Cartoon-like Super Nintendo World theme park land
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Credit: Universal Studios Japan

Theme Park News: Super Nintendo World is opening in February — here's everything you need to know

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Dec 1, 2020, 12:02 PM EST (Updated)

Theme park fans went wild earlier this week when Universal Studios Japan dropped the first look at the widely anticipated Super Nintendo World. Believe it or not, that image above isn't an illustration or a drawing — it’s a photograph of the very real theme park land landing at Universal’s Osaka-based theme park on Feb. 4, 2021.

When it debuts next year, guests will be able to play within the world of Nintendo for the very first time. The $580 million dollar expansion is nothing short of perfection, filled with Fire Piranha Plants, Question Boxes, and Thwomps, so let’s take the time to dive into every warp pipe-packed detail.

ARE THERE RIDES?

Oh, you bet. The flagship attraction, Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, is housed within Bowser’s Castle, an iconic location from the eponymous video game series. Guests will board four-seat vehicles and transport themselves to the world of Mario Kart by way of an augmented reality headset where they’ll race through courses from the famed game, throw shells, and race alongside other characters in a battle they really can win or lose.

Credit: Universal Studios Japan

Details of the full ride experience are likely to emerge closer to the opening, but there was one cryptic line in the park’s press release — “The powerful scale of the statue makes one feel as if Bowser will suddenly start to move” — which makes me think there may be more to those stone castle walls than meets the eye...

A second ride, Yoshi’s Adventure, will see guests riding Yoshi — really! — in order to help Captain Toad locate a missing golden egg, all while traveling outdoors within the "multi-level land," offering a unique perspective of the game-like surroundings.

Courtesy Universal Studios Japan

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE INTERACTIVITY?

You may have heard early rumors that visitors will be able to do things Mario does in the games, only in real life — and they’re absolutely true. No, we’re not talking plumbing or making those overalls fashionable. Here, at Super Nintendo World, you can actually take part in some of the best parts of the famed video games.

Credit: Universal Studios Japan

The functionality comes by way of a Power-Up Band ($32), which allows guests to punch blocks to collect virtual coins, sync scores to one’s smartphone, compete with other park attendees, and even participate in “key challenge” attractions. We’re still a bit hazy on what the actual in-land interactivity looks like — those details will likely emerge in the next month or two — but for an immersive enhancement that’s been touted now for years, the implementation should feel as close as you can get to whomp-ing on top of a mushroom or sliding down a warp pipe without actually doing it. 

WILL THIS EVER COME TO AMERICA?

Yes! This will be coming stateside. Eventually. Sort of. The entire land is intended to be built at Universal’s Epic Universe, a major third theme park set to open at Universal’s Orlando resort. Unfortunately, construction is currently on hold due to the pandemic and as a result, is still only in the early phases, so it’ll be quite a number of years until you can spin out on a banana in a Mario Kart vehicle on your Florida vacation. 

But! Parts of Super Nintendo World — namely, the Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge attraction — will make their way to Universal Studios Hollywood. The full extent of which is still unknown because the information hasn’t really ever been formally revealed; it just remains a very poorly-kept theme park secret. Seriously. Universal Studios Hollywood’s tram tour would bypass the show building daily when the park was open, and its own social media team has poked fun at the ridiculousness of a massive empty structure going up for no apparent reason:

TWEET OF THE WEEK

That's it! That's the tweet, literally. Returning to work from the holidays can be rough, and it ends up doing so in a pandemic is even more draining. So, to cleanse your palate, here is a blissful look into one of the all-time greats: the ride queue for E.T. Adventure. If you squint hard enough and sniff, you can almost smell that musky water scent that permeates the ride. Ahhhh, heaven.

LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!

- There is... so much theme park food news from this past week.

- Could it be? Is the Electrical Water Pageant returning!?

- Hong Kong Disneyland has closed once again. Currently, Disney resorts in Hong Kong, Paris, and California are closed while resorts in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Florida remain open.

- It appears that mask compliance at Walt Disney World has been extremely high...

- ... as Florida's governor foolishly rules out any additional COVID-19 precautions or mask mandates.

- Touring Plans' Theme Park Turkeys of the year is back, and as expected, the collection of 2020's worst moments is pure bliss.

- A tiny bit of fireworks have returned to Disney's Magic Kingdom!

- An additional 4,000 Disney employees will be losing their jobs.

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