Courtesy of Universal Studios Japan
Universal’s new Super Nintendo World, which recently opened in Japan, showcases Mario and other classic Nintendo characters.
A life-size Mario Kart ride and much more recently opened at Universal Studios Japan, with construction underway at theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood.
Rev your Mario Kart engines and get ready to rack up as many virtual coins as possible: Universal is starting to open three versions of Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Orlando. The theme parks promise to transport visitors to a real-life video game experience with question blocks straight out of Super Mario World, co-op key challenges with collectible rewards, an attraction that lets guests take a ride on Yoshi, and boss battles that we can only hope take place at Bowser’s Castle. Here’s everything we know right now.
After pandemic-related delays, Super Nintendo World opened in Universal Studios Japan in Osaka on March 18, 2021. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors must wear a mask and have their temperatures taken upon entering the park. Capacity is also limited to 10,000 guests, which is about half of its normal capacity, according to CNN. However, Japan’s borders are still closed to most travelers arriving from foreign countries, and they are likely to remain that way to protect the country from new COVID variants.
The next Super Nintendo World is under construction at Universal Studios Hollywood, but its initial 2021 opening date will probably be pushed back due to COVID-related shutdowns.
Similarly, the Super Nintendo World planned for the new Epic Universe theme park in Universal Orlando was originally scheduled to open in 2023. After construction was halted due to the pandemic between July 2020 and March 2021, it’s likely the opening will be moved back to 2025.
There have been rumors of Super Nintendo World opening in Universal Studios Singapore as well.
Super Nintendo World will be one of four lands in Epic Universe, which Universal first announced in August 2019. Epic Universe will be the fourth (but probably not final) “gate” in Universal Orlando. The existing three gates are Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure (home to the Jurassic Park River Adventure, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and other thrilling rides), and Volcano Bay water park. Epic Universe will be located a 15-minute drive south of Islands of Adventure.
The other three lands in Epic Universe have not yet been announced, but some of the suspected themes include classic movie monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein), the How to Train Your Dragon films, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them from the Harry Potter universe. Universal has, however, unveiled a hub-and-spoke layout for Epic Universe, meaning a central hub will branch out into the four different lands.
The Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan opened with a heavy emphasis on Super Mario theming with question blocks and a flagpole flying a red M pennant. The best of the Mushroom Kingdom is on display at Super Nintendo World, including an area for Bowser’s Castle, Princess Peach’s Castle, and Mount Beanpole—plus plenty of toadstools and piranha plants.
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Rides have not yet been announced for Orlando or Hollywood, but the Osaka theme park opened with a Super Mario Kart ride and a family ride called Yoshi’s Adventure. In Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, riders wear augmented-reality goggles to see projections of Mario characters and collect and shoot items while their car follows a track built inside Bowser’s Castle.
Yoshi’s Adventure features vehicles shaped like Yoshis in various colors—not just the iconic green—and a slow-moving looped track that will be in constant motion. Imagine something along the lines of Disney’s Haunted Mansion or Spaceship Earth but with green warp pipes, red mushrooms, and a mix of indoor and outdoor portions of the track.
In addition to the two rides (Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge and Yoshi’s Adventure), Super Nintendo World in Osaka opened with multiple restaurants and shops. Inside a mushroom-shaped house is Kinopio’s Cafe, which serves bacon cheeseburgers topped with Mario hat toothpicks, caprese salads shaped like piranha plants, and a question block tiramisu. At Yoshi’s Snack Island, you can order calzones designed to look like the green turtle shells you shoot at other players in Mario Kart.
The park also features interactive elements that allow guests to compete with each other as they would in a video game. That includes collecting stamps, tackling boss battles, and watching a leaderboard to see who has the most virtual coins.
Guests will be encouraged to download an app on their smartphones or tablets and link the app to a Power Up Band that can be purchased inside Super Nintendo World. Power Up Bands will be themed after classic Nintendo characters, such as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Yoshi.
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While wearing the Power Up Band, visitors can punch question blocks to gain virtual coins, which are expected to be tracked both in the app and on a leaderboard on display in Super Nintendo World. Guests can also collect digital keys and character stamps by participating in challenges and cooperative gaming opportunities such as boss battles at the theme park.
Thierry Coup, a senior vice president and chief creative officer at Universal Creative, said in a January 14, 2020, statement, “Think of Super Nintendo World as a life-size, living video game where you become one of the characters. You’re not just playing the game; you’re living the game, you’re living the adventure.”
So far, Super Mario is the main feature at the park in Japan, with elements of the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser’s Castle, and Peach’s Castle in Super Nintendo World. There is not yet word on the inclusion of other classic Nintendo properties, such as the Legend of Zelda or Kirby, but early concept art hinted that a Donkey Kong–themed mine-cart roller coaster may be in the theme park’s future.
This article was originally published on January 24, 2020; it was updated on March 224, 2021, and will be updated as additional details about Super Nintendo World are released.
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