Recreating the mine cart levels from the Donkey Kong video games, Universal Parks are building a new type of roller coaster ride that will make it look like you’re jumping over gaps in the track.
Opening in 2024 at Universal Studios Japan, and by 2025 at the Universal Orlando Resort, this new attraction will not only feature a totally unique ride system, but is also rumored to include detailed show scenes and animatronics. Here is everything we think we know about the Donkey Kong roller coaster for Super Nintendo World. See the video version of this story for additional visuals.
The Donkey Kong Country section of Super Nintendo World is currently under construction at Universal Studios Japan, with an official opening date of 2024. It is also being built at Universal Orlando’s upcoming theme park, Epic Universe, which is planned to open by Summer 2025 at the latest.
This mini land will be accessible from Super Nintendo World after entering through a warp pipe under the Yoshi ride. The area will feature the new roller coaster attraction, as well as character meet and greets, interactive games, a small gift shop, and snack stands.
Donkey Kong creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, who is working closely with Universal on the project, has said:
“I am very happy to be able to make the world of Donkey Kong a reality… I am looking forward to creating a thrilling Donkey Kong experience with the amazing team at Universal. It will take some time until it is completed, but it will be a unique area for not only people who are familiar with Donkey Kong games, but for all guests.”
About the Ride System
The Donkey Kong roller coaster attraction itself is expected to use a new type of technology that was patented by Universal, called the “Boom Coaster.”
The design has 4 riders in a mine cart shaped vehicle in 2 rows of 2. The cart appears to run along a regular track, but in actuality glides along a sideways track that is hidden beneath. This design allows the mine cart to appear to jump over gaps in the track, just like in the video games.
Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness boom coaster ride testing off site.
— Alicia Stella (@AliciaStella) August 1, 2019
We’ve gotten a glimpse of what may be an early prototype for this ride system testing off-site where the ride track was manufactured. Small launches will send the mine carts soaring over what will look like gaps in the track, but the actual coaster wheels will always remain on the real track, which will be hidden below, and behind scenery.
Ride Experience Overview
Based on early concepts it seems as though the attraction might be named “Mine Cart Madness,” and will feature both inside and outdoor coaster segments. Indoor ride segments will take place in and around the ruins of an old, golden temple.
Many characters from the Donkey Kong video games are expected to appear on the ride, as well as scenic elements and even special effects inspired by the games. While the attraction will likely be frantic, with unique coaster maneuvers intended to make it feel like you are out of control, the attraction is also expected to contain story elements and multiple animatronics, which makes it almost like a thrill ride and a dark ride in one.
While the simulated jumps and other unique coaster moves may create a sense of danger, the actual track elements and speeds will likely not be too extreme. This is intended to be a family attraction, and not an intense roller coaster.
Queue and Talking Animatronics
We enter the ride under the large golden temple facade. Directly overhead, we will see mine carts being shot through a barrel and over the waterfall on the temple’s facade. The queue will be made up of a large covered outdoor section as well as some indoor queue areas.
There are rumors for at least two animatronic characters to be placed within the queue areas. One will be Squawks the parrot and the other will be Cranky Kong.
Universal has patented technology for enhanced interactive animatronics, so it is rumored that these animatronic characters will not only talk, but will talk directly to you specifically. This could be the next generation of something like the Gringotts goblin that talks to you at Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.
Scene by Scene Breakdown
Let’s go over rumored details for every scene on the attraction. Keep in mind that these details may be rumored, but in case any are accurate, there may be ride spoilers in this section. Follow along using the rumored track layout graphic above.
Scene 1: Temple Loading Zone – The load and unload areas for this attraction are rumored to feature a type of moving platform. Only one car of 4 riders will be dispatched at a time.
Scene 2: Diddy Kong Intro – Our first scene has us turning right, out of the temple. On our left we see a Diddy Kong animatronic figure.
Scene 3: Barrel Launch – We launch forward and up an incline after passing through a barrel located on the upper level of the temple.
Scene 4: Over the Waterfall – We soar over the cascading waterfall over the ride’s main entrance, and back inside.
Scene 5: Mine Cart Near Miss – As we speed along forward, another mine cart turns a corner up ahead on the left, and then appears to be heading straight towards us. Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are riding in the cart. We turn to our right at the last moment to avoid hitting them.
