I'm captured by the feeling
Love the ride
And now I'm really living life
Alive, a super kind of feeling
Jump on board the ride tonight
Super Nintendo World is a series of theme park lands located at various Universal Parks that are based on games created by Nintendo. First announced back in 2015 as a long-term collaboration between Nintendo and Universal Parks & Resorts, the area first officially opened at Universal Studios Japan on March 18th, 2021. A second location at Universal Studios Hollywood opened on February 17th, 2023. Future locations at Universal Studios Singapore and the under-construction Epic Universe park at Universal Orlando Resort are also in-development, with both of those lands currently scheduled to open in 2025.
Unique to this park is the usage of wearable wristbands akin to the Disney Theme Parks Magic Bands called "Power-Up Bands", which can be used to interact with attractions and scenery to gain digital coins and to compete with other visitors via an app. This is tied into an interactive scavenger hunt experience where guests defeat enemies and collect keys to gain entry to a boss battle with Bowser Jr., who has stolen a collection of Golden Mushrooms. At home, the bands also function as amiibo.
At present, the land is based on Nintendo's Cash-Cow Franchise Super Mario Bros. with the following major rides and attractions:
- Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge: An AR-augmented dark ride and gallery shooter hybrid inspired by Mario Kart. Guests take part in a race between Team Mario and Team Bowser, and must help the former win by throwing shells at targets and other racers.
- Yoshi's Adventure: An omnimover dark ride inspired by Yoshi's Island, manufactured by Sansei Technologies and exclusive to the Japan and Epic Universe versions of the park. This ride sees Toadette recruit guests to go on a search for Captain Toad, who has been on an expedition to find a golden Yoshi egg.
- Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown: A boss battle that sees guests interacting with a screen to deflect enemies and attack Bowser Jr. with fireballs in order to recover a golden mushroom that he has stolen. Guests access this attraction by completing earning three Key Coins with their Power-Up Band, which can be earned by completing Key Challenges scattered around the land:
- Goomba Crazy Crank: A test of endurance, with a single guest needing to rotate a crank connected to a rolling hill until a Goomba loses their balance.
- Koopa Troopa POWer Punch: A single guest must hit a POW Block, timing the hit so that it launches a Green Shell upwards through a pipe and hits a Koopa Troopa.
- Piranha Plant Nap Mishap: Can be played by multiple guests, who must run around an area and deactivate alarm clocks to prevent a Piranha Plant from waking up.
- Bob-omb Kaboom Room: Exclusive to the Universal Studios Japan version of the land, guests must find pieces of a Key Coin and assemble it before a Bob-omb explodes.
- Thwomp Panel Panic: Guests must turn every Flipswitch Panel on a screen into a single color before a Thwomp resets the board.
- Toadstool Café: The land's sit-down eatery, featuring a range of dishes inspired by characters and iconography from the Mario series. The café is run by Chef Toad, and features animated windows that look out into the Mushroom Kingdom and periodically show an attack by Bowser.
An expansion area, which is under-construction at Universal Studios Japan and will also be present upon opening at Epic Universe, will be based on Donkey Kong Country. This land is expected to feature a prototype 'Boom Coaster' as its signature attraction, themed to the Minecart Madness level from the first Donkey Kong Country. This coaster is attached to vertical-running track via a boom arm, which allows it to give the impression of the vehicle jumping over gaps in the fake horizontal track.
Notably, this is Nintendo’s first major collaboration with NBCUniversal. It would be followed up upon with the animated feature, The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Trailers: The Vision For Nintendo At Universal Theme Parks, Teaser Trailer, Full trailer, Super Nintendo World Direct
- Achievement System: Your Power-Up Band can track your accomplishments in the land, and give a mix of both one-time and repeatable achievements that you can earn by finding secrets and completing games.
- Adaptation Distillation: In Hollywood, Yoshi's Adventure has been removed due to space limitations. As a small bit of compensation, the extended queue for Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge is themed after it.
- Adventure-Friendly World: Lampshaded in the queue for Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge, where one of the books you can find has the title Grooming the Mushrooms: Kart-Friendly Landscaping.
- All the Worlds Are a Stage: The track featured in Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge is a compilation of various track settings and themes mostly based on ones from Mario Kart 8. Starting in a standard Mario Circuit-style racetrack with elements of Bowser’s Castle, it goes through areas based on Piranha Plant Slide from Mario Kart 7, Dolphin Shoals, Twisted Mansion, Cloudtop Cruise, Mario Kart Wii’s Grumble Volcano, and the Mario Kart 64 version of Rainbow Road.
