UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(9/29/18) Universal Studios Japan To Switch To Seasonal Pricing Method (MORE...)
(9/19/18) Universal Studios Japan To Greatly Expand Universal Cool Japan For 5th Anniversary (MORE...)
(9/9/18) Halloween Horror Nights Opening Day Report (MORE...)
(9/6/18) Want To Spend The Night In A Haunted Hotel Room? (MORE...)
(8/6/18) Super Nintendo World Could Be A Two-Level Land (MORE...)
Park News - (9/29/18) Universal Studios Japan has announced that they will now be adjusting their ticket prices to reflect if guests are visiting in a busy or slow season. Expect to find lower prices tickets than what is currently offered if you visit during the slower fall season for example, while prices will increase during busy holiday periods. Look for this new system to go into effect starting on Jan. 10th, 2019.
Tickets from Jan. 10 to Jan. 31, 2019 will drop to ¥7,4000 from the current ¥7,900 price, while tickets between February and March will increase up to ¥8,700.
(9/9/18) While the haunt season in the US doesn't start for another week or two, depending on where you live, the Japanese don't feel the need to wait and have already kicked off their very own Halloween Horror Nights festivities on Sept. 8th. Our friend Yukendoit was already on site to show off the start of this year's Haunt as well as tips on what passes you have to grab first thing in the morning while they are free, otherwise you have to pay for express passes to see these haunts (Insidious and Silence in the Ghost Ship) if you arrive late. And yes... in Japan they don't wait until it gets dark to start the haunt... the indoor haunts are open in the daytime. It's a very different experience than what you would find at the American parks.
Plus they've got awesome haunt themed merchanise that doesn't look like anything I've seen in the US... such as evil looking Snoopy shirts where he is a vampire dog, or Frankenstine themed Minion popcorn buckets that are awesome looking and would you believe Hello Kitty themed as Chuckie?!
(9/6/18) So who wants to stay in a haunted gore-themed hotel room? For guests of Universal Studios Japan, the nearby "Hotel Universal Port" offers just such an experience. According to this report the theme of this year's haunted room(s) is "Switches"... as in certain switches in the room will actually serve as the trigger to unleash various horror aspects in the room on the guests. Apparently they've been doing this for a couple years now, with different themes, so has anyone had the chance to try one of these haunted rooms out before?
(7/21/18) Universal Studios Japan has sent out a news release regarding this year's "Universal Surprise Halloween" festivities and features that will take place from Sept. 8th through to Nov. 4th.
For starters lets talk about the traditional "Halloween Horror Nights" style fun, which is what they refer to as "Otona Halloween", where Otona translates as "grown up" or "adult". According to the release, "During “Otona Halloween,” guests will find themselves in a mysterious world of dark and dramatic horror at “Hotel Albert.” In addition, guests will encounter spine-tingling thrills, ethereal yet frightening vampires and ghost pirates as they reel from fright in the mesmerizingly beautiful and horrifying theater attraction, “Blood Legend.”" There will also be new hordes of zombies roaming, "The park’s classic Halloween horror experience is arriving amplified. This year, new horrifying zombies will make their debut, exciting and frightening guests as Zombie Mobs take to the streets and gather at Zombie Parties.
From horror mazes filled with creatures and demons giving chase, to mission-style mazes where guests’ choices determine their fate, “Halloween Horror Nights” is designed to unleash the best of every guest’s worst nightmare."
Then during the daylight hours they will put on a family friendly Halloween event for everyone, "“Kowa Kawa Halloween” brings fan-favorite characters together for festivities the entire family can enjoy. And for the first time, Illumination’s Minion Monsters will take part in the fun. During the day, guests can enjoy the costumed revelry of “Festa de Parade” and satisfy their sweet tooth as candy rains down from the sky at “Happy Trick or Treat.” In the evening, the new “Halloween Lights” illuminates the night and is the perfect end to a day full of Halloween fun. "
Back to the scary stuff... more the horror mazes are listed as:
Hotel Albert - Delve into the mystery of a tragic murder case. Discover the horrible truth of what really happened in the hotel basement. An additional fee applies for participation in this unique horror maze.
Blood Legend - Step into an alluring and chilling world of vampires in this terrifying theater attraction.
Cult of Chucky - Chucky is back with more horror than ever! Lose yourself in a terrifying bloodbath at the hospital!
