D’Works Animation books vacation deal

Pact puts Shrek, Kung Fu Panda in Gaylord Hotels

Six months after setting sail with Royal Caribbean, DreamWorks Animation has paired up with Gaylord Hotels to provide consumers with another opportunity to vacation with the company’s characters.

Starting in November, the hospitality chain will offer families a “DreamWorks Experience” that includes character breakfasts and parades, themed wakeup calls, poolside activities, private birthday parties, holiday events and food, beverage and merchandise offerings that will prominently feature characters from “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar,” among other DWA pics. Stage shows are also in the works.

“There are so many different ways you can engage with guests and develop entertainment opportunities” with a hotel partner, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told Variety. Plans are still being finalized for the vacation packages, which go on sale in July.

Hotel chain’s owner, Gaylord Entertainment (which owns syndicated variety show “Hee Haw”), operates four large resorts in the U.S.: Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Gaylord Palms near Orlando’s Walt Disney World, Gaylord Texan on Lake Grapevine near Dallas and Gaylord National on the Potomac in National Harbor, Md.

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Gaylord, which attracts a large convention crowd, had been looking for a way to boost its leisure biz during the summer and holiday months and reach out to families when fewer groups are booking rooms.

Chain’s only previous entertainment deal was one around the Charlie Brown character, but Gaylord Entertainment chairman-CEO Colin V. Reed said, “We have been talking about these assets as theaters for five years or so. That’s how we think about our buildings.”

That suits DreamWorks well, as the company has been eager to gets its characters into more venues that target families. It brokered a deal with Royal Caribbean last summer to launch a similar character-driven program on its ships that set sail in December. Company operates the largest cruise ships in the biz.

DWA had brokered promo pacts with hotel chains like Embassy Suites and Starwood-owned chains in the past but only around individual film releases. Deal with Gaylord will now enable DreamWorks to focus on a larger companywide promotion and target more than just guests staying at each hotel.

The venues have become local hot spots in each city where they’re located, drawing in large crowds each year to holiday activities like ice skating shows, Christmas light displays and other activities.

Around 1 million visit an annual ice show each year, which will now be themed around DreamWorks’ characters.

“Gaylord Entertainment has displayed an incredible commitment to creativity and high-quality family entertainment, making each of their world-class U.S. resorts an ideal destination for the DreamWorks Animation brand,” Katzenberg said. “We look forward to bringing to life the characters, stories and worlds featured in our film franchises in new and innovative ways throughout the Gaylord Hotel guest experience starting this year.”

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