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Super Nintendo World Opens at Universal Studios Japan

March 17, 2021, 11:40 PM · Universal Studios Japan today officially opened its Super Nintendo World land - the first of four planned installations of the Super Mario-themed land at Universal theme parks around the world.

Nintendo legend and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Universal Studios Japan President J.L. Bonnier joined Toad, Luigi, Mario, and Princess Peach on Thursday morning for an opening moment outside the warp pipe entrance to the land.

Super Nintendo World opening
Photo courtesy Universal Studios Japan

"This experience completely revolutionizes theme park entertainment," Bonnier said. "We are especially proud that Universal Studios Japan will be the first place in the world to feature Super Nintendo World, especially since Nintendo was created and brought to life here in Japan."

On Wednesday, Universal Creative leaders Thierry Coup and Tom Geraghty talked from Orlando about the development of Super Nintendo World, detailing behind-the-scenes moments over the six years of the interactive attraction's development: Go Inside the Making of Universal's Super Nintendo World

"Super Nintendo World is the perfect blend of Nintendo games and theme park experiences, and brings the world of these incredibly popular games to life," Universal Parks & Resorts Chairman and CEO Tom Williams said. "This will surely amaze and delight not only fans of the park, but also Nintendo fans around the world. We look forward to sharing Super Nintendo World with our fans in Japan and bringing the experience to life at other Universal theme park destinations in the future."

The next opening for Super Nintendo World will be at Universal Studios Hollywood, where Super Nintendo World is now under construction on the park's Lower Lot. Universal has not announced an opening date for that installation, but the current state of construction suggests a 2022 opening. Super Nintendo World also is coming to the new Epic Universe theme park at Universal Orlando Resort, which now is expected to open in 2025. The land also will be installed at Universal Studios Singapore, though no opening date has been revealed for there, either.

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Replies (15)

March 18, 2021 at 5:04 AM

I think I must be too old for this! I'm looking at the video, comparing this immersive land with TWWOHP, with Star Wars, with Pandora, and I'm thinking 'wow that looks cheap'. I know it's based on animated figures but most of the animatronics seem to lack that basic 'animation'. It's like something I'd expect to see at a low-grade amusement park, not one of the world's premier theme parks. I really am trying to see the positives here but I'm struggling big time.

March 18, 2021 at 6:39 AM

David, I’m guessing you also view Toy Story Land and Pixar Pier as “cheap” and “something out of a low-grade amusement park”?

Universal makes rides for the general public. The crowds will show up who are gonna love this.

March 18, 2021 at 7:37 AM

As someone who grew up with this new age of Nintendo, this whole project is like my childhood dreams coming true. Yeah it may look plastic-y and the animatronics may seem static or repetitive, but that's exactly what the games this land was based on were like. It was a safe bet to base the aesthetic on the "New Super Mario Bros." series of games, but I think it was the best choice. Super excited for this to open up in the US (eventually lol), because I don't plan on going to Japan any time soon.

March 18, 2021 at 8:42 AM

I think it's a beautiful looking land. I'm very impressed by the kinetic energy of the place, with so much in-world movement going on (the one thing I believe that Star Wars land is sorely missing).

The only thing I'm not crazy about is the rides they have. In fairness, I'm judging off of You Tube videos, but I was hoping that Universal would have brought another game changer to the table. Something more like Forbidden Journey, Gringots, Rise of Resistance, or....well something other than a slow moving augmented reality dark ride, and an outdoor omnimover that just shows you more of what you were already looking at before you got on the ride.

Again, its all based on viewing videos, but by my assessment (and in the context of being a big Mario fan) Land gets an "A". Rides get a "C+". Maybe a "B" if the augmented reality is a lot better in person.

March 18, 2021 at 9:26 AM

At first glance, this looks a bit on the corny/campy/chintzy side. However, I think it really captures the feel of the Mario games and that heart of the franchise. The Yoshi ride reminds me a lot of Alice in Wonderland with outdoor and indoor sections (just using an omni-mover platform instead of blocked cars), and while it doesn't look like the most thrilling attraction, it appears to be a more capable sidekick to the Mario Cart attraction than Na'Vi River Journey is to Flight of Passage (but not as good as MF:SR is to RotR). Of course the Mario Cart Ride will be impossible to gauge on videos alone, as the AR aspects of this attraction make it impossible to evaluate without physically experiencing it first hand. However, all accounts are that it is a visual smorgasbord that will only get better as UC fine tunes the balance between AR, screens, and physical effects.