- The Bad Guy Wins: It’s entirely possible for Team Bowser to win the race in Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
- Butt-Monkey: At the start of Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge, Toad falls victim to a multitude of things. To start, he's cut off from the initial start of the race alongside the riders when the gate out of Bowser's Castle abruptly slams shut, except he crashes right into the now-closed gate. This sends him right into the path of one of the lasers fired by some Bowser statues as the riders take an alternate route, and right after that, Iggy rams his kart into Toad's, leaving the latter briefly dumbstruck by what just happened. Moments later, Toad drives right under a Thwomp, leaving him briefly Squashed Flat. Afterwards, the riders are free to let loose on Team Bowser once they get their first item boxes. Though later in the race, Toad does get chased by Morton with a Piranha Plant, but this time, you can stop Morton's chase if you have any shells handy, scoring you some coins if you succeed.
- Continuity Nod:
- The queue for Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge features dozens of books on the shelves that reference various characters and games from throughout the Mario series. Some game-specific book titles include Island Life: Tales of Baby Bowser, A Journey Through Kalimari Desert, Moo Moo Farm's Almanac, Yoshi's Story, Party Games for Friends (and Enemies), The Double Dash Years, Dem Bones: A Dry Bowser Story, A Brief History of Moo Moo Meadows, Crazy Eights and Lucky Sevens, and Trips to Shy Guy Falls.
- A menu item at Japan's Kinopio's Café is Princess Peach's Cake, which is also served with a letter from her as a reference to the game's opening.
- Mario Motors, the exit gift shop for Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge in Japan, takes its branding from one of the fictional race sponsors in Mario Kart 8.
- One of the props in the Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge queue is a pop-up picture book displaying a diorama that is very reminiscent of Paper Mario in appearance. Above this table is also a hanging mobile, with one of its sculptures being a Super Mario Galaxy-style planet.
- Starship Mario is visible through a Warp Pipe in Yoshi's Adventure.
- Creator Cameo: A portrait of Bowser in the Mario Kart queue is signed by Shigeru Miyamoto. Additionally, one of the Miis in the pre-show representing the guests joining Mario's racing team is former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.
- Cultural Translation: The menu of Toadstool Café is different between Japan and Hollywood, with the former featuring more general Asian cuisine while Hollywood goes for Italian-American. To illustrate, Luigi's chicken burger is topped with green curry in Japan, and pesto in Hollywood.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Considering that Bowser designed the course to beat Mario in Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, he's also not interested in playing fair either, even for Mario Kart standards. At the start of the race, he makes it so that the gate leading out of his castle slams shut on the unsuspecting riders and the rest of Team Marionote (and poor Toad as he crashes into it), forcing them to take an alternate route. Then, while him using a Blooper on the riders is just like in the games, he then uses a Bob-Omb to unleash a Mega Fish Bone on the riders, which also sucks in Mario for a moment. Later, an airship piloted by Boom Boom and Pom Pom fires Bullet Bills at the riders, and after that, he uses a POW Block to unleash Lava Bowser to impede the riders one last time. Of course, if the riders do succeed in helping Team Mario win the race, this ends up being played straight for Bowser with how this would ultimately backfire on him.
- Dynamic Difficulty: The Key Challenges scattered around the land have an "Easy Mode" and "Hard Mode". You will always start on Easy, and move up to Hard on repeat plays if you win. Losing on Hard Mode will send you back to Easy.
- Easter Egg: Pikmin can be found hanging around different parts of the Mushroom Kingdom, as shown here.
- Exploring the Evil Lair: Bowser's Castle is fully fleshed out and explorable at the park, and serves as the main pre-ride queue leading into Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. It includes a main hall, a library containing dozens of Mario Kart references, and a special factory where Bob-ombs, Mechakoopas, and Bullet Bills are constructed en masse.
- Freemium: The purchasable Power-Up Bands allow you to track the coins and achievements you collect, and also allows you to take part in the Key Challenges that unlock Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Played with. While Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge features the signature aspects of a Mario Kart race, there's an actual story behind the ride, and it's not just for fun. The 2020 Nintendo Direct shows the queue has a challenge letter from Bowser, and that Bowser designed the course as an effort to beat Mario. The riders are also said to be part of Mario's team.Bowser's Letter: "Hey MARIO! I challenge you to a RACE! Come to my castle! And DON'T CHICKEN OUT! GWAHAHA"
(Click here for a rough Translation of the Japanese letter):
- Golden Ending: Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge has a semi-hidden "Team Universal" ending, which is earned by getting a very high score on the ride (which seems to be at least 150 coins).
