UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(2/28/18) Super Nintendo World Building Now Vertical (MORE...)
(1/19/18) New Effects Confirmed For Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (MORE...)
(12/30/17) Universal Studios Japan To Raise Ticket Prices in 2018 (MORE...)
(12/29/17) Harry Potter Upgrade Prediction (MORE...)
Park News - (12/30/17) According to the local news Universal Studios Japan will raise their ticket prices starting Jan. 31st, 2018. They've been following the trend of the US parks it seems, as this is said to be the park's 9th consecutive year of ticket price increases, and still the park is pulling in record crowds. The cost of a 1-day pass into the park with tax will go up 300 yen to 7,900 yen ($70), however the cost of an annual pass is said to remain the same.
(12/20/17) Congratulations goes out to Universal Studios Japan, as the local news reports that the number of non-resident foreign visitors to the park in 2017 has reached 2 million as of Tuesday, a number which has doubled from the 1 million mark reached in 2014 thanks to the popularity of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Minion Park, as the park has become a popular draw for overseas tourists from all across Asia.
Universal Cool Japan 2018 - (1/20/18) Yukendoit is back with a new report from Universal Cool Japan 2018, where he shows off and talks about the new temporary attractions themed to Final Fantasy and Monster Hunter... but Sailor Moon will have to wait until it opens on March 16th.
(12/24/17) The latest update on the plans for Universal Cool Japan 2018 include a new poster featuring Sailor Moon, Final Fantasy, Detective Conan and Monster Hunter. But the official website notes that only Final Fantasy, Detective Conan and Monster Hunter will open with the event on Jan. 19th, 2018, and the opening of the Sailor Moon attraction wont take place until Spring 2018. So the opening attractions will be:
Final Fantasy XR Ride - a VR enhanced roller coaster experience on the park's Space Fantasy spinning coaster.
Detective Conan: The World - An experience that will include a Detective Conan themed escape room experience and, a "Mystery Restaurant" dining experience (looks like a murder mystery style theatrical experience) and the "Detective Conan Mystery Challenge" rally.
Monster Hunter: The Real - A walk-through attraction through the world of giant monsters, where guests can wield their own weapon and go on the hunt yourself.
While the official website doesn't mention exactly what the Sailor Moon experience will be, based on past Universal Cool Japan attraction lineups and the latest rumors, you can expect this to be a new 4D Theater experience, possibly using the name, "Sailor Moon: The Miracle 4D", or something similar.
Universal Cool Japan 2018 will run through to June 24, 2018.
2018 - Universal Spectacle Night Parade - Best of Hollywood and other Improvements - (1/18/19) According to a report at the Leaky Cauldron, they have confirmed our rumor that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will drop the 3D projection in favor of a new 120 frames-per-second 4K-HD projection system. In addition, some of the special effects in the attraction will be enhanced as well, adding a heat element to the fire-breathing dragon and the icy chill of the Dementors attack. Look for the new changes to go into effect by March 16th.
(12/29/17) Several guests have confirmed that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios Japan is still running the 3D version of the attraction that was added not too long after it opened in Japan. Meanwhile the Hollywood version of the attraction that opened in Spring 2016 with the 3D version opted to drop it and use the same 2D version of the projection footage used in Orlando instead by December 2016, after receiving numerous complaints over the summer about motion-sickness issues. This seemed to improve the ride experience for all, and was followed by a dramatic improvement to the projection systems by Spring 2017, upgrading the projected images from 60 frames-per-second to 120 fps and increasing the resolution to what Universal called “4K-HD”, featuring 4,000 pixels of resolution horizontally.
If I had to guess, I would predict that a similar removal of 3D in favor of a similar 4K-HD resolution upgrade is what is planned for the Japanese version of the attraction as well in 2018.
(12/24/17) Universal Studios Japan has announced some other new changes and attractions coming in 2018. In addition to the previously announced new "Universal Spectacle Night Parade: The Best of Hollywood", the park will also open a 'brand-new theater-type show attraction, starring everyone's favorite "Curious George"'. The show will be called Playing with Curious George and it describes a show with Curious George "plays around the room and befriends everyone", especially the little children.
The article also says that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will be "enhanced with the latest technological advancements and relaunch late March 2018" to offer guests "even more exhilaration, using state-of-the-art technology to take guests on an unforgettable adventure". (I'm guesing this may involve an upgrade to the projection system, but can anyone tell me if the ride is still in 3D in Japan, or if they dropped the 3D back when the Hollywood park also stopped using it?
