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Several years ago Universal Studios Parks & Resorts and Nintendo put together a deal that would see some of the most popular characters and games transformed into theme park attractions. Today we learned that the first of these new lands, Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, will open at the theme park on February 4, 2021. With the news came a first real look at the highly anticipated Mario Kart attraction, but it also leaves many unanswered questions about what the future will hold for Universal and Nintendo stateside?
It has to be said that the new Mario Kart attraction looks unbelievable. The ride vehicles looks like something right out of the game (though they seat four people). And through the use of AR technology, riders will be able to essentially play Mario Kart on the track, firing objects like turtle shells at other vehicles. Any Mario Kart fan is going to want to experience this. Check out the sneak peak from Universal Studios Japan below.
While Universal Studios Japan's version of Super Nintendo World was always going to be the first, there was supposed to be a second version of the new land under construction at Universal Studios Florida as well. It was set to be the centerpiece of the new Epic Universe theme park, Universal's third gate in Florida. However, that project has been put on indefinite hold, and with that, the fate of Nintendo in Orlando is very much up in the air.
While most theme park construction projects are certainly delayed due to the global pandemic, the current understanding with Epic Universe is that the new park isn't going to become a major focus for Universal until the larger economy improves, which means the delay is going to be significant. It's going to be years, not months. But if we're now looking years down the line, we could actually see a very different theme park if and when Epic Universe actually gets built.
Some rumors have indicated that Super Nintendo World could go back to the original plan, becoming part of the main Universal Studios Florida theme park rather than becoming part of Epic Universe. It seems likely that there's a time limit on when construction on Super Nintendo Land needs to begin and it's possible the new land in Japan doesn't mean that Universal will keep control of the rights in the U.S. if nothing is actually built.
Something Nintendo related was also planned at Universal Studios Hollywood as well, but that park was always meant to be follow Orlando, and with the much more limited space that theme park has, there's no idea exactly what we'll see or when we'll see it.
Wit Super Nintendo World getting ready to bow in Japan, perhaps that will mean we'll get an update on the Florida plans soon. If the new land and the Mario Kart attraction end up as exciting as they look, then people are going to want to see them arrive in a place that's easier for million of people to get to, especially right now.