The extra experiences unlocked by the wristbands look really cool too, and something Disney is struggling with after trying to find an answer to the WWoHP wands. The wristband/app features appear pretty similar to those wand effects, but take it a step further with the gaming aspects that fit right in with the Mario theme and the audience that is increasingly spending time on their phones playing progressive puzzle games (like Candy Crush, Best Fiends, etc...). The wristbands help to link the real world with the virtual one created through the app, and should be a hit with a generation that has grown up with a smart phone in their hands.

If UC can replicate and expand on this with future installations of this land (I'm looking at you Epic Universe), this could absolutely set a new standard for themed entertainment and leveraging IP in theme parks to the fullest.

March 18, 2021 at 10:42 AM

@James
I haven't seen Toy Story land in person but from what I can see from videos, etc. it looks like it captures a set of toy bricks, etc really well. It's not trying to capture the animations as it isn't putting you into the films but putting you into one of Andy's real- world creations. The Nintendo land is trying to put you directly into the animated games by translating dynamic cartoon images into 3D animatronics but inevitably they lack the kinetic energy of the originals. For me that does not work as well because the concept is so different.
I appreciate I'm out of synch with most of the theme park community here and I'm happy to butt out and let you all enjoy it but I kind of expected more given Universal's track record.

March 18, 2021 at 12:32 PM

It looks like a small upgrade on the typical Universal experience. I just spent four days at Universal Orlando, my 8 and 5 year old's first trip to Universal after two times at Disney. Outside of Hagrid's, the rides there are showing their age. Forbidden Journey, while groundbreaking at the time, has been absolutely lapped by flight of passage. We were all disappointed with Gringott's...the ride is "ok" but the sound quality is so poor, you cannot understand any of the dialogue.

Looking at IOA - Hulk and Spider-man are great rides, but anything in toon lagoon that you can't get at any other park (Disney, regional, etc??) It's two rides themed to cartoons we had to explain to our kids. All of the Sunday Comics represented in this area have been out of print for years! Hagar the Horrible? Cathy? Blondie? and those are the recognizable ones. Kong is another motion simulator, and not even a real good one. Velocicoaster looks to be a nice addition, which is good because the Jurassic Park section is showing its age, and it is again based on a water ride, while well themed, you can find elsewhere. Outside of the WWoHP area, this park is desperately in need of a makeover. The poor Lost Continent needs to be put out of its misery. And, even my 5 year old was bored after 20 minutes in Suess.

March 18, 2021 at 4:45 PM

Watched ride videos of both new rides and all I can say is lame. Yoshi looks super boring. And Mario Kart the same however with the augmented reality googles it might be cool. I was hoping for a racing attraction like test track or raidiator springs.

March 18, 2021 at 1:04 PM

I keep thinking the same about the Mario Kart ride. I was expecting something that involved the speed of playing Mario Kart, not an AR ride. However, like everyone else, I am judging from youtube videos alone. If one were to judge Flight of Passage from just youtube, they would think its pretty lame, too, and we all know how great it really is. I will try to keep an open mind about the Mario Kart ride until I can experience it myself (unlikely until it opens in Orlando).

March 18, 2021 at 1:53 PM

I’ll echo everyone’s comments regarding Mario Kart most likely being better in person - however any of the on-ride reviews that I’ve heard has been that the ride is ‘fun,’ but nothing spectacular.

So I’m guessing that the actual on-ride experience isn’t going to be that much more impressive than the online videos.

March 18, 2021 at 1:58 PM

I won't totally judge just off videos but do think the complaints about it "looking fake" are a bit much as it connects to the source material and overall a great job making it all work.

March 18, 2021 at 2:14 PM

Are there any other AR theme park attractions around the world that I'm not aware of? It's completely possible that the Mario Cart attraction is not as good as anticipated (FWIW, I didn't think RotR was as good as advertised), but let's not judge something that has absolutely no parallel anywhere else in the world.

UC was tasked with creating a one-of-a-kind attraction for a video game IP, and came up with a system that tries to blend multiple media together seamlessly into a unique experience. Given UC's track record (as with WDI), I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that any perceived shortcomings from this ride were either intentional or can be remedied through modifications and tweaks in the coming months.

March 19, 2021 at 4:41 PM

I think the Mario Kart is one of those attractions that will have to be experienced in person. I’ve read some reviews & there were many who initially thought it looked “meh”, but changed their thoughts after riding it.

Also, while I’m a fan of Mario...it would be cool if Nintendo incorporated some of their other IPs. Zelda, Pokémon, Metroid, etc. into their land. Right now, it’s 100% Mario... and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s a lot of missed opportunities.

Still, the land itself looks cool & I look forward to checking it out!


March 19, 2021 at 7:18 PM

@David

At least they didnt make a land that nobody recognizes with characters that nobody cares about and opened it before it was completed.

March 21, 2021 at 8:16 AM

MLB - if you found Universal aged and tired you must really be bored at Disney then !

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