Super Nintendo World Orlando Confirmed!

Jordan

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Photo: Universal Studios Japan

A brand new Nintendo Direct has been released, finally giving us a proper look at the brand new Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan. But more exciting than that is the confirmation that the park will expand to Orlando in 2023 and LA after that.

But after seeing how the park will look in Japan, I can only hope that their US plans will improve on the original design.

During the direct, we were given a tour of the completed park by Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. He began the direct by escorting us through the accurately recreated warp tunnel exactly as it appears in every Super Mario game.

His first joke was also the most revealing of how we can expect the park to actually look when it opens; packed to the brink with people.

Miyamoto joked that if they’d done more to beautify the tunnel, it would have become an attraction in its own right, which they definitely don’t want.

Since this is the only way to enter Super Nintendo World, it makes sense that they don’t want people filling it and standing still.

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Photo: Universal Studios Japan

Packed to the Rafters

As anyone who has spent any time at Tokyo Disneyland can attest, passionate Japanese fans are patient and don’t mind filling up a space.

I don’t mean to insinuate that only Japanese fans are passionate while at theme parks. But in my experience working for Disney, Japanese fans have largely proven themselves as patient. They don’t mind waiting in line, and they aren’t put off by crowds. While fans at US parks won’t join a 3 hour line, Japanese fans will think nothing of it.

So if the park designers had thought to add more decorations to the warp tunnel such as hidden designs that the fans are encouraged to find; no-one would ever get through the tunnel and out to the other side. Which would be a shame, because the park is absolutely gorgeous.

Clearly built to be photographed, the majority of the aesthetics of the park are placed intentionally out of reach for fans.

Almost all of the floating coins, running goomba’s, and bouncing Yoshi’s are built with enough height that fans can’t mess with them.

This doesn’t mean that the park has been given no interactivity at all. Instead, fans are encouraged to buy “power bands” that can be used to interact with the environment. If you have a power band, you can wear it on your wrist like a watch and whack it against a coin box and you’ll hear the familiar coin sound effect emirate from it. Best of all, the power band will track your collectables on a dedicated app and can be transferred to your Switch when you arrive home.

Miyamoto demonstrated this again when he tried and failed to activate a POW box at the exact moment needed to re-route a green shell into a key coin. After a few attempts, he finally succeeded. In his mind, this was a fun challenge that fans would enjoy completing. In my mind, it represented yet another experience that I will be unwilling to wait 3 hours for my turn to try.

Unfortunately for all of us with a less than godly level of patience, you’ll need to collect these keys to unlock challenges elsewhere in the park. For example, the battle with Bowser Jr is only available to the fans that have collected 3 keys. This means that fans will need to wait in three different lines and complete three different activities if they want to unlock the Bowser Jr challenge.

What will make this even more chaotic is that there are no official queue lines (yet) for these experiences. They aren’t billed as official attractions, instead described by Miyamoto as “activities.”

In the minds of Nintendo and Universal Studios, fans will simply crowd around the activities in reasonable numbers and organise themselves. I predict that after only one week, Universal will enforce a queue line system with dedicated park workers keeping things in order. They may decide to revisit this if the park ever loses popularity, but that’s not likely.

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Photo: Universal Studios Japan

Dedication

Nintendo fans remind me of Disney fans, and nowhere are Disney fans more dedicated than in Japan. While park attendance at Disneyland in other countries can ebb and flow; Tokyo Disneyland is almost always completely packed with ultra-dedicated lovers of Disney. I don’t expect this to be different at Super Nintendo World.

The same fans that spend hours crowded around a Hidden Mickey at Tokyo Disneyland will spend even more time interacting with coin boxes and key challenges at Super Nintendo World.

So while these activities are available to all, they’ll be accessible only to those with the most saintly levels of patience.

For those of you who love overpaying for theme park food, you can have your lunch at the Kinopio’s cafe where digital Toad will serve you from three TV’s placed side by side. None of the technology is revolutionary or anything Disney hasn’t done before, but it’s cute and will probably satisfy fans who have been waiting years for the big opening day. Other screens are featured among the other themed decorations that show toads working hard to make your food.

If you don’t feel like a sit down meal, the park also sells popcorn in novelty cases that come in peach and mushroom flavours. While on theme, both of these flavours make me nauseous to imagine eating.

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Photo: Universal Studios Japan

Value

Lastly, it seems from this presentation that there is only one ride built inside Super Nintendo World, a roller coaster that is themed on the top selling game series Mario Kart.

Choosing Mario Kart as the first Nintendo ride in a theme park was a really good idea, but it’s a shame this ride is the only one.

This first Super Nintendo World may just be a pilot version before launching in Universal Studios locations around the world, an expansion that has already been confirmed.

I hope that when the parks rollout globally, they’ll also expand with more attractions and more Nintendo franchises.

While the park is called Super Nintendo World, I’ve only seen Mario featured in all of the previews. There wasn’t a trace of The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Pokémon, or any of the other legendary Nintendo franchises.

It would be an enormous waste to leave out these franchises, and I can only hope that they have the good sense to include these other Nintendo properties once the parks are built in the US very soon. Perhaps one will focus on Pokemon? Another on Zelda? That would be an interesting concept that takes it further away from something like Disney.

Super Nintendo World will open at Universal Studios in Osaka Japan on February 4th 2021 and other Universal locations in the years that follow.

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I’m a well travelled writer who loves nothing more than a well polished video game, an expertly crafted sandwich, and a hot mug of Milo.

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