In six months’ time, guests of Universal Studios Japan will be the first to experience Super Nintendo World. The long-in-the-works expansion for Universal’s theme park empire will have rides and attractions mostly centered around the Mario universe, including a Mario Kart E-ticket and a Yoshi kiddie ride. Guests in Orlando, Hollywood, and Singapore will all get their own implementations of the new area soon after, similar to the expansion of Universal’s famous Wizarding World. There’s a lot here but let’s dream bigger. What Nintendo characters should be part of the next expansion? What games from the company’s history are perfect for theme park rides? Let’s dig into most of those questions and get into blue sky territory. Here are the next rides, shows, and lands to hit Universal’s ideal version of Super Nintendo World.
The Legend of Zelda in Super Nintendo World
Before delving into pure speculation, there is one expansion that’s still probably in the cards. Two years ago, prominent theme park rumors site Theme Park University posted concepts for Universal’s Legend of Zelda experience. There was an entire land at one point, featuring a walkthrough attraction and a “puzzle theater” with interactive elements. It was a ride where guests could move around each other in ride vehicles, emulating the type of puzzle-solving made famous in the franchise’s dungeons. Plans shifted to installing these attractions in Islands of Adventure at some point, but Universal is now waiting to see how the Mario experience plays before investing too much in Nintendo.
In theme parks, no concept ever truly dies, so we can hope that those Zelda plans bear fruit at some point. As for additions, you could emulate the Olivander’s Wand Shop experience with the N64-era Happy Mask Salesman. It could be a small, intimate show that feeds out into a real shop selling mask replicas from the games. You can just picture tiny Skull Kids walking down the sidewalk now. As for the food, it could be something with Deku Nuts. It could be either that or a cafe run by Tingle that only sells sour candies and balloons. The workers in Orlando would probably love their uniforms that would be based in Tingle’s fashion sense.
Pilotwings in Super Nintendo World
If there’s one thing that Universal loves in recent times, it’s video screens. Every new ride takes every opportunity to put in video technology over more traditional animatronics. Sometimes, this leads to overzealous missed opportunities, but sometimes it makes sense. Disney World has Soarin’, a hang gliding experience complete with authentic orange grove smells. Universal has nothing of the sort, but Nintendo has just the answer if it is interested. While it’s not the hottest property in the Nintendo portfolio, a Pilotwings flight simulator could offer guests similar thrills with a Nintendo twist.
It seems like Universal has tried to make gameplay a key component to everything it has developed for Super Nintendo World. A Pilotwings experience could up the ante on Soarin’ by adding interactivity to the simulator. Just like the game, sailing through targets and grabbing floating bonuses could measure your skills through points. This already happens across the pond at the Men in Black ride, and the scoring aspect there is what keeps guests coming back. If you want to up the variety, you can even pull in Wave Race and 1080 for a Nintendo extreme sports triathlon.
Animal Crossing in Super Nintendo World
When you think of Animal Crossing, not a lot of theme park-friendly concepts come to mind. Indeed, it’d be counter-intuitive to try to create an action-packed thrill ride out of the social simulator. However, there is one example out there that could fit perfectly with the popular franchise. Returning to Disney territory, we only have to look at Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom for inspiration. A nontraditional theme park experience, Kingdom is a card game that you play in front of screens placed all around the park. The “card” part isn’t necessary unless Nintendo gives purpose to amiibo cards after all these years. The screens, however, are the true ticket.
Imagine guests armed with what’s probably a cell phone walking around an Animal Crossing village. They can go into houses filled with Gyroids, functional shops, and even the mayor’s office. Every step along the way, their device would trigger character interactions that take place on well-hidden screens in the buildings. The residents could give you simple tasks to do around the building, and each successful mini-game would grant you a pile of bells. You can stay as long as you like and perhaps use your earned currency to pick up a small souvenir from Tom Nook as you leave. It’s an experience that would emulate the games in a theme park setting while also offering something wholly unique.
Pokemon and Star Fox in Super Nintendo World
Finishing off with some more down-to-earth concepts, both Star Fox and Pokemon have pretty easy transitions from the console to the theme park setting. As previously mentioned, Universal loves screens, and Star Fox is already most of the way to a space simulator attraction. While it’s arguable that Fox McCloud has the clout to get his own theme park attraction anytime soon, it could be a quick fix if Universal is looking to have a competitor to the Millenium Falcon ride at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Just add in some of that interactivity and a barrel roll reference and you’re golden.
Pokemon was another franchise that Universal already did some work on. At one point, the kiddie area of Universal, now themed to Barney and Woody Woodpecker for some reason, would transition to Pikachu and friends. These plans are on the back burner as well, and it’d honestly be disappointing to see such a wide world turn into small scale roller coasters and carnival rides. Still, a mere Pikachu walkaround character would probably make fans ecstatic, and Pokemon Go already exists. For this one franchise, maybe less is more.
Nintendo is lucky to have such a deep well of franchises to pick from, which is also exactly why the roster in Smash Bros. is always so impressive. From Zelda to Pokemon, it’s impossible for the console maker to run out of ideas for theme park attractions. And like Smash Bros., let’s hope Nintendo pushes this idea to its full potential and makes it a big hit with our favorite video game characters.