The Pokemon at Universal Rumor Is Swinging Back, But Will It Stick This Time?

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Rumors about the potential for Pokemon to come to Universal have been going on for awhile now. In fact we covered them before here and here.  Now the rumors are back, still swirling around, and a new one has just swung in from  Theme Park University.

According to a recent article, it seems they too are hearing rumblings of discussion about Pokemon at Universal. It seems that for a while they considered sending plans to Universal Japan instead of the Universal Orlando park. But now it’s come back around to Universal Orlando.

The Rumors

Previously the rumors included a Pokemon world at Epic Universe or one in the Kids Zone area with Zelda going to the Lost Continent area at Islands of Adventure.

What we did just learn from Theme Park University is that the project had a name and was called Project 130. This Project 130 initially would have included a boat ride and family coaster. Later versions changed those plans into two coasters, including a Mack coaster.

Known internally as Project 130, originally the land consisted of a boat ride and a family coaster. Then the boat ride was cut and it became two coasters. One of which was for a Mack coaster. Believe it or not, a purchase order/contract was made with Mack for that coaster.  Oh yes, that Pokemon coaster will open in Orlando, but without a Pokemon theme.

However, it seems that Universal was concerned that Pokemon and Zelda would be a risky investment in the United States, and I will discuss how they are completely wrong there in a bit, but they decided to shift the idea to Universal Studios Japan and renamed the project to 130J.

Project 130J

After the project moved to become 130J for Japan, the ride ideas were also changed. The main attraction became a drop ride with projectors and a small version of a Pokemon-land.

Thus in Japan, the focus becomes a first-of-its-kind drop ride with projectors above the heads of the riders. This mini-land along with a Pokemon gym, merchandise shop and quick service location would have been the next major add at USJ.

Then the pandemic came and it was all shelved. But Nintendo has been deeply invested and involved and want the attraction to move forward. Universal should listen to Nintendo because I sincerely believe the general public in both Japan and the United States would also want this to move forward as well.

It’s not over till Jiggly Puff sings

The latest rumor to surface is indicating that a Pokemon attraction could replace the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man when Disney is finally able to pull the plug on it.  They need a replacement IP and Nintendo wants it to be theirs.

Personally, I would rather see Universal actually build a mini-land for the brand.  The Pokemon IP is one that would require more than a refurb of one attraction to feel like they tried, and to get in important aspects, but as the Theme Park University points out, budget will likely be the reason they would go this route.

In all the other iterations of Pokemon entering a Universal Park, we are talking some major ground clearing and building nearly everything from the ground up. That’s an extremely expensive endeavor. 

In this case, not only does the building already exist, so does the ride system and the queue.

They also believe that they will use Augmented Reality or AR to save even more money on the ride.

..It will use augmented reality….Before sitting down in your ride vehicle, you’ll be asked to put on a special helmet. These helmets hook up to a special visor that allows the rider to see a small screen in front of their eyes that make it look like Pokemon characters are within the environment. 

Now you’d think that an attraction’s objective like this would be to “catch” Pokemon. Eeehhhh… not exactly. At least currently, the plan is to be able to “toss” berries and power ups to the Pokemon who are fighting you.

The writer also indicates that they would just the current tracks on the Spider-Man attraction and the screens and projectors that are already there.

Are they selling Pokemon short?

Yes. I believe they are.

Pokemon has perennially proven to be a top seller in every aspect. It is the number 1, highest grossing, media franchise of all time! Beating Mickey Mouse, Star Wars and Marvel.

Yes, Disney owns all three, but in the top 25, Universal has more than one too, but Pokemon is much larger.

Then you look at how well the Pokemon Go game did a few years ago. Everyone was playing it and Disney even had Pokemon you could catch in the parks areas. It was a cultural phenomenon.

Even as of April 30, 2021, a new Pokemon Snap game just released and it’s selling incredibly well. with countries like the UK already saying it sold 4X more than the original and was the third most successful launch for Nintendo.

Honestly, I can see why Universal / Comcast would be concerned, but spending money on Pokemon will only catch them more money (and yes that was intentional and cringy.) Even Zelda would perform well as it’s been consistently popular since it came out in the mid-1980’s.  But I’m not in charge.

Of course this is all just a rumor and it could change tomorrow.  The new game hasn’t even been out a week yet, so maybe if the trend in popularity continues, it could change some things. But it sounds pretty plausible that they would just retheme an existing attraction to save money. A new mini-land with a gym training ride, restaurants, or a boat ride where you look for Pokemon and maybe take their picture would make a lot more sense now though.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: Theme Park University


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Kambrea Pratt
Disney has been a big part of my life for years--from family trips to WDW to growing up on Disney classics, TV, and movies. Prior to Pirates and Princesses I successfully ran social media and websites since 2010. I've also been a public speaker and presenter since 2007. I'm the co-host for the YouTube channel Clownfish TV as well as the podcast/ Youtube Pirates and Princesses (PNP) channel. Former contributor, online personality and acting social media manager at The Kingdom Insider (which we built from the ground up and ran from 2017-2019 --Thom didn't quit FYI) Pirates and Princesses was started by my husband and I several years ago. We loved Disney and wanted to honestly cover all aspects from pop-culture to the parks from a consumer focused stance. Living OUR happily ever after getting to do what we love with our two kids! Creating fun content and building new things. Certified art teacher, and mom. Opinions are all mine.