It looks like 2023 will be the year for the Super Mario Bros. with a new animated movie coming out on April 7 and Super Nintendo World having just opened at Universal Studios Hollywood. The latter had its grand opening on February 17 and it is proving to be pretty popular among gaming fans. So popular in fact that it is just the second of four proposed themed areas for other Universal theme parks (the first opened at Universal Studios Japan and the next two will open at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal’s Epic Universe at the Universal Orlando Resort).
Unlike the Singapore location, Hollywood’s version of Super Nintendo World is quite a bit smaller. Although the theme park did what they could to give guests the best experience possible which involved demolishing some of the Lower Lot’s soundstages to make room for the new residents. The new area of the park also intensifies Universal’s desire to grab families’ attention.
While nearly everyone who walks through the large pipeline into Super Nintendo will be awestruck by the enormity of this new land, it will be the superfans to truly appreciate all it has to offer. The area is sort of giant funhouse allowing guests to interact within the realm of their favorite Mario games while actually playing their own game at the same time. To make the most of your visit, you’ll want to purchase a Power-Up Band which will allow you to keep score as you complete challenges, collect digital coins and more. BUT there is a catch! The Power-Up Bands cost an additional $40 each. There are a lot of interactive elements that light up when activated with the band throughout the land, but nothing that parents can’t live without experiencing. For those who’d rather not fork over the extra dough, there is still plenty to do and see, you just might feel like you’re missing out as players are running to compare their scores to others in the park.
The biggest draw to Super Nintendo World is the Mario Kart: Bower’s Challenge racing ride. However, this ride is actually pretty slow but takes full advantage of video manipulations to make riders feel as if they are traveling much faster than they really are. The queue for the ride is most impressive as riders get a chance to walk through Bowser’s iconic castle. As you walk down the halls, you’ll find walls of medallions and trophies to the prized Golden Cup. You’ll even see the dressing area of the Nintendo riders themselves.
Once on the ride, you’ll put on special goggles that will put you in the center of the action alongside Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach. While on this crazy race, you’ll encounter various obstacles while traveling through underwater courses and other courses up in the clouds allow you to collect digital coins and throw shells to win the Golden Cup. You’ll compete both individually and as part of a team. The ride features so many different way to increase your score, chances are good that you’ll want to ride this race over and over again. When the race is over, head upstairs to check out the view from the top of the castle!
Of course, you can’t spend a day in Super Nintendo World without saying hi with Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. They are available every day for photo opps. If you’re hungry, you might want to stop at the Toadstool Café where you can snack on tasty dishes from Chef Toad and watch a playful scenery of the Mushroom Kingdom through the windows. (Chef Toad’s menu even offers gluten-free and vegetarian options.) And before you exit, check out the 1-Up Factory Store to find all sorts of good stuff from the kingdom from kitschy souvenirs to wearable goods.
It is worth mentioning that because this area is new to the park, you might need a reservation to get in. Universal says that reservations are not always required to enter the land, but it’s important to check on the day of your visit ahead of time so you don’t miss out. You can do this by downloading the Universal Studios Hollywood app.
All images: Universal Studios Hollywood
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