The latest piece in Universal Studios Hollywood’s $1.6-billion expansion debuted Friday with dancing, music, speeches by dignitaries and swarms of minions.
The theme park’s newest attraction, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, was unveiled to the members of the news media and special guests; it opens to the public Saturday.
The opening is set to take advantage of the crowds of school-age children and college students vacationing in Southern California during spring break.
The ride is based on the characters of the two “Despicable Me” movies, which have grossed about $1.5 billion. A spin-off movie is expected out next year, and a third “Despicable Me” feature in 2017.
Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, the parent company of the theme park, said the movies have become so popular that the short, Twinkie-shaped minions have become the “21st century Mickey Mouse.”
The park announced that it is working on an attraction that will be added to the Studio Tour tram ride by summer 2015 and will feature characters from the popular “Fast and Furious” movie series.
As dancers, singer and dignitaries celebrated the launch of the Despicable Me attraction, crews a few hundred yards away worked on another big attraction, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is scheduled to open in 2016.
The Despicable Me ride is an interactive attraction that puts guests in a theater with seats that can rise, fall and tilt. Wearing 3-D glasses, the guests watch images on a screen and are spritzed with water to bring the show to life.
Theme park officials declined to discuss the construction cost of the attraction or to estimate the number of guests it will serve per hour. Next to the attraction, Universal Studios has added a playground with water features for young children, called Super Silly Fun Land.
The Despicable Me attraction seemed designed for maximum throughput, with two theaters operating simultaneously, each seating more than 90 guests.
Before park visitors were brought into the ride, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti attributed the city’s surging tourist industry in part to the popularity of Universal Studios Hollywood.
The city drew 42.2 million visitors last year, with a goal of reaching 50 million by 2020.
“I’m so bullish on this city," Garcetti said.