Universal has announced the grand opening date and details for the second Super Nintendo World, a blockbuster expansion that will bring Mario Kart attractions to life in Hollywood. In this post, we’ll share everything we know about these iconic characters coming to life in theme park form.
Super Nintendo World will open on February 17, 2023 at Universal Studios Hollywood in California. This marks the official arrival of Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and other iconic Nintendo characters to the United States theme park scene. It’s the first of two versions of the land being built, with the other coming to Epic Universe at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida.
This all-new, dynamic land will be a visual spectacle of vibrant colors and architectural ingenuity located within a newly expanded area of Universal Studios Hollywood. Super Nintendo World will feature the groundbreaking Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge ride, as well as many interactive activities designed to engage the entire family within the captivating Mushroom Kingdom.
Along with themed dining at the Toadstool Cafe and shopping at the 1-UP Factory retail store, Super Nintendo World will be a game-changing addition to the world-famous theme park just outside of Los Angeles, California.
From the moment guests pass through the iconic green pipe, a journey filled with exploration, discovery, and play awaits in Super Nintendo World that is entirely unlike anything they’ve experienced before. The journey begins upon entering Peach’s Castle before venturing further into the colorful Mushroom Kingdom.
Super Nintendo World will sweep guests into the 360-degree world of Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach where they will become an integral part of their exhilarating universe. Plus, with purchase of the wearable and interactive Power-Up Bands, guests will be able to deepen their interactions across the land.
As the countdown to the grand opening of Super Nintendo World on February 17, 2023 begins, here’s a sneak peek of what to expect…
Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge: This all-new, technologically-advanced ride, inspired by the popular Mario Kart video game series, will seamlessly fuse cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) with projection mapping technology and actual set pieces along a moving ride track.
Set against a multi-sensory backdrop of color, sound and movement, guests will be seated in stadium-style, four-seat vehicles as they navigate familiar courses through the creative use and integration of head mounted AR goggles. This unique feature is a key point of differentiation that distinguishes this ride from other theme park attractions.
The premise of Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is simple but equally inspiring and challenging, appealing to guests of all ages regardless of gaming experience. As part of Team Mario, guests will steer through underwater courses, and courses in the clouds to compete for the Golden Cup while collecting coins to defeat Team Bowser and win. Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge raises the stakes for guests as an intriguing and repeatable ride with a variety of outcomes.
Bowser’s Castle: Adorned with a breathtaking sculpture of a large and powerful Bowser, this structure serves as a key centerpiece of the land, home to Super Nintendo World’s signature ride, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. As guests navigate the winding corridors and pass through the hall of medallions and trophies of the ominous castle towards the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge ride, they will learn more about Bowser’s calculated plans to defeat Team Mario for the coveted Golden Cup.
Mount Beanpole: This towering landmark sits at the heart of the land and also serves as the entry queue for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
Power-Up Band: These wearable, state-of-the-art wristbands sync with Universal Studios Hollywood’s free downloadable app to level-up the guest experience within the land and enhance its many interactive elements. These include, but are not limited to, keeping individual and team scores, collecting digital coins and obtaining keys after winning challenges throughout the land.
Power-Up Bands will also invite guests to enjoy extra-special interactions with Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. They will come in six design options with character themes and will be available for purchase both within the land and at SUPER NINTENDO WORLD retail shops located in the theme park and on CityWalk.
Interactive Gameplay: 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.
Toadstool Cafe: 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.
1-UP Factory: 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.
Super Nintendo World is conceived in partnership with Nintendo and the visionaries at Universal Creative to deliver exhilarating entertainment with innovative technological achievements inspired by characters and video games that have appealed to Nintendo fans for generations.
The first Super Nintendo World opened in early 2021 at Universal Studios Japan. Originally, the land was slated to open ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, but that was delayed for obvious reasons. That park is located in Osaka, a short train ride away from Kyoto, our favorite city in the world.
Consequently, we’ve spent a lot of time at USJ over the last decade, and have had Annual Passes there in the past. We’ve documented some of those experiences on our non-Disney blog, TravelCaffeine.com, which covers our adventures in Japan and elsewhere. There we have an Ultimate Guide to Universal Studios Japan, restaurant reviews for USJ, seasonal info, and more.
In fact, we just visited Universal Studios Japan and experienced Super Nintendo World for the first time recently, which was also the land’s first Christmas season. (We’re in the process of writing a full review of Super Nintendo World, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll attempt to incorporate the answers into that, as appropriate.)
All of the photos in this post are from Universal Studios Japan, and there are going to be some notable differences between the two versions. First, it’s safe to assume none of the signage in Super Nintendo World at USH will be in Japanese. Names of restaurants and rides will also vary due to different character names in English. Second, Yoshi’s Adventure is not being built in the Universal Studios Hollywood incarnation of the land…and nothing of value was lost.
Finally, the land will have a slightly different layout with a more open central courtyard and fewer ‘levels.’ It also appears to have an even smaller footprint, and there’s no expansion area for the Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness attraction and accompanying miniland.
Super Nintendo World is designed as an intimate area—you literally enter through a green ‘warp pipe’ tunnel. That’s great for immersiveness, but obviously not ideal for a popular land based on one of the world’s most popular IPs.
As is the case in Japan, Super Nintendo World is expected to utilize timed entry tickets at Universal Studios Hollywood. This is similar to the systems previously in place for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and more. The purchase of certain Express Pass packages should also guarantee entry to Super Nintendo World. (As is also the case at USJ–we bought Express Pass for Mario Kart and that necessarily included timed entry for the land itself. Kind of difficult to do the ride without land access.)
We’re also expecting Super Nintendo World to have a lengthy soft opening window at Universal Studios Hollywood. That was the case with Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which soft opened roughly 2 months before its official debut date. That’s our hope here, and would put the sneak previews during California’s off-season months of January and February.
It’s worth noting that the grand opening date of February 17, 2023 is not off-season. That’s the start of Presidents’ Day weekend, which would be incredibly busy even in the absence of Super Nintendo World opening. It should be next-level bonkers with this highly-anticipated land opening.
Also of interest is that Universal Studios Hollywood is still selling Annual Passes that are valid for the opening and expected soft opening period. Not only are they still available, but they’re cheap as compared to Disneyland or Walt Disney World APs.
This is likely a lesson learned from the debut of Wizarding World of Harry Potter, when most APs either excluded the opening months, didn’t offer parking, or both. As a result, the park wasn’t particularly busy, leading some to speculate that WWoHP was a flop or failure. That wasn’t remotely the case, and Universal Studios Hollywood has continued to perform well and improve in the years since. (Universal Studios Japan also continues to sell cheap APs, despite colossal crowds for Super Nintendo World and everything else there.)
Ultimately, we areexcited for Super Nintendo World to open at Universal Studios Hollywood. While it’s the “lite” version of the land, it should feature all of the highlights and be incredibly well-received by Californians and tourists alike. With thrill rides, the studio tram tour, and a growing roster of family-friendly attractions (like the Secret Life of Pets, which rivals anything Imagineering has done stateside on the Fantasyland-style dark ride front) Universal Studios Hollywood is cementing itself as a world class theme park.
What do you think of Super Nintendo World? Excited to experience Mario Kart in real life? Thoughts on Power Bands, Timed Entry, or anything else covered here? Disappointed that Yoshi’s Adventure and Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness won’t be built in the California version of Super Nintendo World? Eager to step foot into this video game universe? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!