My friend, who is also a big fan of Super Mario, said, “I kinda want to get there at 9am,” which caused me to roll my eyes. I didn’t think it was necessary to get ready at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to leave my cozy, quiet apartment and go to a crowded theme park that I had already been to many times before (I really don’t).
We were, after all, just going to Universal Studios Hollywood to see the Super Nintendo World, the park’s newest attraction, which opened to the public on February 17. How much time do we really require?
It turns out that getting there early was a good idea, and not just because, as is typical when a theme park opens a new area, you have to deal with lines that will make you die of old age, hordes of super fans, and ruthless theme park adults. No, in this instance, it is because Universal Studios Hollywood has simply outdone, if not transcended, its own capabilities.
The theme park in Los Angeles did not exaggerate when it stated in a press release that Super Nintendo World is “a journey filled with exploration, discovery, and play awaits that is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.”
The moment you walk through the recognizable green pipe, you are transported into another dimension. The Mushroom Kingdom clearly demonstrates the meticulous attention to detail its creators put into its construction. Fans will enjoy Super Nintendo World’s goombas and koopas running around as a visual treat; Pokeys and piranha plants waiting for you; and Super Mushrooms, coins, and koopa shells all over the place.
But what’s more important is that Super Nintendo World is doing something no other park area has done before: with Mario Kart, you can be extremely interactive: The most interactive ride in the area is Bowser’s Challenge, the main attraction.
Kart Mario: There are difficulties, including technical ones, in Bowser’s Challenge. That is not uncommon; It sometimes makes the already-lengthy lines almost unbearable, but I recall similar issues and delays in the early stages of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Orlando.
Whenever we first fell in line, we were there for TWO Entire HOURS and simply figured out how to get partially through. That was generally in light of the fact that the ride continued to break. We decided to leave the line to get some food because we were starving and didn’t know when the ride would be fixed.
The ride broke again as soon as we got there, and we were given one-time express passes and told to come back later. It also doesn’t help that Universal Hollywood Studios usually doesn’t have a line for Express Passes for new attractions. Fortunately, because we were there for a media visit, a publicist was able to get us to the beginning of the line. However, the ride broke again as soon as we got there, so we were given one-time express passes and told to come back later.
Therefore, I am establishing your expectations here. Due to the sheer volume of visitors and some hiccups, you will spend most of your time waiting in line, no matter what day of the week you visit. That doesn’t just apply to Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, in addition to the “key” attractions and mini-challenges (more on those in a moment).
However, the wait was well worth it when we finally boarded the ride. In fact, it’s probably the only ride at a theme park for which I’m willing to wait in two-hour lines repeatedly.
During Revenge of the Mummy, I squealed and laughed out loud, and at Jurassic World, I got disgustingly chlorinated water all over me: The Ride, and I have sat through the park’s world-famous Studio Tour numerous times, and I am confident that this Super Nintendo World ride surpasses them all.
Kart Mario: The augmented reality (AR) technology used in Bowser’s Challenge brings the crowd-pleasing Mario Kart games to life, making it more than just a passive ride. Basically, you’re playing Mario Kart, however in an arena style, four-seater vehicle with real guiding burdens rather than on your lounge chair with a regulator.
With the AR projections and goggles that magnetically snap onto your helmet, you feel like you’re in the game instead of watching it on your 65-inch television. You are moving through a real track as well because it is still technically a ride, which enhances immersion and realism.
Additionally, as opposed to simply sitting there as you would in any other ride at a theme park, you are participating in the same activities as when playing Mario Kart. You’re gathering coins, hitting Bowser’s group with things like bananas and shells while being aware of well disposed shoot as that will deduct focuses, and attempting to get to the end goal before them.
Because it is still primarily a ride, there are some restrictions here. For instance, there were times when my throws were either slightly delayed or did not reach their intended target. Additionally, the frantic pace of everything made things a little hard to distinguish between an adversary and a member of my team at times.
Despite this, I felt just as competitive in it as I do in Mario Kart because it is so well designed. Even more than in the actual game, I found it particularly enjoyable and satisfying to fire shells at unsuspecting enemies. I was ready to ride off into the sunset (or get back in line) after one run.
The fact that it only lasted five minutes, despite all the fun I had, was the only thing I disliked about it.
Because Super Nintendo World is just one large game disguised as a themed land, you can still easily spend an entire day here even if you don’t want to wait in line for another round of Mario Kart. This also distinguishes it from the rest of the park and, dare I say, makes it superior.
The entire park is transformed into an interactive world thanks to the Universal Studios app. You can battle Bowser Jr. in a boss battle, collect keys from mini challenges like Thwomp Panel Panic and Piranha Plant Nap Mishap, and collect digital coins from the “punchable” blocks scattered throughout the park.
However, there are a few limitations to this game: Due to the 30-minute wait times for the mini-challenges and meet-ups with your favorite characters, you will have to wait in line a lot. Additionally, you will need to purchase a Power-Up Band separately to participate, which costs $40 each. Despite the fact that it is reusable, that $40 will go a long way if you frequent the park frequently.
Naturally, you can always stop by, take a few pictures, play Bowser’s Challenge once, maybe eat a dessert with a Nintendo theme, and then skate. However, if that is the case, you might as well play Mario Kart on your Nintendo Switch at home instead.