Well this is a surprise. I might need to get down to Florida.
Orlando Sentinel said:
"Universal theme parks offer incredibly popular, innovative themed family entertainment experiences based on compelling stories and characters Ė using powerful storytelling and innovative technology," the companies said in a joint statement. " Nintendo has created remarkable and imaginative worlds filled with captivating stories and beloved characters. Now, for the first time, those stories and characters will be brought to life in entirely new ways Ė only at Universal theme parks."
A bit surprised there hasn't been too much discussion here about it. I've been following the theme park industry somewhat closely (or at least the big players) so I will fill in everyone on what's been going on.
Super Nintendo World is being built at four Universal theme parks around the world: Universal Studios Japan in 2020 Universal Studios Hollywood in the near future Universal Studios Singapore in the near future Universal Studios Orlando Resort in the far future.
Universal Studios Japan Japan will be the first to roll out with the land featuring two rides: an e-ticket (the theme park equivalent of a "blockbuster" or "AAA") Mario Kart ride and a Yoshi omnimover ride (think Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Ariel's Undersea Adventure).
Universal Studios Hollywood The Nintendo area will be built in the lower lot. Due to the lower amount of space the only confirmed ride we have here is the Mario Kart ride. Instead the rumors have been that the Secret Life of Pets ride being built on the upper lot will use the omnimover ride system that the Yoshi ride will feature. With no announcement it looks likely we won't get this until 2021 or later (probably 2021 though).
Universal Studios Singapore Not much has been announced here so details are scarce.
Universal Epic Universe
This is the big one. Originally Super Nintendo World was set to replace the Kidz Zone at Universal Studios Florida. However, Universal got approved to build their third theme park (4th if you count Volcano Bay) so they moved their plans there.
The new theme park is Universal's Epic Universe:
Because this is an entirely new theme park that's still early in construction we likely won't see this one for a number of years (2023 or later is a likely bet). However, this will likely be the best Super Nintendo World of them all given the vast amount of space they will have to work with.
Previously there were leaked models of the Super Nintendo World set for Universal Studios Florida that showed a Donkey Kong themed area featuring a Donkey Kong mine cart ride in addition to the Mario Kart e-ticket and Yoshi omnimover. It's likely that this will remain the case for the initial launch of the park but the folks at Orlando Park Stop analyzed released images and noted that there's also room for significant further expansion in the future with the lot of land given for Super Nintendo World.
So there you have it. A quick run down of what's going on with the Super Nintendo World project.
Thanks for all the info!!! Iím super interested in all of this stuff. I had intentions on making it out to Japan this year for the opening out there, but decided against it for now. I can always change my mind back, though! Iím definitely curious about the official opening and if and when all the attractions will open. I donít think Iíll be waiting too long to get out there. Iím due a trip back to Japan. I will be there day one for the open down the road in Orlando. Thatís a lock!
@Brandon All the confirmed rides will be there Day 1 so Japan will be getting the Mario Kart ride and Yoshi ride alongside whatever interactive play areas the land will feature. They might get further attractions down the road but there is no speculation or rumors about that. I also don't know the land situation at Universal Japan so it's possible they may not even be able to expand without demolishing an existing area.
Universal Studios Orlando will be getting the three rides I mentioned (Mario Kart, Yoshi, Donkey Kong) at Day 1 unless something unforeseen happens. They also will have significant land space for additional expansion but that likely won't happen for years after the park opens (and that is already guesstimated at 2023 earliest).
So while I'm very excited about this, I'm a tad let down by the limited IP representation. It's not really "Super Nintendo World" so much as "Super Mario World." Not that Mario should be second billing to any other Nintendo IP, but I was hoping for a Zelda ride and maybe some smaller nods here and there.
I may have an opportunity to check this out if itís open by mid-June. I kinda hope itís open by mid-June. Timing works out well for me. I donít much care to go to California, and 2023 is a long way away to wait for Florida. Weíll see.
That said, NegWorld meetup in 2023! Orlando, here we come!!!!!
@TriforceBun As both a Nintendo fan and I theme park guy I can see both sides of this. On one side it is disappointing that the IP representation is limited to just Mario. On the other hand as a theme park fan I really value good thematic design to really immerse yourself in a theme park. Cohesive theming is valuable to me. That's the same reason why Animal Kingdom is my favorite Disney park in spite of the low amount of rides, Universal Studios Florida and Disney California Adventure both seem like a mess to me, and I dislike the fact that the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is being placed in Epcot.
