UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/1/17) Universal Studios Japan - Nintendo Construction, Wizarding World Christmas and More (MORE...)
(11/11/17) Super Nintendo World Construction Update (MORE...)
(11/1/17) Universal Studios Japan Adding New Night Parade In 2018 (MORE...)
(9/22/17) Final Fantasy VR Coaster (MORE...)
Park News - (12/1/17) A new video from Yukendoit shows off some construction on Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, as well as a peek at the upcoming Final Fantasy coaster overlay coming to the Space Fantasy coaster. Oh, and he also goes into the Wizarding World for a look at the Christmas decor, and to watch that park's own unique projection show on the castle. You can watch the entire Japanese Christmas projection show in the second video clip below, which is kind of strange as they include some of the same elements from the American version of the show, but add their own custom segments and feature live actors in front of the castle on a stage as well.
(9/22/17) According to an update sent our way the upcoming Final Fantasty themed attraction coming to Universal Cool Japan 2018 will actually be called Final Fantasty XR Ride and will be a VR Coaster experience. Guests will appear to board airships and go on an adventure that will transport them through several Final Fantasy themed worlds while taking a spin on the park's indoor Space Fantasty spinning coaster. The coaster has been used twice before for other VR enhanced attractions during Universal Cool Japan events... first for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and later for an Evangelion themed adventure.
(9/14/17) Universal Studios Japan is gearing up for their fourth year of Universal Cool Japan to begin on January 19th, 2018 through June 24, 2018. I'm told that Monster Hunter Case Closed/Detective Conan will be returning along with new attractions themed to Sailor Moon and Final Fantasy. One note however, that the Sailor Moon attraction will apparently not be ready to launch with the rest in January, but will join the lineup sometime during the Spring.
(7/30/17) Details for Halloween Horror Nights 2017 at Universal Studios Japan seems to have been posted already on the official website. The list of haunts seems to include something called Deadman's Forest which kind of features an almost The Walking Dead style vibe to the artwork without being officially The Walking Dead. Most of the other haunts will feature characters from famous American horror films with: Cult of Chucky, Nightmare of Elm Street - The Maze 3, and Exorcist. There are a couple of "theater" based attractions as well, one called Sadako in the Terminator 2:3-D theater (Sadako is the Japanese name of the long haired ghost-girl from The Ring series of films. The other theater attraction is something called "School Ghost Story" that takes place in the park's 4D Theater. There is also what appears to be an upcharge / high intensity haunt called Trauma 3, described as the "Worst Containment Laboratory" where you will witness "human experiments" and "creatures that attack everywhere." According to Google Translate you also need to sign a "pledge" before you experience this one, though I wonder if this is more like signing a waiver. Meanwhile it sounds like the scare zones will be a bunch of roaming zombie hordes with different themed groups spread throughout the park.
(3/1/17) Comcast NBCUniversal has announced that the company has agreed to purchase the remaining 49% ownership of Universal Studios Japan from their current partners, whcih include Goldman Sachs, former USJ Chief Executive Officer Glenn Gumpel, Asian private-equity firm MBK Partners and U.S. hedge fund Owl Creek Asset Management. The purchase price is reported at ¥254.8 billion (US$2.3 billion) which will give Comcast NBCUniversal 100% ownership of the Japanese theme park when the deal closes before the end of April 2017.
January 2017 - Universal Cool Japan 2017 - (1/23/17) A great but quick highlight reel of the Universal Cool Japan 2017 attractions has been posted by local reader, Yukendoit. Check it out below.
(12/5/16) A very detailed breakdown of everything coming to Universal Cool Japan 2017, including a look at some exclusive merchandise and themed food items, can be found over at RocketNews24 this week.
(11/19/16) Universal Studios Japan has confirmed that a new themed "Escape" game will be added to Universal Cool Japan 2017 themed to "Detective Conan". (Apparently this another Japanese Anime program, and not the world famous Conan The Barbarian character that first jumped into my mind's eye (and now I can't get him to leave...) The attraction will come with an extra cost and be open from Jan. 13 through to May 28th.
Looks like the official attraction lineup for this year's event is complete: headlined by Godzilla: The Real 4D, along with Evangelion XR Ride, Attack on Titan: The Real, Monster Hunter: The Real, Detective Conan - The Escape and the off-site event taking place at Osaka Castle.
One more fun note... the Evangelion XR Ride attraction will be a VR Coaster experience taking place on the park's Space Fantasty indoor spinning coaster.
(10/19/16) Universal Studios Japan has released more details about the 2017 Universal Cool Japan event taking place from Jan. 13 to June 25. In addition to the previously announced Godzilla: The Real 4D attraction, other new attractions announced are Evangelion XR Ride and another Attack on Titan: The Real attraction that will bring the Armored Titan and Colossus Titan into an attraction storyline.
(8/2/16) Universal Studios Japan has announced the first details about "Universal Cool Japan 2017". This year's line-up is starting with the king himself... Godzilla: The Real 4-D, a new custom 4D confrontation with the giant 118.5 meter tall king of monsters himself starting in January 13, 2017.
2018 - Universal Spectacle Night Parade - Best of Hollywood - (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.
2017 - Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem - Confirmed -
(10/20/16) Universal Studios Japan decided to re-announce their new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction (replacing Back To The Future) along with a new addition... the official name for the themed area surrounding the attraction will be called Minion Park. This will be the largest 'Minion' themed area in the world and include, "Several themed facilities, including a toy store, sweets factory and hotel, will be in the area around the attraction. Of course, these facilities have already been "taken over" by the Minions themselves, who journey alongside guests through Minion Park via a winding, center passage."
Minion Park and the new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction are set to open in Early 2017.
(6/22/16) Universal Studios Japan has confirmed that they will open the World's Largest Minion Area in 2017 to replace the now closed Back To The Future attraction.
The park's Back To The Future ride will be converted into the world's largest version of the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride, along with a Minion themed shop and more.
(6/3/16) Our friends at Behind the Thrills scoured the net to find photos and videos of the closing of Universal Studios Japan's Back To The Future ride and did not disappoint. The Japanese cosplayers were out in force in a variety of wacky costumes at the park as everyone swarmed in for one last ride "Back To The Future" until Doc climbed into the time machine one final time and drove off into history.
(4/1/16) It has been confirmed by Universal Studios Japan that their Back To The Future: The Ride attraction will close forever on May 31st. The park will announce details of the official "Goodbye campaign" they will hold for the ride in the near future. While they did not announce what would replace it, they did say that the building would undergo renovation after it closes. Should be interesting to see what might replace it, thought I'm still wondering if it could work as a new version of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, as the Minions are quite popular in Japan.
2020 - Super Nintendo World - Confirmed -
(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 - (2/26/16) Much like Universal Studios Hollywood, a Diagon Alley expansion is planned to enhance the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter area in 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.