What Parents Need to Know About SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™
Step inside a life-size Mushroom Kingdom when you visit SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™, a hyper-colorful and super fun Mario themed park inside Universal Studios Hollywood, where your family can meet all your favorite Nintendo characters, play games, buy merchandise, and eat themed munchables.
So, how much fun is SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™? What is the price of admission? And is it appropriate for your Nintendo-loving family? Let’s look at the attractions and find out what SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™ is all about.
Hang Out with Your Favorite Nintendo Friends
The first thing you’ll notice about SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™ is that it looks and feels like walking around inside a giant Mario game. Bright colors abound, as well as famous Mario imagery like giant green pipes, moving platforms, and funny animatronics.
Lovable characters like Princess Peach, Luigi and, of course, Mario himself wander around the park, and make special timed appearances. You can take your photo with your favorite characters and talk to them as they share signature moves and catch-phrases (“let’s-a-go!”).
Power-Up Bands™, Games, and Activities
No Nintendo experience is complete without the element of play, and SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™ is designed to keep adults and children busy with plenty of games and challenges. In fact, you could say that the park itself is like one big Super Mario level.
One extra that you’ll want to consider for every member of your group is a Power-Up Band™. They come in various themes and colors based on Nintendo characters and fit onto your wrist. Each comes with its own QR code which connects to the Universal Studios mobile app, and allows you to play a meta-game, collecting virtual coins from around the park.
When wearing the Power-Up Band™, you can tap your wrist against Question Blocks to rack up coins, just like in the Mario video games while hearing the familiar ping-ping noises. Other fun activities in the app include tapping secret buttons that project Mario images and exploring a castle area featuring classic Mario enemies like Piranha Plants and Goombas as well as power-ups like Koopa (Turtle) Shells. You can use your Power-Up Band™ to interact with mini-games, timing your ‘jumps’ to move characters from one level to the next. Other “challenges” – like the ones featured below – also reward stars to your app.
The Power-Up Band™ adds up to a fun way to compete with family and friends to see who can gather the most coins. Each Power-Up Band™ costs $40, on top of the entrance fee, and you can take them home as cool collectibles.
Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge
A giant statue of Bowser greets anyone willing to line-up to play Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge, which is the main ride at SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™.
Following a quick tutorial, each player enters their four-person car and puts on a Mario headband with an augmented reality face screen. The ride then drives and skids players through a variety of levels, loosely based on Mario Kart 8 (Everyone), including Rainbow Road and Piranha Plant Slide. Players move their heads to complete steering prompts and to control virtual Koopa Shells that they fire at the opposing team.
Lines can be long for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (2 hours is not unusual at peak times) but there’s plenty to look at along the way. Think of it as a journey through Bowser’s factory, with a fun, physical and fast-action game/ride at the end.
Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown
Every theme park has a haunted house, and SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™ is no different. Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown is a slightly spooky – certainly not scary – indoor area featuring fun games and activities.
It’s worth noting that access to this part of the park requires that you complete three Key Challenges throughout the park. This takes the form of a scavenger hunt of sorts, where you and your family will collect three keys with your Power-Up Bands™ for the opportunity to recover the stolen golden mushroom and deliver it to princess Peach.
Lines can be long for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (2 hours is not unusual at peak times) but there’s plenty to look at along the way.
That adventure will unlock a climactic boss battle with Bowser Jr.: A physical activity game, in which ten players each stand next to one another, inside their own mini-booth. Their shadows are projected onto huge screens.
You have to jump, wave your arms, fake-throw and crouch down to collect on-screen items or avoid enemy attacks. The lines can be daunting (sometimes an hour or more at busy times) but it’s a fun game that all the family can play together.
SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™’s merchandise shop is called The 1-UP Factory, and it’s a goldmine of exclusive goodies, including t-shirts, and toys; hoodies, hats, headbands; pins, plushies and pajamas. Prices are in-line with what you would expect from theme park merchandise, with t-shirts in the $25-$35 range, and hoodies around $60.
Dine at The Toadstool Cafe
The Toadstool Cafe is a family friendly restaurant where Chef Toad has concocted colorful dishes and treats like Bowser’s Fireball Challenge – a one pound meatball “topped with mozzarella cheese served with mushroom marinara sauce, Bowser puff pastry, parsley, and hot sauce on the side” ($29.99).
Other items on the menu include Piranha Plant Caprese ($12.99), Mario Burger ($16.99) and a bright pink and very sparkly Princess Peach Cupcake ($9.99).
The food is designed to entertain and amuse – diners love to share photos of their crazy themed meals. Décor is very Nintendo, with lots of screens showing Mushroom Kingdom scenes to keep the kids (and probably you!) happy.
Is SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™ a Good Fit for You and Your Family?
If your family loves theme parks and Nintendo, and is visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, then you’re likely to get a good day’s worth of fun and happy memories out of SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™. There are tons of things to do, and the place is heaving with Nintendo charm. It’s worth noting that some of the games and attractions require some physical effort – so that’s something to keep in mind as you plan your day.
The ticket price is included in the price of entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood, which starts at around $109 per person online for a 1-day general admission ticket. SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™ is a relatively small area, so you might need to virtually book a timed entry (via the app) once you’re in the main park. If you’d prefer, there’s also an option to get a ticket upgrade for $20 per head for an early access pass to SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™. Note that ticket prices do occasionally change depending on the time of year, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it. The $40 cost of each Power-Up Band™ is optional, but they do add a layer of gamification to the experience that many kids may find delightful. And remember – you can use the same Power-Up Band™ for your next visit!
All-in-all, SUPER NINTENDO WORLD ™ is like stepping into World 1-1 with your family and enjoying some classic Nintendo play.
Colin Campbell is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Economist, The Guardian, Polygon, IGN, Gamesindustry.biz and more.