Orlando Rising’s first year as an all-theme-parks news site is in the books. Let’s take a look back at our five most-read stories covering Universal Orlando in 2019, in chronological order.
1. Nintendo: Universal attractions ‘will be really worth the wait,’ published February 8
In a presentation and Q&A session with investors on Feb. 1, legendary Nintendo game producer and representative director Shigeru Miyamoto fielded a question on when more details about Super Nintendo World will be released, given that the attractions will open at Universal Studios Japan next year.
“Because the theme park is operated by Universal Parks & Resorts, we cannot talk about anything they have not yet announced,” Miyamoto said.
2. A piece of Universal Orlando history now hangs on a fan’s wall, published March 4
Whenever a Universal Orlando attraction closes, pieces of it will likely end up in the Williams of Hollywood prop shop at Universal Studios Florida.
There’s the small stuff—like signs from Halloween Horror Nights or posters from beverage carts—and then there’s the huge set pieces like Kevin Davidson took home in February 2017.
“I liked some of the bigger props at Universal Studios, but never seriously considered buying any of them until I found the Earthquake door,” Davidson said.
3. Where’s Mario? 4 years later, Nintendo absent from Universal Orlando, published April 15
On May 7, 2015, Nintendo and Universal announced a partnership to “bring the world of Nintendo to life at Universal theme parks.”
18 months later, the two companies confirmed Nintendo-themed attractions would be built in Universal’s parks in Japan, Hollywood and Orlando.
“The goal of everyone on this project is clear: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks,” the November 2016 announcement said, “and to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special.”
Fast forward to 2019, and Super Nintendo World is indeed under construction at Universal Studios Japan. U.S. fans, however, are still waiting for any sign that the likes of Mario or Donkey Kong will be coming to its Universal parks anytime soon — while Universal Studios Singapore is now confirmed to be getting Nintendo attractions by 2025 as part of a $3.3 billion expansion.
4. ‘Worst ride ever’: Universal’s Fast & Furious seen as major misstep a year later, published May 13
Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, thinks Fast & Furious: Supercharged didn’t live up to its publicity or deliver on the high octane excitement fans of the films expected. Fans also noticed how similar the ride experience was to 2016’s Skull Island: Reign of Kong, another attraction adapted from parts of Universal Hollywood’s Studio Tour.
“When you have something like this, that you spent tens and tens of millions of dollars on, it makes you think that just because we have a great film franchise, unless we deliver it to the guests in a manner that excites them and that they expect, it may not be good,” Speigel said. “It’s like a movie. You can have all the best actors in the world, if you have a lousy script, it just doesn’t work.”
5. Theme park data: How often has Universal’s Hagrid ride been closed?, published December 10
To get a sense of just how often Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure has been unavailable to guests, Orlando Rising turned to Touring Plans, a subscription service offering customizable itineraries to avoid long lines at major theme parks.
Touring Plans provided Orlando Rising with data covering the 170 days after the Hagrid ride opened, covering June 13 (counted as day 0 on the charts below) through Nov. 30.
“Other attractions may have had some hiccups during the rollout of a new attraction, but nothing at the magnitude of Hagrid’s,” said Touring Plans statistician Steve Bloom.