SADAKO - A one-of–a-kind Japanese horror attraction that’s overwhelmingly popular at the park. Now you too will be cursed by Sadako...
Silence in the Ghost Ship - ????
Insidous - The Last Key - Immerse yourself in the world of Insidious, the smash-hit horror movie that topped the box office in North America and the UK for 5 weeks running.
The Survival - Deadman's Forest 2 - Flee from grotesque creatures on the hunt in this mission against the clock!
So that's Halloween Horror Nights for 2018 in a nutshell.
On another note... Universal Cool Japan 2018 may have ended in June, but remember how I said that the Space Fantasy coaster would not be returning this year when they removed Final Fantasy XR Ride? This was because the park has brought back the Evangelion XR Ride from the previous year's Universal Cool Japan event that will run instead through to early January 2019. Well, yet another Unviersal Cool Japan attraction has been given an extended run as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Miracle 4-D is staying on through to September 30th, taking over the park's regular 4D theater. This means all showings of Sesame Street 4D and Shrek 4D are on hold as well through to Sept. 30th. The park is even offering a special Express Pass guests can purchase that only includes these two temporary attractions.
And on the subject of closures, you can also expect to see the world's last Backdraft attraction shut down from Aug. 31st through Nov. 4 as they use part of that attraction for the Deadman's Forest haunt for Halloween Horror Nights.
(5/5/18) According to the local news the Flying Dinosaur coaster stopped with riders aboard on the lift hill for nearly two hours. While some news agencies reported that the riders were stuck upside-down, this couldn't be further from the truth, as the riders were simply stuck on the lift hill. Of course, being stuck in the B&M style flying-coaster posture, even on a lift hill, for close to two hours would be a trying experience for sure.
Follow this link to see video footage of the riders being carefully removed from the train on the mobile evac platform connected to the lift hill.
(4/17/18) According to this article Universal Studios Japan will be putting on a giant "One Piece" themed special event for the summer, running from July 6 through to Sept. 30th. This includes the huge One Piece Premier Show 2018, a live action show that takes place inside the Waterworld show stadium, the One Piece Water Battle (epic in-park water gun battles) as well as tons of themed special food items.
2018 - Minion’s Freeze Ray Sliders / Playing with Curious George - (6/29/18) Universal Studios Japan has actually opened a second new attraction in addition to the Minions themed spinning ride. The second attraction is an indoor theater show called Playing with Curious George that uses some old-school projection effect magic to project an animated Curious George character into a room to interact with a live actor dressed as The Man with The Yellow Hat.
You can catch some footage of this new Curious George show theater in the video stream below, where the glassed in theater looks like it is set up in a very similar way to the famous Mystery Lodge attraction at Knott's Berry Farm.
(6/28/18) Disney and More has posted a look at the new Minion's themed Freeze Ray Sliders flat ride at Universal Studios Japan which is now being tested (See video below). If the ride system looks kind of familiar, it should. This looks to be a triple-turntable version of the ride system that Disney used for the Cars Quatre Roues Rallye ride at Walt Disney Studios Paris which instead uses a pair of double-turntables.
2018 - Universal Spectacle Night Parade - Best of Hollywood and other Improvements -
(6/15/18) Yukendoit is back with a new video showing off the new night parade at Universal Studios Japan. This is perhaps some of the best footage I've seen of the parade and acts that take place, and it actually looks pretty damn cool. Yukendoit agrees... it's the best thing ever.
(5/15/18) A video showing off the new Universal Spectacle Night Parade in Japan can be seen below. One interesting thing I noticed from skipping through the video was the use of the Transformers characters... which didn't seem out of place at first until I remembered that Universal Studios Japan is the only Universal park that doesn't currently have Transformers: The Ride. A hint of something to come in the future perhaps?
(4/13/18) While Universal Studios Japan has posted a new teaser video for their new upcoming nighttime parade (which you can see below) JakeOrl has posted a new video shot just outside the park where they catch a peek at some of the floats and music being used during nighttime rehersals taking place after-hours at the park now.
(1/18/19) According to a report at the Leaky Cauldron, they have confirmed our rumor that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will drop the 3D projection in favor of a new 120 frames-per-second 4K-HD projection system. In addition, some of the special effects in the attraction will be enhanced as well, adding a heat element to the fire-breathing dragon and the icy chill of the Dementors attack. Look for the new changes to go into effect by March 16th.
