Nintendo Theme Park Investment Similar to Harry Potter World - Report

First details on the Nintendo/Universal theme park emerge; scheduled to open in Japan in 2020.

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Last year, Nintendo announced a landmark partnership with theme park giant Universal Parks to bring its franchises, presumably including the likes of Mario and Zelda, to the company's parks. Now, we have learned more about the Universal Studios Japan park specifically.

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According to a Sankei News report, translated by Kotaku, around 40 billion yen ($351 million) is being invested into the project. The deal could be done this coming week.

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-themed area of Universal Studios Japan (marked in red) will be significant in size, as you can see in the image below, released with the Sankei News report. The park's existing attractions are represented in green.

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Nintendo's theme park deal with Universal was announced in May 2015.

Universal Studios Japan is just one of the company's parks that will introduce a "Mario World," as we'll call it for now until Nintendo/Universal gives it an official name. Presumably, Universal's mainline park in Orlando, Florida will also get the attractions at some point in the future.

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.

Nintendo and Universal have not announced any specific rides/attractions for the "Mario World," 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.

Nintendo's partnership with Universal aims to expand the reach of Nintendo's characters and franchises. Earlier this year, new Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima 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 through...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.

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