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Games Promise to Come Alive: Super Nintendo World to Open in February 2021

Keiko Tamura

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~Admissions will be restricted through steps such as distributing numbered tickets to allow for COVID-19 mitigation measures~

 

Nintendo’s first theme park, Super Nintendo World, will open its doors on February 4, 2021, the operator of Universal Studios Japan (USJ) announced on November 30. 

 

Featuring Nintendo’s legendary character Mario, the theme park was originally scheduled to open this summer in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Like so many things, it was postponed to next spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Super Nintendo World will provide a life-sized experience of the Nintendo game world, including recreations of buildings and vehicles that will be familiar to Nintendo lovers everywhere. The press were given a sneak peek during the announcement, revealing the world’s first Mario Kart-themed ride, located inside Bowser’s Castle, where Mario’s nemesis lies in wait.

 

 

A gigantic statue of Bowser can be found inside Bowser’s castle, along with a shell-patterned floor reminiscent of the turtle-like Koopa race. It also has a sharp iron fence, creating an imposing structure that would make anyone’s hair stand on end with anticipation. 

 

Another must-see is the “Mario’s Kart: Koopa’s Challenge” ride, with its four-seater carts fitted with steering wheels and headsets. The attraction’s appearance and technology ensure visitors will have a truly immersive experience through augmented reality and projection mapping technology.  

 

Executive producer Thomas Geraghty, who was in charge of creating the Mario Kart ride, said, “Through innovative technology, one can experience the game world with their whole body.”

 

USJ invested a record ¥60 billion JPY (about $577 million USD) in development of the new area, including the construction of “Princess Peach’s Castle,” home to the famous heroine, and a ride based on popular character “Yoshi.” 

 

According to USJ, the opening date is scheduled for February 2021 because “the facilities are ready” after a delay prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 

Universal Studios expects the attraction to be packed, as was the case when the Harry Potter area opened in 2014. Admissions will be restricted through steps such as distributing numbered tickets to allow for COVID-19 mitigation measures.

 

Unfortunately, the reality of a COVID-19 third wave is looming as well. Hideyuki Araki, a senior researcher at Resona Research Institute, a management consultancy firm, expressed concern over expectations about the opening. “The risk of infection will still be high in February 2021 because of the cold weather. It could be difficult to attract visitors if the grand opening coincides with a major surge in coronavirus cases,” he said.  

 

With this in mind and the rising number of cases worldwide, it is unclear if the theme park opening will be able to attract as many visitors as hoped. 

 

 

(Find the articles in Japanese on which this report is based here and here.)

 

 

Author: Keiko Tamura, Staff Writer, Sankei West (NEW AUTHOR)