- Guide Dang It!:
"You have collected [X] keys! Now head for Bowser Jr.'s lair!"
- While the pre-show for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge does explain how to play, something it doesn't make clear is that holding a drift long enough nets you more coins, which can hinder trying to win the race for the first time rider or those trying to go for a high score if they haven't figured this out.
- For Hollywood's version of the AR binoculars, the conditions for the "Pick Out Pikmin" stamp are the same as in Japan's. It says "Use the Binoculars to zoom in on Pikmin on Mount Beanpole", except in Hollywood, doing that does not trigger the sequence to get the stamp, as where the event actually is are near some tall mushrooms on the rightmost part of the land, and is indicated by a small set of auroral lights.
- While 3 Key Coins are required to enter Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown, it's never explicitly pointed out that you can carry more than three Key Coins. How many Key Coins you have if you have more than three is only shown through text (which makes it very easy to overlook) if you tap on the icons for them on the top right of the home page of the park's respective Super Nintendo World section of their app.
- Graceful Loser: In the endings for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, even if Team Bowser wins the race, Team Mario doesn't seem bothered by it at all, as they still use their victory animations despite having lost the race. Mario, in particular, says, "Thank you so much!", which he also says if Team Mario wins the race.
- Level One Music Represents: The first song to play upon entering the park is a specially-created remix of the overworld from Super Mario Bros..
- Mini-Boss: In Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, Mega Fish Bone and Lava Bowser appear as these. The riders have an opportunity to defeat them for some extra coins during the time period they're present for.
- Multiple Endings: Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge has three possible endings: One for Team Bowser and Team Mario, as well as a Golden Ending in which you earn the Universal trophy, as shown by a giant Universal Cup trophy on the podium instead of Mario.
- Original Generation: Chef Toad is a new character created for the park, running Toadstool Café.
- Patchwork Map: Surrounding the central area are ice, mountain, forest, and desert environments, along with Bowser's Castle and the underground cave area.
- Plot Coupon: Access to Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown is unlocked once you obtain three Key Coins, which can be earned by successfully completing Key Challenges, or by finding a secret scene with the Airship using the AR binoculars.
- Production Foreshadowing: The door to the Donkey Kong area has existed since the Japanese land's opening, with it being very obviously themed to that series. From the Mushroom Kingdom area, the skyline in the direction of Donkey Kong also obviously has a jungle theme.
- Rail Shooter: The Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge attraction combines this with a racing game: riders collect shells by steering their kart into item boxes and shooting hazards and the Koopalings.
- Recycled Soundtrack: While the land is filled to the brim with plenty of new arrangements of existing Mario songs from past Mario games, some songs are directly taken from past Mario games in certain places:
- The queue and ordering counters of Toadstool Café plays the town theme of the Luncheon Kingdom from Super Mario Odyssey.
- When the riders get ahold of a Star from an Item Box before the Rainbow Road finale sequence on Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge, despite the ride taking heavy influence from Mario Kart 8, the invincibility theme from Mario Kart Wii plays instead.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: All three trailers involve Mario interacting with real life objects and people.
- Suddenly Voiced: In the games, the Toads have a lot of unvoiced text dialogue but very few voiced lines outside of some phrases and reactions. In the park, they speak directly to visitors with fully voiced, comprehensible dialogue; this includes Toadette, who speaks quite liberally when you encounter her in Yoshi's Adventure, and Chef Toad also speaks extensively in both English and Japanese at Toadstool/Kinopio's Café. For English speakers, this is the first time Toad has spoken full sentences since the GameCube era (where Toad had speaking roles in Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour).
- Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach also speak full sentences during their meet-and-greets.
- The Ghost King: King Boo briefly pops up as an obstacle in the Twisted Mansion section of Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
- Tube Travel: Guests enter the land by walking through a Warp Pipe and emerging within Peach's Castle. Attentive guests will also notice that pipes are used throughout the land to mark transition points between areas with contrasting scenery.
- Wacky Racing: You can't have a Mario Kart ride without this trope. The attraction, titled Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, pits visitors against "Team Bowser" in a fully-immersive AR race throughout the Mushroom Kingdom. It's also a Rail Shooter, with riders fighting off hordes of classic enemies with Koopa shells.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: A mild example (yet a rare one for a theme park ride), but it is possible to hit Team Mario racers on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, though they won't look too happy about it, and you don't get any coins for doing so. That being said, there is a stamp achievement for not hitting a single one of them, since that can also happen by accident anyway.
- Baby, we are born to play...