Universal Orlando Resort Expansion?

The Orlando Business Journal is reporting that a couple of Orange County commissioners have revealed that Universal Orlando Resort is one of the interested parties in purchasing 450-plus acres of land, not far from the existing Universal theme parks. If successful, the land grab would add to the 800 acres already occupied by Universal’s two theme parks, multiple hotels, and its upcoming water park opening in 2017.

What could Universal possibly be planning that would require so much property? Well, if you recall back in May Nintendo announced a partnership with Universal Parks to create the world’s first-ever theme park attractions based on Nintendo’s games and characters. Many have speculated where these new rides and attractions could fit into the current layout of the Florida theme park. While it’s true some of the existing infrastructure could be converted to Nintendo-themed areas, it would make sense that Universal wants to expand its reach by adding a third park. There simply isn’t enough room to grow given its current landlocked status.


Adding 450 acres of land would open up huge opportunities for Universal Florida, one of which would undoubtedly be the opening of Nintendoland (or whatever they’d like to call it). The official press release from Nintendo:

Nintendo and Universal Parks & Resorts today announced plans to bring the world of Nintendo to life at Universal theme parks – creating spectacular, dedicated experiences based on Nintendo’s wildly popular games, characters and worlds.

The agreement brings two icons of entertainment together and represents a significant partnership for Nintendo as it expands the reach and popularity of its characters and intellectual property.

Universal theme parks offer incredibly popular, innovative themed family entertainment experiences based on compelling stories and characters – using powerful storytelling and innovative technology. Nintendo has created remarkable and imaginative worlds filled with captivating stories and beloved characters. Now, for the first time, those stories and characters will be brought to life in entirely new ways – only at Universal theme parks.

The immersive experiences will include major attractions at Universal’s theme parks and will feature Nintendo’s most famous characters and games. More details will be announced in the future, as the Nintendo and Universal creative teams work to create specific concepts.

One can easily imagine exploring the cobblestone streets of Kakariko Village while sipping down a Red Potion. Assuming you find your way through the Lost Woods, it’s a bit of a hike up to Goron City. Don’t worry, the way back is even more treacherous via the runaway mine carts.

Once you’re back to safety, you may want to relax and take in some fishing, or go dig for fossils in the Animal Crossing pavilion. You can even design your own T-Shirt alongside the Abel Sisters.

If you’re itching for more of a thrill, check out the new interactive Go-kart track featuring the latest vehicles from Mario Kart. There are 16 karts per race, with two people per vehicle. One navigates the twisty course (which has three different configurations depending on the line you’re in), and the other activates the power-ups via a touchscreen panel. Spin out your rivals behind you with a banana peel, temporarily scramble the other racers’ power-up screens, or even target the leader with the dreaded blue shell, which kills the motor for a few seconds, allowing you to catch up.

For the serious riders out there, you’ll want to line up for Star Fox Space Adventures. This indoor rollercoaster places you into an Arwing space battle. You’ll experience what it feels like to pilot this futuristic spacecraft while taking part in an epic space chase, complete with barrel rolls and interactive controls that put the enemies in your crosshairs.

Over in the Mushroom Kingdom, past Princess Peach’s Castle and the bright colorful scenery is a dark and mysterious mansion, overrun with poltergeists. Who you gonna call? Luigi, of course! This interactive ride will slowly move you through the vast haunted mansion. Grab your vacuum and suck up the ghosts before they overtake the entire park.

What would Nintendoland be without an arcade? Visit 9-Volts Arcade to see the latest and greatest arcade machines, as well as historical units ready for play. Experience the original Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Popeye, and even some of the NES games via the PlayChoice 10 coin-ops. Look out for some original arcade action exclusive to the park featuring the characters from the Warioware series.

After taking in some authentic Italian food at Mario’s Pizzeria and gobbling up some exotic fruit bars from Yoshi’s Tropical Freeze, you might be in the mood to crash land on an alien planet to take on some Metroids. Or, perhaps your little tykes might be more interested in the life-size Pikmin maze? An older group might want to take in a round of Mario Golf or Tennis. Whatever your fancy, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what could be waiting for you at Nintendoland.

It’s way too soon to know what will come of the partnership between Nintendo and Universal. This land acquisition is just a rumor, and even if it becomes fact, there’s no guarantee that the focus of a new park would be Nintendo. We will just have to wait and see what develops.

Craig Majaski

Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He's currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.

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