Nintendo Fans, Get Your Universal Orlando Tickets Now!

Universal Orlando Resort had a killer announcement just recently — they’re going to be adding a pile of Nintendo-themed attractions to the Universal series of parks. Now you can hit up Harry Potter, Despicable Me, and then head on over to high-five Mario and…and what?

Well, that’s kind of the rub, innit? Nintendo has been notoriously protective of its IP, with the infamous characters only rarely making appearances outside of strictly Nintendo-controlled events. The series of bombs that was the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, Captain N the Game Master, Kirby: Right Back Atcha, and F-Zero: GP Legend (yes, all of those did actually air in English at some point between 1990 and 2004) probably taught them a lesson they didn’t care to repeat.

But with Nintendo on the ropes in the console market due to stiff competition from the X-Box and PlayStation lines — and the console market itself on the ropes due to stiff competition from the Japanese ‘indie masters’ movement and the mobile gaming market in general — the game giant is seeing the writing on the wall. They’re going to have to exploit their characters, worlds, and memes in other ways, and to Nintendo fans — and in this case, fans of Universal Orlando, that means we win!

Universal has stated outright that they expect their Nintendo attractions to be “as popular, if not more, than the Harry Potter set.” They’ve also confirmed that, while Universal Orlando made the original announcement, this won’t be a one-park wonder: there will be Nintendo attractions at Universal Orlando, Universal Hollywood, Universal Singapore, and Universal Japan.

Characters and worlds that will definitely be making an appearance include Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Link, Zelda, Fox McCloud, and Kirby. There’s no say yet whether any of the bad guys other than Bowser (and Donkey Kong, who is both pro- and ant-agonist in different contexts) will make an appearance, but this poster for one hopes in earnest to see a few other villains — Ganondorf, for example, or Ridley — at the park.

Universal definitely understands the allure of the bad guys (everyone remembers Kongfrontation, right?) The only question that remains is whether Nintendo will get in the way, or get out of the way and let Universal do what Universal does best: build amazing experiences.

Time Management at Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando is one of those magical places where time doesn’t seem to pass — until suddenly it’s dusk and you hear the call: ‘The Park is Closing in Fifteen Minutes!’ What happened to your day? There was so much more you wanted to do! Don’t let that be you — with a bit of proper prior planning, you can get through a lot more of your list than you would if you just came in blind. Here’s what you need to do to get the most of Universal Studios:

Buy Your Tickets (and Everything Else) in Advance
Don’t wait in line for your tickets at the park gates — what a waste of time! Have your tickets purchased before you get on your plane (or however you’re getting to Orlando). Better yet, have your hotel room reserved, your important meals planned out if not pre-purchased, and — most importantly — buy your swag first. There’s nothing like the aggravation of blowing two hours of potential amusement time watching your children flirt with the gift shop. The swag is usually cheaper outside the park as well.

Visit on an Off Day — and Month
Universal Studios operates on a pretty well-defined schedule of business. Summer break, major school holidays, and weekends — a Park Jedi craves not these things. If you want to spend less time watching your soles bake to the concrete and more time screaming and pointing, come midweek in the first two weeks February — after the Christmas folk have stopped coming but before it threatens to get warm enough for the Alaskans to wear shorts — though really, any time that isn’t the peak times mentioned above will do.

Schedule Your Day According to the Shows; Fill In with Rides
At Universal Studios Orlando, the rides run open-to-close except for maintenance and upgrades — but the shows happen at specific times and places. That means that you can (and should) make a list of which shows you intend to see on which days — but you can hit up the rides any time you feel like it. The first shows generally don’t start until the late morning, so you can totally get there, bust hiney over to Minion Mayhem (Diagon Alley on your second day), then down to the Lower Lot to do that whole scene. Come back up and do everything else just in time for your first show –this avoids using the elevators, which by themselves can take 10 minutes of your day.

Starter Tips for Maximizing Your Universal Studios Tickets

ORLANDO — home of the nation’s best theme parks, water parks, and attractions. The rides alone in the nation’s funnest city would take the better part of a month to experience if you did them eight hours a day (and that’s not counting the time waiting in line!) You only need a few things to enjoy places like the Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, Epcot Center, and Universal Studios: tickets, some spare cash, some comfy shoes, a few days’ time, and the desire to enjoy awesomeness. That said, you can achieve an even greater level of enjoyment if you follow a few simple tips:

Be Early

The parks might not open until 9, but the crowd starts gathering at 8:45. If you want to be the first in line for the highest-traffic rides (Escape from Gringott’s, Minion Mayhem), you have to have your Universal Studios tickets in hand, be the first in line at the front gate, and then you have to make a beeline straight for the ride you want. Save the lower-wait rides for later and be happy knowing that you saved yourself an average of 45 minutes by being clever with your timing.

Get a Hotel with a Shuttle

Staying off-park is often a great deal in terms of money, but if you set yourself up to have to wake up, slam breakfast, and start driving, you’ll have a lot harder of a time implementing our first tip. Hotel shuttles usually cost either nothing, or $5 — less than one-third the cost of parking. The only wrinkle is that you have to be very careful not to miss your hotel’s final pick up, or you’ll have to take a taxi — and lose every dollar’s advantage that you just gained.

Don’t Hesitate to Go Solo

If someone in the family wants to go on a particular ride and they’re the only one, check for a ‘singles line’ — most rides have one, and they tend to move much faster than the group lines. If you can’t identify a singles line, ask the attendant — they’ll either point it out, or keep you in mind for the next car that has an empty space. The rest of the family will appreciate not waiting around, and the solo will get the ride they want.

Keep those Universal Studios tickets close by, keep your alarm clock on your nightstand, and pack a quick breakfast, because if you heed our tips, your days at Universal Studios are going to be packed, stacked, and all that!