At least according to Shigeru Miyamoto that is. Okay, it’s not exactly a priority for the company and is more of a ‘as possible as winning the lottery’ chance of happening thing, but he did at least confirm the idea has the remotest chance of happening some time in the future. Here’s his original quote:
ABC: “Nintendo Land” very much teased us, and everyone wants to actually go to Nintendo Land in person. Have you ever been approached about a Mario theme-park, or is that ever something you would consider in real life?
Miyamoto: Certainly, with Nintendo being in the entertainment industry, there may come some point in the future where that might become a possibility. But right now we’ve got our hands full creating our digital products. Certainly, it’s not an impossibility.
But that said, what should a Nintendo theme park be like if Nintendo ever really did go ahead with it? And what’s the chances of it actually happening? Here are my thoughts on both matters…
First of all, I don’t honestly see it happening in the foreseeable future. Will it happen before Nintendo closes down some unknown time ahead? Most likely, Nintendo themselves have a tendency to survive near enough anything and are the perfect company for a theme park in general. But as of this moment in time, the chances of it happening are very slim.
Why? Because Nintendo isn’t currently doing as well as it could be. The 3DS is doing decent, the Wii U is failing miserably in many regions and games aren’t exactly flying off the shelves at the current moment in time. So on that note, it seems like a pretty bad time to get into the (ludicrously expensive and hard to run) theme park business (especially if your plan is to run something like Disney Land, Disney World or Universal Studios).
In fact, I think the best time for Nintendo to start a theme park was actually a few years ago. You had the DS and Wii flying off shelves, Nintendo was basically a worldwide household name and they presumably had stacks of money to throw at increasingly insane concepts. So then, I think Nintendo could have easily rustled out the necessary cash and backing for a major theme park project. Now? Not so much until the Wii U truly catches on.
Above: Outselling the Vita, Wii and PC in the UK would be nice.
But enough said about the possibility and likelyhood, how about the content? After all, theme parks may be a massive money sink off the bat (many, many companies have failed to open one altogether despite millions of dollars of investment and years of effort), but they do seem like a potential money earner for a company like Nintendo. I mean, have you seen the prices for things like Disney World? And Nintendo is a company that’s very big on the merchandise and buyable extras, so just ending every ride in a gift shop would probably bring in a considerable amount of cash). Well, I think a few ideas about that too:
1. Don’t make it based off Nintendo Land
No offence to anyone who likes the game (and from what I hear it is a good game), but the content of the game is just repellant for most people. For Nintendo fans, they don’t want freaking Miis and robotic attempts at Nintendo universes done in a bland and lifeless art style. And for non Nintendo fans… it’s not exactly as mainstream or acceptable as sports or fitness were as concepts, and the look puts them off as well.
Above: Nintendo Land just isn’t appealing to many people.
So I think a Nintendo theme park would do best if it was directly based on their franchises rather than trying to be some halfway house between ‘Nintendo fandom’ and ‘generic theme park’.
And come on, everyone would want rides and places based off of the Mario, Zelda or Pokemon series, right? You could seriously just open a Donkey Kong theme mine cart rollercoaster and a Luigi’s Mansion/Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon themed haunted house and get Nintendo fans lining around round the next few blocks. Nintendo is basically the gaming equivalent to Disney with all their different series and works, so if anyone could make a decent theme park based on their work its theme.
2. Don’t make it based in Japan
I know, Nintendo is based in Japan and all that stuff, but let’s face it:
Nintendo probably has more fans from outside Japan than living there
Especially if we’re talking Zelda or Metroid ones. So I think a US based theme park would probably get higher rates of attendance than a Japan based one.
Oher reasons for this are the following:
A: Land is cheaper in the US. Which is rather useful if you plan to run the next Disney World or Universal Studios given the ridiculous amount of said land you’ll end up having to buy. If Nintendo attempts to build a theme park the size of one of the US ones, it could quite easily near bankrupt them with the ridiculous price of Japanese real estate.
B: Other major theme parks are based nearby (especially if you can set up this Nintendo theme park in the same general region as Disney World and Universal Studios). Yes I know Tokyo has its own version of Disney Land/World, but what’s more attractive to your average Joe:
Buying a ticket to an area with one or two theme parks and few attractions
Buying a ticket to an area with TONs of theme parks and many othe local attractions?
The latter in my opinion. If you build it near enough to Disney World or Universal Studios Resort, you could capitalise on the people visiting the area to visit those already established theme parks rather than other to try to market Japan as the next big tourist destination.
