As someone with no idea when I'll be able to sit in the same room as a friend again, let alone safely experience a theme park, I'm not getting too worked up about Super Nintendo World in Osaka, Japan. Then again, with the release of some new photos alongside today's announcement of the park's imminent opening on Feb. 4, 2021, it might be hard to suppress a sigh of longing from your inner child.
I mean, just look at the place. We've finally moved past blurry phone pictures and 3D-rendered advertising images of what Universal Studios Japan's newest area will look like to colorful, wondrous photos of what the Mario-themed park will actually look like. The main plaza, with its blocky brown hills and Bowser's castle looming in the distance, is absolutely stunning. Likewise, there's something delightfully surreal about seeing the life-size Mario Kart attraction after zooming the little Home Circuit RC car around my apartment.
Fantastic Mushroom Kingdom sights and rides aside, the big gimmick of Super Nintendo Land is that it'll be an augmented reality experience of sorts. When the first visitors enter the park come February, they'll be given wristbands that interact with a smartphone app, allowing them to collect coins and power-ups hidden around the park.
The new Nintendo attractions were originally set to open over the summer, but the pandemic put those plans on pause. Japan tentatively began reopening its established parks around the same time, but at least one park (Fujiyoshida's Fuji-Q Highland) asked visitors to avoid screaming while on roller coasters in an effort to minimize spread of COVID-19.
Even before the virus made its presence known stateside, the prospect of visiting a Nintendo theme park in America was a far-off one. There are plans to open Super Nintendo Worlds at Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood, but there's absolutely nothing solid about their timing—in the case of the former, Florida theme park resource Orlando Informer reports that the Nintendo attractions will open sometime after 2024.