Sorry, Donkey Kong, but your opening date is in another part of the year.

When Universal Studios Japan opened its Super Nintendo World expansion, pretty much everyone assumed its recreation of the Mushroom Kingdom was only the beginning of the partnership between the Osaka theme park and Kyoto video game developer. Super Mario is just one of Nintendo’s many iconic franchises, so surely new attractions from other game series would be coming eventually, right?

And sure enough, just six months after Super Nintendo World’s opening, USJ announced that the expansion was getting an expansion of its own in the form of a brand-new Donkey Kong Country area. In December of last year a preview video was finally released, and USJ said fans would be able to visit the new area in the spring of this year, which many people took as a sign that Donkey Kong Country would be ready by Golden Week, the series of late-April/early-May holidays that are one of Japan’s three big vacation periods/travel times.

But USJ has been silent since then, until Friday when it made an announcement that some had already braced themselves for: Donkey Kong Country’s opening is being delayed, and isn’t going to happen this spring.

“Construction for the expansion has already progressed to the final stages,” says the park in the announcement posted to its website, “but in order to add even more polish and even more fully realize our vision to provide an unprecedentedly enjoyable experience, we have determined that an additional amount of time is necessary for the finishing touches. We deeply apologize to everyone who has been waiting so patiently.”

For now, USJ is only saying that Donkey Kong World will open in “the second half of 2024.”

▼ The park also announced the delay through its Twitter account

In some ways, the delay is surprising. Against, say, the fantasy environments of The Legend of Zelda or science fiction setting of Metroid, Donkey Kong Country seems like it should be a comparatively simple construction project, as it’s basically a jungle aesthetic with a fair bit of art design overlap with Super Mario, which Universal Studios is now already familiar with. At the same time, the expansion includes what USJ describes as “an innovative new roller coaster” modeled on the mine cart levels from the Donkey Kong Country games, with early concept art of the attraction showing both indoor and outdoor sections, and even a spot where the cart appears to jump over a gap in the tracks. The overall size of the expansion isn’t tiny either, as Donkey Kon Country will be roughly 70 percent as big as the Mushroom Kingdom.

▼ The Donkey Kong Country area (yellow) within the combined Super Nintendo World (red)

Twitter reactions to the announcement have included:

“I figured a delay was going to be announced, but I didn’t expect it to be all the way to the second half of the year.”
“Man, I was hoping to go during Golden Week…”
“I bet that cart coaster is taking more time than they thought to get just right.”
“Ah, my annual pass is going to expire before then, but I’m still definitely going to go when Donkey Kong Country opens!”
“Even if they can’t open in the spring, if they’ve already got the Donkey Kong merch designed, they should start selling it!”

Overall, the reaction seems to be bummed out but understanding. After all, as those who’ve visited Super Nintendo World will tell you, so much of the charm of the place comes from all the little details that really make it feel like you’ve stepped into the game’s world, so if the wait for Donkey Kong Country takes a few more months, odds are it’ll be worth it.

Source: Universal Studios Japan via IT Media, Twitter/@USJ_Official
Images: Universal Studios Japan
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