May 07, 2015 | 8:45 a.m.
“Nintendo Land” is already a game, but soon it may be a place you can visit. The house of Mario is teaming with Universal Parks and Resorts to bring Nintendo characters and Nintendo-themed experiences to Universal parks.
The two companies released a joint statement on Thursday that promised “immersive experiences” that will include “major attractions” at Universal parks. Universal wholly owns Universal Studios Hollywood in the Los Angeles area as well as Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Fla. Additionally, the company, via licensing agreements, has parks in Sentosa in Singapore, and in Osaka, Japan, the latter the closest Universal park near Nintendo’s home base in Kyoto.
There was no time frame given and no hints as to what those “immersive experiences” may be, but the use of the words “major attractions” hints that rides are to come.
“More details will be announced in the future, as the Nintendo and Universal creative teams work to create specific concepts,” reads the release.
The possibilities are endless, ranging from “Legend of Zelda”-inspired sword-fighting demos to thrill rides based on “Mario Kart” or “Donkey Kong Country’s” mine carts. The announcement comes at a time when theme park experiences are increasingly taking nods from video games by relying on video effects rather than animatronics or hand-built worlds.
Currently, Universal Studios Hollywood is undergoing large changes as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is set to open sometime in 2016. A new “Simpsons”-themed land recently opened and an attraction inspired by “The Fast and the Furious” films will launch this summer. Could a “Mario Kart” race be next? Personally, our fingers are crossed for an “Alice in Wonderland”-like “Super Mario Bros.” dark ride that features a cameo from Mario in his cat suit.
The partnership with Universal is also the second major announcement from Nintendo this year that isn’t directly tied to its core video game console business. In March, Nintendo through a pact with mobile gaming company DeNA said it would release games for smartphones, a tactic it had long resisted.
— Todd Martens
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