Universal Orlando moves to start construction on its Nintendo land

November 21, 2017, 3:00 PM · Construction should begin within the next few months on Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Florida, according to permit applications obtained by an Orlando television station.

WFTV, Channel 9, says that it has the permit applications in hand for Project 487, which appears to be the Orlando version of the Super Nintendo World land now under construction at Universal Studios Japan.

And here's the data on the project:

The Nintendo land does appear to be going in on the long-rumored KidZone site, instead of waiting for Universal's development of a third park on its recently re-acquired land near the Orange County Convention Center. Given a two-to-three year build time, Universal Orlando's Nintendo land could be ready within a year of the Osaka park's debut in 2020. Universal has confirmed that Universal Studios Japan will open the land first, with it coming to Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood at some point after that.

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Replies (22)

November 21, 2017 at 4:51 PM · Memo to the Universal creative team - please no more screens !!!! Please create world class family attractions for all the family - somewhere in between that thrill seek and child ride, for the whole family. And please i repeat - not one screen ride !
November 21, 2017 at 4:55 PM · I'm still not sold on this. What happened to 'Ride the Movies'?
November 21, 2017 at 4:59 PM · It left a long time ago with Simpson’s and Rip Ride Rockit.
November 21, 2017 at 5:30 PM · Super Mario Bros was a movie.... 1993
November 21, 2017 at 7:04 PM · Personally, I would rather see video games in general get their own theme park, separate from Universal. All well known video games and their respective characters can get representation in one at the park in the form of rides, shows, meetable characters, etc.

I would apply to work there without hesitation!

November 21, 2017 at 7:08 PM · Nice catch, NB! Isn't there a new Mario in development by Universal, animated?

Seriously, this will be awesome.

November 21, 2017 at 7:11 PM · And it's apparently going to be a movie again.

I find it annoying that the stateside parks are reliant upon Japan's needs. I understand Japan should open its land first, as Nintendo is a huge Japanese brand. But why all this other randomness?

"It needs to open to coincide with the Olympics?" Really? Why? The park has been doing great lately, so let's build on that momentum and take THREE YEARS to build a new land! We'll show Disney how to really drag out construction! (It's obviously not how long things take in Japan since its Wizarding World took less time than Hollywood's.)

"We'll open the one in Florida the following year!" Why? The internet exploded when it heard Universal snagged Nintendo. Why would you want to make them wait FIVE YEARS for that to become reality? Japan's could open in Spring 2020 and Florida's COULD open between that and Summer 2020. Easter is in mid-April that year, so what would be so awful about that?

Now that I think about it, this scenario could actually be the plan. I just can't see USF taking THREE-AND-A-HALF YEARS to build this. A more realistic 2 1/2 takes it to Spring/Summer 2020. It will technically open AFTER Japan's version. Plus, it fits better with Universal's construction schedule. Fast & Furious opens in 2018 and then nothing is planned for both 2019 AND 2020? If something were planned, they'd be starting work on it now, or at the very least BEFORE starting work on Nintendo.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a Memorial Day 2020 opening for Nintendo.

November 21, 2017 at 8:42 PM · -80sMan: They haven't used that line in years.
November 21, 2017 at 9:24 PM · The 1993 Super Mario Bros. feature film was a Disney release.
November 22, 2017 at 3:07 AM · Games are more and more interactive, filmic entertainment. I think it’s a perfect ip for the park. What I heard is that the footprint expanded after D23 an the land will extan behind Simpsons.
November 22, 2017 at 5:08 AM · Bye bye Barney (for sure), Curious George (was always a great spot with the ball play/water play area) and Fivel (who? says anyone under the age of 30) … only question is whether E.T. will stay and will Animal Actors go away.

Should make the next few HHNs interesting as well with all of the work in that general backstage area.

To those saying "no more screens" ... an area w/ attractions based entirely around a video game franchise will likely get more screens, not less.

Annual passholders, hold on to your wallets! Wait until you see the next few price increases ...

November 22, 2017 at 5:07 AM · 2019/2020 will likely be the new Harry Potter attraction and Terminator replacement. I'd wager 2021 (at least) for opening of Mario.
November 22, 2017 at 7:40 AM · I'm hoping it's not true, though it seems like it is. I still prefer the ideas of a third (sorry, VB) gate, with Nintendo, LoTR, Fantastic Beasts and more.
November 22, 2017 at 7:56 AM · Obviously this is huge news. I don't understand the complaint by the anonymous poster above regarding how long this development will take. Universal has been pretty clear that they wanted the USJ land to open first. As far as permitting to completion, the timeline is pretty consistent with other UC developments that have involved tearing down existing attractions to build new ones. It took over 2 years to build Diagon Alley, and it will take nearly 2 years just to build a single new HP attraction on the Dragon Challenge/Dueling Dragons site. Considering we're talking about 2 distinct areas and the need to raze a pretty large area of existing and diverse attractions (along with reworking infrastructure like water and sewer, which are heavily entrenched in KidZone), not to mention the heavy use of backstage areas behind KidZone for HHN, a 2-3 year timeline should not be all that surprising. Disney is at the permitting stage for single attractions that are going into empty space or existing buildings, yet they're allowing 2-3+ year timelines for those projects (Guardians, Ratatouille, and Tron).

As far as screens, I think there's no doubt that the new land will be heavily screen based, and may even be one of the first to heavily use VR/AR at a Disney/Universal park. I do wonder what's going to happen to E.T., because it's a true family attraction, but the IP has grown stale despite Universal's repeated attempts to reinvigorate it through re-releases and anniversaries. I love E.T., but it's taking up a huge amount of space that doesn't appear to be part of Nintendo World, but probably should be, or at least part of the T2 replacement.

