During the slow descent from the upper lot to the lower lot at Universal Studios Hollywood, visitors can catch a tantalizing glimpse of a world Super Mario fans could once only see on screens. Piranha plants rise above lush green hills. Golden coins twirl in the sunlight. Further back, Bowser’s menacing face looms from a gray castle. Welcome to Super Nintendo World.
Universal Studios Hollywood’s Super Nintendo World is the second on the planet and the first of its kind stateside—the very first to debut, at Universal Studios Japan, opened in 2021. The next will be constructed at Universal Orlando Resort and is set to begin welcoming visitors in early 2025. California’s Super Nintendo World officially opened doors last Friday, February 17, amid the other attractions at Universal Studios like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Jurassic World ride. It is a nostalgic blast to the past for Mario super fans. Here’s everything we know about the latest Super Nintendo World so far.
Where is Super Nintendo World?
Super Nintendo World is located within Universal Studio Hollywood in the northwestern corner of the park just beyond the Jurassic World and The Mummy Rides. In keeping with the Mario theme, guests must go through a warp pipe to enter the Super Nintendo area.
How to visit Super Nintendo World
Guests can visit Super Nintendo World during Universal Studio Hollywood’s regular operating hours from Friday through Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Access to the area is included with admission to Universal Studios (which will set visitors back $109). However, an early access pass to Super Nintendo World can be purchased for $20; it allows access to the park one hour before other visitors arrive—best to get a head start on those notoriously long theme park lines.
Things to do at Super Nintendo World
Upon entering Super Nintendo World, one of the first things guests will see is a recreation of Princess Peach’s castle. There aren’t any interactive elements of the castle, but it does serve as the perfect selfie backdrop. Super Nintendo World isn’t simply a place to marvel at all the cute Mario-themed constructions in the park—there’s a quest to complete. The story goes that Bowser Jr. has stolen three golden keys from the Mushroom Kingdom and visitors need to get them back in order to unlock the final boss battle with Bowser Jr. himself. In order to gain keys, guests can participate in four different mini-games: Goomba Crazy Crank, Piranha Plant Nap Mishap, Thwomp Panel Panic, and Koopa Troopa POWer Punch.
Buy a Power-Up Band
At the 1Up Factory, which sells all sorts of Super Nintendo–themed memorabilia and souvenirs, you’ll want to pick up a Power-Up Band, available for $40 a pop. There are six different types of character-themed bands to choose from—Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Toad, and Princess Daisy. Comparisons have been drawn between the Power-Up Bands and the wands at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But while wands activate interactive elements that aren’t essential to the experience, in Super Nintendo World, you’ll miss out on the majority of the fun if you don’t have a Power-Up Band, though they’re not required to enter the area. Keep in mind that mini-games are only available to those who do have Power-Up Bands.
The characters that players choose coincides with the “team” they will be on during their time in the area. Bands also interact with various features around Super Nintendo World. With the band, players can collect coins in an addictive competition; coins can be accrued through games or by slamming bricks and ? blocks located throughout Mario’s land. Scores can be kept track of in the Universal app and are also displayed in large terminals around the area.
Although bands aren’t necessary to enjoy the adorable charms of Super Nintendo World, if guests want to rack up some points, hit blocks, or play the key challenges, they’ll need one.
Play Mario Kart IRL
In addition to the main “quest,” there’s also a ride—Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, a Mario Kart–inspired experience (which has garnered criticism for its size restrictions). Bowser’s Challenge is an augmented reality attraction that feels more like a video game than a ride. On board a four-person go-kart, riders wear a plastic Mario cap and clip on an augmented reality visor. Through that visor, other racers see stars flying past, as Bowser’s minions swarm around riders who must steer and fire turtle shells at the enemy to gain coins. The coins aren’t just for show. Each ride is a contest with other karts, and the team with the most coins wins. Then the coins are added to riders’ total score on their Power-Up Bands.
Battle with Bowser Jr.
Once players accumulate enough keys and coins, they’ll get to a showdown with Bowser Jr. During this final boss battle, competitors turn into a shadow on a screen via augmented reality technology that is controlled by their actual movements. To win and defeat Bowser Jr., they must duck under Bullet Bills, punch Bomb-Ombs, and throw fireballs to complete the challenge.
Where to eat at Super Nintendo World
At the Toadstool Cafe, there is a broad menu of Mushroom Kingdom–themed dishes and treats that verge on being too precious to eat. With a kitchen “led” by Chef Toad, almost everything on the menu either includes mushrooms or, more often, is shaped like a mushroom.
There are 250 seats available at this toadstool-shaped eatery, including faux-wood chairs and pink and white boots—the restaurant can serve around 4,000 patrons per day. Here, diners can chomp down on piranha plant–themed caprese salad, tiramisu adorned with a cookie decorated to resemble power-up blocks, fire flower spaghetti and meatballs, and Chef Toad’s signature short rib special dish.
And what’s a meal without a show? While they eat, visitors can watch their food being “cooked” via a three-paneled video screen as Chef Toad and his Mushroom People friends chop, sauté, and garnish dishes to perfection. But as with everything in Super Nintendo World, keep an eye out because even Chef Toad’s kitchen can fall prey to the Bowser’s plans.