By Fowl Owlerson
Disclaimer: Unless where otherwise noted, the following is rumor and speculation, and should not be regarded as fact unless confirmed by the companies mentioned.
Universal Studios Japan have broken ground on Super Nintendo World with a grand opening of 2020 “in time for the Tokyo Olympics” — so Summer 2020 is a safe assumption — and Mario Kart confirmed as an attraction. It’s an exciting time for park-goers and Nintendo fans alike. In a video by Universal Studios Japan, Mario runs through a rendering of Super Nintendo World and interacts with live park guests. This is a fair representation of what Universal Creative aim to accomplish with the final product.
Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan will be the largest of the three, followed by Orlando at a moderate size and construction commencement rumored to be happening by the end of 2017, and with Hollywood’s construction start date rumored to being either in late 2017 or early 2018 and the smallest due to space restrictions. All three lands will be vertical and layered with scenery, meaning the structures will have multiple levels to maximize the space available for each expansion and immerse guests.
I’ve been collecting information from various sources about Super Nintendo World since it was announced and have the rumored details on the expansion in Japan that will likely vary, but still bear similarities to the lands in Universal Orlando and Hollywood. Here’s my take: The entrance of Super Nintendo World will be Princess Peach’s Castle (seen in the teaser video and concept art) and will be the “crown jewel” of the land, seen from all over the park, much like Hogwarts Castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Guests will walk through the castle into the Mushroom Kingdom, which is the main area of the expansion seen in the concept art and teaser video.
Universal Creative aims to make guests feel surrounded by the vibrant aesthetic known well by Nintendo fans with bright colors and the iconic elements from the Mushroom Kingdom — Goombas, coins, Piranha Plants and more! Again, the teaser video is the end goal. The land will be layered and vertical to make the most out of its space. Much like Dragon Alley, it’ll feel cloistered from the rest of the park for the sake of immersion. To get between the themed areas within the Mushroom Kingdom, guests will walk through tunnels/pipes complete with the famous “warping” noises anyone who has played a Mario game knows well.
Costumed Nintendo characters will be seen in certain areas of the park as meet & greets, and they’ll be cafes, places to play Nintendo games, shops and multiple levels with a plethora of detail for guests to explore. It’ll be comparable to the impressive expansion of Pandora – The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in terms of detail. The land will have dynamic music that’ll vary throughout and sound familiar to enthusiasts.
The expansion will feature three major attractions: Mario Kart AR, Donkey Kong Mine Cart Coaster and Yoshi’s Adventure. Mario Kart, which was announced by Universal Studios Japan, will feature a fully fabricated Bowser’s Castle (the facade of the attraction) and start guests there with additional floors rumored to feature Luigi’s Mansion and Rainbow Road. The experience will place guests in physical carts with themed spaces and overlaid with interactive details thanks to Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Guests will don special glasses to see these AR elements. It’ll feel like an actual Mario Kart game (a great deal of fun will be had and many friendships will be “broken”) with an array of power-ups (red shells rule) and a HUD for guests.
The next ride, Donkey Kong, will transport guests to Donkey Kong Island from the moment they step into the themed space through a warp pipe naturally. The attraction will be inside a show building with the remnants of a temple as a facade surrounded by tropical set pieces. The ride system is rumored to be a roller coaster that’s disguised inside a rickety wooden mine track. It’ll have a launch element with a scene that I’ve been told is not unlike Escape from Gringotts’ in Diagon Alley, and will take guests through twists and falls, as well as outside the show building. The Kong family and creatures from the game will be seen in the ride with a mixture of screens and animatronics. Based on several sources, the intensity of the coaster will be comparable to Escape from Gringotts and Revenge of the Mummy.
The final attraction is Yoshi’s Adventure, which if you peruse the concept art released, you can see its show building structure next to Mario & Luigi in the concept art (it’s the pyramid block structure). It’ll be an omnimover ride with an outdoor and indoor experience. Think The Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom or Spaceship Earth in Epcot. Each ride vehicle will be a different color Yoshi. It’ll take guests outside to get a better view of the land and into a show building and through set pieces that I speculate will be familiar to fans of Yoshi’s Island. Sources have shared that it’s intended to be a family experience aimed at younger park patrons and their caregivers. Think Cat in the Hat in Seuss Landing and Pteranodon Flyers in Jurassic Park at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. It’ll be a nice ride for all patrons to catch a view of the land, rest, and enjoy the antics of Nintendo’s charming little dinosaur Yoshi.
For Universal Orlando Resort, Super Nintendo World is rumored to be replacing KidZone in Universal Studios Florida. This will mean the removal of Animal Actors On Location!, A Day in the Park with Barney, SpongeBob StorePants, KidZone Pizza Company, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Curious George Goes to Town, Fievel’s Playland, and the structure labeled “B-79” — it’s been used as storage for the parade floats and a location for a Halloween Horror Nights maze. A few sources have shared that E.T. Adventure will close for refurbishment and open with a new entrance over in Central Park.
The rumored timeline for Super Nintendo World at Universal Orlando Resort begins with the closure of Kid Zone at the end of 2017, with construction continuing until Summer 2020 or Spring 2021, the timeframe has varied by the source. Universal Studios Japan’s Super Nintendo World has a grand opening date for 2020, whereas Universal Studios Hollywood’s version of the land is rumored to open in 2021. It’s going to take a fair amount of time for Universal Orlando to complete construction on Super Nintendo World. Universal’s creative department have a great deal of ambition with this project and Nintendo have been closely involved with the process. The final product is going to be spectacular for park-goers and truly something special for Nintendo fans. It’ll be well worth the wait.
• Fowl Owlerson has been attending theme parks since he was a little owlet. When he’s not filtering through the latest murmurings around the industry, he can be found writing, reading, and snacking on the occasional rodent. Follow him on Twitter @fowlowlerson for the latest rumors, and drop an anonymous letter to him at [email protected] or via Direct Message on Twitter.