Rumored to be the phase two expansion for Super Nintendo World, we’re finally seeing construction start back up for Donkey Kong in Universal Studios Japan. This area is expected to contain a mine cart roller coaster—that will also be built at Epic Universe in Orlando, Florida.
Let’s check in on the construction progress, dig into the technology behind the ride, as well as rumors for the rest of the Donkey Kong Country mini land, in today’s news update. Be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals.
Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan officially opened in March of this year, after several months of special previews and soft openings.
The land debuted with the Mario Kart ride, Yoshi’s Adventure ride, interactive areas, shopping, and dining locations. It did not open with the Donkey Kong area, which many believed was being saved as a phase two expansion.
In recent months, cranes could be seen peeking out over the land. Then just a few weeks ago, photos of construction progress from the Donkey Kong expansion revealed that part of the new area’s show building has already been constructed.
The new structure that has appeared, which is located at the very back of the upcoming mini-land, will likely be part of the area’s main attraction, a mine cart roller coaster.
When Super Nintendo World opened earlier this year, we could see that some coaster footings and foundations had already been poured for this expansion area.
The jungle backdrop for the area was also already installed along the side wall of the Mario Kart building, (but that is also visible from other areas). It would be several months before construction on the area would pick back up.
Universal patented a technology they call the “Boom Coaster,” where the riders would sit in a mine cart shaped vehicle that appears to run along a regular train track-style track, but in actuality glides along a sideways track that’s hidden beneath. This design would allow the mine cart to appear to jump over gaps in the track, or ride along impossible terrain.
Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness boom coaster ride testing off site.
— Alicia Stella (@AliciaStella) August 1, 2019
Two years ago, footage was captured of a sample segment of track being tested off-site, which may be related to this project. The ride vehicles seem to match the patented boom coaster design, and are launched up a quick incline which could simulate jumping over a gap in the track. We can see the real track here in the test footage, but the final version would hide the lower, sideways track, and only allow us to see a false track above it.
Based on early concepts it seems as though the attraction might be named “Mine Cart Madness,” and would feature both inside and outdoor coaster segments. Inside, it’s rumored that there will be some detailed scenes, almost like a dark ride, featuring character animatronics, perhaps for Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. The outdoor sequences will likely be the ride’s faster sections, adding kinetic energy to the area, with out-of-control mine cars swirling around the guest areas.
Around the land, there are rumors for interactive animatronic figures. Rambi the rhino and Ellie the elephant seem to be two characters most people believe we could meet outside of the attraction, with even more inside of the queue.
Patents for enhanced interactive animatronics have been filed by Universal, which would be the next generation of something like the Gringotts goblin that talks to you at Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. It’s not yet known if the rumored interactive figures in Donkey Kong Country would simply speak with you, or allow you to interact through some sort of mini games (which may require the Power-Up Bands that are for sale at Super Nintendo World).
In addition to the mine cart roller coaster attraction and interactive animatronics, this Donkey Kong Country mini-land is also expected to contain a small retail shop, rumored to be themed as Funky Kong’s Fly n’ Buy, a snack stand hut, and a character stage for meet and greets themed as Donkey Kong’s treehouse.
This mini land may be opening as a phase two for Super Nintendo World in Japan, but it is currently being planned to open with the rest of the land in Universal’s Epic Universe in Orlando. This new theme park is currently being constructed near the Orange County Convention Center, and permits show the Donkey Kong area as being built from the start.
Construction is just now starting to pick up for the new theme park in Orlando, and the Yoshi track has already shown up on site. Other than backstage areas, the Super Nintendo World area is expected to be built first, since it’s already designed, and many of its elements have already been fabricated.
With work picking up on the area for Japan, it’s possible that we’ll see Donkey Kong track show up on site in Orlando soon after it appears there. Just like the Yoshi ride, these track pieces may be created in duplicate, at the same time, to save money.
While no official announcement has been made for the expansion in Japan, many believe it could be ready to open as soon as next summer, in 2022. However, when they decide to open and promote the new area may depend on the current status of the pandemic and travel restrictions.
Many believe that Epic Universe will be opening by 2025 at the latest, but depending on how quickly construction goes over the next couple years, it could open even sooner.
Super Nintendo World for Universal Studios Hollywood is under construction now, but that version is only expected to open with the Mario Kart ride, and will not include Yoshi or Donkey Kong.
Be sure to stay tuned for continuing coverage of Super Nintendo World and the Donkey Kong Country expansion, as well as construction and rumors for Epic Universe in Orlando.