A new part of Universal Studios Hollywood is now open, and I recently got a chance to pay it a visit. The new attraction is Super Nintendo World, and friends, if you are a fan of the little plumber Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser, and Yoshi, you are going to be out of your mind. Plus, the timing is perfect with the imminent release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
I absolutely love the franchise, and I’ve been playing since I was little, so this was right up my alley. That said, I was not prepared for my own reaction. This part of the park isn’t huge, but as part of a larger whole, it’s exactly the right size. You walk in through a lit-up tunnel, through Princess Peach’s castle, and oh my freaking gosh, you are in the video game!
Like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the theme park offers a purchasable item that allows you to interact with the environment. While the Wizarding World has a wand, Super Nintendo World has a power-up bracelet. They’re sort of like giant slap bracelets with a symbol from the games that you can choose from. (Mine was a Yoshi egg.)
They allow you to do things like touch underneath a giant question mark cube and have it light up with sound, or a brick wall, which reveals a classic Mario above your head. They can be purchased from a vending machine for $40. They sync with a free app that you can download, though we didn’t have time to do that.
Book your Universal Studios Hollywood trip via Expedia!
Not everything was open when my fiancé Jeff and I got there at our allotted time. We didn’t get to ride Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, but this is an augmented reality game that has a moving track with sound, color and movement, as was announced previously.
This just means I’m going back again. There are even electronic leaderboards outside of the ride that change depending on how you do. It’s right by Mount Beanpole, the landmark center of the place.
You can win digital coins with some of the offerings here. In one, you tap your band (and the app keeps track of your coins) in front of a giant Piranha Plant and then race around trying to turn off all the giant alarm clocks. There is a Goomba Crazy Crank, Koopa Troopa POWer Punch, the Piranha Plant Nap Mishap with the alarm clocks, and Thowmp Panel Panic. If you collect three keys from these games, you can access the final boss battle with Bowser Jr.
Though we only saw Princess Peach at the preview, she, Mario, and Luigi all appear at different times for an interactive experience. I have to say, watching adult people line up and almost burst into tears when they met her was so lovely!
The surroundings at Super Nintendo World are absolutely phenomenal. Koopas wander back and forth on some of the walls, and Yoshi is easy to find. Coins spin everywhere, and Goombas appear in video windows inside the castle. The world is so fully-realized that you absolutely feel like you’re inside the game.
If you’re hungry, and oh my gosh, please don’t eat anywhere else, the food at Toadstool Cafe is some of the best I’ve ever had at a theme park.
We were given comped food by Super Nintendo World, and the prices are high, but what isn’t right now? I had a Piranha Plant Caprese, which was adorable and really tasty, and Jeff had Fire Flower Spaghetti, which he said was really spicy and delicious.
I got a Super Star Lemon Squeeze drink which was sort of a boba-style lemonade, and it was amazing. We split the ? Block Tiramisu and the Princess Peach Cupcake. I may die of sugar shock, but I’ll be happy before I go.
They also offer Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knots, Super Mushroom Soup, a Mario Bacon Cheeseburger, Luigi Pesto Chicken Burger, and there was a short rib dish that they were out of. All the menu items in Super Nintendo World are marked as to whether they’re suitable for vegetarians, vegans, or those with a gluten intolerance. Since I’m two of those three things, I really appreciated that (not that I stuck to the gluten thing).
The restaurant itself is incredibly scenic. You walk in and watch Chef Toad tell you all about the food as you wait in line. You order at the register, and get your drinks and a number. They give you a designated seat and bring your food out to you.
While you wait, the “windows” of the place show scenes from games as though you’re watching them from inside a Mushroom Kingdom building. When Bowser’s ship comes in, the place darkens and flashes, and the music changes. It’s adorable.
Everything in the place is branded just like the game. There is even a mini-game for your power-up bracelet as you wait to get inside.
You know you’re going to want to take home Super Nintendo World souvenirs, and of course, there is a gift shop. The 1-UP Factory at Super Nintendo World is full of every conceivable item you could want from a Nintendo purse to kid pajamas, to statues and stuffies.
Of course, I bought a Yoshi and a Toad because I endlessly do the voices in my house. Poor Jeff, because I’m pretty much already a video game character.
Don’t limit yourself to this store, though. There are Super Nintendo World items all over the park, and yes, I absolutely did wander into every one of them to check. They actually have different items in other places, just like the Wizarding World does, so plan accordingly.
This was such a wonderful experience. I don’t think any theme park world has so captured the joy I have in these games. I am already dying to go back. You hear that, Bowser? It’s-a me! Jenna!
If you want to see a few videos, feel free to check out my Instagram @jennabusch. Let us know what you think about Super Nintendo World by tagging us on Twitter @vitalthrillscom or leaving a comment on our Facebook. I’m leaving you a few more pictures below.