Many a Nintendo fan has waited patiently for Super Nintendo World’s arrival in the United States. The FOMO fans have experienced from watching vloggers and social media influencers cover the park in Japan has been excruciating. While fun to watch, it’s been agonizing seeing the cute merchandise, the picture opportunities with Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach, the Power-Up bands, and more.
Thankfully, the wait is nearly over. At time of publishing, Super Nintendo World will officially open at Universal Studios Hollywood on February 17th, 2023, with soft openings and technical rehearsals happening now. So many in Southern California are excited, myself very much included. While social media posts, land updates, and drone footage of the land are exciting, now might be time to temper expectations in order to keep our video game dream come true from becoming a nightmare.
How the Super Nintendo World looked on November 15th, 2022.
When news broke that Universal Studios Hollywood would get its version of Super Nintendo World first, it was a bit of a shock. For the last few expansions to the US parks, the trend was to build at the Florida resort first, and then break ground in California. Universal Orlando is a hop, skip, and jump away from Walt Disney World and has become one of the premier vacation spots in the United States. To woo theme park-goers away from Disney, Universal makes big, marquee moves in Florida first as a way to gauge the path forward for California. While California has both Disney and Universal theme parks and resorts, the space there is much smaller compared to the Florida locations. For example, when Universal wanted to build the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, they had to remove something first. This something was the Gibson Amphitheater; a concert venue. The same goes for rides, as The Simpson’s Ride famously took over the Back To The Future ride, and the Despicable Me attraction replaced the Terminator 2 show. What does this all have to do with California getting a Super Nintendo World first and tempering our expectations? This all likely means Universal was able to finish the Hollywood location sooner, since this version of Super Nintendo World is going to be the smallest.
Who DOESN’T want a picture with Mario and Luigi?
Universal Studios Hollywood wasn’t always a theme park. It began as a working movie and television studio backlot, and said backlot is still being used to make films, television shows, and commercials to this day. The theme park was built around movie sets, so finding proper space for more theme park attractions has become a logistical nightmare. This usually means an older part of the park is done away with to make room for something new, but not this time. Thankfully, no former attractions are being remodeled to bring the Mushroom Kingdom to Southern California. Space was found and utilized in the theme park’s Lower Lot, which currently houses the Jurassic World, Transformers, and Mummy attractions. Even with the newfound space, that doesn’t mean everything that has been built for Japan’s Super Nintendo World will be built in California.
Marquee items, such as Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge and Toadstool’s Café, will be included, but Super Nintendo World Hollywood isn’t getting Yoshi’s Adventure. There simply isn’t enough room to build the ride’s track, and squeezing it down would compromise the experience to a disappointing degree. The ride in Japan gives you a bird’s eye view of Super Nintendo World, complete with familiar scenes peppered with animatronics of Yoshi, Toad, and Baby Mario/Luigi. While there’s not enough room to replicate that in Universal Studios Hollywood, all is not lost. While we won’t get a full-on ride, Yoshi’s Island will still see some representation in the line queue for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. Thanks to the YouTube Channel Ordinary Adventure, we can see inside the queue a bit.
The statue inside Bowser’s Castle. (Credit: Ordinary Adventures)
While having only one major ride in Super Nintendo World may seem like a bummer, there’s still more to do. The Power-up Bands have made the transition to California, and they work just like they do in Japan. There are question blocks and stamps aplenty to find in Super Nintendo World, and according to Ordinary Adventures, the leaderboards refresh every hour, while the question blocks reset every 30 seconds. I highly recommend watching their video exploring Super Nintendo World so you can see how some things work.
Judging by the soft openings for pass holders and current Universal Team members, it looks like the soft-open for Super Nintendo World is running smoothly. That said, you might be wondering whether you need a reservation to get into the park when it officially opens. Well, the answer is maybe, and that’s literally how it’s worded on Univeral’s official website. While you won’t need a reservation outright to get to Universal Studios Hollywood (like when you’re trying to visit Disneyland), you may need one to get inside Super Nintendo World. It also depends on how busy Super Nintendo World is that day. If you get to the park earlier in the day or right when it opens, the chances of getting into Super Nintendo World are much higher. If you go later in the day, you’ll likely have a much tougher time getting in. Getting in on a reservation is akin to the system Disney used when they opened Galaxy’s Edge, where people had “Boarding Groups” with a window to enter the land. Of course, you could just get lucky and go on a day where reservations aren’t needed, letting you enter freely.
Me at a photo op right at the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Judging by the videos being shared on social media, it looks like Universal Studios Hollywood put as much love and care into bringing the Mushroom Kingdom to life in California as they did in Japan. Everything looks fantastic, and while this fan is still a little bummed we won’t be getting more rides (yet), knowing the park is located quite close to me makes up for it.
Wondering when to visit Super Nintendo World? In my own experience with Universal Studios Hollywood, I would try to go on a weekday about 2-3 months after Super Nintendo World opens. When the Wizarding World opened in California, I would go to the park on a Thursday and there were practically no lines for ANY attraction, but that’s just my personal experience. Hopefully, no matter when you get to visit Super Nintendo World, you end up having an amazing time as you’re whisked away to the Mushroom Kingdom.
Screenshots from: Universal Studios YouTube Channel, Ordinary Adventures.
Cover Photo: Ordinary Adventures