(12/29/17) Several guests have confirmed that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios Japan is still running the 3D version of the attraction that was added not too long after it opened in Japan. Meanwhile the Hollywood version of the attraction that opened in Spring 2016 with the 3D version opted to drop it and use the same 2D version of the projection footage used in Orlando instead by December 2016, after receiving numerous complaints over the summer about motion-sickness issues. This seemed to improve the ride experience for all, and was followed by a dramatic improvement to the projection systems by Spring 2017, upgrading the projected images from 60 frames-per-second to 120 fps and increasing the resolution to what Universal called “4K-HD”, featuring 4,000 pixels of resolution horizontally.
If I had to guess, I would predict that a similar removal of 3D in favor of a similar 4K-HD resolution upgrade is what is planned for the Japanese version of the attraction as well in 2018.
(12/24/17) Universal Studios Japan has announced some other new changes and attractions coming in 2018. In addition to the previously announced new "Universal Spectacle Night Parade: The Best of Hollywood", the park will also open a 'brand-new theater-type show attraction, starring everyone's favorite "Curious George"'. The show will be called Playing with Curious George and it describes a show with Curious George "plays around the room and befriends everyone", especially the little children.
The article also says that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will be "enhanced with the latest technological advancements and relaunch late March 2018" to offer guests "even more exhilaration, using state-of-the-art technology to take guests on an unforgettable adventure". (I'm guesing this may involve an upgrade to the projection system, but can anyone tell me if the ride is still in 3D in Japan, or if they dropped the 3D back when the Hollywood park also stopped using it?
WaterWorld will also get a "dramatic upgrade" of some kind as well for the 2018 season, but no further details are mentioned. Anyone know more?
(11/1/17) Universal Studios Japan has announced that a new night parade is coming in 2018 called "Universal Spectacle Night Parade - Best of Hollywood" that will feature characters and themes from many popular Hollywood films including Harry Potter, the Minions, Transformers and even Jurassic World dinosaurs.
The inclusion of the Transformers in kind of interesting, as the Japanese park has no Transformers ride... yet. Maybe this could be a test to see how the guests react to the characters, as the Minion characters were added and became very popular with guests a few years before Universal opted to build the a copy of the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride in Japan. Another worthy note is that the parade will feature "Jurassic World" and not Jurassic Park, making this the first Universal park to directly reference the new film series in production instead of the previous trilogy.
Late 2018 - “Evangelion XR Ride” Returns - (5/19/18) The temporary "Evangelion XR Ride" attraction from last year's Universal Cool Japan event is now said to be returning to the park for an encore run from July 6, 2018 through to January 6, 2019. Just a reminder, this is not the original 4D theater Evangelion themed attraction which was attempted in 2016, but this is the VR experience overlay to the park’s Space Fantasty coaster which is currently being used for a Final Fantasy themed “XR Ride” experience as part of the Universal Cool Japan 2018 promotion that lasts through to June 24th. With the ride converting directly back into the Evangelion XR Ride experience following the Jan-June run of the Final Fantasy version, I find it interesting that essentially “Space Fantasy” as an attraction is being retired for the entire year of 2018, which makes me wonder if it will return at all in 2019, because as soon as the encore of Evangelion is over in January 2019, it will likely be re purposed as something entirely new for Universal Cool Japan 2019.
Anyone know for sure if Space Fantasty is being retired entirely due to the popularity of the revolving VR overlays?
2019 - Universal Cool Japan: 5th Anniversary - (9/19/18) Universal Studios Japan has announced that Universal Cool Japan will be greatly expanded in 2019 as part of the 5th Anniversary celebration of the event. While they aren't ready to release all the details just yet, they did confirm that the popular celebration of Japanese pop-culture will have a very long run in 2019, starting on January 18, 2019 and running all the way to August 25, 2019.
Not all the special attractions will be available for the entire run however, with the first announcement being a fine example of that. "Lupine the 3rd" is coming to the 5th Anniversary of Universal Studios Japan as an "XR Ride" experience as well as a new "Entertainment Restaurant". So this would be the next VR enhanced experience to take over the park's Space Fantasy indoor roller coaster which is currently showing an encore performance of the Evangelion XR Ride experience. The Lupine the 3rd experience will be available only from January 18 through to May 26, 2019.
