Nintendo announced Tuesday that its Mario-themed parks will be featured at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood. The Japanese company revealed its plans in May to create a “spectacular, dedicated experiences” at Universal parks based on the characters and works of its most popular video games.
Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto discussed the project in an announcement video alongside president of Universal Creative Mark Woodbury. “We are constantly amazed how the park developers are bringing the essence of our games to life in the real world,” said Miyamoto.
"Together we are building it with an eye for what guests will actually experience. We are working very hard to create attractions that can be equally enjoyable to anybody regardless of age. Since we're really bringing the world to life, I think Mario will feel like he finally came home,” Miyamoto said.
"We're going to be able to create an entire Nintendo world," said Woodbury. "We can't wait for fans to experience this at all three our parks."
Japanese news outlet Sankei reports the companies are envisioning the project to be just like the Harry Potter attraction at Universal Orlando, but with Nintendo-themed restaurants and collectible shops. Universal is investing $352 million into the Nintendo theme parks. That’s $87 million more than it spent on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida.
“Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways,” it read in a press release
The partnership with Universal is part of Nintendo’s efforts to expand the reach of its iconic characters and franchises. Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima previously said that as a result of changes in the gaming landscape, fewer and fewer young people are finding out about Nintendo games through….games. Instead, they’re discovering Nintendo and its iconic characters through things like Mario toothbrushes.
"Due to changes in our industry, the proportion of young consumers who are first experiencing games on our systems has been falling," he explained. "We want to have everyone become familiar with our IP by reaching as many people as possible from an early age within their daily lives. Our long-term strategy is to spark our consumers' interest in playing Nintendo game systems and encouraging continued growth of our games business."