Nintendo on Its Theme Park Plans -- "It's a Huge Opportunity"

"The teams between Universal and Nintendo are working tremendously well together."


Nintendo is bringing its franchises and characters to Universal Studios theme parks in Florida and Japan. While these parks have yet to open and specific rides and attractions have not been announced, Nintendo sounds quite optimistic about what it can achieve.

"It's a huge opportunity," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Alist Daily. "What has been really gratifying for me is that the teams between Universal and Nintendo are working tremendously well together."

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Fils-Aime added that the team at Universal not only of course has expert knowledge of how to make a theme park, but they also "have a great affinity for [Nintendo's] IP."

"What this promises for the guest at the Universal Studios theme parks is something that's really magical," Fils-Aime teased.

In the interview, Fils-Aime specifically mentioned "immersive amusement interactive situations" with no talk about more traditional rides like rollercoasters. That may not be indicative of anything, however.

Fils-Aime also teased that the designers at Universal are making their newest attractions with full knowledge that riders are likely to have a smartphone with them. He teased that your phone may play some role in Nintendo's attractions at the Universal parks.

"These theme park designers are considering that so many of their patrons have a smart device," he said. "They're thinking about what that means to the overall experience. I'm not going to share anything in this interview, but certainly the Universal team is aware of it. Certainly it is something that they are considering as they work with us to create this theme park experience."

Nintendo and Universal have not announced any specific rides/attractions, but we would imagine there would have to be some form of real-world Mario Kart.

The official line is that these attractions will be "major" and make use of Nintendo's "most famous characters and games." Universal and Nintendo will create "spectacular, dedicated experiences based on Nintendo's wildly popular games, characters, and worlds." As of May 2015, Nintendo and Universal were still in the process of creating concepts.

According to a March 2016 report, around 40 billion yen ($351 million) is being invested into the Nintendo attractions at Universal Studios Japan. It was also mentioned that the size and scope of the Nintendo-Universal park arrangement is similar to the deal Universal made for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area, based on the Harry Potter series.

The Nintendo attractions at Universal Studios Japan are aiming to be completed by 2020, which is also the year the the Olympics comes to Tokyo. There is no word on when Universal Studios Florida might open its Nintendo attractions, however.

Nintendo's partnership with Universal, which was announced in May 2015, aims to expand the reach of Nintendo's characters and franchises. Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima has stressed how important that would be going forward. As a result of changes in the gaming landscape, fewer and fewer young people are finding out about Nintendo games Instead, they're discovering Nintendo and its characters through things like officially licensed Mario toothbrushes.

Expect these kinds of licensing deals to continue and possibly increase, Kimishima said. Now that Nintendo sees itself as an entertainment company, the deal with Universal and other licensing arrangements makes a lot of sense. Nintendo's licensing efforts could even extend to the big-screen.

In addition, there was a report of Nintendo producing a Legend of Zelda TV show for Netflix ("Game of Thrones for a family audience"), though Nintendo has since distanced itself from that speculation.

Nintendo's next console, which is codenamed NX, is scheduled to come out in March 2017. Fils-Aime recently said Nintendo must do better at communicating the novelty of the system.

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