Universal Studios Japan is to open its Nintendo attraction in February 2021, the park announced on Monday. The grand opening of Super Nintendo World will kick off the Osaka-based park’s year-long 20th anniversary celebration.
Built at a cost of some $580 million, Super Nintendo World will include rides, replicas and retail outlets. The attractions include a Mario Kart ride built inside a recreation of Bowser’s Castle and a Yoshi-themed ride.
Guests can immerse themselves in the world by wearing a Power-Up Band, an innovative technology to help bring gameplay to life and allow guests to keep score. Guests with the device can also punch blocks and collect virtual coins as they visit different parts of the site.
At a press event, Universal Studios Japan released new footage of the “Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge” ride as well as new images of the land, rides and the interior of Bowser’s Castle.
The coronavirus outbreak delayed the opening of the park extension from last summer. A February opening spells cold weather, but the park is anyway currently operating at only 50% capacity due to social distancing measures.
Nintendo is understood to view the park as diversification away from its core games businesses. For Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal the park extension may be seen as a test, and a further pivot of its theme park businesses towards Asia. It took full control of Universal Studios Japan in 2017.
The conglomerate is understood to have halted plans for another Nintendo area at its Orlando, Florida theme park, but is in advanced construction for a major new park near Beijing China that is also scheduled to open in 2021.
Japan has weathered the coronavirus relatively well compared with North America and Europe. Cinemas in Japan are now operating near normal, but a recent spike in cases threatens to reverse that trend. Another wave of virus cases in Japan could also derail plans to hold the delayed 2020 Olympic Games – for which NBC is the lead U.S. broadcast rights holder – in summer 2021.