Impressions: Wii U Summer Tour (Disneyland)

The happiest place on Earth just got happier.

We all know that Wii U is a marketing nightmare, even to Nintendo’s own admittance. It’s a cool piece of tech with plenty of cool games, but Nintendo’s failure to convey this message to the average consumer poses a unique problem for the world’s largest video games producer. Now, it seems that Nintendo has hit the panic button, and they’re doing everything to the best of their ability to remedy this dilemma. And there is at least one thing they’re doing right.

Disneyland is arguably the world’s most popular theme park, and Downtown Disney may also be the world’s most popular shopping district. Literally tens of thousands of people drop by every day to have fun with friends and family – which makes it a perfect place to set up a ton of Wii U’s.

I went off to Disneyland a few days ago for Grad Night, which meant I would have access to the park from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next morning. And while Disneyland does provide many, many things to do, for a teen who has just graduated from high school, there just isn’t enough for the full 19 hours (I’m sorry, Dumbo Ride!). And so a lot of my time was spent at Downtown Disney.

The Summer Tour booth is located right in front of AMC Theaters and near Earl of Sandwich (which serves some great sandwiches, by the way!). It’s hard to miss it; the thing is massive and decorated with huge posters of Mario and Link and, of course, the Wii U.

Most of my friends already knew about the Wii U beforehand. In fact, I’d say more people knew about the Wii U than they did my friend’s PS Vita. Why I bring that up is because I don’t think Nintendo is having trouble telling the public that the Wii U exists, but rather they are having trouble giving the public a reason to pick one up. And the best way to accomplish this goal is to put the Wii U into the public’s hands.

The booth was filled with a mix of app demos and games. Among the apps were Wii Street U (still a terrible name if you ask me) and Wii U Chat, in which you chat with the guys in the kiosk adjacent from you. Wii Street U is a good demo to show off because, while useless, it shows off the Wii U’s gyroscope well. Wii U Chat is not a good demo to show off because the Jamaican Nintendo representative didn’t have any idea what he was doing… so the moment he turned his back on us, we ran away to play some games.

Since I already own a Wii U, I wasn’t really eager to get my hands on the games they were showing off, but it was fun watching my friends get their hands on the console for the first time. Nintendo Land and Lego City Undercover were the highlights and were a blast to play through, while Rayman Legends, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted U took the sidelines.

What impressed me the most, though, was just how much work was put in to make each kiosk feel like a living room. Nintendo brought in couches, bean bags, even placement rugs to decorate each kiosk to make things feel more comfortable. And, to be honest, it’s the right approach; if you want to see if a console is perfect for you, then you need to be in a place that feels like home… because needless to say that’s probably where you’ll be playing Wii U the most.

Though my stay at the Summer Tour booth was brief, I walked away feeling confident that the Wii U really does have a chance. There is no doubt in my mind that every person in my group of friends had a great time, though of course having a great time doesn’t equal receiving a sale. But in a world where marketing the Wii U seems to be an impossible task, Nintendo’s Wii U Summer Tour seems like a step in the right direction.


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