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Kwik-E-Mart at Universal: Come again!

Orlando Sentinel

Original Article »

October 16, 2007

It's still five months before the new Simpsons ride debuts at Universal Studios, but the cartoon characters' favorite convenience store -- the Kwik-E-Mart -- is already open for business at the theme park.

So far, the Kwik-E-Mart wares inside are limited to the usual theme-park toys, T-shirts and other souvenirs, though they all are based on Bart Simpson, his cartoon family and the other good townspeople of Springfield.

That will change as Universal gets closer to the ride's March 2008 opening.

Buzz Cola, Squishee drinks (slogan: "We now use government-approved food dyes!") and Duff-branded energy drinks are among the Simpson products Universal expects to start appearing in or around the Kwik-E-Mart, said Michael Lewellen, vice president for public relations.

"Universal is about to become Simpsons Central before too long," Lewellen said. "What better way to get the word out that the Simpsons are coming to Universal Studios?"

Signs in the current shop's windows advertise other products found in the TV show's convenience store such as Krusty Kough Syrup and I Can't Believe It's Not Lard, but they're less likely to wind up on the shelves.

The Kwik-E-Mart replaced Universal's old Back to the Future gift shop last week, just as the Simpsons Ride is replacing Back to the Future: The Ride in the building next door to the shop.

It is not like the handful of 7-Eleven stores across the country, including one in Lake Buena Vista, that converted briefly last summer to Kwik-E-Marts to promote the 20th Century Fox film The Simpsons Movie. This one's real -- or at least as real as anything gets inside a theme park.

If Kwik-E-Mart creates the buzz Universal wants, might another Simpsons business, Moe's Tavern, be just around the corner?

"I'm not sure about that one. We've got some good bars already," Lewellen said.

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