After a year in the life of a pandemic, many people need a way out. On Thursday, thousands of people in Japan found one in Mario Bros. ‘fantasy world.
One theme park, Super Nintendo World, opened its doors at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, put an end to months of delays and the test suggested that people would want to gather in large numbers while the coronavirus is circulating to run. Race in Mario Kart or punch the question mark blocks.
Authorities say they are taking steps to stop the spread of the infection. The park’s capacity is limited to 10,000 people. Guests are measured when they enter and must wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, and keep their distance from others.
The prelude is the latest sign that the world is beginning to come out of the closed doors of a pandemic, or when vaccinations are on the rise and viruses are subdued, or when people are simply tired. with renunciation of life’s common pleasures.
Japan has not been hit the hardest by the virus, with less than 9,000 reported deaths. A vaccination campaign is barely underway, however, so the Nintendo Park faces months of activity before the population reaches herd immunity.
The park was originally set to open last summer, in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games, but the date has been pushed to February. (The Olympics were also delayed.) The opening was delayed again after an outbreak of coronavirus infections in the Osaka area prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency. That statement was lifted on March 1.
Mario fans can now walk through the familiar green vertical pipe at the entrance of the park and into the realm of the Fire Piranhas and jump mushrooms, as Super’s 8-bit theme song Mario Bros resounded in the background.
Currently, the only visitors are those already in Japan. The country’s borders have been closed to non-residents for months.
“Once the pandemic subsides, I hope people all over the world will visit us. We’re waiting for you, ”said Shigeru Miyamoto, author of the Mario franchise and game manager at Nintendo, during Thursday’s opening, wearing the character’s signature red hat.
The park opening follows the introduction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a themed area inside Universal Studios parks in Japan, Florida, and California. This is one of the world’s first permanent attractions based on the major video game franchise. Super Nintendo World parks are also planned for the coming years in Singapore and the United States.
Fans and gamers argue that such an amusement park is long overdue, especially before the explosion of the gaming world in recent years. Global video game revenue reached nearly $ 180 billion last year, more than the US film and sports industries combined. The new park also capitalizes on the success of Nintendo Switch, a video game console released in 2017. About 80 million have been sold.
Robert Sephazon, a Japanese-based game developer who visited the park, said: “Because it came straight from Shigeru Miyamoto’s imagination, it really brought the atmosphere of the Super Mario Brothers into the world. real world.
“Even though it’s a bit of escapism, and it really works,” he added, the pandemic never completely faded away, with masks and hand sanitizers to ensure that the touchscreen. sharing is not dangerous.
Inside the giant playground, visitors can explore Princess Peach’s castle and eat burgers inside a giant mushroom, served by people dressed like Toads. The attractions are now focused on Mario, although some have speculated that a locked door with a familiar design could be clues that the site will expand to include the world of Donkey Kong. .
Moe Ueura, a 31-year-old high school teacher from Hyogo prefecture, who attended the opening ceremony, said: “I can’t tell what world I am in, virtual or real, because it’s very well made.
While fans flocked through the site on Thursday, others, both overseas and in Japan, expressed sadness that it might be a while before they were able to escape into Mario’s world. .
“I wanted to visit the Nintendo World when Covid ended,” wrote one person on Twitter. “But I wonder what day will come.”
Hisako Ueno Contribution reports.