Super Nintendo World officially opens at Universal Studios Hollywood on Friday, February 17th, 2023. This Mario-themed expansion has some big shoes to fill, with both the Nintendo name and a feature film attached to it. What should you expect (or not expect) at the park?
If I was being generous, I would say Super Nintendo World is cozily tucked away in a corner of the Universal lot. Super Nintendo World, according to multiple official sources, consists of a Mario-Kart themed, score-based ride (currently under scrutiny for its size restrictions), a Toad-themed restaurant, character meet-and-greets, a gift shop, and four AR challenges.
These AR challenges can be accessed by purchasing a bracelet (or, if you’re using the official parlance, Nintendo Power-Up Band) and scanning it into the Universal app. The bracelet can be used at specific locations around the park and doubles as an Amiibo.
“Why are people already getting in?”
Because Universal is selling early access tickets that start at $20, taking on-site reservations, and allowing certain levels of passholders in once a day.
Pretty much. I’d guess they wanted to finish construction and get the word out before the movie tie-in officially dropped.
“Speaking of money… what’s the admission pricing situation?”
Depends on where you live, but I’ll give a rough estimate for California residents and non-residents: Expect a baseline of about $150 for single day admission alone.
If you’re doing a single trip to Universal Hollywood on opening day, buy your tickets online and ahead of time if possible. As of this writing, the Super Nintendo World early access passes are sold out through February 26th.
Currently, General Admission for February 17th starts at $149 for your basic one-day pass. Then there’s the Power-Up Band, which is $40. Add food, transit, lodging, and well, you get the picture. Budget accordingly. If you’re considering multiple day trips, the two-day pass or one of the annual options would be a better fit. The pricing does not get any better.
If you live within a reasonable distance of the park, a California neighbor pass runs at $179, a little more than a single-day ticket. It’s good for nine months and has a specific set of blackout dates, but you can set an entry date for your first visit. Like, say, the 17th.
Yeah, I get it. The Universal Studios Hollywood website makes you click at least two buttons to get any sort of substantial information. The official attraction descriptions (excluding locations) are below:
Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (the ride)
Put on the special goggles and battle Team Bowser alongside Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach on Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge. You’ll steer through underwater courses and courses in the clouds, collecting coins and throwing shells to win the Golden Cup.
Everywhere you look you’re in the game on this groundbreaking ride with cutting-edge technology. Compete as an individual and as part of a team while you play along with your favorite Super Mario™ characters. Multiple outcomes and the chance to raise your score mean Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is more fun each time you ride!
If you’ve been on similar score-chasing fixed track rides at other theme parks, you know what you’re getting into. Here’s video of the ride with and without AR glasses, from Attractions 360°.
Toadstool Cafe ( the restaurant)
The land’s signature restaurant, Toadstool Cafe will serve a gourmet menu perfected by Chef Toad where he will greet guests upon entry. Menu items prepared fresh daily include Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knots, Super Mushroom Soup, Piranha Plant Caprese, Mario Bacon Cheeseburger, Luigi Pesto Chicken Burger, ? Block Tiramisu and Princess Peach Cupcake.
Be sure to look at the full menu if you have any dietary restrictions. It’s all pretty standard, vaguely Italian amusement park fare, and the most expensive things are the $20 collectible drink bottles.
1-UP Factory (the gift shop)
What better way to commemorate a visit to SUPER NINTENDO WORLD than to visit the 1-UP Factory retail shop to purchase collectable memorabilia. The 1-UP Factory will offer an extensive selection of merchandise from Mario and Luigi themed apparel to iconic character hats and an array of plush characters, including Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Bowser.
There’s also a road sign that says Bowser Oil on it. 😇
Interactive Gameplay (what the bracelets do)
Within the land, guests will become fully engulfed in an engaging world of real-life gameplay, including punching ? Blocks to collect digital coins and a variety of interactives. They will discover a new dimension of SUPER NINTENDO WORLD via the interactive binoculars employing augmented reality technology positioned within the land.
Guests can beat the four Key Challenges and collect keys from Goomba, Koopa Troopa, Piranha Plant and Thwomp interactive activities to ultimately allow access to the culminating boss battle with Bowser Jr.
These energetic, familiar and fun interactive games will further enhance the entire kinetic experience within the land and immerse guests into the unique world of Super Mario.
You can also get digital coins and stamps by punching blocks, but that’s not what really piqued my curiosity:
When you meet Mario, Luigi, or Princess Peach in SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™ while wearing your Power-Up Band you may receive an enhanced experience.
“May receive” and “enhanced experience” are doing a lot of heavy lifting, so I’ll have to report back. Bowser isn’t listed, but a boy can dream.
Other Recommendations, Just in Case
We’re not the only ones itching to get into the Mushroom Kingdom, so here are other suggestions if Super Nintendo World fills up fast.
A taste of similar ride tech.
Consider the Simpsons Ride. It commits to the theming and does similar things to the Mario Kart ride in terms of visuals and motion. I’m not the biggest Simpsons fan (Don Hertzfeldt intro aside), but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this.
Somewhere to eat.
Home of some of the most tasteful typography in the park… Minion Café. Wait, I’m serious! The cuisine won’t set the world on fire, but the flaming hot mac and cheese I had last time certainly hit the spot. Take a peek at the menu!
Actually do the studio tour.
When you see the studio lot from above, it looks BIG. When you take a ride through it, you quickly realize the Universal lot is even bigger. Yeah, the Universal Studio tour may be nerdy, but it’s sincerely one of my favorite bits of the park. There’s always something new to notice, and the tour guides do their best to be funny. The prerecorded celeb cameos are also… something.
We’ll have more to say on opening day, but in the meantime, enjoy the park!