Nintendo-themed lands coming to Universal Studios Hollywood and parks in Florida and Japan

and Contact Reporter

Nintendo-themed areas will open at Universal Studios Hollywood and theme parks in Orlando, Fla., and Japan over the next few years.

Universal Parks and Resorts announced Tuesday what many had expected since the company announced a partnership last year with Nintendo, the company responsible for popular video games such as “Super Mario Bros.” and “Donkey Kong,” and the Pokemon and Legend of Zelda series.

On its blog, Universal said the lands “will be expansive, immersive and interactive. They'll be highly themed and authentic environments filled with multiple attractions, shops and restaurants. You'll feel as if you're playing inside your favorite games — in real life.”

In Los Angeles, the announcement of a new Nintendo area represents the latest big-dollar investment in Universal Studios Hollywood to help compete with its top rival, Disneyland.

Universal Studios Hollywood launched its biggest and most expensive expansion project to date last year when it opened its six-acre Wizarding World of Harry Potter at a cost of about $500 million. That followed the opening in 2012 of Transformers: the Ride 3D, followed in 2014 by the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and Super Silly Fun Land.

The park opened Fast and Furious: Supercharged in 2015 as well as Springfield, a city block of eateries inspired by the fictional town in the TV show “The Simpsons.”

This summer, Universal Studios Hollywood opened a permanent haunted maze based on the AMC series “The Walking Dead.”

The investments seem to be paying off, with the theme park’s parent company, Comcast, reporting a 53% increase in its theme parks’ operating cash flow, to $1.6 billion, for the nine months ended Sept. 30, compared with the same period in 2015.

But Universal Studios’ top rival in Southern California, Disneyland, has also been investing in the future. Construction began in April for a 14-acre Star Wars land at the Anaheim park. An identical land is set to be built in Disney's Hollywood Studios park in Orlando. 

Universal Studios representatives offered few details about the new attractions except to say that they will open at the three parks separately over the next several years.

Universal Studios Hollywood had announced plans earlier this year to relocate several small sound stages out of the lower lot, next to Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride to free up space for new attractions.

Fans of the park say any attraction based on Nintendo characters like the Mario brothers or Donkey Kong would draw huge crowds.

“I just think they are iconic characters,” said Jonathan Green, managing editor of Inside Universal, a website that reports developments in the park.

Planning and creative work on the areas is “well underway,” according to the Universal Studios blog.

“We're going to be able to create an entire Nintendo world,” Universal Creative President Mark Woodbury said in an online video.

The Nintendo-Universal deal last year was seen as a smart move for both parties. For Nintendo, the deal was part of a recovery from a slump it had been in for a few years.

With aggressive expansion plans, Universal parks need lots of well-known characters upon which to base rides. Executives want to open an attraction every year at each major location.

Martin is a Times staff writer. Pedicini writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

Twitter: @hugomartin


UPDATES:

12:45 p.m.: This article was updated with additional analysis and a comment from Jonathan Green, managing editor of the website Inside Universal.

This article was originally published at 8:55 a.m.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
51°