Scene 6: Jumping the Spikes – We head back outside and gear up for our second big jump. Our cart appears to jump over a gap in the track, this time filled with spikes.
Scene 7: Rounding the Statue – We steer right, right after landing, and take a steep banked turn around a large stone toad statue, which sprays a water blast at us as we pass, now heading into the temple ruins.
Scene 8: Switching Tracks – Now traveling straight again, we see a Mole Guard in a mine cart ahead, so we quickly jump from our track to another track running parallel on our right. Then, this new track is also blocked up ahead, so we jump back to the original track on the left, and continue on.
Scene 9: Professor Chops – Looks like we’ve hit the Checkpoint, because as we round a corner to the right we’re greeted by Professor Chops waving a flag.
Scene 10: Tiki Tong Spiral – Up ahead a giant Tiki Tong floating head and hands appears to have twisted the track into an insane corkscrew. Rather than traveling upside down along the spiraling track, we fall from this section to another section of track ahead.
Scene 11: Escaping the Screaming Pillar – We turn right to make our escape, heading back outside. Ahead of us are several Screaming Pillars and we narrowly escape one by jumping ahead of it.
Scene 12: Jumping the Water – We turn a corner so fast it appears that two of our wheels on the side of our cart teeter off the track. We land back on all fours, but before we can catch our breath, we find ourselves jumping over the water feature in the land’s courtyard.
Scene 13: Goodbye from Donkey Kong – We take a left turn back into the temple, while a large Donkey Kong animatronic waves goodbye.
Scene 14: Diddy Kong and the Banana – As we turn to the right, towards the station, we see Diddy Kong one last time. It looks like he’s found the temple’s treasure, a massive golden banana. He reaches out to grab it just as we disembark.
About the Mini-Land
In addition to the ride itself, this Donkey Kong Country themed area will also contain a few small kiosks for food and merchandise, as well as a character meet and greet and interactive games.
The area’s gift shop will be an outdoor kiosk shaped like an airplane, themed as Funky’s Fly ‘n’ Buy. While the ride is not expected to contain an exit gift shop, riders will be able to purchase an on-ride photo on their way out of the ride.
The character meet and greet will be a small platform with Donkey Kong’s treehouse as the backdrop. There will also be a snacks stand themed as a small hut to the left of the meet and greet, and a couple drink stands on either side of the land to round out the offerings.
The original Super Nintendo World area contains multiple interactive games and experiences. To participate in these activities, you must first purchase a Power-Up Band. We expect the new Donkey Kong mini-land area to include several interactive experiences of its own, which will also likely require a Power-Up Band.
One activity within the area’s courtyard, which appears to feature Rambi the Rhino inside of an Animal Crate in early concepts, is expected to be a sort of interactive barrel game. Universal has patented an interactive technology that appears to include a mallet and barrels within the image examples, although it is not clear if it is related.
Another game nearby may involve Ellie the elephant and is rumored to be multiplayer, where multiple guests will have to work together to solve a puzzle or complete a task before time runs out.
A third interactive experience is rumored to be located near the ride’s exit, facing the water feature. Unlike water sprayers at other attractions, where you spray unsuspecting riders passing by, these water cannons might be aimed at targets as part of a game.
What Theme Parks and When?
Currently, the only theme park that has had this Donkey Kong area officially announced is Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. The park announced the new Donkey Kong expansion for their Super Nintendo World one year ago, and they say it will open in 2024. It is currently under construction, which is visible from within the park.
While not yet officially announced, we know that the Donkey Kong area will be part of Universal’s Epic Universe theme park in Orlando, Florida, because we can see that it is also being built there. Some track has already been installed for this version of the mine cart coaster, with the layout apparently matching what is being built in Japan. Epic Universe will be an entirely new theme park for Universal Orlando, and is currently planned to open by Summer 2025.
There do not appear to be plans to open the Donkey Kong section along with Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Singapore or in Universal Studios Hollywood, which are both expected to open with smaller versions of the initial land.
Super Nintendo World in Hollywood is scheduled to open in early 2023. While this will likely be the smallest of the Nintendo lands for Universal parks around the world, there are rumors out there that it could still be expanded later. If these rumors are true, we may not count Donkey Kong out yet for California, but only time will tell what will happen down the road.
That’s all for now, but check out the video version of this story for additional visuals. Be sure to subscribe to the news feed to never miss an update, and consider joining our Patreon for early information and extra podcasts!
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