Nintendo and Universal Studios took the world by storm when they announced they were partnering together to bring Super Mario to life in a massive Mario-themed park called Super Nintendo World.
The park will occupy its own space at Universal Studios, similar to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And work on Super Nintendo World was rapidly progressing, with its debut location at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka essentially being completed in time for summer 2020, and its upcoming locations at Universal theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando in the United States which are underway.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in Mario’s pipes, leading the grand opening of Super Nintendo World to be delayed until further notice in Japan and its construction halted altogether in the United States.
Still, the few visitors allowed to attend the Osaka park at minimum capacity have managed to catch glimpses of Super Nintendo World, and it looks very impressive.
From a distance, you can see marching Koopa Troopas, Goombas stacked on top of one another, a Yoshi herd strolling alongside a Mushroom Kingdom mountain, a snapping Piranha Plant, and an angry Thwomp smashing down to the ground. The scenery is complete with blocks and spinning coins seemingly hovering in the air.
All of this action is complimented by the beautiful backdrop of both Princess Peach’s castle facing off against Bowser’s dark fortress. A Mario-themed restaurant and gift shop called Mario Motors are also visible from some angles.
A warp pipe serves as the entrance to the park that leads guests directly to Peach’s Castle, while Bowser’s Fortress contains the highly anticipated Mario Kart ride.
Super Mario Kart Ride
There are two floors inside Bowser’s Fortress. The top floor is dedicated to the queue where riders will line up as they twist downward to the bottom level which is entirely dedicated to the enormous Mario Kart ride with its massive two-track design.
The Mario Kart Ride will feature a mix of both practical and special effects and utilizes physical space and karts to create an immersive illusion of racing on a real Mario Kart course.
Initial plans for the ride incorporated more augmented reality aspects via the use of special virtual goggles which would mostly be used for acquiring and using special items. However, it seems the goggles are no longer a part of the experience, and insiders are unsure of how Nintendo and Universal Studios plan to replicate special items into the ride.
The Yoshis marching around the mountains are rides in and of themselves. They are part of a family ride called Yoshi’s Adventure, and they snake around an iconic Mario-style mountain and enter tunnels wherein riders are likely to be treated to even snappier visuals and animatronic displays.
Yoshi’s Adventure is an omnimover attraction on a belt system where a dozen Yoshis line up for riders to board and automatically be carried throughout the experience. Each Yoshi can carry two riders.
These are the only attractions that appear to have finished construction at Universal Studios Japan, although there is another part of the park that appears to be reserved for a Donkey Kong-themed jungle zone rumored to feature a Mine-Cart Madness rollercoaster.
Donkey Kong Country/Mine-Cart Madness
The Donkey Kong Country area already has jungle-themed lining decorating its segment of the park. Its placement nearby the Mushroom Kingdom mirrors that of leaked concept art for Super Nintendo World.
Footage of Super Nintendo World has been taken during both the day and night, offering us a good idea of what the park will look like at different hours. The daytime appearance is obviously more colorful, but the animatronics somehow look even more lively under the shade of night.
Super Nintendo World Opening Dates
It is believed that the Japan location will probably open in 2021 after being postponed from its original opening date that was supposed to coincide with the since-cancelled 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
For those in the United States, the wait will undoubtedly be even longer. Japan has the benefit of the construction of its Super Nintendo World already basically being completed. Meanwhile, construction hasn’t even started yet at Universal Studios Hollywood and it isn’t expected to have the Yoshi’s Adventure ride.
Slightly more progress has been made at the Epic Universe park at Universal Orlando Resort which will more closely resemble its counterpart in Japan. It was originally planned to open in 2023, but has now been delayed indefinitely.
There have been rumors about a Super Nintendo World opening at Universal Studios Singapore as well, but that won’t be happening any time soon.