Dreamworks’ Where’s Waldo? animated TV show cast includes Weird Al & More. Few other picture books can lay claim to the degree of success that British author and illustrator Martin Handford has achieved with his Where’s Waldo? series. First published in 1987, the series has spawned a variety of adaptations and sold over 70 million books in 28 different countries around the world.
While the book’s protagonist is known in North America as Waldo, the instantly recognizable character, with his red and white striped sweatshirt and beanie goes by a variety of names around the world, including Wally in his English homeland, Valdas in Lithuania and Holger in Denmark. The books encourage children to help spot the globetrotting hero, as he’s hidden among detailed and busy drawings of everything from crowds to architecture. For years there’s been talk of turning the successful series into a live-action film, though to date the concept seems no further along than it was when first announced, nearly a decade ago. This has obviously tested the patience of fans eager to see what a live-action Waldo film would look like.
Now, however, Dreamworks has revealed their take on the storybook hero via a new press release. Where’s Waldo? the animated series is due to kick off on the Universal Kids network this July, but first there will be a tease of the new program, set to air during the season finale of American Ninja Warrior Junior on April 27. The new Waldo series will feature the voices of a lengthy cast of familiar celebrities, including satirist musician Weird Al Yankovic, former SNL alum Rachel Dratch and the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants himself, Tom Kenney, to name but a few.
Fans of the Waldo books have come to know the titular character as a gangly looking man, but the new Dreamworks series will feature Waldo as a twelve-year-old boy who travels the world alongside his best friend Wenda. As members of the Worldwide Wanderer Society, the pair solve problems and explore new and fascinating aspects of other cultures. Waldo and Wenda embark on their international missions under the mentorship of the seasoned wanderer Wizard Whitebeard, though their progress is often hindered by the likes of their rival, Odlulu, who brings trouble wherever she goes. This isn’t the first time that Waldo has been turned into an animated series, however. Back in 1991 a short-lived, thirteen episode series also entitled Where’s Waldo? aired on CBS Kids, though it didn’t bring Wenda in as a substantial character – at least not to the degree that the new series plans to.
While the idea of turning the highly successful Where’s Waldo? books into an animated series is an interesting one, the fact that it’s been done before means that this isn’t exactly a fresh start for the IP. Surely most Waldo fans would much rather see what could be done with the concept on the big screen – whether that means live-action or animated. But of course, many would argue that as a children’s book series, it makes sense to have an animated series for children. Should it find its mark with audiences, one can’t help but wonder if that would be the additional push that Where’s Waldo? needs to finally find its way to the big screen.