WaterWorld will also get a "dramatic upgrade" of some kind as well for the 2018 season, but no further details are mentioned. Anyone know more?
(11/1/17) Universal Studios Japan has announced that a new night parade is coming in 2018 called "Universal Spectacle Night Parade - Best of Hollywood" that will feature characters and themes from many popular Hollywood films including Harry Potter, the Minions, Transformers and even Jurassic World dinosaurs.
The inclusion of the Transformers in kind of interesting, as the Japanese park has no Transformers ride... yet. Maybe this could be a test to see how the guests react to the characters, as the Minion characters were added and became very popular with guests a few years before Universal opted to build the a copy of the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride in Japan. Another worthy note is that the parade will feature "Jurassic World" and not Jurassic Park, making this the first Universal park to directly reference the new film series in production instead of the previous trilogy.
2020 - Super Nintendo World - Confirmed - (2/28/18) Big news from Universal Studios Japan as the latest video from our friend Yukendoit shows off the new building at the park that have been installed for Super Nintendo World. Based on what we can see so far, the new building going up appears to be fairly large.
(11/11/17) While things are still very much in what I like to call, "the dirt pushing phase", there is apparently a lot of activity at Universal Studios Japan to prepare the site for the first Super Nintendo World. You can see several photos of this taking place posted to ThemeparX over the past few weeks.
(6/21/17) I don’t know how much of the artwork is legit, and I don’t think all of it is, but a nice collection of some new and old Super Nintendo World attraction art has been posted to Disney & More this week. The one that sticks out fo rme isn’t the Mario Kart art, but the one showing off the Donkey Kong themed jungle area. While the lower area seems to contain a jungle themed play area, if you look in the top of the trees you’ll see a coaster track for that rumored Donkey Kong mine train coaster. In fact, look very carefully on the top left and you’ll see a mine cart jumping a gap in the coaster track, as described as being possible for the Boom Coaster ride patent. Look closer still and you can see the hidden arm coming off that mine cart and going down, where it looks to be attached to the true track for the ride, hidden from view below the riders, which is twisted into an arch, to allow the mine cart to appear to jump the gap in the faux tracks.
(6/17/17) About a week or so ago someone posted a layout map of what Super Nintendo World might look like when built at Universal Studios Florida... and the collective internet lost their mind. I can't say for certain the exact origin of this map, as it does look like it was professionally done, but from what I've been told from a few sources, this was simply an old simple proof of concept proposal and never intended to be built exactly as shown. This may have simply been a graphic used for the initial presentation to get Nintendo on board in the first place.
The layout shown was one that was quite cluttered and really doesn't look anything at all like what we've been seeing in the official graphics from Universal thus far. Plus it looked like a good bit of the land was dedicated to smaller attractions, and even playground style structures, so bottom line... don't believe it. The map did have one thing right however, the location, where we can expect Super Nintendo Land to take over the entire KidZone area.
So time to recap what we do know about Super Nintendo World:
Multi-Level - According to comments made at the ground breaking, the lands will feature multi-level buildings and pathways, which does match up with what is being shown in the concept artwork.
Super Mario Kart - They have also confirmed that what is expected to be the primary major attraction will be one themed to Super Mario Kart. Not only is this a good choice for the action element that can be translated well into a ride, but the nature of the game also allows for the inclusion of a large number of Nintendo characters to be grouped all together.
So what about the other attractions? Well, there are only rumors so far, but the long standing rumor has been that Super Nintendo World will feature 3 attractions, or at least it will in the North American installations. There is always the chance that the one going into Japan may cutback to just two attractions due to space issues, or to allow for the inclusion of more themed shopping, dining and character interaction spaces, as the Japanese market really appreciates those kind of extras.
That said... it has been pretty clear thus far that the second attraction would have to feature the giant ape in the room... Donkey Kong. As a character, Donkey Kong is easily just as well known as Mario and the popular rumor has been about that Boom Coaster ride patent Universal filed for, with a mine kart theme that has the ability for the kart to appear to jump gaps in the track and lean to the side on two wheels, while really running on a hidden track system. As rumored before, this is expected to be something themed to the Donkey Kong Country game series.
