Bananas—and so much more—are on the menu at Universal Orlando Resort’s brand-new Minion Land
The red carpet has been rolled out—just watch for banana peels—because Universal Orlando Resort is celebrating the grand opening of a brand-new Minion Land. The exciting addition to the central Florida theme park resort is part of an overall initiative to offer more attractions geared toward families with younger children—and we were one of the first to explore the colorful streets inspired by the beloved characters.
Minion Land at Universal Studios Florida occupies the resort’s original park and features an entire block—now known as Illumination Avenue—adorned with attractions, whimsical eats, and meet and greets all centered around the Despicable Me franchise, the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time. The new land is a collaboration between Universal’s award-winning creative time and Illumination’s acclaimed filmmakers.
Let’s take a look at the mischief and mayhem that awaits.
This is a game-changer for families with younger kids
The banana-loving, mischief-making Minions have long been a part of the park, from parade appearances to the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride—and the decision to expand upon that footprint was simple. “People love these characters, and they love these films,” Mike Aiello, senior director of entertainment creative development for Universal Orlando Resort, shared with us.
Immersive, family-friendly simulator attraction Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, was the park’s first large-scale foray into the adorable world of the Minions and is a surprisingly heartwarming ride that’s been overwhelmingly received. Now the theme park destination which is known for high-level thrills is putting the focus on families with the creation of even more experiences targeted towards the younger park goers.
“Everyone knows we do thrill rides, and we do intense experiences, but we also do family really well,” Aiello shared at the land’s preview event. “Being able to increase the portfolio that offers something for everybody, that is what this is about. It truly is something that you can experience together. It just speaks towards the want and need to keep families engaged as a family together.”
Villain-Con Minion Blast is a brand-new attraction
A pioneering new attraction joins the existing Despicable Me Mayhem as the heart of the land. Inspired by Minions: The Rise of Gru, Villain-Con Minion Blast is Universal’s most customizable ride ever built, impressively marrying interactive game-based technology with immersive practical set pieces. It’s both familiar and unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The concept is simple: Blast to earn points and all the glory on the attraction’s leaderboard—but it’s also much more than that.
Players compete in a showdown to become a member of the Vicious 6, a supergroup of villains from the film. Never before done, riders aren’t aboard traditional attraction vehicles but instead a moving conveyor belt. With this new system, there is no height requirement making this a true family-friendly ride. Guests are equipped with self-supported blasters, called E-Liminator X, with a smaller blaster available for younger guests.
Unlike other straightforward blaster-style attractions, like Universal’s MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack and Disney’s Toy Story Mania, this is a layer-filled, choose-your-own-adventure of sorts.
Villain-Con Minion Blast is Universal Orlando’s first leap into a truly connected experience where the mobile Universal Orlando Resort app enhances and works in real-time with the attraction. This means that every ride can be a completely new experience.
With the ability to customize, it offers that desired ride-ability factor. On each mission, the objective and the villains represented may be different. Universal creatives also shared that guests can expect seasonal content to be incorporated into the attraction, like pumpkins during Halloween and even flaming turkey legs during the Thanksgiving season.
The app extends the fun beyond the attraction itself, and into the ride’s queue and land, with the ability to unlock new content visit after visit and earn more powerful blasts during gameplay. A collectible loot feature mimics a classic scavenger hunt and sees app users exploring the land to uncover the bounty. With one scan of a phone, it connects to your virtual collectibles and is a fun way to experience the land from a different vantage point.
For those adverse to technology, the attraction can be enjoyed at face value as a next-generation blaster-style ride without ever turning on the app as the player’s score will appear on the blaster itself.
Simply put, this is a clever attraction that’s a load of fun no matter at what level you commit to playing it.
Whimsical eats await in Minion Land at Universal Resort—and it’s way more than bananas
Universal Studios Florida excels with wildly inventive eats—from Harry Potter-themed, snow-capped pubs, to The Simpsons’ Fast Food Boulevard—but Minion Land raises the bar on both creativity and execution.
The new land houses four new options, from grab-and-go snacks to sit-down dining. Bake My Day is an adorable cupcake shop serving up a hefty dose of whimsy with Minion-fueled sweets. Insider tip: We recommend that you try the standout banana cream Swiss roll. Two snack stands dishing fun eats to parkgoers, including Minion-themed ice pops at Freeze Ray Pops and banana-flavored popcorn at Pop-A-Nana, have already proved ever so popular.
Its marquee dining location, Minion Café, is perhaps the land’s most ambitious feat, fusing elements of fast casual dining with table service in an immersive setting. Amongst its three highly themed dining rooms, diners can soak up the air conditioning while getting a glimpse of colorful art pieces and eye-catching details.
The menu is a merry mashup of kid-friendly eats and inspired foods with global flair—but it’s all far beyond the expected theme park eats. The food delivers the fun to the fork, from a green tomato bisque topped with crispy pork belly and basil oil to a delightful salsa roja braised beef. There are also plenty of familiar eats with a playful twist for the pickier eaters, like addictive Minion-shaped tots and a stuffed pizza. With all eats under $20, it also offers affordability and elevation in the theme park culinary landscape.
Illumination Theater is where you can meet your Minion friends
While the land itself is a bounty of colorful photo ops and murals, Illumination Theater serves as the main hub for character meet and greets—because you can’t come to Minion Land and not meet one of the adorable yellow friends!
The art deco-inspired theater features screen-based, digital posters offering the ability to switch out the characters throughout the day. Here, guests can meet the characters like Gru, Margo, and Agnes, but also other popular characters from hit Illumination films.
What else can families expect in the future?
The good news for families with younger kids? Universal Orlando Resort will be welcoming another kid-centric land in 2024 inspired by beloved movie characters from DreamWorks Animation. Its focus will be attractions and interactive play spaces that bring popular franchises like Shrek and Trolls to life.
Kids and adults alike will love Minion Land at Universal Resort, Florida
Rich with storytelling, Illumination films have resonated with people of all ages—and that sentiment is evident in Universal’s newest land. It’s a place where parents won’t just take a backseat to watch their kids at play, but they, too, become active and engaged participants.
In many ways, Minion Land accomplishes what so many other kiddie lands do not: it’s a destination-worthy land that can hold a candle to the likes of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s not tucked away in a back corner but instead, seamlessly blends in with the rest of the park as a transportive experience unique to its own. It’s truly tailored to the younger parkgoers but with broad appeal for guests of all ages.
—images courtesy of the author