2020 - Super Nintendo World - Confirmed - (8/6/18) Yukendoit is back with a new video report from Universal Studios Japan to take a look at the construction site for the new Super Nintendo World expansion site. There is currently a huge an approximately 10 foot tall construction wall in the park blocking any chance of a view into the site from within the park, but the rumors are already starting to swirl that the way they are building the new land, Super Nintendo World will actually be built as a two-level theme park land.
(4/29/18) A new video update from Universal Studios Japan from our friend Yukendoit has been posted where he checked out the latest construction on Super Nintendo World as well as his opinions on the new enhancements to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction.
(4/10/18) The latest construction pictures of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan have been posted to ORLParkPass this week. It is interesting to look at... as I'm not sure I've seen structures put up quite this way before, unless this is just standard procedure for large buildings in Japan due to local earthquake codes or something.
(2/28/18) Big news from Universal Studios Japan as the latest video from our friend Yukendoit shows off the new building at the park that have been installed for Super Nintendo World. Based on what we can see so far, the new building going up appears to be fairly large.
(11/11/17) While things are still very much in what I like to call, "the dirt pushing phase", there is apparently a lot of activity at Universal Studios Japan to prepare the site for the first Super Nintendo World. You can see several photos of this taking place posted to ThemeparX over the past few weeks.
(6/21/17) I don’t know how much of the artwork is legit, and I don’t think all of it is, but a nice collection of some new and old Super Nintendo World attraction art has been posted to Disney & More this week. The one that sticks out fo rme isn’t the Mario Kart art, but the one showing off the Donkey Kong themed jungle area. While the lower area seems to contain a jungle themed play area, if you look in the top of the trees you’ll see a coaster track for that rumored Donkey Kong mine train coaster. In fact, look very carefully on the top left and you’ll see a mine cart jumping a gap in the coaster track, as described as being possible for the Boom Coaster ride patent. Look closer still and you can see the hidden arm coming off that mine cart and going down, where it looks to be attached to the true track for the ride, hidden from view below the riders, which is twisted into an arch, to allow the mine cart to appear to jump the gap in the faux tracks.
(6/17/17) About a week or so ago someone posted a layout map of what Super Nintendo World might look like when built at Universal Studios Florida... and the collective internet lost their mind. I can't say for certain the exact origin of this map, as it does look like it was professionally done, but from what I've been told from a few sources, this was simply an old simple proof of concept proposal and never intended to be built exactly as shown. This may have simply been a graphic used for the initial presentation to get Nintendo on board in the first place.
The layout shown was one that was quite cluttered and really doesn't look anything at all like what we've been seeing in the official graphics from Universal thus far. Plus it looked like a good bit of the land was dedicated to smaller attractions, and even playground style structures, so bottom line... don't believe it. The map did have one thing right however, the location, where we can expect Super Nintendo Land to take over the entire KidZone area.
So time to recap what we do know about Super Nintendo World:
Multi-Level - According to comments made at the ground breaking, the lands will feature multi-level buildings and pathways, which does match up with what is being shown in the concept artwork.
Super Mario Kart - They have also confirmed that what is expected to be the primary major attraction will be one themed to Super Mario Kart. Not only is this a good choice for the action element that can be translated well into a ride, but the nature of the game also allows for the inclusion of a large number of Nintendo characters to be grouped all together.
So what about the other attractions? Well, there are only rumors so far, but the long standing rumor has been that Super Nintendo World will feature 3 attractions, or at least it will in the North American installations. There is always the chance that the one going into Japan may cutback to just two attractions due to space issues, or to allow for the inclusion of more themed shopping, dining and character interaction spaces, as the Japanese market really appreciates those kind of extras.
That said... it has been pretty clear thus far that the second attraction would have to feature the giant ape in the room... Donkey Kong. As a character, Donkey Kong is easily just as well known as Mario and the popular rumor has been about that Boom Coaster ride patent Universal filed for, with a mine kart theme that has the ability for the kart to appear to jump gaps in the track and lean to the side on two wheels, while really running on a hidden track system. As rumored before, this is expected to be something themed to the Donkey Kong Country game series.
The third ride concept? Well... not a lot has been said, and I really don't know if even the rumor going around was locked in as the final concept or not, so take this one with a grain of salt, but if the rumor holds true, the idea I kept hearing about was for a Yoshi themed interactive dark ride concept. Even better, for capacity sake, the one rumor suggested it would even be an Omnimover style ride system, something Universal really hasn't tried yet. Given that the unique feature of the Yoshi character in games is typically his ability to lash out with a long tongue and gobble up things and even spit some of them back out at targets, so you can see how this could make for a fun interactive style dark ride. Fair warning... this is just a rumor... but it sounds like a good choice to me.
