Hot on the heels of Wednesday’s confirmation of Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Universal surprised us all Thursday morning by announcing that it had entered into a licensing agreement with video game giant Nintendo to bring characters, attractions and other experiences based on Nintendo properties to Universal theme parks around the world.
Details about this arrangement are non-existent at this time, with nether Nintendo or Universal confirming what characters or attractions might be a part of this new deal. Speaking even more broadly, we don’t even know what Universal parks Nintendo attractions will appear at. However, it would seem Universal Orlando Resort would be the safest bet to see attractions, as it has the most room to spare among the worldwide parks, and may actually be losing a several attractions in the near future.
Though absolutely nothing has been confirmed, we figured we’d have a little bit of fun with this announcement and put forward our best ideas for attractions we'd like to see in a “Nintendo Land” at Universal Orlando Resort
1. Mario Kart bumper cars
Look, it would be really obvious to make a Mario Kart driving attraction similar to the Tomorrowland Speedway at Walt Disney World. But let’s face it, there is no way to recreate the perilous fear of heights incited by the Rainbow Road, without making a track that is 100 feet off the ground and has no railing. Putting that obvious bad idea aside, making a bumper-cars style attraction, potentially inspired by Mario Kart’s battle mode would be a simple and fun way to incorporate Mario Kart’s core game experience into an attraction. Universal could even “plus” the bumper cars experience with digital battle mode balloons that would help players keep score the same way they would in the game, literally bringing a video game experience from screen to reality.
2. Luigi’s Mansion ghost hunting
Look, I realize that Luigi’s Mansion is not the most popular Nintendo property. However, this game, which has the incredibly simple concept of vacuuming ghosts in a haunted mansion would make for an awesome interactive dark ride, similar to Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just the thought of boarding a ride vehicle with its own mounted “vacuum” device and capturing bright and colorful ghosts in a 3D ride (perhaps borrowing the visual style of 2013’s 3DS game Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon) is quite an exciting thought!
3. Pokémon RFID activity
Outside of Mario and Luigi, Pokémon is Nintendo’s most iconic and enduring brand, and for good reason. These adorable little creatures have spawned more than 120 games (including spinoffs, like the criminally under-rated Pokémon SNAP) and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Though the obvious choice here is to make a Pokémon ride, I propose something a little different. One of the most exhilarating experiences you can find in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the ability to use your RFID-enabled wand to cast spells at various points all around both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Now imagine you had an RFID-enabled Pokéball…and you might see where I’m going with this.
If this new partnership between Nintendo and Universal yields an entire themed land to explore, hiding RFID enabled Pokémon that guests could “catch” with a specially-designed Pokéball and store on a Pokédex would pretty much be a dream come true for Pokémon fans the world over. This type of activity would have the added benefit of encouraging guests to spend considerable time exploring this land without queueing for rides (and potentially spending money on refreshments during their quest).
Going a little further, if Universal wants to push this concept to an extreme, specialty Pokéballs (like the kind you see in the Pokémon games) could be sold to capture rare or variant Pokémon, and you could bet that fans of this franchise (myself included) would absolutely buy each and every single one.
4. The Legend of Zelda dark ride
Universal Orlando Resort has some of the best dark rides on the planet, including the seminal Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the classic Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Though you might think that a Nintendo-themed attraction really should be interactive, a property like The Legend of Zelda, known for its sweeping stories and complex mythology may lend itself more easily to a narrative-based dark ride. Imagine being able to immerse yourself in the world of Hyrule and face badguys like Gannondorf alongside Link, Zelda and other popular characters from this franchise.