How much longer are we going to have to wait for the world’s first Nintendo theme park zone?

With coronavirus infection numbers gradually declining, facilities in Japan that shut down in the early stages of the pandemic are slowly starting to reopen. For example, this month Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan began taking visitors again after being completely closed for more than three months.

That should be an exciting development not only for movie fans, but for video game ones too, right? After all, construction for Universal Studios Japan’s gigantic Super Nintendo World expansion, the first theme park area dedicated entirely to the video game pioneer’s characters and worlds, is reportedly almost complete, and the most recent Super Nintendo World preview video promised a summer 2020 opening.

Ah, watching that video now is a nostalgic trip back to the simpler, bygone era of…January of this year. Made when the coronavirus was still primarily just a mainland China health issue, the “Super Nintendo World area opens at Universal Studios Japan this summer!” promise isn’t nearly as feasible now, and so Universal Studios Japan has officially announced that it is delaying Super Nintendo World’s opening, citing potential difficulties in crowd control and implementing other social distancing rules to help lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Though the preview video is obviously a stylized version of the guest experience, and the real Super Nintendo World probably won’t have guests running shoulder-to-shoulder in dozens-strong packs through obstacle courses, Super Nintendo World still figures to be a massively popular part of the park when it opens. Having to limit entrance into the part of the park that pretty much every visitor most wants to see would be a huge challenge, and even if it could be sorted out, a bunch of people saying “I came to see Super Nintendo World, but really I spent almost the whole day just waiting to get in” isn’t the sort of early-visitor buzz USJ would want.

There’s also the economic angle to consider. Even though Universal Studios Japan is reopening, it’s doing so with a number of guidelines to help lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission. Daily admittance to the park will be capped, and currently only residents of Osaka, Kyoto, and the four nearby prefectures of Hyogo, Shiga, Nara, and Wakayama are allowed in. Universal Studios Japan didn’t spend 60 billion yen (US$560 million) on Super Nintendo World so that just a few people could see it. It’s a massive investment, and as such the park no doubt wants as many visitors as possible checking out all it has to offer. Rather than a severely limited opening for Super Nintendo World that makes it old news by the time it actually becomes an option for most people, USJ likely sees postponing its grand opening so that it can be new and shiny for all as both the wiser public health choice and the better business move.

So now the question becomes if Super Nintendo World isn’t opening this summer when is it? Unfortunately, Universal Studios Japan has given no indication of any sot of revised timetable. If summer is out, the next major vacation period is late-December/early-January, but a middle-of-winter opening for a theme park area, where guests are going to spend a lot of time outside, could be a tough sell. Late April 2021 would match up with Japan’s Golden Week vacation period, but we might end up seeing the opening of Super Nintendo World pushed back for an entire year, since it’s original opening was meant to come right before the Tokyo Olympics, letting it capitalize on the influx of foreign tourist to Japan, and with the Games now delayed until summer of 2021, Super Nintendo World might be too.

Well, at least we can build our own Super Mario worlds with those new Lego sets while we wait.

Source: NHK News Web via Jin
Images: YouTube/Nintendo
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