It's much easier to focus a land purely on the Mario universe to make a cohesive theme. Otherwise we just get an eclectic land with a bunch of different Nintendo characters without a rhyme or reason. If they plan to make more Nintendo IP representations I would honestly prefer they build it in another area of the park separate from the Mario section. Metroid is different from Zelda which is different from Pokemon.
There have been "rumors" (which honestly is probably more like wishful thinking being passed as a rumor) that The Legend of Zelda would replace The Lost Continent at Universal's Islands of Adventure. On the one hand I would be a bit sad about that because I love the theme of The Lost Continent and it's nice to have a land not tied to IPs, which is becoming rarer in the modern theme park landscape. On the other hand The Lost Continent is pretty barren and ever since they lost the Merlinwood section to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the land has been reduced down to one attraction. Now the only thing anyone cares about there is the well themed Mythos restaurant. Zelda would at least make for a good potential transition land to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter so it's not a terrible choice thematically.
The Kidz Zone at Universal Studios Florida was the piece of land originally allocated to Super Nintendo World for both the Mushroom Kingdom and Donkey Kong sections. So obviously the days are numbered for that area so there's another potential expansion spot. I would much prefer that if they do a Zelda attraction or another Nintendo IP in that spot. Zelda would be a thematic mess considering ET would be at an out of place spot right outside the entrance and the Simpsons area is down the street but Universal Studios Florida is a mess thematically anyway after all the changes over the years so whatever. Just best to do what the Harry Potter lands do and erect enough stuff around the area so that when you enter they block the sight lines to the rest of the park.
One thing to keep in mind is that is it highly unlikely they will use an IP that is not mega popular. They are not going to invest a huge sum of money into a land based around an IP without a strong built in audience. Therefore as badly as I want Metroid or Pikmin themed areas anything outside of Mario, Zelda and Pokemon is likely outside the question.
Some good points for sure. I'm a bit of a park geek myself and definitely agree with you about consistent theming. I'm a big fan of Universal's Springfield and Diagon Alley areas, for instance, but Simpsons and Harry Potter aren't exactly compatible IPs!
I too am saddened by the addition of franchise-based attractions in Epcot. That should be the Disney park people go to to get away from all the Disney stuff!
I guess ultimately, a Nintendo theme park idea is almost too big to be restricted to a single land without some clashing ideas. But I do think they could potentially make a Wind Waker-style Zelda land work within the Mario look (just as they're doing with Yoshi and DK). Either way, still pretty excited to see what they've cooked up.
@TriforceBun If we go with the theory that the Super Nintendo World will stick with the Mario universe theme what would you like at the expansion pad? Personally I am kind of hoping for a Luigi's Mansion attraction but currently at a loss to what to surround it with.
It'll be sad to see Lost Continent go but my feelings towards it is more about it's design and concept than the actual land itself today. Plus personally it's nice to have a land that's not tied to an IP as that's become increasingly rare today. With Harry Potter basically taking half of Lost Continent away and taking away it's only E-ticket ride (Dueling Dragons) the land has been on life support for a while anyway.
Zelda replacing it would at least breathe new life into the area. I'm already imagining the talking fountain being replaced by the Great Deku Tree.
This is definitely going to be a long way off though if resources continue to be focused on developing Epic Universe.
@PogueSquadron There have been rumors that Universal eventually wants a Nintendo property in every park (Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, the new Epic Universe). Originally Kids Zone in Universal Studios Florida was the intended destination for Super Nintendo World, but since that is going to Epic Universe barring change of plans due to COVID-19 then it would need to be replaced with something else (Orlando Park Stop's rumor is that it would be a Pokemon area). Either way considering Kids Zone was slated for demolition anyway it's only a matter of time.
I had a feeling some folks would be upset with them repurposing that area. I've never been to any Universal theme park but I can understand the disappointment in seeing something go that provided nice memories.
When they showed the existing park I could immediately imagine them reskinning some of it to be a part of the Gerudo area. Having a magic band where you solve park puzzles to obtain the Master Sword would be so cool!
@Abdooooo That's the reality of theme parks. Barring extra "expansion pads" that have always been part of the park since the beginning space is an issue and something needs to be demolished for something else.
