Mario meets Harry Potter: Universal Orlando to add a Nintendo theme park in 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Harry Potter and Hulk: Welcome your new neighbors, Mario and Pokemon. A fourth park at Universal Orlando is being created based on characters from Nintendo, the park’s owners announced Thursday.

After months of being tight-lipped, executives of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, made the announcement during a question-and-answer part of their earnings call.

They initially refused to offer details about the new park when it was first announced last August, citing the competitive nature of the Orlando theme park industry. But on Thursday, they let Mario out of the bag.

The new theme park, slated for a 2023 opening, is part of a larger expansion at Universal Orlando that will double the size of the resort.

The new park will be located on a 750-acre (304-hectare) site a few miles from the current Universal Orlando property, which is home to the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks, as well as the Volcano Bay water park.

In this 2017 photo, a person dressed as the Nintendo character Mario waves at a pop-up Nintendo venue in Madison Square Park. Mario is a major character in the video game franchise, which will have its own park at Universal Orlando in 2023. (Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

More than 14,000 workers will be hired on top of Universal’s existing 25,000-person labor force in Orlando. They will be paid a starting minimum wage of $15 an hour, officials said.

The company also has theme parks in California, China, Japan and Singapore. A Nintendo park opens this year in Osaka, Japan, and one will be built in California.

The new attraction should draw millions of additional visitors to the Universal parks, just as the first Harry Potter attractions did when they debuted a decade ago, the executives said.

The park opening this year at Universal Studios Japan will include your typical theme park attractions like rides and shops, as well as interactive gameplay.

Super Nintendo World coming to Universal Studios Japan – and maybe a theme park near you

Guests can buy a wearable wrist band, the “power up band,” and download a special app to engage with the interactive experiences. While wearing the band (which is tied to characters from the Mushroom Kingdom), guests can gather digital coins a la Mario in games and play against others at the park in order to immerse themselves in the video game world.

“You’re not just playing the game; you’re living the game, you’re living the adventure,” Thierry Coup, the senior vice president and chief creative officer at Universal Creative, said in a statement. “Nintendo’s most iconic locations and experiences will be brought to life, including Mushroom Kingdom, Peach’s Castle, an incredible Mario Kart ride, Bowser’s Castle – and more.”

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Contributing: David Oliver, USA TODAY

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