5 Questions Answered About Universal Parks Super Nintendo Land

Since posting over a dozen images of Universal Parks Super Nintendo Land, I have had many questions sent to my inbox about the project.  Since those articles were posted, several readers have contacted me privately about the images and the new lands. These sources (all independent of one another) seem to be giving consistent information on where Universal Parks Super Nintendo Land stands now, so based on what I know I’ll answer a few questions to the best of my knowledge on where things stand.

Before we start, a small disclaimer: everything in this particular article should be treated as rumor. Because it is. Projects like Super Nintendo World go through a great deal of change before they are announced to the public. There are dozens of reasons why plans change from budget to technology and yes, even egos. Which is what I want readers of Theme Park University to understand. A handful of people who saw those original articles grabbed the images and posted it with captions like “Official Super Nintendo World Plans Unveiled!” No. Nothing is official until the park says it is. Understanding the process of how these things come to be is fascinating. So let’s dig in!

Do You Think The Leaked Images Were Actually From Universal/Nintendo?

Absolutely. Do I have proof? No. Because the images were not watermarked or copyrighted in any visible form that I can find, I can’t trace it directly back to the source which I am now 99.9% sure is Universal Creative/Nintendo. I’ve had people in the industry confirm that they are indeed the real deal as well as strangers that I don’t even know giving me “tips” who seem credible.

That said, it’s fair to say that several of the images were accurate at one point. Meaning that the plans have already changed since they were created. Yet most are still accurate and moving forward with Super Nintendo World at this point. If my sources are accurate, the original plan was to have each Super Nintendo World have at least one unique attraction for each park in Hollywood, Orlando, and Japan. That idea how now been scrapped and all parks will have exact clones of every ride to help save on costs. Which leads me to:

How Come The Layout for Universal Studios Florida Leaked Before Universal Studios Japan?

This question actually ties in with my last point. To be honest, I don’t know how these images got leaked. I traced them back to a thread on Reddit, but they could have been taken from another source before that. Clearly, there is a plan for Universal Studios Japan Super Nintendo World since construction has already started. I just don’t happen to have it. That said, just because a site plan (albeit not final) for Universal Studios Florida exists, doesn’t debunk it from being the real deal.

 

When you’re designing an entire land filled with attractions, shops, restaurants, bathrooms and more, you have to do more than design – you have to measure. In the case of Super Nintendo Land where everything will be cloned, you have to determine how to fit them all into existing parks. Take for example the Mario Kart attraction. As the design for that fleshes out and you determine where show scenes go, how many feet of track you need, how much space you need for ride vehicle storage and maintenance… all of that factors into how big the building needs to be. So if you’re buying a ride in triplicate with the exact same bends in the track and space needed for show scenes, you get an idea for how much square footage you need.

Now you can tweak the building a touch here and there when it comes to things that don’t have to be an exact clone. Maybe one version has more indoor queue than another, for example. Still, you have to figure out how much space you need for that attraction. Then you can take something like Princess Peach’s Castle, which is supposed to be at the entrance of the land. That’s another set of dimensions that need to be done in triplicate since the interiors will all be identical.

Once those experiences are designed and you’ve got exact dimensions of what each building needs to be, you start to gather puzzle pieces that need to be slotted into existing land spaces within the existing parks of Universal Studios Japan, Florida, and Hollywood. All of these spaces are not identical, nor perfect squares. They are actually quite different in terms of shape and terrain. So let’s say the design you have for a Mario Kart ride will fit into Florida and Japan, but not Hollywood. That means you’ve got to find a way to alter the track for all three.

You see how complicated this gets? Not to mention, I am talking in very generic terms. It’s not just show scenes and ride track to contend with. It’s not so sexy stuff like air handlers and plumbing and electrical. Not to mention building codes vary from state to state and country to country. My point is, after you get your initial concepts down and decided upon, you must go in and make sure it works for all locations. Which is complicated, to say the least. But certainly not impossible.

Is The E.T. Adventure Going Away in Universal Studios Florida?

Even though the attraction has been closed for quite some time in both Universal Studios Japan and Hollywood, people are very attached to the only original Universal Studios Florida ride left. Me too! From all accounts, it seems as if E.T. is staying at Universal Studios Florida for the foreseeable future. However, if you look at the plans, Super Nintendo World pretty much cuts off the existing queue for the E.T. Adventure.

My understanding is a new marquee will be erected around the corner and guests will queue up essentially behind the building in what is now an employee only area.  Yes, I am aware that parade floats currently come out of there and I have been told that all will be reconfigured. Essentially it will extend the street a bit and the Esoteric Pictures gate (you really need to read my story on that if you haven’t already) will go away.  However, don’t fret, your Reese’s Pieces eating alien isn’t going anywhere. At least for now.

Is Augmented Reality Technologically Advanced Enough For A Mario Kart Ride?

This is actually a great question. For starters, let me clear up that the Mario Kart attraction is intended to be augmented reality, not virtual reality. The basic difference is virtual reality is a headset that completely blocks your field of vision and inserts a video screen in front of you giving the illusion you are somewhere else. Attractions from haunted houses to roller coasters have started to implement virtual reality and it’s definitely here to stay in some form, but the Mario Kart attraction in Universal Parks Super Nintendo will be augmented reality.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with augmented reality, you’ve probably come into contact with it. The easiest demonstration I can give you is to pick up your cell phone and download Snapchat. There are filters available that can recognize your face and make you look like a cat, a dog or a unicorn. In addition, it can pick up on your surroundings and through your phone, you can see a dancing hot dog in whatever room you are in.  Augmented reality doesn’t block your field of vision, rather it “enhances” what you see by augmenting the objects around you.

Which lines up perfectly with the patent Universal Parks recently filed that we told you about here at Theme Park University. Riders would wear opaque glasses that they could see clearly out of with tiny projectors that could augment the environment around you. For example, if Snapchat can make you look like a dog with a wagging tongue, why can’t glasses make a fellow rider look like Luigi from Super Mario?

Photo Courtesy of Emma Leavitt

The answer is – augmented reality isn’t exactly perfect. Far from it. Anyone who has played with Snapchat on a smartphone (or other forms of augmented reality) know that it takes a few seconds to achieve facial recognition and sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Add that to a moving vehicle and you’ve got a technology that has to keep up with something in real time at a very fast pace and so far, we haven’t seen an augmented reality technology that can do it. However, the first version of the Mario Kart ride won’t open until 2020, so it’s entirely possible that the technology can catch up. Or it could be scrapped for something more reliable and stable. Time will tell!

What Attractions Have Been Greenlit and What Has Been Scrapped?

At this point, the only two attractions that are 100% moving forward are Mario Kart and the Donkey Kong coaster. Everything else is up in the air.  Also keep in mind, the details like effects and queues for Mario Kart and Donkey Kong could morph and change before we see a final product or official concept art. So even though they have a green light, things can wiggle around a bit.

The reason I posted any of these images was to have these kinds of conversations on how attractions and lands for major theme parks are developed. There is a lot of mystery surrounding these types of projects and part of my mission at Theme Park University is to help readers understand how projects are developed and how they change over time. And we will continue to have those conversations with not only Super Nintendo Land, but other projects as information becomes available.

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