Nintendo’s first theme park outside of its native Japan will open in California next month, just weeks before Mario gets the big screen treatment in a major new Hollywood movie.
Super Nintendo World will be part of NBCUniversal Studios Hollywood, an amusement park with classic rides based on movies and TV shows from “Waterworld” to “Harry Potter.”
But with the video game industry now outpacing movies in size, and theme parks increasingly using interactive technology to immerse visitors, the two companies’ executives have joined forces to capitalize on the platformer’s global popularity.
Nintendo’s new attraction will largely reflect the design of its newly opened, slightly larger sister park in Osaka, including a “Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge” ride that uses the unpopular original glasses.
Visitors run on a real-life track surrounded by real sets but can aim and shoot virtual shells at computerized villains who see themselves reflected in their head-mounted visors, individually.
“We took so many different layers, whether it was video mapping, projection mapping, LED screens, immersive magic-looking sets, special effects, physical effects, and augmented reality, to seamlessly blend everything together to create this highly immersive environment,” Jon said. Corfino, vice president of Universal Creative.
“Visiting a theme park is like being in a video game”
There are also a number of mini-games where visitors with interactive wristbands can collect coins and stamps, to qualify for the “final showdown” with the evil Bowser Jr.
“It’s kind of the ultimate playground,” according to Corfino. “We are known for our diverse, beautiful, and immersive films. Gaming is something different. The way we engage with entertainment is evolving and in itself… entertainment is not static.”
The official launch of Super Nintendo World is scheduled for February 17, where guests surrounded by Yoshis, Piranha Plants and Goombas from the popular franchise will be greeted by characters dressed as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach.
Nintendo fans have already started flocking to the Los Angeles theme park, where word spread last week that the new attraction was welcoming visitors with a “soft opening” to iron out any final issues.
“When I was a kid, my parents, my dad, my uncle, they loved the old Mario stuff. We had a Nintendo Entertainment System, and that’s what we played with, and Dr. Mario. Yeah, so how long. I’ve known him since I was a kid. So being here, this is, you know, like my childhood in real life, “said Carlos Moctezuma, who was dressed as Mario in the park.
“I’ve known Mario since I was in second grade. That was one of my first games on the Game Boy,” said his partner Lexi Houseman, dressed as Luigi.
“I love it. It feels like a dream come true, Like you’re in a video game. It’s amazing.” Shannon Tatum, a Mario fan visiting the theme park.
Nintendo and NBCUniversal are betting big on this mind-bending reality business in hopes of capitalizing on the film’s release and making a big dent in the pockets of their rival, Disney.