The third ride concept? Well... not a lot has been said, and I really don't know if even the rumor going around was locked in as the final concept or not, so take this one with a grain of salt, but if the rumor holds true, the idea I kept hearing about was for a Yoshi themed interactive dark ride concept. Even better, for capacity sake, the one rumor suggested it would even be an Omnimover style ride system, something Universal really hasn't tried yet. Given that the unique feature of the Yoshi character in games is typically his ability to lash out with a long tongue and gobble up things and even spit some of them back out at targets, so you can see how this could make for a fun interactive style dark ride. Fair warning... this is just a rumor... but it sounds like a good choice to me.
As for the rest? Well, for wanting Metroid, Kirby, Zelda or even Pokemon themed stuff in the land, I just wouldn't expect it yet. Maybe for a Phase 2... or something that could even be used as a second Nintendo themed land in another park, as all those characters really live within their own pocket-universe, while I think we will see Super Nintendo World focus on the core characters that cohabitate within the primary Nintendoverse.
(6/9/17) Universal Studios Japan held an official groundbreaking cerimony for the new Super Nintendo World expansion. Unfortunately they confirmed little else that we don't already know: that it will open in 2020 before the Tokyo Olympic Games take place (July 24 to August 9, 2020) and that there will be a major attraction themed to the Super Mario Kart game series that Mark Woodbury called the "Mario Kart Experience"
A VERY brief new animated teaser was released (about 30 seconds), along with a mention that the land will be built to feature different levels to the structures that will contain the attractions, shops and restaurants. A video of the Ground Breaking Ceremony on that stage we saw being built in the parking lot was also posted to twitter which you can watch below. It features appearances by Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo).
(6/7/17) Universal Studios Japan seems to be getting ready to make a big announcement about the upcoming Super Nintendo World expansion as pictures of a Nintendo themed stage under construction in one of the park's parking lots have been posted online this week. Previously we had heard that they were once planning to have this up and running as early as mid to late 2019, so perhaps it is nearly time to begin construction, or at the very least break down some major details about the attractions in development.
Of course those details were have a major effect going forward to the US parks as well, as both Hollywood and Orlando theme parks are also to create their own Super Nintendo World areas once the Japanese prototype is finished.
(12/13/16) We finally have a confirmation from Universal Studios Japan that they will open Super Nintendo World by the summer of 2020, ahead of the Olympic games coming to Tokyo, Japan. The press release confirmed once again that this will be the first Nintendo themed land at a Universal park, which will soon be followed by Super Nintendo Worlds at Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando.
The land will be expansive and very unique, especially if it looks anything like the new piece of artwork released, it will definitely bring the video game world to life in the real world. The Japanese version will feature at least two major attractions, plus tons of interactive areas, shops and restaurants, at a cost of 50-billion Yen. It will be built mostly in an area held for future expansion of the park as well as take up some of the park's current parking area.
(12/12/16) The Orlando Business Journey has reported that several new ride patents filed by Universal offer up a hint about some future attraction concepts in the works. You can see some of the concept art from the patent forms posted in a slideshow at OBJ, though keep in mind that they are keeping the themeing and concept as generic as they can in these patent forms, and focusing on the technology aspect of what the attraction will do to make it unique enough to deserve a patent.
Breaking it down however, there are images showing off a new two-passenger car ride where the cars appear to be able to fishtail out of control and/or simulate a "drift" style turn effect. There is a driver in the front with a steering wheel while the rider in the back seat has a console of buttons in front of them instead. The obvious answer here is that this is likely a mock-up for the future Mario Kart themed ride planned as part of a future Nintendo area.
Another mock-up shows guests loaded into some kind of over-head track mounted piece of hardware that holds a number of armored flight-suits. The appearance is that it could mimic the action of a super-hero character taking flight into the sky on an adventure. Screamscape sources tell us that this concept was proposed for an attraction that isn't expected to see the light of day at this point in time, but could resurface in the future.
Two of the concepts involve waterpark technology, one that could see technology added to a mat racer style slide (either controls or a video screen to the mat itself) or the possibility of setting something up on the mat before the slide that would trigger specific effects (lights, music, etc) to personalize the experience on the way down. A second waterpark concept is also an interesting new take on the popular new 'drop pod' idea, where in this case the pod that holds the rider would begin to actually fill half-way up with water before flushing the rider and human payload down the trapdoor.
The final idea shown is something called the Boom Coaster, showing off a mine-kart themed ride car that would look as if it was attached to a track system, but in reality the car is attached to a boom arm that goes down under the cart and attaches to an entirely hidden coaster style track system below the themeing. The concept would allow for the hidden track to lean, rise and fall, affecting how the car above appears to ride on the simulated themed ride surface. For example, it would allow for a coaster to appear to 'jump' a gap in the visual track, while staying connected to the hidden track system below. According to Screamscape sources the Boom Coaster concept is also a concept Universal is eyeballing for a future Nintendo themed ride concept that would involve a wild coaster ride through the world of Donkey Kong Country which often have mine cart coaster themed levels.