As for the rest? Well, for wanting Metroid, Kirby, Zelda or even Pokemon themed stuff in the land, I just wouldn't expect it yet. Maybe for a Phase 2... or something that could even be used as a second Nintendo themed land in another park, as all those characters really live within their own pocket-universe, while I think we will see Super Nintendo World focus on the core characters that cohabitate within the primary Nintendoverse.
(6/9/17) Universal Studios Japan held an official groundbreaking cerimony for the new Super Nintendo World expansion. Unfortunately they confirmed little else that we don't already know: that it will open in 2020 before the Tokyo Olympic Games take place (July 24 to August 9, 2020) and that there will be a major attraction themed to the Super Mario Kart game series that Mark Woodbury called the "Mario Kart Experience"
A VERY brief new animated teaser was released (about 30 seconds), along with a mention that the land will be built to feature different levels to the structures that will contain the attractions, shops and restaurants. A video of the Ground Breaking Ceremony on that stage we saw being built in the parking lot was also posted to twitter which you can watch below. It features appearances by Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo).
(6/7/17) Universal Studios Japan seems to be getting ready to make a big announcement about the upcoming Super Nintendo World expansion as pictures of a Nintendo themed stage under construction in one of the park's parking lots have been posted online this week. Previously we had heard that they were once planning to have this up and running as early as mid to late 2019, so perhaps it is nearly time to begin construction, or at the very least break down some major details about the attractions in development.
Of course those details were have a major effect going forward to the US parks as well, as both Hollywood and Orlando theme parks are also to create their own Super Nintendo World areas once the Japanese prototype is finished.
(12/13/16) We finally have a confirmation from Universal Studios Japan that they will open Super Nintendo World by the summer of 2020, ahead of the Olympic games coming to Tokyo, Japan. The press release confirmed once again that this will be the first Nintendo themed land at a Universal park, which will soon be followed by Super Nintendo Worlds at Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando.
The land will be expansive and very unique, especially if it looks anything like the new piece of artwork released, it will definitely bring the video game world to life in the real world. The Japanese version will feature at least two major attractions, plus tons of interactive areas, shops and restaurants, at a cost of 50-billion Yen. It will be built mostly in an area held for future expansion of the park as well as take up some of the park's current parking area.
(12/12/16) The Orlando Business Journey has reported that several new ride patents filed by Universal offer up a hint about some future attraction concepts in the works. You can see some of the concept art from the patent forms posted in a slideshow at OBJ, though keep in mind that they are keeping the themeing and concept as generic as they can in these patent forms, and focusing on the technology aspect of what the attraction will do to make it unique enough to deserve a patent.
Breaking it down however, there are images showing off a new two-passenger car ride where the cars appear to be able to fishtail out of control and/or simulate a "drift" style turn effect. There is a driver in the front with a steering wheel while the rider in the back seat has a console of buttons in front of them instead. The obvious answer here is that this is likely a mock-up for the future Mario Kart themed ride planned as part of a future Nintendo area.
Another mock-up shows guests loaded into some kind of over-head track mounted piece of hardware that holds a number of armored flight-suits. The appearance is that it could mimic the action of a super-hero character taking flight into the sky on an adventure. Screamscape sources tell us that this concept was proposed for an attraction that isn't expected to see the light of day at this point in time, but could resurface in the future.
Two of the concepts involve waterpark technology, one that could see technology added to a mat racer style slide (either controls or a video screen to the mat itself) or the possibility of setting something up on the mat before the slide that would trigger specific effects (lights, music, etc) to personalize the experience on the way down. A second waterpark concept is also an interesting new take on the popular new 'drop pod' idea, where in this case the pod that holds the rider would begin to actually fill half-way up with water before flushing the rider and human payload down the trapdoor.
The final idea shown is something called the Boom Coaster, showing off a mine-kart themed ride car that would look as if it was attached to a track system, but in reality the car is attached to a boom arm that goes down under the cart and attaches to an entirely hidden coaster style track system below the themeing. The concept would allow for the hidden track to lean, rise and fall, affecting how the car above appears to ride on the simulated themed ride surface. For example, it would allow for a coaster to appear to 'jump' a gap in the visual track, while staying connected to the hidden track system below. According to Screamscape sources the Boom Coaster concept is also a concept Universal is eyeballing for a future Nintendo themed ride concept that would involve a wild coaster ride through the world of Donkey Kong Country which often have mine cart coaster themed levels.
