Change is Universal, and it’s time to say goodbye to most of Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone at Universal Studios Florida. Animal Actors on Location! and E.T. Adventure, both opening day attractions, are here to stay (for now, at least). SpongeBob StorePants and KidZone Pizza Company will remain as well, but the rest of the area is permanently closed as of January 15, 2023.
The land became KidZone in 1998-1999 with the additions of Curious George Goes to Town and Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.
The KidZone began with a row of Woody Woodpecker flags, which remain for now. They are in a courtyard in front of Animal Actors on Location! A giant sign for the land featuring Woody Woodpecker was to the side, where guests walked to the rest of the KidZone.
Past E.T. Adventure and SpongeBob StorePants, guests would first encounter Fievel’s Playland.
Further back were Shrek’s Swamp Meet and DreamWorks Destination, which were, respectively, The Barney Shop and A Day in the Park With Barney until 2020.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster was behind Fievel’s Playland and Curious George Goes to Town was at the back of the land.
Fievel’s Playland was added to Universal Studios Florida in 1992. It was based on the 1986 animated film “An American Tail” and its sequel “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West” (1991).
The play area was themed to put guests in the shoes of Fievel with larger-than-life props and play equipment to give the feeling of being mouse-sized.
It contained multiple active play elements such as climbing nets, slides, a water slide, and more. Small children could play in a bounce house-style jumper and a trampoline. It wasn’t primarily a water play area, but there were water elements.
Curious George Goes to Town was a play area with two sections: the water play area and the ball factory. It opened in 1998 as part of an initiative to turn the area into KidZone and expand the park’s offerings for young children. It replaced the Bates Mansion. The Bates Motel was already gone, having been replaced by A Day in the Park with Barney in 1995.
Based on the children’s book series “Curious George” by Margret and H.A. Rey, the area let children explore their own adventure in the wake of the mischievous monkey. Large books with story pages can be found throughout the area, and the exit reads “The End.” The story was unique to the park as Curious George Goes to Town was not a real book.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
When Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster opened in 1999, it was the first roller coaster built at Universal Studios Florida. It replaced the former guitar-shaped Hard Rock Café alongside A Day in the Park With Barney.
The steel coaster was built by Vekoma. It had zero inversions and was intended for young children with a minimum height requirement of 36″. The total ride time was 44 seconds.
Woody Woodpecker was voiced by Billy West for the ride audio. West was the voice of Woody from 1998-2002, though Eric Kelso voiced the character for Universal Studios Japan in 2001.
KidZone formerly included A Day in the Park With Barney, which opened in 1995 and closed in 2021 to become the new home for the Shrek and Donkey Meet and Greet and Dreamworks Destination. NBC Universal, the parent company of Universal Parks & Resorts, purchased Dreamworks Animation in 2016.
Photo ops with backdrops of various Dreamworks properties were set up outside the building. They rotated to promote new movies or tv shows.
Inside, guests could join a dance party with a rotating cast of costumed characters, including Po from “Kung Fu Panda” and King Julien from the “Madagascar” franchise.
In 2022, Universal abruptly closed the Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Café, which shared a building with the Donkey and Shrek meet and greet. The meet and greet closed shortly thereafter and reopened in the former Barney gift shop.
The meet and greet had a permanent setup to allow for the Donkey character to peek out of a barn window, where he moved and interacted with guests. Shrek and sometimes Fiona could also be found there.
Will you miss Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone? What are you hoping replaces it? Let us know in the comments.