Whilst DreamWorks Theatricals' Shrek the Musical continues to tour the UK, the infamous green ogre has now made a permanent home on the banks of the River Thames. London's newest attraction which employs live actors in a 90-minute immersive, theatrical and multimedia-fused experience goes by the name of DreamWorks Tours London - Shrek's Adventure!
The next time Shrek the Musical ventures back to the capital isn't until next year, playing the New Wimbledon Theatre from 20th January to 31st January 2016, so if you can't wait until then for your fairytale fix, then get down to the South Bank pronto!
Entertainment giants Merlin (The London Dungeon, The London Eye, Sea Life London Aquarium, Madame Tussauds, Thorpe Park etc.) have acquired licensing rights to the animated franchises of DreamWorks Animation and have launched a world premiere right here in the Big Smoke. According to the company, several more DreamWorks-themed attractions are in development worldwide, but lucky us, we get to experience it first.
A scene with The Muffin Man and Donkey
I took the opportunity to visit the attraction with my 13 year old niece yesterday, as she is a big fan of the franchise and adored the West End musical on a previous trip to London. Although the DreamWorks Tour feels unapologetically American - the staff performing as smiley, happy (and very chatty) people around the clock, some of whom also with American accents - there have been nice touches added to make the experience distinctly British too. In particular, the red double-decker 'magic' bus ride in 4D is a particular highlight. Bursting out onto the South Bank, flying over the London Eye and past the Houses of Parliament, we are taken on a journey to the land of Far Far Away (via other DreamWorks-inspired landscapes with cameos from characters from the Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon franchises), only to mow down one of Rumpelstiltskin's favourite witches along the way and crash land in a swamp. And so our 'Once Upon a Time' has begun...
A scene with Pinnochio
Guided by a host of live actors who portray Princess Fiona (in human form) and some of the film's minor cast (Thelonius, Doris the Ugly Sister, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and The Muffin Man, who aptly lives on Drury Lane, to name a few), as well as animated or puppet appearances from the likes of Donkey, Puss in Boots, Gingy, Pinnochio, and of course, Shrek himself, we are led from room to room through a maze of scenes (10 in total) from the DreamWorks movies, until we finally make it back to London.
Kids will love being immersed into the world of Far Far Away and interacting with the live actors. Adults who are animation aficianados like myself will appreciate the unique and original content DreamWorks has produced especially for this London attraction, as well as the attention to detail which has been paid in realising the settings from the movies... and of course, as we are so often reminded during the tour, everything is 'Shrekciting' and 'Shrektacular'! DreamWorks Tours London - Shrek's Adventure! feels like a little piece of Orlando, Florida on the banks of the Thames and for young children and the young at heart, that's not such a bad thing after all... Ogre and out!