As Universal Parks and Resorts continues to grow at an incredible pace, future plans continue to fluctuate. If you’ve followed us here at Theme Park University, we have tracked plans for the new Nintendo projects for several years now. Very little, however, has been released to the public. It seems that the plans to branch off Pokemon and Zelda and incorporate them into their own unique lands at Universal Studios Florida (USF) and Islands of Adventure (IOA) have been shelved. At least for now. Let me explain.
Back in 2016, Nintendo announced a partnership with Universal Parks saying they will bring their video games to life in theme park form. Very little details were given as the two struck an initial deal based on preliminary concepts and designs that had not been finalized.
The only thing that has been formally been announced is the opening of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan in 2020. Aside from that, the only official nugget of information from the company has been the mention of a Mario Kart attraction within that land. Everything from here on out is unofficial, but has been sited on several news outlets (including Theme Park University).
For starters, this is what a Super Nintendo World could have looked like at USF. While this looks to be a leaked master plan of the land, from all accounts it seems to have been dated from when it was leaked. As the plan for Universal’s new theme park down the road began to take shape (tentatively named Fantastic Worlds), the idea was to move much of this land to the new park instead of USF.
However, because the land hadn’t been acquired and that particular parcel needs a lot of prep work (which is currently going on), that moved Universal Orlando to getting a Mario Kart attraction last behind Universal Studios Japan (2020), Universal Studios Hollywood (most likely 2021) and Fantastic Worlds after that.
Shortly after this time, Comcast publicly mentioned that they were committed to putting one major attraction in every park every year starting in 2019 moving forward. As an example for 2019, Islands of Adventure is getting the Hagrid roller coaster, Universal Studios Florida is getting a Bourne Identity show (both yet to be officially announced) and Universal Studios Hollywood is getting a makeover of Jurassic Park: The Ride transforming it into the Jurassic World franchise and giving it some
Putting out major new attractions yearly on the scale and budget that Universal Parks creates is no easy task. Therefore, reportedly, the idea to expand the Nintendo IP into not just Fantastic Worlds, but also to USF and IOA seemed to be a no-brainer. The idea was that they were going to basically triple down on a property they felt was a slam dunk.
Using Harry Potter as an example, it took several years to expand upon it and open Diagon Alley after Hogsmeade opened at Islands of Adventure. While preliminary plans were starting to take shape just after (and even before) the grand opening, just in case it wasn’t a success, Universal decided to play it conservatively and officially green light Diagon Alley after they knew Hogsmeade was indeed a true success.
Once the plan to bring a new major attraction to every Universal Park, the idea was to fast-forward the plans for Nintendo and spread it over three parks before even the first land opened in Universal Orlando. Plans moved ahead to use the same footprint for USF (Kidzone) and create a Pokemon land there instead of Mario Kart. Those plans supposedly went pretty far with a master plan, ride manufacturers and more nailed down.
Over at IOA, the idea was to turn The Lost Continent into an entire land dedicated to Zelda, much like Kidzone would be Pokemon. Throughout most of 2018, this is what was being worked on as huge future development in both parks.
Then, as these things happen, plans changed. Internally, the idea to triple down became riskier and Comcast began to get cold feet. Essentially, these new plans would have given Nintendo just as big of a presence at Universal Orlando as Harry Potter by the time Fantastic Worlds opened and it had yet to be proven if it had lasting success.
Thus, it seems as if the plans for Pokemon at USF and Zelda at IOA have been shelved. Might they see the light of day? Absolutely. Will it happen within the next four years? Not going to happen.
If you’d like another possible indicator as to why these projects were cancelled? Look no further than Fast & Furious Supercharged. One of the biggest franchises of all time and what would seem like a perfect addition to Universal Orlando is indeed a flop. In the theme park business, if you’re investing years in designing and construction and millions of dollars, you’d better get it right.
This means that Kidzone at USF and The Lost Continent will remain untouched for the foreseeable future if this change in direction is true. What are your thoughts? Should they have tripled down on Nintendo? Do you think they played it smart by shutting these projects down before if anyone knows if Nintendo is successful? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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