Universal may have a more complex time getting a patent on the Boom Coaster concept however, as I recall what seemed to be a very similar concept floating around the internet for years called the CANTILEVERED COASTER System, and in an interview with the creator posted to Coaster101 back in 2010, the creator of the Cantilevered Coaster says they were already granted a patent for their design in 2001. While the effect would be similar, there is a difference in the track systems between the two, as the Boom Coaster only appears to have one track system, while the Cantilevered Coaster would use two separate track systems, one to hold the car while the other would control all the extra movements, not unlike how S&S/Arrow's 4th Dimension coaster system also uses two rail systems for similar reasons.
(11/30/16) Universal has announced an update regarding their deal to build Nintendo themed attractions in the future. According to the press release "the fun of Nintendo" will be brought to life via "expansive, highly themed environments" at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks.
"Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.
You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.
The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. 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."
The new Nintendo lands will feature "multiple attractions" as well as themed shops and restaurants. Planning is already well under way and while they are not yet ready to announce any dates, they did mention that each will "open separately over the next several years." An updated announcement video featuring Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) can be seen below.
As for the attractions... while things are still being planned, the early rumors indicate as many as three different attractions may be in development, one of the themes is said to be locked in for a Mario Kart themed attraction. It is worth mentioning that they only listed Universal Orlando as the site, an not one specific theme park. They also say that the first more detailed announcement to come from a specific park will happen "soon".
(7/13/16) According to an article posted by Destructoid the Mario / Nintendo section in development for Universal Studios Japan will eventually "exceed" the Harry Potter section. For comparison they say that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost the park $400 million, while the new Nintendo themed area is expected to cost over $500 million.
(3/5/16) According to the latest news posted to Kotaku, the location of the new Nintendo themed land at Universal Studios Japan will actually be immediately to the left of the main entrance, which in the location where the park has been putting many of their temporary attractions like Universal Cool Japan. I believe Monster Hunter and the Biohazard attractions are in the big special events soundstage, while I think Evangelion 4D is in the nearby 4D theater where they normally show Shrek 4D and Sesame Street 4D during the rest of the year. The area also looks to include what appears to be an employee parking lot and the turn-around for the Hollywood Dream coaster.
According to the article the Nintendo land will cost an estimated 40-billion yen ($351 million US) and they say that their goal is to have it open by 2020 in time for the when the Olympics come to Tokyo, which is expected to be between July 24 - August 9. With that in mind however, the last word from our sources indicated that 2020 was the old original opening date, and since Comcast has bought the park they have revised the time-table on many things, which would see bumped up to open in 2018 in Japan, and Diagon Alley pushed back to 2020. Either way, the two major new attraction areas should definitely lure in the tourists from the 2020 games.
(2/26/16) The world’s first Nintendo themed land will open at Universal Studios Japan in 2018. Look for a lot of character meet and greets, as well as photo ops to be placed here. As far as attractions go, a Mario Kart ride seems to be a lock-in concept, but there may be one or two other attractions under development as well… either another larger ride, or a pair of smaller themed flat rides.
(12/9/15) According to Screamscape sources the next major attraction on deck for Universal Studios Japan will be a Nintendo themed area and attraction(s). As the home turf for Nintendo, it only makes sense to drop the first Nintendo attractions into Japan first, before attempting to roll them out to the parks in the US market.
So far, the final scope of the project is unknown to me, as well as where they might try to locate it within USJ. The project could be as small as a single attraction (Mario Kart anyone?) or it could be a mini-land with a small collection of attractions of various scale and character meet & greets. Once The Flying Dinosaur coaster is up and running, hopefully we'll find out more about what's in store for bringing the world of Nintendo to life, and how soon it will happen.
???? - Diagon Alley - Planning / Delayed - (2/26/16) Much like Universal Studios Hollywood, a Diagon Alley expansion is planned to enhance the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter area sometime after 2020. Unlike the Hollywood version however, I’m told that this area will focus more on the restaurants, gift shops, characters and interactive aspects of the land, and actually will NOT include a copy of the Escape From Gringotts attraction. However, in an interesting move, it will contain a new version of the Hogwarts Express train ride experience, that promises to be a similar but plussed experience to the one in Orlando.