Costumed mascots teased as start of new long-term partnership
The Universal Studios Japan theme park and The Pokémon Company announced a new long-term partnership on Wednesday, and the first of their “multiple” collaboration projects will debut in the park next year. The companies teased that Pokémon characters will appear as “companions” — the term for the park’s costumed mascot performers — in 2022. (The image below is from the annual Pikachu Outbreak event in Yokohama in 2018.)
Orlando television station WFTV had reported in April 2018 that Universal Studios planned to add a Pokémon area to the KidZone in its Orlando Resort theme park in Florida. The report said the area would open in 2020, but the area has yet to appear.
Universal Studios Japan already has a Super Nintendo World area which officially opened on March 18. The park had originally planned to open the area in late July 2020, in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but delayed the opening to prevent crowding, as a countermeasure against the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to NHK, the park is investing over 6 billion yen (about US$56 million) in the new area to raise attendance to record levels. Construction began in 2017.
The first phase of the Super Nintendo World area opened with two rides named “Super Mario Kart Ride” and “Yoshi’s Adventures.” Visitors to the attractions are given magnetic Powerup Bands that allow visitors to interact with the attractions, such as hitting real-life “? Blocks.” The wristbands are able to keep track of scores (including a park-wide ranking board), coins, and stars from various rides, and they can interact with a “game console.” A Donkey Kong-themed expansion with a roller coaster, interactive experiences, themed merchandise, and food. will open in 2024.
The effort is part of the larger planned Nintendo-themed initiative that Universal is adding to its theme parks. Universal Studios‘ Epic Universal theme park in Orlando is scheduled to open in early 2025. Epic Universal is slated to include Super Nintendo World.
Universal Studios Japan‘s other attractions include those themed around Hello Kitty. It has been hosting Detective Conan World attractions from March 12 to August 29. In the past, it has hosted limited-time attractions for One Piece, Final Fantasy, Evangelion, Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Z, Monster Hunter, and other franchises.