Nearly 34 years have elapsed since Nintendo gave the world Super Mario Bros. and its cast of characters including Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Princess Toadstool. With such a long history of crafting rich and delightful worlds that inspire players' imaginations, it was only a matter of time before the team at the helm of Nintendo found a way to give generations of fans a way to explore these worlds in real life.
Park-goers will soon be able to visit Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. The area is set to open before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, according to a webpage on the Universal Studios Japan site. Super Nintendo Worlds at Universal Studios in both Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood, Cal., will then follow. Universal will purportedly build a Super Nintendo World at its Singapore park as well.
Universal announced the development initiative in 2015 and broke ground on the Tokyo location in 2017. The teams plan to invest a projected forty billion yen—which is around $351 million USD—into that Super Nintendo World alone.
At the time of the groundbreaking ceremony, executives touted a forthcoming Mario Kart experience as “an attraction that is unlike any the world has ever seen” and “the most immersive and cutting-edge technological attraction we could possibly imagine,” Variety reported. A ride system patent published in May appears to support this. It's likely that the Mario Kart experience will be part of the planned Super Mario World experiences in Hollywood and Orlando, too, if not Singapore as well.
The attraction in Japan will also have an indoor/outdoor Yoshi-themed family ride, according to theme park industry trade site Orlando ParkStop, which is closely following the development of the Super Nintendo World parks. There will also be a restaurant, character meet-and-greet areas, and interactive play areas. A 2016 press release from NBCUniversal also spoke of gigantic Piranha Plants springing to life and question blocks and power-ups surrounding the park-goer, which presumably will appear at all Super Nintendo World locations.
Super Nintendo World's Hollywood location most likely won't have the Yoshi ride, as another recently-announced ride at that park appears to be similar in nature. However, this location will likely have a Donkey Kong-themed mining ride, according to rumors. Visitors can expect this park to open in 2021 or 2022.
A Twitter account called, Inside Universal, recently shared several photographs of construction at the Universal's California location, which are purported to be images of Super Nintendo World.
As far as the Orlando location, Universal recently announced its new Epic Universe, touted as "the most innovative and immersive park" the company has ever created. This park, which was originally known as Fantastic Worlds, is rumored to be the home of Orlando's forthcoming Super Nintendo World, though there's been no official confirmation as of yet. Previously, it was projected that this location would contain the Mario Kart ride as well as the planned Yoshi and Donkey Kong rides, but this also remains unconfirmed.
Apparently, Universal's original plan was to build Super Nintendo World over an existing area of its Universal Studios Florida, replacing that park's KidZone area. Recently-leaked photos of a model from 2016 appear to offer a visual impression of what that attraction would have looked like, as an Orlando ParkStop reporter asserts that the photo date, paired with the fact that this shows the Donkey Kong ride, point to this being the design that was slated to take over the KidZone area.
The images also gives names to some of the possible locations, including Toadstool Cafe, Yoshi's Adventure, and Donkey Kong's Mine-Cart Madness. Bowser's Castle is also visible, as is Donkey Kong's treehouse and Funky Kong's airplane.
However, once plans were underway for a new Universal park in the region, the team apparently opted to shift its focus to opening Super Nintendo World on the new lot. It's unclear when Epic Universe is slated to open, but with so much construction ahead, it's likely that this Super Nintendo World won't be open to visitors until at least 2023 or 2024.
Additional rumors allude to possible Legend of Zelda, Kirby and Pokémon rides, though it's also possible that these rides will not be confined to Epic Universe's Super Nintendo World and may instead be built for its other parks.
Finally, there's little available information on what visitors will find at the Singapore park, except to note that the concept art for this park is similar to that of the Japan park.
With the massive success of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it's no wonder that the company is aggressively pursuing its Nintendo partnership. Drawing on more than three decades of character recognition and enjoyable gameplay that spans generations, it's likely that the teams are banking on Super Nintendo Worlds around the globe as a way to continue to grow the Nintendo legacy. This will be especially true if Nintendo can draw people in using the playful and innovative technology that inspired concepts such as the Nintendo DS, the Wii, and the Switch.
Nintendo is notorious for protecting its intellectual property, and therefore, its foray into the world of theme parks a highly calculated investment. For generations of fans, Super Nintendo World will certainly provide a pipeline connecting the online and offline worlds—and, at the end of the day, it looks like Universal is poised to collect the most coins from this endeavor.