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An In-Depth Look At The Donkey Kong Coaster Opening at Universal Studios Japan in Spring 2020

You may have recently seen a model depicting a Nintendo land that is intended for Universal Parks. The land looks bright and colorful, but contrary to popular belief, it is not for use in an American park.

Keep in mind, as always, the information contained in this article isn’t official. Nothing is considered official until it is released by Universal. That said, we have some pretty solid ideas and info on the Nintendo projects. Let’s dive in!

Credit: Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast

While the model is dated for 2016, this would have/could have/should have gone into Kidzone at Universal Studios Florida before some pretty massive shuffling started happening with the Nintendo project. As it stood at the time, Universal Studios Japan was going to get a fairly identical version of what was headed into Universal Studios Florida. We all know that got nixed in favor of adding Nintendo to Universal’s new Orlando park down the road, tentatively named Fantastic Worlds.

Source: Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast

We have talked a lot about the groundbreaking technology that is going to be used in the Mario Kart attraction, but today we will focus on the Donkey Kong coaster. This ride will be open in spring 2020 at Universal Studios Japan. While reports of the coaster not opening with the rest of the land may have been true a few months ago, the ride is now back on schedule.

Considering the Olympics are headed to Japan in 2020, this puts a little more pressure on this project to get it totally up and running by the time hundreds of thousands of tourists come into the country from all over the globe. So how will the Donkey Kong coaster look exactly?

According to a patent filed by Universal several years ago, they have exclusive rights to a coaster that operates on an elevation like this. Now through this image, you can’t really get a sense of what the ride is like or why it needs to be elevated in that way.

However, according to the above image, we can see that the actual coaster track is hidden underneath the riders and they can seemingly “jump” the track that they see in front of them.

Now take it a step further. We believe that the concept artwork above to be a part of the Nintendo project (leaked by someone on Twitter, not TPU). However, you can get an idea of how the coaster train can “jump” between “broken” tracks. But even that only tells part of the story. Check out the video below.

A huge tip of the hat to Coaster101 for developing this video of what the Donkey Kong coaster is capable of. In the examples I’ve given above, notice you’re only using an open/exposed track scenario. But what if the actual coaster track is hidden behind and below a wall? The illusion becomes far more real. Now, who’s building this ride? If you ever fly into Logan-Cache airport in Utah, you may have been able to see a mock-up of the Donkey Kong coaster in action.

In just a stone’s throw away from the runways of the Logan-Cache airport, you see S&S Worldwide, a coaster manufacturer. Right out front, they actually have a small display of their steeplechase coaster, which uses a similar single-rail like the Donkey Kong coaster will. However, it’s not what is in front of the building that’s exciting. It’s in a field out back.

Do you see that mock-up test coaster track in the back? This is what S&S/Universal has been using as a mock-up of what the Donkey Kong coaster can do when it opens up at Universal Studios Japan.

While the exact layout and design will vary a touch from the finished project headed for Japan, this is indeed the proving ground for that coaster. As far as I know, it’s still there.

Keep in mind, this ride is a first-of-its-kind. Could it still fall behind by the time we get closer to the opening? Sure, that’s always possible with any ride like this. However, I suspect Universal would throw some acceleration money at the project in order to get it open just before the Olympics.

We also haven’t covered show scenes, characters that are involved or other aspects of how Donkey Kong will be represented in this new land. There will be more on that in a future article. For now, what are your thoughts? Will this be a game changer for roller coasters? Or is too much money being spent on a family coaster with fairly low capacity? Your thoughts?

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