Anyone who was (or knew) a kid in the ’80s has likely heard of Super Mario Bros., the Nintendo video game featuring brothers Mario and Luigi on a quest to save the Mushroom Kingdom from a group of turtle-like creatures called Koopas and their evil leader, Bowser.
Fast-forward nearly 40 years, and the gang has officially taken up residence in Super Nintendo World, which opened last month at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles.
“The Universal brand is built on bringing the world’s most compelling stories to life in unique and captivating ways,” said Mark Woodbury, chairman and CEO of Universal Destinations & Experiences. “With Super Nintendo World, we’re taking immersive storytelling to a whole new level with an entirely new genre of themed entertainment based on the Nintendo games and characters that people around the world have grown to love.”
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The new land at Universal Studios Hollywood is the first Super Nintendo World in the U.S. It’s a smaller version of the one at Universal Studios Japan, which opened in 2021. Both feature themed dining at Toadstool Cafe, shopping at 1-UP Factory and the innovative Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, an attraction that transports riders into the popular Mario Kart video game universe.
From the moment we began working on this project, our goal has been to bring the Mushroom Kingdom to reality for fans of all ages around the world.
The racing ride combines augmented reality (AR) with projection mapping and physical set pieces for an immersive “race” along a railtrack. The integration of head-mounted AR goggles — a feature not found in other theme park attractions — allows visitors to race on iconic Nintendo tracks (Rainbow Road, anyone?). Along the way, riders can collect coins to score points, just like in the video games.
“This entire land is rich with interactivity, distinctive merchandise and inventive culinary treats, but it also has Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, which features first-of-its-kind AR technology,” Woodbury said.
Clients can “level up” their experience by purchasing wearable Power-Up Bands that trigger elements throughout the themed land, allowing them to collect digital coins by completing milestones and tracking their score on the official Universal Studios Hollywood app. However, Power-Up Bands are not required for guests to enjoy Super Nintendo World (as long as they are not concerned about keeping score).
The biggest plus for this new area? It’s just as fun for non-gamers, who may not be familiar with Nintendo storylines and characters.
“From the moment we began working on this project, our goal has been to bring the Mushroom Kingdom to reality for fans of all ages around the world,” said Shigeru Miyamoto, creative fellow of Nintendo and the creator of the Mario games. “Now, even more people will be able to experience the world of Mario in a truly interactive and very immersive way.”
Although this is the first Super Nintendo World in the U.S., Woodbury confirmed it won’t be the last.
“Soon, we’re going to add another Super Nintendo World to Universal Orlando Resort — the worst-kept secret in history,” he said.
Florida’s Super Nintendo World is scheduled to open in summer 2025 as a land in Epic Universe, Universal Orlando Resort’s fourth theme park.
Note to advisors: A Virtual Line reservation through the official Universal Studios Hollywood app may be required to enter Super Nintendo World on certain days (and clients must be on property to select a time). Virtual Line only reserves a time to enter the land, but it does not affect when a visitor can ride Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.