Play Life, Live Games column: Nintendo coming alive at new theme park
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
I really want to go to Japan now.
Well, not now exactly, but definitely next spring.
Earlier this week, Universal Studios Japan announced the Super Nintendo World expansion to its theme park is now scheduled to open in early 2021. Similar to how Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World and Disneyland lets you walk around and live and breathe your own Star Wars experience, Super Nintendo World is designed to feel like you’re in a video game come to life (to enter the park, you’ll even walk through one of the iconic green warp pipes from the Super Mario games).
Nintendo is the perfect IP to adapt into its own theme park. The company has made billions of dollars building a brand around family-fun entertainment and playing together with family and friends.
At launch, it appears Super Nintendo World will have two rides for guests: a roller coaster themed around Mario’s dinosaur companion Yoshi and a ride based on the Mario Kart racing franchise.
The park will feature two castles, one belonging to Princess Peach and the other belonging to Mario’s nemesis, Bowser. There’s a section with trees, blocks, giant stone Thwomp traps (that hopefully don’t crush park guests) and different levels that looks like it was taken directly from the 2013 game “Super Mario 3D World.”
While the majority of Nintendo park doesn’t open until next year, Universal Studios also announced the Mario Café & Store is opening later this month in the Hollywood Boulevard area of Universal Studios Japan. This retail store/restaurant will sell Nintendo-branded merchandise and food, including a pancake sandwich shaped like Mario’s hat.
I seriously doubt I’ll make it to Japan in the near future to check out the new Nintendo land for myself. Thankfully, Universal Studios does have plans to bring the Super Nintendo World expansions to its Orlando and Hollywood parks as well, along with Singapore. No opening dates for these other locations have been announced.
The theme park isn’t the only partnership Nintendo has with Universal right now, either.
Illumination, the animated film studio owned by Universal Pictures that created the “Despicable Me” and “The Secret Life of Pets” franchises, has signed on to make an animated “Super Mario” movie scheduled for release in 2022. This will be the second attempt to bring Nintendo’s plumber to the big screen. With Illumination behind it, I can virtually guarantee it will be better than the wretched 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” movie starring Bob Hoskins as Mario.
Dusty Ricketts is the editor of The Destin Log and The Walton Sun newspapers and can be reached ata firstname.lastname@example.org.