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Theatre / Animal Actors

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Animal Actors is a show at the Universal Studios parks. From dogs, to birds, to pigs, the show contains a wide variety of animal acts and explanations behind how animals are trained and used in movies.

The show originated at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1970. 20 years later, it opened with Universal Studios Florida on June 7, 1990. Another decade later, a third iteration opened with Universal Studios Japan on March 31, 2001.

In 2001, the shows in both Florida and Hollywood were rebranded as Animal Planet Live!, which featured plenty of references to and cameos from people on channel. This lasted until 2006, when both shows were restored mostly to their original versions. Elsewhere, the show at Japan, to tie in with the new Land of Oz area, was re-themed into Toto & Friends, which still featured animal acts, just under a Wizard of Oz theme. This version of the show remained in Japan until the 2010s, when the entire theater was torn down to make room for a Sesame Street play area.

After a 53 year run, the Hollywood version of the show was closed alongside the adjacent Special Effects Show on the 8th January, 2023, in order to make space for a new rollercoaster themed to The Fast and the Furious. The Florida version remains open.

Animal Actors provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Title: Animal Actors.
  • Audience Participation: Child volunteers are brought on stage for various segments of the show.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: In a former segment of the show, a dog would come on stage by bursting through a stone wall.
  • Chroma Key: Both this and a wind machine is used to give off the illusion of a bird flying across various locations.
  • Disturbed Doves: In the finale of the show, a huge flock of birds comes out of a piece of the set and soars over the audience's heads.
  • Enforced Plug: The show has occasionally been used to market movies like The Secret Life of Pets.
  • Faking the Dead: A dog (after being given enough incentive) plays dead instead of leaping into the arms of the volunteer as planned. In Hollywood's show, the bit occurs after it fails to do an obstacle course correctly.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Known as Universal's Animal Actors at the Hollywood park.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: A former segment of the show involved a volunteer and a dog having to act out a scene where they are menaced by an (animatronic) alligator.
  • Rimshot: A "ba dum tss" sound plays after a bird is taken away by a "stage hand".
  • Running Gag: Hollywood's show has a "Today's Special" sign that keeps getting changed by the animals. At first the special is "chicken fingers", but a chicken changes the special to a "ham sandwich". Later, a pig comes by and changes the sign to say "chicken sandwich", and finally, another bird comes by and changes the sign to say "vegetarian sandwich".
  • The Scapegoat: When the host lays down a dog treat in preparation for a stunt between a dog and a child volunteer, an otter (or some other animal) suddenly appears and takes the treat while the host is looking away. This leads to the host thinking that the child volunteer took the treat.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: In one segment, the host has a volunteer put out their arm to catch various types of birds. When they're about to catch a large vulture, the child (secretly by the command of the host) instead runs back to their seat.
  • Special Guest: All of the animals are this from the perspective of the show's plot, as they are said to have starred in various movies.
  • Stunt Double: In-Universe. A former segment of the show had the hosts bringing in a stunt double for a dog that's supposed to "attack" an animatronic alligator. For humor's sake, the stunt double dog looked nothing like the original dog.
  • Talking Animal: Florida's show includes an appearance by Frank the Pug, a talking dog from the Men in Black movies.
  • Updated Re-release: The show has gone through several revisions over the years, changing the acts and even animals featured.
  • Urine Trouble: In the obstacle course segment of Hollywood's show, one of the dogs pees on the volunteer's shoulder instead of jumping over them as planned.
  • Visual Pun: One of the show's birds is taken off the stage by a "stage hand" — a human hand sticking out of a part of the set.