Universal may have a more complex time getting a patent on the Boom Coaster concept however, as I recall what seemed to be a very similar concept floating around the internet for years called the CANTILEVERED COASTER System, and in an interview with the creator posted to Coaster101 back in 2010, the creator of the Cantilevered Coaster says they were already granted a patent for their design in 2001. While the effect would be similar, there is a difference in the track systems between the two, as the Boom Coaster only appears to have one track system, while the Cantilevered Coaster would use two separate track systems, one to hold the car while the other would control all the extra movements, not unlike how S&S/Arrow's 4th Dimension coaster system also uses two rail systems for similar reasons.
(11/30/16) Universal has announced an update regarding their deal to build Nintendo themed attractions in the future. According to the press release "the fun of Nintendo" will be brought to life via "expansive, highly themed environments" at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks.
"Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.
You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.
The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways."
The new Nintendo lands will feature "multiple attractions" as well as themed shops and restaurants. Planning is already well under way and while they are not yet ready to announce any dates, they did mention that each will "open separately over the next several years." An updated announcement video featuring Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) can be seen below.
As for the attractions... while things are still being planned, the early rumors indicate as many as three different attractions may be in development, one of the themes is said to be locked in for a Mario Kart themed attraction. It is worth mentioning that they only listed Universal Orlando as the site, an not one specific theme park. They also say that the first more detailed announcement to come from a specific park will happen "soon".
(7/13/16) According to an article posted by Destructoid the Mario / Nintendo section in development for Universal Studios Japan will eventually "exceed" the Harry Potter section. For comparison they say that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost the park $400 million, while the new Nintendo themed area is expected to cost over $500 million.
(3/5/16) According to the latest news posted to Kotaku, the location of the new Nintendo themed land at Universal Studios Japan will actually be immediately to the left of the main entrance, which in the location where the park has been putting many of their temporary attractions like Universal Cool Japan. I believe Monster Hunter and the Biohazard attractions are in the big special events soundstage, while I think Evangelion 4D is in the nearby 4D theater where they normally show Shrek 4D and Sesame Street 4D during the rest of the year. The area also looks to include what appears to be an employee parking lot and the turn-around for the Hollywood Dream coaster.
According to the article the Nintendo land will cost an estimated 40-billion yen ($351 million US) and they say that their goal is to have it open by 2020 in time for the when the Olympics come to Tokyo, which is expected to be between July 24 - August 9. With that in mind however, the last word from our sources indicated that 2020 was the old original opening date, and since Comcast has bought the park they have revised the time-table on many things, which would see bumped up to open in 2018 in Japan, and Diagon Alley pushed back to 2020. Either way, the two major new attraction areas should definitely lure in the tourists from the 2020 games.
(2/26/16) The world’s first Nintendo themed land will open at Universal Studios Japan in 2018. Look for a lot of character meet and greets, as well as photo ops to be placed here. As far as attractions go, a Mario Kart ride seems to be a lock-in concept, but there may be one or two other attractions under development as well… either another larger ride, or a pair of smaller themed flat rides.
(12/9/15) According to Screamscape sources the next major attraction on deck for Universal Studios Japan will be a Nintendo themed area and attraction(s). As the home turf for Nintendo, it only makes sense to drop the first Nintendo attractions into Japan first, before attempting to roll them out to the parks in the US market.
So far, the final scope of the project is unknown to me, as well as where they might try to locate it within USJ. The project could be as small as a single attraction (Mario Kart anyone?) or it could be a mini-land with a small collection of attractions of various scale and character meet & greets. Once The Flying Dinosaur coaster is up and running, hopefully we'll find out more about what's in store for bringing the world of Nintendo to life, and how soon it will happen.
???? - Diagon Alley - Planning / Delayed - (2/26/16) Much like Universal Studios Hollywood, a Diagon Alley expansion is planned to enhance the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter area sometime after 2020. Unlike the Hollywood version however, I’m told that this area will focus more on the restaurants, gift shops, characters and interactive aspects of the land, and actually will NOT include a copy of the Escape From Gringotts attraction. However, in an interesting move, it will contain a new version of the Hogwarts Express train ride experience, that promises to be a similar but plussed experience to the one in Orlando.