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Nintendo’s theme park opening confirmed for February, Donkey Kong area ‘in construction’
Universal Japan details AR Mario Kart ride
Universal Studios Japan’s Super Nintendo World will officially open on February 4, 2021, it’s announced.
At a press event held on Monday, Universal confirmed new details on the long-awaited attraction, including confirmation of the long-rumoured Super Mario Kart AR ride, which will have visitors wear special headsets.
As detailed in an earlier leak, the Mario Kart ride has up to four users per kart racing against other visitors on a parallel track. The AR helmet will allow users to see various game elements and use items against virtual opponents.
New images released by Universal and attendees show the inside of Bowser’s castle – where the Mario Kart ride is located – featuring themed items based on the game series.
Speaking to the assembled media (via IGN’s Daniel Robson), Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge attraction executive producer Thomas Geraghty reportedly said the attraction was the result of a six-year collaboration with the creative team at Nintendo, including input from Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto.
Because the ride has win and lose states, visitors will have a different experience each time they ride, he said.
“Guests will join their favourite characters immersed in augmented reality, steering their way through the Mushroom Kingdom, throwing shells at Koopalings, as they race to the finish,” he said.
Geraghty reportedly added that the headsets will be sanitised after every use, along with other social distancing measures. Universal Studios Japan is currently operating at around half capacity due to the pandemic.
According to a separate report by Bloomberg’s Kurumi Mori, Nintendo is “already building” the previously rumoured Donkey Kong world next door to Super Nintendo World.
Last year images showing a 2016 concept model for Super Nintendo World first suggested the park was planning to add a Donkey Kong area. The images showed a new world themed on the more modern Retro Studios Donkey Kong Country games, including a mine cart rollercoaster ride.
Nintendo World Japan is set to put an emphasis on the interactivity of its experiences, with each visitor using a wearable wristband in conjunction with a mobile phone app to gamify the park.
Visitors will be able to collect virtual coins and stamps by exploring Nintendo World, and compete with others in real-time for the number collected.
Guests will also be able to collect various keys around the park to unlock battles against virtual boss characters, which are fought in cooperation with others.
The Osaka-based attraction was originally due to open this summer but was delayed due to disruption caused by the pandemic. Currently Japan’s borders are closed to tourists, but they’re expected to reopen in spring 2021.
However, Nintendo did open a Mario Cafe and Store in October, where visitors can currently purchase Mario-themed food and drink, and goods such as Mario & Luigi hats and Princess Peach’s crown.
Following the Japan opening, Super Nintendo World is scheduled to come to Universal’s Orlando, Hollywood and Singapore parks. However, construction at the Orlando park was recently suspended indefinitely due to the pandemic.