Nintendo World Rides

You can learn a lot about theme park patents. Or nothing at all.

Like with any industry, Disney and Universal Studios (as well as their various competitors) tend to file many patents for technology that they don’t even intend to utilize in the near future. They just want to make sure they have a particular ride system or show mechanic or aerial entertainment drone in their library, just in case. But we do know that Universal is bringing Nintendo characters into their theme parks and that the Universal Studios Japan version of Super Nintendo World is expected to open its doors before 2020. With this knowledge in mind, a few of the company’s most recent patents start to look very, very interesting.

The truth is that we know very little about Super Nintendo World beyond that name, an early piece of concept art, and promises of extensive (and interactive) theming. However, everything that has been said so far (“Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life; Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you”) has indicated a strong emphasis on the Super Mario characters. And wouldn’t you know it, there just-so-happens to be a Mario series that lends itself perfectly well to high speeds and fast turns and such.

So let’s start with the “drift race” patent, a ride vehicle built for two riders that is built to simulate a “drifting” effect. One rider would have control over the steering and speed of the vehicle while the other rider could provide the vehicle with various boosts and hinder other vehicles. This sounds an awful lot like Mario Kart, where players take control of Nintendo characters as they race around detailed tracks, assaulting each other with silly weapons. This is certainly not a confirmation that Universal Creative is developing a Mario Kart ride, but this is the exact kind of tech you’d develop if you wanted to create an immersive racing experience based on that property.

The next patent is hilariously specific to a certain classic Nintendo game. This is the “boom coaster,” a ride vehicle that appears to be traveling along a track but is actually operated by a mechanical arm. This means the vehicle could “leap” over obstructions, simulating death-defying aerial maneuvers over holes in the tracks. In other words, it sounds exactly like those mine cart from Donkey Kong Country, where you navigated a crumbling mine on a track that has seen better days. I’ve got to hand it to Universal on this one – this is kind of brilliant and unexpected.

Less obvious is this patent for a ride system that literally puts you inside a suspended robot suit, a design that looks like a more personalized version of the suspended simulator technology used for Soarin’ at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Although the art in the patent looks suspiciously like Iron Man (quiet shade being tossed at Disney, who are just about to open a new Iron Man ride at Hong Kong Disneyland?), nothing would please me more than to learn that this is a Metroid ride, with riders wearing armor similar to that of the series’ heroine, Samus Aran. But unlike the other two patents, this one doesn’t feel like it has a completely obvious Nintendo companion.

Universal also filed patents for two new waterpark attractions, both of which look like they’ll be right at home in their new Volcano Bay waterpark. You can check those out over at the Orlando Business Journal, who have additional information about these patents.

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