Nintendo & Universal Team-Up: Let Us Count the Possibilities!
FINALLY! The legends and leaders over at Nintendo are getting the theme park treatment via the creative and whimsical folks over at Universal Studios. The announcement came recently that Nintendo and Universal Studios were going to be teaming up and featuring rides and attractions after the Japanese based video game company. Tapping into the gamer segment of the entertainment industry is a fantastic idea and one that is certain to pay dividends. According to the Los Angeles Times, the video game business is expected to top $100 Billion this year; so, getting a slice of that electronic-lovin’ pie is a very smart move.
This move is a bit of a reunion as Universal’s NBC division had Super Mario cartoons on their Saturday Morning line-up from 1989-1991 during Mario’s first incarnations with his game titles on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo. Additionally, Nintendo held their Nintendo World Championship competition at Universal Studios Hollywood back in 1990. The Championships were re-launched this year for the industry-wide exhibition, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), this week to much fanfare. The gamer known as “John Numbers” took home the crown of 2015 Nintendo World Champion!
All of this equates to Nintendo being more inclined to market itself in different arenas that it may not have previously sought-after. In recent years the video game giant has posted declines in revenue while it’s competitors moved on to the latest and greatest consoles and highly-anticipated game titles. Nintendo America President and CEO Reggie Fils-Aime has been known in the past for not pairing Nintendo properties with lucrative marketing deals despite many company’s high interest to do so. At last, we’re making progress and that brings us to look at this new era and giving the fans what they want. Before official details are released on what goodies we can expect from The House That Mario Built and Universal, here’s our speculation list of attraction possibilities:
Super Mario Dark Ride: This is a Must. Now, we know that Universal Studios has always done the 3-D Interactive Dark Rides such as The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera but what if Universal went a bit old school and did an old-fashion dark ride like Knott’s Berry Farm’s Calico Mine Ride, which recently got upgraded? Something along those lines would be a great springboard for other parks doing these type of rides again. It could also be interactive with a shooter/point scoring system like Scooby-Doo’s Haunted Castle at heritage Paramount Parks from last decade. Being able to go through and see original scenes of Princess Peach getting captured by Bowser and his Koopalings, Mario’s journey to fight through the ravage of different worlds, seeing him transform into different Power characters and finally battle Bowser to win back Peach would be Marvelous! The vehicles that riders could drive around the track could be Yoshis, even different colored ones and there’s buttons to push to make noises. The scenes will have fire (like when Mario shoots fire balls), water (from the different Koopa bosses making a stop on Mario’s progress) and much, much more.
Having a 3-D ride would be a nice thing for Mario but it is also an obvious choice and you could truly bring the 3 decades old character to life with this route. For those who remember the Smurfs’ Enchanted Voyage from the 1980’s at Kings Island and the Smurf ride at Kings Dominion, that brought the Blue Buddies and Gargamel off the screen and into live scenes. The exterior of the building was painted to be like a colored silhouette of a forest; Mario’s could be a full-out mural of a map of a new adventure. It would be all the get-out!!
Legend of Zelda 3-D Interactive Dark Ride: Ok, this was a given but yet still very exciting. Having a dark ride that gets you rockin’ in your seats and gives you full sensory of the adventure Link is after would be a Great Experience for any avid gamer or even someone who’s been under a rock for 30 years and hasn’t heard of the Zelda franchise. This would also be an original adventure for the ride and it’ll be high flying action for the riders in their seats. Things will certainly be fast pace with the joy ride and it will help to bring the world of Zelda to a gripping reality after about 30 years of legendary gaming. The spectacle will also have character statues and décor in the line areas that depict the Zelda world and have flat screen TVs giving teaser video of what lies ahead for the journey. The above photo is from E3 about 10 years ago and was the Nintendo booth, which was bigger than most two bedroom apartments and ranch style houses. The set-up very geared towards the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess title that was being promoted that year. The layout was similar to what I’ve seen with the Tomb Raider: The Ride that was at Kings Island during the Paramount era of the park; that can certainly please gamers and park fans alike. Nonetheless, having a Legend of Zelda ride needs to be larger than life, like any Mario ride, and you’ll keep fans happy for a long time.
Donkey Kong Country Trail Ride: Yes. Oh Yes. For those of us who were blessed to be born in time to play the original Donkey Kong Country back in 1993 on the Super Nintendo, you’ll agree that one of the best parts of the game is the mine ride. The screen-shot above is from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and this has the right element of adventure that park guests can enjoy in their fix of Nintendo coming to life. If it can somehow be configured into the current attractions, this ride would be modeled after the Jurassic Park: The Ride currently at Universal Studios. Of course with Jurassic World becoming a global record-breaking smash hit, that ride isn’t going anywhere. However, having another ride based off that concept would be incredible as Donkey Kong’s world in the last 20 plus years has been a wild jungle adventure that’s worthy of a ride filled with larger than life characters, water elements that drench riders and all the fixings of edge of your seat chaos that DK has encountered in his hijinks. Nonetheless, there should be a big emphasis on the big furry guy as he’s successfully held Nintendo gamer’s interest since coming back into our conscience in 1993 after a hiatus from new adventures since Super Mario blew up in 1985. I want this ride to happen and I want Diddy Kong to be included; then my year will be complete.
Mario Kart Course Track: This is something that any level of rider would enjoy. There’s plenty of great fun that can be had when you race in a Super Mario style go-kart with at least 8-10 other drivers on a crazy course. The one down side would be that you likely can’t have those sweet objects thrown at each other like the banana peels and Koopa Troopa shells [liability insurance ain’t cheap, ya know] but seeing the world of one of Mario’s courses come to life would be one of the best adventures anyone could ask for. When you stop and think about your favorite race course in Mario Kart history, imagine being able to ride on one in real life and competing to be the Top Driver! That’s a real big deal. This attraction could jump off to be at other parks around the country since Nintendo is licensing more these days and Mario Kart 8 is more proof that the 23 year old franchise is a smash hit. The level of popularity of racing in America and this Mario franchise’s longevity helps to show that Universal would be very wise to bank on this concept with their offerings.
We hope not to wake up from this dream like Mario did at the end of Super Mario Bros. 2 after he defeated Wart!! But, it’s worth a try to map out the possibilities as we finally get to see Mario & Friends in theme parks. Truthfully, that was an idea I had back about 15 years ago and while I can’t call “shotgun!” on this one, at least it’s happening at all. Not only is the video game business one that will provide great business alliances but the virtual worlds we live through on gaming systems are screaming to be brought to life for life-sized enjoyment. Wouldn’t it be cool to go through an actual Luigi’s Mansion?!?! Yes. Yes it would.
For more on how Nintendo’s E3 went, find their official page right here.
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