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A Day in the Park with Barney was a live children's stage show attraction that was located at Universal Studios Florida, located in Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida. Based on the children's television show, Barney & Friends the attraction was known to be the first and only place that children and families could meet Barney the Dinosaur alongside his friends Baby Bop and BJ everyday of the year.

The news of the attraction was first announced in November 1994 at a New York news conference by the then president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios Florida at the time, Tom Williams.[4] This attraction was created in response to the success of two previous Barney appearances at the park. It opened on July 11th, 1995, on the former site of The Bates Motel Set[5] used in Psycho IV: The Beginning.

This attraction was one of the few places that Bob West, the original voice of Barney, could be heard long after his retirement from voicing the character. The attraction also featured the original voices of Baby Bop and BJ, Julie Johnson and Patty Wirtz respectively.

The attraction faced temporary closure in August of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the characters to do socially distanced meet and greets, before finally closing permanently[6] Friday, January 1, 2021. It was replaced by DreamWorks Destination.

History

From October to December 1992, to promote JCPenney's Barney Spot boutiques, Barney toured malls across the US and drew crowds ranging from 8,000 to 40,000, breaking records for mall events. Due to the crowd sizes and fearing for the safety of children and Barney, The Lyons Group [7] ended the tour and, until Barney's Open House in 2000, no further mall appearances were planned.

Barney & Baby Bop at the "Barney Street Celebration" in 1993.

The move resulted in the company to explore other ways to bring Barney to children. Tom Williams, the then president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios Florida at the time viewed the reactions of when children, including his own, watched Barney & Friends, and wanted to do something with Barney for the parks.[8] In 1993, Universal Theme Parks hosted Barney themed celebrations, in their California and Florida theme parks. Universal Studios Hollywood hosted "Barney on Parade", a parade featuring Barney, Baby Bop and other characters from the park, with a few Barney themed floats and a marching band,[9][10] while Universal Studios Florida hosted the "Barney Street Celebration" which was a mini show/parade. Barney's appearances at Universal Studios Florida were proven more successful as it led The Lyons Group and Universal to discuss plans for a permanent Barney attraction in the theme park. This would benefit both companies, as Universal wanted a new attraction for young children, while Lyons wanted a place where children could see Barney, BJ, and Baby Bop everyday.

Announcement press conference that Barney appeared at in New York.

The news of the attraction was first announced in November 1994 at a New York news conference in Manhattan by Tom Williams.[11] Construction began in late 1994, promotion ran before the opening and the attraction opened on July 11, 1995 to critical acclaim. Since then, A Day in the Park with Barney became one of Universal's oldest surviving attractions, staying there for twenty five years. Guests would enter under the archway that read the attraction's name. The back of the sign read "Thanks for Coming to Play!" Upon entering, the first thing guests would see was a bronze Barney statue that stood on one foot inside of a fountain.

In 1995, a Christmas version of the show entitled "A Holiday in the Park with Barney" was first performed. The following year, the show was revised, replacing two of the songs (Holidays Around the World and Up on the Housetop) with two songs from the standard A Day in the Park show. This became the standard version of the holiday show and, until 2019, was performed from December to early January in place of the regular show.

Closure

Barney, Baby Bop, BJ and Mrs. Peekaboo outdoors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show was temporarily closed along with the rest of the Universal Orlando Resort. It reopened during the resort's reopening in June 2020 but was temporarily closed again on August 9, 2020, restricting the characters to meet and greets.[12] On January 1, 2021, Universal permanently closed A Day in the Park with Barney, cancelling all future meet and greets as a result. Universal Orlando Resorts addressed the attraction's closure on February 3, 2021 as they responded to a person's inquiry about it on Twitter, confirming its closure. Anything Barney themed was removed from the area and was re-themed to Dreamworks Animation as they replaced it with Dreamworks Destnation[13] which opened May 28, 2021.[14]

Attractions

Entrance to Barney Theatre at A Day in the Park with Barney in Universal Studios Florida.

Barney Theater

Queue

The guests empty from the lines into a covered pre-show area with an odd-looking house facade, covered in pipes, knobs and doors, belonging to the Peekaboos. The setting for the pre-show was decorated very much like a child would imagine it; colors, bright lights, and even a rainbow over the house. The house was owned by the pre-show's host(s). Mr. or Mrs. Peekaboo had not yet appeared when the guests entered into the pre-show area. Different songs and sounds were heard through the pre-show area as guests waited for the show to start, and time allowed more people to make their way into the area.

Pre-show

Mr. Peekaboo in front of his house during the pre-show of A Day in the Park with Barney.

The show starts with either Patricia Aloysius Bartholomew or Patrick Aloysius Bartholomew (Mr. and Mrs. Peekaboo, for short) and his/her parrot, Bartholomew, your pre-show hosts. Peekaboo is a very close friend to Barney, Baby Bop and BJ. An elderly person, but soon proves to the audience that (s)he's only older in age since Peekaboo's spirit is much like that of a child. Peekaboo is a consistently forgetful character, but once (s)he is reminded what to do, Peekaboo takes pride in reuniting the children with Barney. A song and dance routine comes with a few comedy gags in between. Trying to find the door to Barney's park, Peekaboo fails to realize that you have to use your imagination. Peekaboo soon remembers and tells the audience to close their eyes and use their imagination. The artificial waterfall that blocks the door (decorated to look like a cave) stops dripping, which shows it worked. Peekaboo tells everyone that (s)he will meet them inside.

Barney on stage at A Day in the Park with Barney at Universal Studios Florida.

Main show

Inside is an air-conditioned theatre modeled after a park. In the center, there's an elevated, circular stage in the center where Barney, Baby-Bop and BJ perform with three ramps equally positioned on each side. Peekaboo greets the audience and tells them to use their imagination to make Barney appear. Peekaboo starts the show by asking everyone to chant "Barney" repeatedly. The lights dim and soft music plays as stars appear in the darkness. Barney appears via a trap door/elevator in the middle of the stage. Barney jumps in the air as the lights come up and confetti cannons explode with glitter, an effect added to look like the animated stars that appear onscreen during Barney's transformation on the television show.

Barney sings two songs before Baby Bop and BJ make their appearances. Afterwards, Barney introduces Baby Bop, which she appears just then. Soon after that, BJ announces his arrival with a distinctive whistle. They sing songs and wrap the show the way they do on the television series, Barney & Friends, with the song "I Love You". Baby Bop and BJ make their exits on one of the ramps. Barney wraps up the show by saying "And remember, I love you" and gives a kiss goodbye as steamers shoot from confetti cannons behind the hills. Mr./Mrs. Peekaboo then escort the audience to Barney's Backyard, where everyone soon exits.

Barney's Backyard

Post-show

Barney, BJ and Baby Bop in front of Barney's Backyard.

After the show, guests exit out into Barney's Backyard, an indoor activity center for small children, where they could also get their picture taken, if but briefly, with Barney himself. Occasionally, Barney and his friends appeared here if you entered the Backyard when the park opened (before the first show).

In Barney's Backyard, children were able to hop on BJ's Express train and play pretend, make music with step-on stones and giant wind chimes, explore the tall, leafy treehouse, splash around the water area, and or build a castle in the sand area.[15]

Barney's Backyard was also for those who didn't want to see the show or had made it too late to watch a performance.

Dining and Shopping

The Barney Shop

Right next door to the attraction was The Barney Shop, a spot for buying various and mostly exclusive Barney items for fans of all ages. The gift shop contained newly released Barney merchandise up until it closed. During the later years, the shop started selling non-Barney related merchandise that was related to Universal Orlando Resorts.[16]

Kids Cafe

When the attraction first opened, there was a Kid's Cafe. On the menu it included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is one of Barney's favorite snacks, and purple "slushies."[16]

Characters

Barney with a group of children.

Main

  • Barney -the main character, a two hundred million year friendly 6-foot purple tyrannosaurus-rex who comes to life from a plush toy by way of children’s imaginations.
  • Baby Bop - a green three-year-old Triceratops who's BJ's sister. She loves to carry her yellow blankey, which is seen in the attraction.
  • BJ - Baby Bop’s seven-year-old brother.

Pre-show

  • Mr. Peekaboo - An eccentric, very forgetful, jovial and lovable individual who's favorite game is peek-a-boo. In auditions, he's described as pudgy who's forty-ish.
  • Mrs. Peekaboo - The wife of Mr. Peekaboo who's also a very forgetful, jovial and lovable individual who's favorite game is peek-a-boo.
  • Bartholomew the Parrot - a bird friend of the Peekaboo's.

Seasonal

  • Frosty the Snowman - a snowman who only appears in the Christmas variant of the show.

Songs

Production

Casting

Auditions for the opening of the attraction were held on Friday, April 21 and Saturday April 22, 1995 at The Starlight Performing Arts Center in Orlando, Florida. Rehearsals began in early June 1995. For Barney, Baby Bop, BJ and Mr. Peekaboo, it required that the performers were to be 5'8"-5'10", 4'3"-4'5", 4'4"-4'4" and 5'4"-5'10" respectively.[17]

Music

Joseph K. Phillips was working at a company across the street from Universal. Phillips had a friend who was a producer in the park who approached Phillips about doing the music for the attraction. Upon request from his friend, Phillips put together some arrangements for Sheryl Leach and Dennis DeShazer to listen to, in which they approved of the musical direction.[18] Phillips wrote the original songs "Imagine a Place", alongside Tony Peugh, and "Mr. Peekaboo".

The songs heard around A Day in the Park with Barney's plaza (e.g. by the Barney fountain) were sung by children at various child care centers/charities across the United States.

Promotion

One of the many billboards, that was located in central Florida, teasing the opening of A Day in the Park with Barney.

To promote the attraction, Universal held sing-along shows with Barney during the month of April and began running television commercials about it in select markets. For a couple of weeks, leading up to the opening, Universal ran a cryptic message about the attraction and its opening date on about fifty billboards throughout central Florida. The purple signs carried no mention or picture of Barney and were written in several languages, which prompted several phone calls.

Barney, BJ and Baby Bop performing on a promotional tour to promote the opening of the attraction


The biggest marketing push occurred with a specialty painted Lynx bus advertising the attraction, which stopped in Boston and Philadelphia for sing-along shows and other cities to deliver Barney toys to children through police departments.[19] Originally, the tour was meant to be a full concert to go from Boston all the way down the east coast of the United States but it was cut in half and performed at specific venues.[20] Some venues that the concerts took place in included Boston, MA, Philadelphia, Pa and Norman, Oklahoma.

Adaptation

Souvenir Book

Book

Main Article: A Day in the Park with Barney Souvenir Book

The attraction was adapted into a souvenir book of the same name, written by Guy Davis and photographed by Dennis Full. May 10, 1996 was the day the Barney Shop began selling the sourvenir books. These books were discontinued a few years later. 

Gallery

Conception

Entrance

Barney Theater

Barney's Backyard

Promotional

Behind the scenes

Covid-19 pandemic

Trivia

Barney, BJ and Baby Bop in front of the attraction's entrance.

A Holiday in the Park with Barney

  • The 1995 version of the Christmas show was only time the song, "Holidays Around the World" was featured.
  • When "A Holiday at the Park with Barney" first premiered in December 1995, there was a costumed Frosty The Snowman character that would come on stage during the song of the same name. However, he was later removed for unknown reasons and instead Mr. or Mrs. Peakaboo would play the role up until 2017, when a new Frosty costumed character was added to the performance.

Changes

  • The creators of the show initially didn't add a Barney doll to Barney's transformation at the beginning of the show, because of pacing issues. Since December 2014, a Barney doll (from the show's gift shop) has been added to the performance.
  • Originally, one of Barney's lines was "I'm so glad Mr. Peekaboo made sure you all got here!" From 1999 onward, the name is shortened to just "Peekaboo," due to when Mrs. Peekaboo existed in the Park after Mr. Peekaboo married Mrs. Peekaboo.

People

  • Cast and crew members at the premiere of A Day in the Park With Barney. Some notable people in the photo include Sheryl Leach, Dennis DeShazer, Bob West, Carey Stinson and Jim Rowley,

    Lauren Mayeux, the costume actress who performed Baby Bop from 2008-2011 on the production of Barney & Friends, also performed as Baby Bop here at the attraction, before and after doing the television series, up until the attraction's closure.
  • This show was written by Jason Surrell,[21] a former producer Walt Disney Imagineering who (as of 2014) works at Universal's creative department. Surrell wrote the sing-along show during a previous five-year tenure at Universal.
  • Carey Stinson, one of Barney's long-time costume performers, performed as Barney for the ribbon cutting for the opening of the attraction. He also helped train some of the performers for the attraction.
  • Stephen Hurst was a a stage manager of the show from 1996 to 2000 then returned to the show in 2002, playing both Mr. Peekaboo and Barney.[22]
  • Gentry Akens served as the art director for the attraction.[23]
  • Some commercials for the attraction were directed by Kevin Cable.

Videos

Commercials

Other

See Also

Other Barney attractions

References


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