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Universal Studios Japan Aims to Open Nintendo Land in 2020

March 5, 2016, 12:12 PM · (Updated throughout) Universal Studios Japan is planning to spend ¥40 billion (about US$350 million) on its new Nintendo land, with the aim of opening it in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo, according to a Japanese news report.

The report claims that the new Nintendo land will be built just inside the park's front gate, to the left (east), next to the park's Hollywood land. That's currently back-of-house and event space for the park, according to the report.

The report said that the initial attraction in the new land will be themed to Mario, with additional food and merchandise locations included at opening and the potential for additional attractions later.

Nintendo and Universal last May announced a partnership to bring Nintendo-themed attractions to the Universal theme parks around the world. A US$350 million investment in one theme park land would indicate a Wizarding World of Harry Potter-level of development, with custom next-generation ride systems and top-quality fixtures and textures in place throughout.

Universal has not confirmed anything in the news report, and industry insiders have pushed back against some of the specifics in the report, though there remains consensus that Universal is moving ahead actively on Nintendo plans, and that official news from the Japanese park might be coming soon.

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Replies (15)

March 5, 2016 at 1:16 PM · That's great news for Japan , now when are they gonna announce the Florida version , Come on!!.
March 5, 2016 at 2:40 PM · I hope they find a way to incorporate Super Smash Bros. in it.
March 5, 2016 at 3:07 PM · This is huge. Hopefully it will come to the US parks asap.
March 5, 2016 at 3:36 PM · It's great to hear that development has started on Nintendo Land and that it's being given a comparable budget to Harry Potter. Japan was obviously going to get the first one, but I've been hearing rumors of it being the 2021 project at USH so I'm guessing early 2020s is a safe bet for Orlando as well.
March 5, 2016 at 4:48 PM · Now we will here the predictable crys of the Orlando fans whenever another park gets something Orlando doesn't have- "when are we going to that here" or "we never get anything good" ..wahhh....
March 5, 2016 at 6:01 PM · I hope this is just the beginning of things to come. So much more in the Nintendoverse than just Mario.
March 5, 2016 at 7:28 PM · A coup for Universal, you could say that Mario is more relevant to kids today than Mickey Mouse. No more days of Woody Woodpecker trying to compete with the mouse.
March 5, 2016 at 8:09 PM · USJ is a great park , and I am interested to see what Universal does with this. I would personally like to find Mario Kart in there somehow... It would make a great attraction!
March 6, 2016 at 2:18 AM · Universal is Osaka .... no where near Tokyo where the Olympics are. Do they really feel they're going to get footfall from tourist in Tokyo ? Last time trying to get a Train to Oska from Tokyo took me nigh on 5 hours. I'm surprised they aren't opening another land over there.
March 7, 2016 at 4:32 AM · Despite Mario being the runaway #1 selling Nintendo franchise, I do hope that whatever comes to the US will be different than what they build in Japan. To me Mario is just okay and Nintendo has several other properties that I would much rather see in a park (Zelda, Metroid, Fire Emblem). Even Smash Brothers, as disneyversal mentioned, which has Mario as well, would be a better option for me and mine than just a Mario Land.
March 7, 2016 at 4:58 AM · I agree with AJ that it's only logical that Japan gets the first Nintendo Land. And just like my fellow anonymous poster, I am unfortunately predicting that a lot of my fellow Orlando fans will be complaining that we didn't get it first. Because, y'know, it's not like we already have the largest and most popular Disney and Universal resorts or anything...

I honestly hope though that Universal devotes as much time and resources to this Nintendo Land as possible. If that means Florida doesn't get Nintendo until 2034, then so be it. The enjoyment of videogames relies totally on interaction with the player. So capturing what's so great about videogames in theme park form will require a new level of theming and immersion. And just like I said before, videogame fans are much more crazy than movie fans and literary fans. So if Universal screws this up, the backlash would be catastrophic. I'm already predicting that there will be a good number of fanboys with unrealistic expectations that will let the slightest nitpicks ruin the whole experience for them. Lastly, if Universal gets this right, they will have proven once and for all that their creativity knows no bounds, that there is no limit to what they can achieve and that they can be just as good as Disney and, my Disney fanboyness is really making this hard for me to say but, better.

March 7, 2016 at 8:14 AM · It's going to be interesting to see if they go for a WWoHP Hogsmeade or a WWoHP Diagon Alley level of detail. While both are high quality, Diagon has some more IP specific details. I'd also expect some interactive elements since gaming is all about engaging the audience as entertainment.

I'm like James in that Mario isn't my favorite Nintendo character but I'll say Mario is a great starting point. People with no interest in video games recognize the name "Mario". In many ways Mario is to video games what Mickey Mouse was to cartoons. If the primary icon does well, the remaining cast of characters will not be far behind him.

and just to geek out a little...

I'd love a ride where Slippy tells me "Do a barrel roll!"

March 7, 2016 at 9:41 AM · I hope it won't be all screen based. Even if it's a land based on video games, it doesn't have to be nothing but 3D rides...does it??
March 7, 2016 at 10:10 AM · James: The hot rumors for Orlando Universal are Mario & Donkey Kong as two E tickets. And then two C tickets additionally for the land. Haven't heard titles for those though. Peach's Castle as the icon. Supposedly they will be building "up" (vertical) to better utilize the 7-8 acre Kidzone plot. Parkscope guys on OU have been saying that there's no priority at this time concerning which park gets Nintendo first.
March 8, 2016 at 12:01 AM · Thanks, Rob. Not crazy about the two E ticket stars, but I understand why they are potential selections. Besides, it's for the kiddies, so I just need to back off and let them have their faves!

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