It’s fitting that the pre-show room of the Shrek 4-D attraction is staged like a dungeon because it’s torture.
You’ve been out in the Florida sun all day, and you’re dripping with sweat. You stink. Everyone else stinks. You’ve staggered your way through the outdoor line queue, and while it’s covered and has strategically placed fans, it still feels like a sauna. You’re looking ahead to the people closest to the doors to the pre-show room, and you’re quietly calculating how much you’d pay to switch places with them. Eventually, you cross the threshold of the room — and you feel the cool relief of the air conditioning blasting you as you grab your OgreVision 3D goggles. But that relief is temporary. You’re now in the dungeon of Castle Duloc.
As the room fills up, the Team Members encourage everyone to squish towards the front of the room. There aren’t any dividers — it’s the wild, wild West. By the time the Magic Mirror and the animatronics start explaining the backstory, some of the crowd is sitting on the ground, and others are angling for a spot closest to the entrance to the theater to be first in. People are tripping over each other, and if you’re not careful, you can easily get separated from your kids in the shuffle of the darkness.
When the pre-show routine ends, the entire room herds through the bottleneck of the (only!) three doors to take their seats. This whole portion of the Shrek experience probably only lasts for twenty minutes at the most, but for anyone with the slightest hint of claustrophobia, it feels like “forever after.”
What I found myself doing our second time through was to keep floating to the back-left of the room. As more guests fill in and try to push their way closer to the front, I let them go past us. There’s a column about ten feet from the left wall; if you stay slightly to the right of that, you’ll still be able to see all of the elements of the pre-show while also out of the mosh pit. You’ll be one of the last to get your seat in the next room, but you’ve likely already waited at least 40 minutes, what’s another 3? The people who get in first will be asked to keep going all the way to the ends, and there’s not a bad view from any of the seats, so there’s no reason to rush in there. It’s not worth having my young children shoved aside by full-grown adult again, as was the case our first time through.
I don’t mean to dump on the Shrek 4-D attraction; it’s an entertaining experience that all ages can participate in. Even the bad puns sprinkled throughout grow on you after a while! But this portion of it was super uncomfortable for previously mentioned reasons. Muppet*Vision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a similar pre-show setup, but at least the room there is much larger, it isn’t as dark, and there are way more doors to enter the theater.
I’m not sure how much longer this experience will stick around, as it’s already been replaced at the other Universal parks, but as long as it remains one of the first attractions you encounter after you enter Universal Studios arch, it’s going to attract a crowd.