How Universal Studios Plans to Put You In Super Mario World

April 7, 2020

Every gamer knows that Super Mario World is one hell of a video game experience. But what if it could also be one hell of a real life experience?

Universal Studios of Orlando is looking to make that happen. In addition to their other properties (which range from Marvel and Men in Black to Harry Potter), Universal is now looking to add a Super Nintendo World for fans to enjoy.

But what is this world all about, and why should gamers even care? We’ve got the full scoop below.

A Splashy Advertisement

Wondering why we’re only now getting a Super Mario theme park? A lot of this has to do with Nintendo slowly opening up their beloved franchise characters more than just a Nintendo audience.

For example, the success of Pokemon Go helped spawn other smartphone apps such as Super Mario Run. And Nintendo will also be working with Universal’s Illumination Entertainment (the geniuses behind Despicable Me) to craft a new Super Mario Bros. movie. New apps and new movies, along with the runaway success of the Switch, all seem to be part of a plan to recruit new fans.

Now, half a decade after the first Super Nintendo World plans, Nintendo is making some splashy reveals. This includes a major Grand Central Station event where fans could check out costumes, learn about the park, and even jump up and grab coins.

Fans could even win prizes for merchandise that will be sold in the Super Nintendo World in Japan (which, barring delays, is opening up this summer).

An “Epic” Universe

While fans (including us) have already nicknamed the new Nintendo area of Universal Super Mario World, this is actually only a quarter of the plans for this theme park. In fact, all of the Nintendo stuff will be just one quarter of what Universal is calling their Epic Universe.

We don’t know much about Epic Universe yet, including what the other areas will be themed. But we do know that, much like Diagon Alley (one of the Harry Potter sections of the park), these areas will be relatively isolated from the rest of Universal.

The goal of such isolation is immersion. Visitors to Diagon Alley cannot even see outside to the other theme park franchises. And visitors to Super Nintendo World will be similarly immersed in the world of their favorite franchise. 

Other Nintendo Favorites

Mario is obviously the main focus of this new area. In fact, it looks likely that visitors will enter Super Nintendo World through Mario’s favorite form of transport: a giant green pipe.

With that being said, the area is named after Nintendo and not simply after Mario. We’re hoping to see other Nintendo franchise characters in some form or another. Characters like Link and Zelda or Ash and Pikachu definitely need their own rides!

And even if your favorite characters aren’t part of an official ride or other attraction, Universal employees may be walking around dressed as your favorite character. And Universal’s cosplay skills are on point–just check out how well they translated She-Ra

A “Magical” Inspiration

Earlier, we touched on the Harry Potter areas of Universal Studios. While we still don’t know much about Super Nintendo World, it’s clear that Hogswarts has been a major influence on the design and planning of the new area.

Part of what makes Universal’s Diagon Alley so impressive is how immersive the area is. It’s more than just a handful of themed rides. Visitors can also buy wands and other magical items in themed stores and sit down to restaurants serving thematic food.

Super Nintendo World is going to have its own thematic food and merch. And the decor (including killer piranha plants from Super Mario Bros.) should make you feel like you’ve been transported to areas like the Mushroom Kingdom.


Another clear Harry Potter inspiration will be Super Nintendo World’s interactive opportunities.

A New Kind Of Interactive Gaming

Part of the “magic” (pun intended) of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are the magic wands. While visitors can buy normal replica wands from multiple vendors, they can also purchase deluxe wands designed to interact with the park.

When fans stand in the right areas and move their wand the right way, it triggers special events that bring certain areas to life. For example, you can make marionettes dance or repair broken suits of armor.

For Super Nintendo World, the interactivity is more like (what else?) a video game. Visitors may purchase “Power Up Bands” modeled after characters like Mario and Princess Peach. These bands sync up with a smartphone app and turn the entire themed area into a video game.

As an example, you can collect and track virtual coins and achievements as you travel. Just like that, the family trip becomes a battle for the high score.

In the mood to meet strangers? You can collect keys and coordinate with others to complete Key Challenges. This allows you to find and defeat different boss characters throughout the area.

While Nintendo has kept mum about the details, this app can also sync up with your Nintendo Switch account. This means unlocking things in the park may unlock virtual items, characters, o game modes on your Switch back home.

Eat Like Mario?

Earlier, we touched on Nintendo’s plan to have thematic food throughout the park. What that will be, though, is anyone’s guess.

Over in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, things are simple enough: you can order authentic British cuisine. Pretty much the same thing that Harry and his pals would like to chow down on.

What, then, would Mario-themed food be? Possibilities range from authentic Italian food to mushroom-filled dishes. Or maybe it will be nothing but typical park food with a Nintendo label on it.

Hey, if it was good enough for Nintendo Cereal, it’s good enough for Universal Studios!

Some Wild Rides

What rides will Super Nintendo World have? We only know about two so far: Mario Kart and Yoshi’s Adventures.

Mario Kart seems like it will be a fast-paced thrill ride, but we don’t yet know details about the experience. Meanwhile, Yoshi’s Adventures looks like a kid-friendly dark ride.

Fans are eager to hear about more cool rides. However, the two we know about confirm that both Universal and Nintendo want to offer entertainment to many different fans and age groups.

When Will It Open?

So, when can you check out Super Nintendo World? If you’re traveling to Universal Studios in Japan, you can scope out their version as early as this summer. For Universal Studios in Orlando, though, both Super Nintendo World and the rest of the Epic Universe should be open in 2023.

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Nintendo EAD Tokyo
November 21, 2013

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