Recently, Universal Studios announced that they have secured a partnership with Nintendo. Joining the likes of Dreamworks, Marvel and Warner Bros, we will soon be seeing Nintendo themed rides at Universal Studios Orlando. While this isn’t the first time Universal has dealt with video game companies for attractions- they’ve partnered with Capcom and Konami in the past- this will be the first line of mainstay video game attractions at the park.
The thought of seeing rides based on games I love at a theme park I also love fills me with joy and hype. I live 3 hours away from the park, so the moment the rides open I’ll be there like a moth to light. In fact, I visited the park this past weekend. This is perfect for me because I can now see for myself where they could potentially place Nintendo stuff at.
Currently there is no information on exactly what these attractions are or when they will take place. All we have to do for now is guess and imagine. So, I figured I’d play theme park designer and give you some of my ideas for rides/attractions at Universal.
At the same time, I’m going to look at this from the perspective of both parties. The way I see it, Nintendo will aim for game promotion and Universal will aim for appeal. I’ll keep these in mind while I consider the possibilities I can fathom. I’ll organize this by franchise, only mentioning the most likely candidates. (So no Earthbound rides, as cool as that may be).
The odds of Mario not getting any representation in the park is massively unrealistic. I’m sure both Nintendo and Universal will see nothing but opportunity with a Mario ride. Mario has widespread recognition and appeal, has 300+ games for inspiration, isn’t tied down to a single genre and contains fantastical elements which translate well into rides. At the same time, Nintendo won’t retire Mario anytime in the future, which means any representation will pay off in the long run.
The first thing that came to mind was a virtual (4D) roller coaster which is becoming more prevalent in major theme parks including Universal. A ride that literally plays out like a condensed Mario game. You’re invited to Universal in order to test out the new ride until Bowser shows up and takes the princess and you. You escape Bowser’s clutches and join Mario to save Peach. With that concept you can basically go wild with references to any of the mainstream Mario titles.
Another possibility is to dedicate a section of the park for Mario Party inspired tents and games. Think of it similarly to Krustyland. You can have carnival games as well as arcade games, allowing kids to win Nintendo plushies. Or you can take it a step further and give away prizes like video games for special occasions.
We also have Mario Kart to consider. This is would be the ideal roller coaster, especially if you base it off Mario Kart 8 and place zero gravity segments on regular tracks. Imagine Rainbow Road as a potential track.
Nintendo’s first franchise and recognized name, Donkey Kong rides are a concept you don’t think about right away. When you do, though, you can’t turn back. You can do some incredible things with DK.
My favorite idea is a roller coaster based on the mine cart segments of Donkey Kong Country. The coaster can have both indoor and outdoor sections (like Disney’s new Snow White Mine Cart ride), with the indoor sections showing animations of Donkey Kong riding with either Diddy, Dixie or Kranky. Maybe even have it so it’s a different character each time. If there is a safe way to have the coaster seem like it’s hopping into the background and foreground, that would be awesome.
Perhaps Nintendo’s second most popular franchise, Pokemon is another property that is more than likely to be incorporated. You can go a lot of directions with Pokemon, but there’s no one more likely than the other.
One idea is to make a “Pokepark” aimed at the younger attendees. Several areas of Universal are just wide, open areas meant for toddlers to run around and play in. You can incorporate character statues as well as costumed mascots which are perfect for photos. Plus with Pokemon’s ongoing anime you can swap certain statues to tie in with the show. Depending on how Nintendo’s presence will be handled, I think something like this could easily replace A Day in the Park with Barney. (It breaks my heart, but it’s practically a relic compared to other attractions).
But for actual rides, you can easily make a roller coaster based on Pokemon. A straight forward roller coaster would do fine, but I have an idea for a half 4D half coaster hybrid. Each cart would be different Pokemon (perhaps 4-6 really popular ones) and each one behaves differently depending on which cart you’re in, making for a different experience each time. Charizard would be more based on flight while while Pikachu is more erratic and fast-paced. It’s probably not realistic, but that’s my idea.
What about a Pokemon show like Terminator Poseidon. Again, the Pokemon anime can really make this easy. Pull a live performance of the anime off with Ash in it and I see a good amount of potential.
While Zelda is one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, I think it’ll be a challenge to implement this in a theme park setting. Maybe part of that is due to my own ignorance to the Zelda franchise. I do have a couple small ideas, though.
A straightforward 4D coaster retelling of one of the popular or recent Zelda games could be cool. Ocarina of Time would be a good choice for me personally, but I think one based on the upcoming Wii U Zelda is more likely. It can be similar to Forbidden Journey with moving twists and turns, or like Shrek 4-D where it’s a show with moving chairs.
There’s also the idea of a boat ride based on Wind Waker. You can make the environment change to be stormy or have it suddenly change course. A similar idea would be a train ride based on Spirit Tracks.
My favorite idea is a Zelda live show. With Zelda’s fairy tale charm and mystical elements, you can really make a show like this incredible. Again any Zelda game would do. I would say Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword would be the best fit since they’ll be the most visually interesting.
Trust me guys, I have more ideas. I may share some of them in the future if you guys want, but I’ve already hit some of the big ones here. Let me know in the comments what ideas you have for Nintendo rides and what you thought of mine. Which franchises do you think will make it to the parks? Are you going to visit Universal when these rides open? Let me know so we can discuss it together.
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!