As far as pacing, I think we have a pretty clear development timeline now for the next 4 years for UO...

2018 - Fast and Furious
2019 - Forbidden Forest
2021 - Nintendo World

Somewhere in there is the T2 replacement, and it's possible Ministry of Magic may slot into 2020 (developing on the Fear Factor Stage and adjacent to Diagon Alley will be much easier than changing around KidZone to Nintendo). That puts UC right on pace with Disney and their recent developments to be a credible threat and competitor without having to develop an additional gate just yet.

November 22, 2017 at 7:55 AM · ET has to stay - it's one of the few physical family attractions they have, without screens !
November 22, 2017 at 8:04 AM · "To those saying "no more screens" ... an area w/ attractions based entirely around a video game franchise will likely get more screens, not less."

Many insiders stated this will not be screen based. Many sets, AAs and limited screen scenes.

November 22, 2017 at 8:40 AM · Diagonal alley took 2 1/2 years to build but Gringos had terrible capacity it's first year. The first time I rode it they were purposefully running it at 1/3 capacity so it wouldn't break down.

And Nintendo land will probably have tworked state of the art rides with Mario Kart and Donkey Kong mine ride. So they'll need a good time to test it.

November 22, 2017 at 7:12 PM · Excellent news! I'm very curious to see what Universal ends up doing with Nintendo, as if done right it will dethrone the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as the most immersive theme park environment. The fact that there will likely only be two attractions for such a diverse entertainment company is slightly disappointing, but hopefully there are plans for an expansion not too far down the pipeline. Between this, the new Harry Potter attractions, and everything Disney's working on, it's sounding like 2021 may be a good year to make a return visit to Orlando.

As for taking 3 1/2 years to build the area, Universal already has major attractions slated for 2018 (Fast and Furious), 2019 (Forbidden Forest), and 2020 (Diagon Alley Expansion), plus several minor attractions and upgrades coming over the next few years, so there is very little incentive to open Nintendo prior to 2021 (especially if people delay their trip for WDW's 50th). Plus, keep in mind that this will be about 30% larger than Diagon Alley.

November 22, 2017 at 7:11 PM · Isn't the plan 1 new thing at each park for the next 5 years?

2018 - USO: Fast and the Furious, IOA: ?
2019 - USO: Terminator replacement, IOA: Forbidden Forest
2020 - USO: ?, IOA: ?
2021 - USO: Nintendo World, IOA: ?

If i'm recalling that correctly, there are a lot of ?'s to fill. Exciting times!

November 23, 2017 at 7:02 AM · The time scale is dissapointing - but hopefully in the meantime they will keep adding/replacing attractions throughout the park and building on momentum - just hopefully they hire a brand new creative team that isn't turning the park into screen rides.
November 24, 2017 at 5:31 PM · I'm sorry, but there is no way they are doing the Ministry of Magic thing by 2020. They would've started pulling that theater down right after Labor Day. If they start building MoM now, they would have a year and a half to get it done. Yes, it took 11 months to build Transformers, but the demo was much easier for that, there was almost no detail work needed AND it was just a clone. This is not a clone, it'll require major detail work to tie it into Diagon Alley AND it's also new technology. They simply would not give an attraction like this such a short window.

And where are the permits? Do you think permits for something allegedly opening in 2021 would be filed BEFORE something opening in 2020? One would also have to question why USF, the park with the higher attendance, would be getting so many major attractions in a 2-year window.

Screamscape is reporting on rumors that USJ's Nintendo land might open in late 2019, giving them lots of time to perfect everything before 2020 crowds swarm the park. The Olympics start in July, so things could get a little hairy if the plan is to soft open in May. Historically, this matches up much better to previous Universal construction timelines. And it means that a Spring 2020 opening for Florida's version is even more realistic.

The only thing throwing a wrench into all this is the closing of Bill & Ted's. If they didn't start demolishing the theater after that, then it would seem that Universal plans on doing that after at least one more summer of Fear Factor. Which would then mean a Spring 2021 opening for MoM, only a year after THREE MAJOR RIDES open? I'd expect USF to bask in two years of Nintendo love before opening another blockbuster attraction. Plus, IOA still needs to deal with its two problem Islands, something far more important than another Harry Potter attraction. Personally, I think Bill & Ted HAD to close due to threats of copyright infringement. Right now I'd bet money that HHN will just get a new show in the theater - or HHN event will spread over to IOA and there will be a show there - and we won't see MoM until 2022, at the earliest.

November 25, 2017 at 9:21 AM · Universal doesn't have time to bask in any sort of glow. Galaxy's Edge is going to rocket Disney far above Universal again, likely to levels we haven't seen since before 2009. Living in Orlando, I can tell you the anticipation for SWGE is IMMENSE, unlike anything I've seen before, and we're still at least two full years away from the land's opening. Universal needs to be proactive and get their plans together NOW, or the last decade of progress they've made will be in vain.

Ministry of Magic should theoretically open in late 2019, which gives them two years if they begin construction now. Since we haven't heard anything about it yet, I'm guessing they're going to hold off until 2020, which will give us the Forbidden Forest coaster in 2019, MoM in 2020, and Nintendo World in 2021. Is that enough to beat back Star Wars and the Epcot renovation? Probably not, but it at least gives them a shot. Waiting until 2022 to do Ministry would be fatal.

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