C: The US speaks English as its first language, and a fair amount of the world knows at least a certain amount of it. That’s not saying Japanese isn’t a popular one, but you have to be practical; most tourists know a least certain amount of English and would hence find it easier to navigate in an area where the basic signs and stuff are done in English by someone who can speak the language semi well. Additionally, it means that your staff will probably speak it to a decent standard as well, which is useful when dealing with people who don’t many other languages and need instructions to kept fairly clear. Yes I do know people in Japan get taught a certain amount in English when in school, but there’s still a big difference between ‘can speak/understand any of the language’ and ‘can speak it fluently’. Hell, I learnt some ‘foreign languages’ in school, but it doesn’t mean I could figure out how to hold a decent discussion in French or Italian. You can just as easily ‘pass’ any ‘necessary’ language classes with the lowest possible grade as do well, so a significant amount of people for whom English is a secondary language may only just about understand a few words/key phrases.
Above: About 122-123 million speak Japanese. About 328 million speak English, with up to 1.5 billion speaking it as a first or second language combined. Hence it’d be best any internationally popular theme park is based somewhere with the latter as the ‘official’ language.
It’s very much important for a theme park or event given that the staff need to be able to communicate with most possible guests/visitors in a way that’s understandable. So as well as English, such a theme park would also need a significant amount of Japanese, Chinese and Arabic speakers among others. You do not want to make it so communication is difficult or limited.
3. Base the park on all Nintendo series
Nintendo has the most varied franchises of any company in the video game industry, so they should try and make sure any theme park isn’t just ‘the Mario park’ or ‘the Pokemon theme park’ (like that old Japanese one they had going a few years back). This is because of two things:
A: Variety in rides and attractions. Sure the likes of a Mario Kart themed go-kart track, Luigi’s Mansion themed haunted house or a Bowser’s Castle themed rollercoaster ride would be awesome, but never forget how many awesome ideas you could have based on the likes of Star Fox, F-Zero, Wario or Excitebike too. Heck, just look at Disney and Universal for a moment, some of their most well known and successful rides are actually based on films and series which are nowhere near break out successes.
B: Not everyone who buys Nintendo consoles is a Mario, Zelda or Pokemon fan. Many are, but there are still a significant amount who have no interest in any of these three series and would hence have no incentive to visit a theme park purely based on them.
So yes, try not to make any Nintendo theme park just based on the more popular Nintendo series, have rides and attractions based on all of them.
4. Take Advantage of Nintendo’s sytems and technology
Because come on, if there’s ever a great time and place to show off the wonders of things like Augumented Reality, StreetPass, SpotPass and Miiverse, it’s a whole theme park dedicated to Nintendo where nearly everyone in the area would have some interest in their games and series.
Some obvious things to do would be simple. For one thing, have some sort of app you can download that shows people an interactive map of the park and relevant information about the rides and attractions. Nintendo’s already got this stuff for museums like the Louvre, so they should take advantage of the concept for their equivalent to Disney World.
SpotPass should also be in use a lot here. Maybe make it so videos and games based on events and rides could be downloaded once you’ve gone on them, allowing you to relive the experience on the 3DS (in virtual form if necessary). There should also be more general content to download, sort of like a cross between Nintendo Zone and Nintendo Video.
StreetPass could be encouraged to. Encourage any local StreetPass groups to base themselves in the park rather than some ‘public’ venue outside of it and capitalise on anyone who visits often. Make it so every employee in the park (both the character performers and the general staff working on things like rides) has a 3DS with StreetPass so that hits are extremely common. Make it so there’s also a practical reason to attend such a park (in that you can easily obliterate any games with Play Coins, StreetPassed Miis, etc).
Augumented Reality could have some interesting uses here too. Maybe you get a reward or something if you find the various hidden things throughout the park by having either a special app active or the 3DS camera in near constant use. Sort of like a cross between a treasure hunt and either Pokemon Dream Radar or Spirit Camera.
Finally, emphasise 3DS connectivity and data transferring in a big way. Like having it so in the Pokemon attractions, the Pokemon you use for things like holographic battles or whatever are the actual Pokemon you have on your team at the time. Maybe with different tiers and games which either allow or disallow ‘uber’ Pokemon like Mewtwo or Arceus. You could even challenge the real life gym leader/elite four equivalents if you’re up to it (note that your Pokemon would be set to the same level as your opponents).
It’s not just games with character ‘customisation’ that could be utilised here either. Take the likes of Mario Kart 7. Remember how you can record your own ghosts and race them? Well imagine if you could do that in real life. You’d download the special course which was identical to the real go kart track, choose your character and kart and record your own time there, then get to race your virtual self in the real world! Think you’re really hot stuff in the ‘real world’? Try beating your in game time trial records!
