Shigeru Miyamoto celebrating Super Nintendo World with Mario and Luigi
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Courtesy of Nintendo

Here's how Super Nintendo World will level-up theme parks and put you inside a video game

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Dec 22, 2020, 11:30 AM EST

Welcome to this week's installment of Theme Park News! Now that 2020 is winding down, we're looking forward to (hopefully) bright futures ahead — specifically one that’s comin’ in hot from Osaka, Japan.

During Nintendo Direct's presentation late last Friday, we finally saw the first-ever footage inside Universal Studios Japan’s Super Nintendo World. The guided tour from Shigeru Miyamoto, video game designer and self-proclaimed dad of Mario, was nothing short of delightful. (Hey, you know a land preview is gonna be good when Miyamoto bops out of a green tube yelling “yahoo!” to kick it off.)

The USJ theme park land officially opens to the public on Feb. 4, 2021, but will begin allowing annual passholders who have won a lottery inside as early as tonight. Don’t expect 4K on-board ride footage of Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge and virtual walk-throughs cast to your TV to watch at home, though  — videos and photos will not be allowed during the preview and, unlike at American parks, guests historically (and almost universally) comply with the rules. 

Since we'll be unable to step inside the land ourselves until later in 2021, here’s a primer on every new and newsworthy detail that just dropped, including how interactive features will put you inside a real-life Nintendo game:

WHAT'S INSIDE

First things first: Super Nintendo World is not an entire theme park, but an expansion of Universal Studios Japan. Still, as the first theme park land themed to Nintendo’s fruitful franchise of characters, it’s no surprise Super Nintendo World is absolutely bursting with the Mushroom Kingdom's finest.

Enter through a life-size warp pipe to Peach’s Castle and step inside a multi-layered world you won’t believe is real. We shared photos and details of the land interiors when they were released a few weeks back, but Nintendo Direct’s footage just proves how complex the detail of the land truly is.

Courtesy of Nintendo

Super Nintendo World is jam-packed top to bottom with attention-grabbing features like spinning coins, sliding turtle shells, Thwomps, Goombas, and Koopa Troopas set against a backdrop modeled after Mount Beanpole, a location from Super Mario 3D World. Elsewhere, you’ll find Yoshi’s Adventure vehicles gliding by and plenty of interactive boxes for guests to play around with (more on that below).

Want to virtually plan your future trip? Here’s some of what you’ll find inside Japan’s Super Nintendo World:

  • Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, the land’s main attraction, which recreates the famed Mario Kart game by way of augmented reality headsets that allow riders to race on Mario's team for a multi-sensory experience that’s poised to set a new bar for theme park attractions.
     
  • Yoshi’s Adventure, a secondary ride where guests will come to Captain Toad’s aid in locating a missing golden egg, all while riding on Yoshi (really!).
     
  • Kinopio’s Cafe, the land’s main restaurant that’s run by Toad, complete with video screens of his crew hard at work in the kitchen like the live feeds at The French Laundry or Per Se. Mushrooms are the name of the game here, with items like a Mario Burger and Super Mushroom Pizza Bowl leading the offerings.
     
  • 1-UP Factory souvenir shop with oversized plush character headpieces, similar to the ones Universal Studios Japan guests are known to wear around the park, as well as exclusive toys and take-home gifts.
     
  • A popcorn stand selling mushroom and caramel peach-flavored varieties in a Super Star-shaped popcorn container.
     
  • An “underground level” resembling a cave with Bob-ombs, interactive actions, and a shrinking effect that’ll make guests feel like "Mini Mario."

But it's not just the attractions that solidify this expansion as one of the greats. Even the exteriors, like Bowser’s castle, looks impossibly real. And then, of course, there's how you'll interact with the spaces around you.

HOW YOU’LL PLAY LIKE MARIO

Perhaps the most noteworthy portion of Nintendo Direct’s 15-minute Super Nintendo World tour was how we finally, at long last, got to see the land’s interactivity in action.

All of the Universal Studios Japan land's “activities,” as they’re called, require a Power Up Band (available for purchase) that are themed to characters like Mario, Luigi, and Peach, among others.

This Power Up Band syncs with your Smartphone and the Universal Studios app to check coin status and view your ranking.

Courtesy of Nintendo

How do you collect coins? Well, by acting just like Mario would in one of his video games. Punch a "?" Block — really! physically punch it! — or scan your band at certain locations, like inside Kinopio’s Cafe, which can yield coins. More in-depth activities, called Power Up Band Key Challenges, will require more action, such as trying to punch a Pow Block at the right time to send a shell through the right warp pipe to collect a key. (These activities do happen throughout the land as well as in spaces like the underground maze-like cave mentioned earlier.) Once you earn three keys, you can take on the final activity: a battle with Bowser Jr. There have not yet been details about how this goes down, but from early artwork, it looks... intense.

There are plenty more details to come, since so far Nintendo and Universal have only teased a couple of the park's features — including one challenge with a massive Piranha Plant and the apparent ability to "search for secrets hidden" around the land.

Sounds wild, right? If you're also bummed to be missing the opening, know that there's even more down the Rainbow Road. While dates are currently unconfirmed, Super Nintendo World will eventually open at all Universal theme parks worldwide in Orlando, Hollywood, and Singapore. You may just be able to spend a future Winter Break playing Mario Kart and punching "?" Blocks just like you did as a kid, only in real life this time.

(SITUATION) OF THE WEEK

It's not a tweet but it's... so much more. Walt Disney World removed the clown slide facade at Disney's BoardWalk Inn earlier this summer and replaced it with, well, whatever that is above, but not before announcing it with a massive misspelling. Yep, the surprise reveal of the new waterslide facade had a big ol' whoops of a spelling error that was swiftly fixed before the big reveal, but hey — that's what we call a pain in the butt. 

LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!

- We are just a couple of weeks out from the end of an era: no more complimentary MagicBands.

This story has everything — PPP Loans, a fake company, and the luxury Disney-area neighborhood called Golden Oak.

- A name change isn't the only update for Disneyland's Snow White's Scary Adventures attraction.

- Adventures by Disney trips have been suspended through March.

Disney and Universal theme parks in Florida have been reaching capacity in the pre-holiday season.

- The Orlando Sentinel's piece on how the theme park capital of the world may recover is a must-read.

- Disneyland hosted a holiday food bank for cast members and other local residents in need.

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