From Harry Potter to Super Mario? From Voldemort to Bowser? Yep. Universal Studios has announced it’s developing a Nintendo theme park through a collaboration with Nintendo. The conversations are still early, but the news itself could be a huge win for both media companies.
Nintendo has some of the most beloved and timeless video game franchises around, but its success has waned in recent years in the console market. Universal Parks & Resorts, meanwhile, has made a dramatic turnaround from “Disneyland wannabe” to a theme park entity that’s “out-Disneyed Disney” through its Wizarding World of Harry Potter updates.
Reinforcing the charm of iconic characters like Mario, Pokemon and Link in a Nintendo theme park setting could do wonders for Nintendo’s finances, if not double-down on its perception of being “kiddy.” However, Nintendo shouldn’t be criticized for being too commercial, as franchises like Call of Duty, Skylanders and Halo have whored themselves out on many occasions for the sake of a buck.
Universal Studios, on the other hand, gets a huge body of creative franchises with which to play, plus a built-in audience for its eventual real-world lands. For instance, look at the popularity (and high quality) of its Simpsons projects in recent years.
Specific details about the Universal / Nintendo theme park rides are virtually non-existent at the moment. In an official statement, Nintendo said “The immersive experiences will include major attractions at Universal’s theme parks and will feature Nintendo’s most famous characters and games. More details will be announced in the future, as the Nintendo and Universal creative teams work to create specific concepts.”
In other words, the strategic partnership is in place, but there aren’t yet any concrete ideas about what any of this Nintendo theme park stuff might look like. All we know is, “for the first time, [Nintendo’s] stories and characters will be brought to life in entirely new ways – only at Universal theme park” and that the partnership will result in “spectacular, dedicated experiences based on Nintendo’s wildly popular games, characters and worlds.”
Universal’s existing licensed themed parks are largely in Orlando, where they include Marvel Island, based on the Marvel comic books; the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, based on the popular books and movies; a Jurassic Park land; Seuss Landing, based on the Dr. Seuss books; and The Simpsons: Springfield at Universal Studios Hollywood (there’s a Simpsons Ride in Orlando).