CNN Correspondent Selina Wang visited the newly-opened Super Nintendo World to show off the theme park, as well as detailing some of its COVID policies. She even managed to get a ride on the AR Mario Kart track, “Koopa’s Challenge”, which is more than many visitors will get – VGC noted that the queue was bigger than the park itself.
“I’ve been speaking to attendees,” said Wang in the news segment, “and many of them have been playing Nintendo games since they were kids. Some of them say that it’s actually emotional to walk in there and see their childhood games really coming to life.”
Originally, the park was due to open in the Summer of 2020, to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, but obviously, that didn’t happen. The fact that Japan is closed to international travel means that the park isn’t bringing in the huge numbers of tourists and boosting the country’s economy, as was originally planned.
Photo opportunities, and other designated “mask-free zones”, are heavily monitored to ensure that visitors maintain a distance from each other and the park’s mascots, as well as not being allowed to touch. Instead of the Disney-style photos of kids hugging the costumed characters, you’re much more likely to get a photo of Mario and Luigi standing at a respectable distance, like awkward teens at a prom.
Wang notes that the park cost half a billion dollars, and that the gaming industry as a whole has been earning big bucks during the pandemic as one of the few activities you can still do at home.
“For Nintendo, this is an important step beyond its core business of video games and consoles,” says Wang. “It’s cashing in on its treasure trove of intellectual property and iconic characters.” As a Reddit commenter on the video says: “basically, Nintendo is printing money in an industry that is currently struggling,” referring to the theme park industry.