And if that’s easy? Try beating the expert staff ghost in the real go kart! Could be a really fun challenge, with Nintendo giving out a reward or trophy if you actually manage to win!
There are lots of other cool uses for this too, so here’s hoping Nintendo considers the idea if they ever start up a new theme park.
5. Use the opportunity to come up with some new ideas
Obviously most of the rides and attractions should be based on Nintendo franchises, but how about doing what Disney did and coming up with some original ideas too? After all, not only could it be a great opportunity to come up with new fictional worlds and characters to use in marketing and the like, but you could actually make new video game franchises based on the more original rides.
Like Disney did with Pirates of Caribbean…
Above: From a theme park ride to a massive blockbuster franchise making millions for Disney.
Or the Haunted Mansion…
Above: From a theme park ride to two films and comics.
It’d both shut up the ‘Nintendo has no new ideas’ people and give the company some more IPs to come up with original gameplay ideas for. It’s a win both ways.
Finally, here are some ideas for rides and attractions based off of each Nintendo attraction:
Luigi’s Mansion Haunted House: It’s be suggested tons of times, and it seems like the perfect idea. Give each player a Poltergust and torch, and have them wander around a spooky mansion with creepy music while catching holographic ghosts.
Above: Admit it, this and the original = perfect Haunted House ride. It’d be better than Disney’s actual Haunted Mansion ride.
Bowser’s Castle Rollercoaster: Because Bowser’s Castle is the perfect location for an epic ride, so what better one than a heavily themed rollercoaster? You’d narrowly dodge Thwomps, firebars, spike pillars and other traps, careen past enemies like Dry Bones, Boos and Koopas and even just narrowly avoid Bowser before reaching the end!
Above: Mushroom Kingdom Fusion’s Hell Prominence could be a good model for this.
Mario Kart Go-Karts: Go-karts, except with Mario Kart influences. As I mentioned above, letting you race your own ghosts would be interesting, but other changes would be the ability to use items in some clever way as well as just racing directly. Perhaps there’d also be Bumper Cars based on battle mode complete with the ‘last man standing’ thing.
Not sure. Perhaps a rollercoaster related to one of the temples could work well, or a log plume ride based on that Lake Hylia section from Twilight Princess. There’d also be a more shopping/town themed area based on Kakariko Village and Hyrule Castle Town too.
Pokemon World Tournament: Not a ride in the typical sense, more like a sort of large screen battle arena where you get to pit your own teams against those of other people and employees representing gym leaders and elite four. Maybe have the person who wins that day act as the champion for the next one, which would make it a much more competitive challenge.
Above: Sort of like a real world version of this.
Pokemon Snap Challenge: Something akin to a virtual/artificial safari, since the whole photo taking design of said game seems perfect for a theme park attraction. Perhaps with some way of having your photos rated based on their quality like in the original game.
Mine Cart Rollercoaster: Just look at the average mine cart level in a Donke Kong Country game. Now imagine if something even remotely as good was a rollercoaster attraction…
The rollercoaster levels could be good too:
These levels could be interesting settings for a rollercoaster for other reasons too. Imagine if you just NARROWLY dodged smashing into the wall before it opened, that’d be far more interesting than most rollercoasters where you can see the entire track is ‘safe’ ahead of you.
Not to mention that the amount of decoration and what not could make it far more interesting than the somewhat barren look most rollercoaster rides have.
I honestly don’t know. A rollercoaster could be interesting, but it’s a bit cliche. Maybe a walk through ride with the shooting stuff from Univeral’s Men in Black ride?
Some sort of virtual reality ride: Not sure what kind, but one which gives the illusion and feel of flying through space in an Arwing while banter from the other Star Fox team members appears at the bottom right and you blast away at enemies and bosses from the series for extra points.
So those are my ideas for Nintendo themed theme park rides and attractions. There would obviously be far more in a real theme park (most of the above are aimed squarely at older audiences and a theme park does also have to appeal to younger kids who want less action packed rides), but the ones above could be a good start. And as for restaurants, the characters featured and shops, that’s a whole another article in itself (albeit a harder one to write given the complete lack of restaurants in any actual Nintendo series).
Above: Super Smash Bros Melee’s Test Stage is probably the only Nintendo restaurant I can remember.
Either way, Nintendo has sort of confirmed a theme park isn’t an impossible dream, so the chances of one getting made slowly get better and better. Would you want a real life Nintendo theme park? And if so, what rides and attractions would you want there to be in it?