After strong rumors for years, Universal confirmed in 2015 that it was indeed working developing a line of new lands with Nintendo, giving details the following year
on it coming to Orlando, Tokyo, and Hollywood.
Last year a groundbreaking took place for the one in Japan and permits were pulled for the one here in Orlando. But as the one in Japan continues to push forward, there has been no indication of the one Orlando moving forward anytime soon and now we might know why.
According to rumors
sources, it now looks like Universal has chosen to not move forward with the plans to have Nintendo replace Kids Zone at Universal Studios Florida. The original plans for this area featured numerous Nintendo franchises, including Zelda and Kirby, both of which were later removed from the plans because the ride buildings for the Mario Kart and Donkey Kong rides seemed to take up the majority of the land.
The most recent plans called for two major rides. One would’ve used augmented reality in a Mario Kart ride while the other, themed to Donkey Kong, would’ve used a patented coaster system that makes riders think they are jumping the track similar to how the carts in the Donkey Kong games do. A third ride would’ve been a slow-moving indoor/outdoor ride similar to Magic Kingdom’s PeopleMover but themed to Yoshi.
Nintendo has confirmed
its working with Universal’s Illumination Entertainment on a number of upcoming movies. While few details have been shared a Pokemon movie slated for next year (which isn’t being done by Illumination) and a Mario Brothers movie slated for the next few years though
a specific date has yet to be, but it’s likely it’ll be timed to coincide with the opening of Japan’s Super Mario World in 2020, just in time for the Olympics in that country. The movies might give Mario and other Nintendo brands an updated aesthetic similar to the one that Illumination is giving to the Grinch (as seen in the advertising NBC has been running during its Olympic coverage).
Instead of shoehorning Nintendo into Universal Studios Florida’s KidZone it now looks like the company has opted to have the juggernaut of brands to anchor its third theme park (or fourth if you count Volcano Bay). In recent weeks, we’ve heard new rumors of a large Dreamworks presence
in the Magic Kingdom style park. Other brands rumored for the new park include Lord of the Rings and Jurassic World.
All indications point to Universal fast-tracking the new park with an opening now expected in the mid-2020s. That would place only a few years after the rumored 2021 Orlando opening of Super Nintendo World. With this difference now being less than 48 months and with other projects in the works for Universal Studios Florida, including a rumored Ministry of Magic attraction and a new live-action mixed-media show replacing the now-closed Terminator 2 attraction, it seems Universal would get the most impact by placing this extremely popular brand in the new park instead.
The blessing of size would mean that they could fully realize all the attractions they’ve imagined including Pokémon, Kirby, and Zelda. While other possibilities include attractions based on Fire Emblem, Star Fox, and Animal Crossing.
That leaves the question of what will happen to KidZone. Few trustworthy rumors have surfaced, but both a new Despicable Me land, with that rumored trackless ride
that was slated for the Shrek building as one of two new rides for the land, or a new HelloKitty area have both been floated as possibilities.
If current rumors are any indication we should know more about the Orlando plans before the end of this year.