Sometimes a beloved ride like Jaws (great ride, but it's footprint was too big for what it was) gets replaced by whole amazing mini-land in Diagon Alley along with a whole new E-Ticket ride in Escape from Gringotts. Other times two attractions that have middling receptions (Disaster! and Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue) gets replaced by a big budget failure like Fast & Furious: Supercharged.
For a non-Universal side we see it happen all the time in Epcot where some old rides like Horizons, World of Motion and World of Energy got or will be replaced by Mission: Space (ugh), Test Track (good) and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster (I want this to be good but this ride is so out of place in Epcot).
As mentioned even Super Nintendo World initially was supposed to replace Kids Zone until Universal got cleared to build a park on newly acquired land.
It's unfortunate to see Lost Continent go. It's theming was great but as I mentioned the land has always been on life support ever since Harry Potter came and took away half the land along with it's only two actual ride attractions (one of which is its only E-Ticket). But the sacrifice of Lost Continent for Harry Potter paid off big time as droves of fans swarmed Universal ever since and finally got the attendance to pose as a competitor to Disney.
Oh yeah, I know all about how these things tend to work, but it's just such a Universal thing to do - to spread the Nintendo stuff out over different parks, rather than "imagineering" a whole Nintendo hub that acts as a home for everything. When they announced Super Nintendo World, there was so much excitement about what it could be, but unfortunately it just became a home for Mario. And that's amazing, but at that point, why call it Super Nintendo World?
Universal has done a great job with the Mario stuff, but I would've liked to have seen something closer to the original pitch come to fruition. Their strength just isn't on the immersion angle. You're rarely transported to another world, as much as you are at Disney. Universal is better than they used to be, but sometimes it just feels like they vomit properties all over their park without any kind of effort to provide a cohesive experience.
@PogueSquadron Oh undoubtedly. Unfortunately uniform theming of a whole land seems to be going by the wayside and the trend is towards immersive mini-lands, especially after the success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Even Disney seems to be gravitating away from themed lands as can be seen with Disney California Adventure and Hollywood Studios in Florida, which are mostly an eclectic gathering of attractions and mini-lands now. That's not to mention Walt Disney Studios Park in France, which is basically being turned into a hodgepodge of Marvel Land, Frozen Land and Star Wars Land. The upcoming Epic Universe is basically a single hub world that connects "portals" to four different lands. I'm still not happy that they basically forced Guardians of the Galaxy into Epcot, even if I can understand using IP appeal to draw more people (also gets me concerned over other potential forced attractions in otherwise thematically uniform parks... please no Zootopia in Animal Kingdom...).
The only one who still seems to care about consistent theming anymore is the Oriental Land Company in Japan handling Tokyo Disneyland.
I do think hopes of Universal doing a theme park, or even a large portion of one, centered around Nintendo is a pipe dream. Even Harry Potter, which is a bigger property, didn't get that treatment having only taken half of Lost Continent and never spawned outward from there at Islands of Adventure. I also think a Nintendo centered theme park will have limited appeal, and expanding the park to include other IPs like Universal Monsters and Harry Potter broadens the appeal of the park itself. A land that has Mario, Pokemon and Zelda (plus let's be frank, anything beyond that lacks a strong enough mainstream appeal) may have strong appeal on its own, but there's a large enough cross-over of fans between them that a land just dedicated to them caps its reach. It's not like Mario, Pokemon and Zelda are really that strongly connected thematically that fitting them into one park would make huge thematic sense beyond them all falling under the same corporate umbrella.
I guess Disney tends to have the advantage that they at least own all the stuff that they're basing their parks on. So when you have something like Epcot where you have Frozen and Moana and Ratatouille and all this other stuff, at least it feels like it's all coming from the same place. (Then again, the "IPization of Epcot is a whole 'nother story. Definitely don't get my wife started on it!)
Disney's theming at Hollywood Studios seems pretty bad right now, though I have to imagine that there's a longer term goal of getting the Star Wars content all in one place. Their situation right now is kind of a result of happenstance, because they started with Star Tours, and then they opened the Launch Bay after the animation section got closed, and NOW they have Galaxy's Edge as its own separate mini-park. My guess is that they may want to consolidate Star Wars a bit more, but they tend to only do one big construction project at a time, so their focus is on Epcot.
(Don't get me started on how badly themed the Mickey's Runaway Railway ride is. They really didn't adapt the queue from Great Movie Ride at all. It feels very lazily done, especially for the tentpole ride of the park.)