of place among more noteworthy properties.
And the hanging and swinging monkeys command attention on Dora and Diego’s float.
But if you watched the whole parade video above, you may have noticed a few edits during the “show stop” portion in the middle. Despite a few minutes being cut from the video, there’s really not much missing, as those cut minutes are spent fairly awkwardly during the parade. While the parade is in motion, the kinetic floats, colorful costumes, and high-energy performers do a great job in keeping the crowd entertained, thumping along to a montage of songs from each of the properties. But the floats move very quickly, then come to a screeching halt halfway through, leaving viewers “stuck” with whoever or whatever stops in front of them.
I ended up spending the stopped portion staring at SpongeBob’s pineapple. As much as I am a fan of the TV show and would gladly call Bikini Bottom a second home, as soon as SpongeBob vacated his home and scurried down the street to pilot a boat in circles alongside Patrick, I was left with an extended view of a few dancing anonymous fish. As I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Squidward Tentacles riding the next float, the roughly 3-minute show stop felt more like 10 to me, as one can only be entertained by Gary the snail circling the top of the float for so long. (Though I do love Gary…)
After the show, Universal Orlando Show Director Lora Wallace and her entertainment team were relieved to see the first-ever public performance of their new parade successfully make its way down the New York and Hollywood streets. But when I asked her if the show stop was longer today than usual, perhaps to allow Universal’s camera crew to capture the performance better, she replied that the parade was today more or less exactly as it will be when it debuts on Tuesday.
Granted I am already not a fan of parades that stop and become street parties, but this one was particularly odd, leaving the area I stood in with very little to look at while other groups of guests had wonderful character moments. Wallace explained that the way the stop is set up allows visitors to return to Universal Studios multiple times and watch the parade from different locations, getting a different experience each time.
More importantly, she revealed that these characters and floats will not only be coming out for the daily performance of Universal’s Superstar Parade, but also for scheduled smaller street parties throughout each day. Each unit will emerge on its own, performance an interactive dance routine, and give guests a chance to meet and greet with the characters. Four separate smaller performances like this will take place each day, with a scattering of thirteen other meet-and-greet opportunities. With the speed at which the new parade flies by, this opportunity to spend more time with the characters sounds like it may prove to be more popular than the parade itself.
Today’s preview was indeed the first-ever performance of this parade in front of guests and Universal’s entertainment team was carefully watching how the viewing audience interacted (or didn’t interact) with the characters. While they have been rehearsing the show’s choreography, this was their first opportunity to discover what portions need further tweaking to fully engage those watching and while the rest of the parade will likely remain the same, it is the level of interaction that will likely grow and shift in the coming weeks following the parade’s official debut on Tuesday.
Universal’s Superstar Parade gives guests a chance to see some new characters added to Universal Orlando’s ever-growing line-up and with a few tweaks to timing, this parade will add life to the long stretches of road between attractions in the popular theme park.
More photos from Universal’s Superstar Parade: