How Universal Orlando Resort got its game on with Illumination's Villain-Con Minion Blast

Victor Lugo, Director of Immersive Experience at Universal Creative, explains why the theme park embraced video games in its newest attraction.


Universal Orlando Resort has gone all-in with video games, designing an entire attraction around the villains from Illumination’s blockbuster movie franchise, Despicable Me. Developed in partnership between Universal’s award-winning creative team and the acclaimed filmmakers from Illumination, Universal Studios Orlando has gamified the Villain-Con experience from the recent Minions films.

Villain-Con Minion Blast blends immersive sets, interactive game-based technology, and an original storyline for a first-of-its-kind attraction that puts guests’ gaming skills to the test to see if they have what it takes to become a member of the Vicious 6 – a notorious group of supervillains from the hit film, Minions: The Rise of Gru. Armed with a customizable E-Liminator X gun, players step onto a moving walkway and blast away at the animated villains.

Villain-Con Minion Blast is also the first Universal Orlando attraction to feature a connected gameplay experience via The Official Universal Orlando Resort App. By syncing their blaster to the app with just a tap, contenders can take their game to an entirely new level and track their scores, embark on special missions within the attraction.

This modern-day take on the arcade shooting gallery is a lot of fun to play - and replay. It’s part of the new Minion Land at Universal Studios Orlando, which also offers a Pop-A-Nana banana popcorn food truck, a Bake My Day sweets shop, a Freeze Ray Pops popsicle stand, a Minion Cafe filled with crazy banana concoctions as well as some really good entrees, and the original Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem big screen motion ride.

Victor Lugo, Director of Immersive Experience at Universal Creative, explains why the theme park embraced video games in its new attraction in this exclusive interview from the Grand Opening event.

Director of Immersive Experience at Universal Creative Victor Lugo
Director of Immersive Experience at Universal Creative Victor Lugo
Source: Universal Creative

What are some video games that influenced your own career and wanting to get involved in creating attractions and thrill rides?

Some of the games that have influenced my career are Super Mario Bros., Contra, Castlevania and The Final Fantasy Series. At a certain point in my career, I had made most of the games I wanted to make, so working at Universal Orlando Resort, exploring location-based entertainment and being able to bring those kinds of games and attractions to life was a unique challenge that was appealing to me.

What type of gaming research did you do in developing Villain-Con Minion Blast?

Our team at Universal Creative worked on several mock-ups and playtesting when developing Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast to bring a unique experience to all our guests. One of our primary goals was to find balance between how to deliver meaningful feedback to guests and infusing the attraction with an abundance of humor and entertainment, all while preserving a captivating level of challenge.

How did game design impact the development of this attraction?

Game design is at the core of Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – it always came first when the team was developing the attraction. There were a variety of best practices that were critical to bring to the experience to provide proper feedback and address usability. 

How have you designed the ride and the app for replay value?

The app is designed to make Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast replayable for guests of all ages. By syncing the app to their blaster with just a tap, guests can use the app to make the experience different each time they play to enhance their overall in-park experience. With the app, guests can track their scores, go on special missions within the attraction, unlock perks and more.

We've meticulously crafted missions that change the objective of the experience to provide guests with specific tools and perks that allow them to change the behavior of the blaster. I expect our fans to uncover new and exciting strategies upon replays!

Villain-Con Minion Blast promotional art
Universal Orlando Resort's Villain-Con Minion Blast
Source: Universal Creative

With Halloween and Christmas right around the corner what does this ride and app open up for the holidays? 

Our team is constantly working to provide fun experiences to all our guests and on this new attraction, we decided to include seasonal skins that adds an extra layer of fun and can be earned every month. For example, in October, we’ll be able to see an exploding Jack-O-Lanterns, in November a flaming turkey leg, and more. So be sure to keep a keen eye out— you might find a surprise on your next visit.

How do you see the achievements and perks and other special features evolving over time as players complete the current missions and goals?

I'm really looking forward to seeing how guests will come up with all sorts of clever strategies to stack perks. Achievements will likely lead to a dedicated group of collectors and achievements hunters, so I’m excited to see guests embrace these features as part of this new attraction!

Bigger picture, how do you see gamification and the Universal Orlando app opening up more interactivity with guests as they visit the parks?

Gaming and play are here to stay! With Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast, we seek to offer a diverse slate of interactivity and immersion into the story for those who come to Universal Orlando Resort to play.

Want more videos like this Universal Orlando Resort Villain-Con Minion Blast interview? Be sure to check out our YouTube channels at Shacknews and Shacknews Interviews for interviews, gameplay, unboxings, and more on the latest video games, technology, and toys.


John Gaudiosi has spent the past 30 years covering the video game industry for top international print, online and television outlets, including The Washington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, Fortune, and Playboy. He’s worked on both the business and consumer journalism angles over the years. He’s served as on-air gaming expert to NBC News and producer of several video game documentaries for The History Channel and Starz. John is a co-owner and contributor to, which is the oldest video game site in the US.

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