Nintendo has long considered making theme-park rides, but it finally agreed to move ahead after seeing what Universal did with Harry Potter.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed today that he met with NBCUniversal, the media and entertainment company responsible for dozens of popular television and film properties, in April 2014. It was in that meeting that NBCUniversal proposed the idea of its theme-park division building attractions based on the Japanese video game company’s properties, like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Although Iwata didn’t say what else he discussed with the studio, he did explain how the conglomerate convinced Nintendo to move ahead with a partnership.

“Even inside Nintendo, the possibility had been discussed several times,” Iwata said during a meeting with investors. “But we had not made this a reality because, on each occasion, the time was not ripe yet or we were not able to find an appropriate partner with whom to work. In the case of our first meeting with Universal Parks & Resorts, they provided us with a very detailed proposal right from the beginning. Also, as we met right after they had opened the Harry Potter attractions, we were able to learn precisely how they had been created.”

Iwata said that those Harry Potter exhibits enabled Nintendo to figure out whether Universal had the right culture to deliver high-quality attractions linked to Nintendo. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is based on a property that Universal doesn’t own, but the theme parks have turned scenes from the books and films into real places that people can visit. It officially opened in July 2014, and its visitors have generally praised it for accurately re-creating the feeling of magical source material. After nearly 500 reviews on Google, fans have rated it at 4.4 stars-out-of 5.

Clearly, Universal knew what it was doing, and this enabled it to put together a proposal that was detailed and specific enough to impress Iwata.

“As soon as I returned to Japan, I informed [Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto], and I told him that I wanted to give positive consideration to it,” said Iwata. “Since then, we have met with them several times in Japan and in the U.S., and not only me and people who carry out our negotiations but also members from each company’s creative side, namely, people who will be assigned to make the actual attractions and Nintendo’s game producers who have been creating our games for many years.”

The Nintendo president said that these meetings led to the two companies discovering “a lot of common ground.” And now they plan to work together on a long-term basis. Let’s just hope they deliver some amazing rides together.


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