Theme Park Vote of the Week: Mickey or Mario?

March 12, 2022, 4:32 PM · Sure, we're just into March and the start of the 2022 season, but as a theme park fan living in Southern California, I cannot help but look forward what awaits us in 2023.

That's when we will be getting the long-awaited Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood. And arch-rival Disneyland is taking that challenge without response, as it will reopen its reimagined and expanded Mickey's Toontown next year, as well.

The addition of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway and a refreshed Toontown to the recent Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and the rest of Disneyland's classic line-up should help Walt's original park stake a strong claim for retaking the crown as the world's best theme park. Meanwhile, Universal will be adding Super Nintendo World to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Studio Tour, Waterworld, and a sneaky-good The Secret Life of Pets dark ride to move USH into the top tier of parks worldwide.

So local fans are getting two world-class dark rides (Mario Kart from Japan and Runaway Railway from Orlando), each surrounded by immersive themed lands with interactive elements. That's a big step forward for these parks and their fans.

But which one gets you more excited for next year? I understand that this might be a bit of a lopsided question for Theme Park Insider readers who have been able to visit Orlando in the past year or two but not been able to get into Japan. For them, Universal Studios Hollywood's Super Nintendo World will be their first opportunity to experience Mario Kart in person, while they might already have been on Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway in Orlando.

However, Mickey's Toontown will offer a compelling line-up of supporting attractions, including the return of Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, Gadget's Go-Coaster, meet and greets in Mickey and Minnie's homes, and several play areas, including interactive elements in the new CenTOONial Park zone. That might make Toontown a more compelling overall package for some families. Still, almost no one in Southern California will have seen what Super Nintendo World has to offer when it opens here, so that surely adds to its appeal.

Mario and Mickey together might be the two biggest names in themed entertainment worldwide, so this truly is a clash of giants. Of course, many of us will plan to visit both, but if I were to push you on this - who ya got?

If you are thinking about a visit to any of these California theme parks, our travel partner has discounted tickets to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Universal Studios Hollywood - including packages deals for all - on their Disneyland tickets and Universal Studios Hollywood tickets pages.

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Replies (9)

March 13, 2022 at 7:31 AM

It's a bit of a strange vote for me as I won't be able to experience either, but my preference would be clear. Manifestly Toon Town isn't aimed at me (a 60-year old male!) but I have absolutely zero interest in Mario or Nintendo and have been left completely cold by the videos I've seen of the Japanese Super Nintendo land. I know I'm swimming massively against the stream here but it's the first major expansion of any theme park globally that just doesn't even remotely excite or interest me. So somewhat reluctantly Toon Town gets my vote.

March 13, 2022 at 8:19 AM

@ David Brown: Posting as a guy turning 60 in a few months ... ditto!

March 13, 2022 at 12:59 PM

Ultimately, I went with Nintendo, just because I have been on Runaway Railway and there are too many unknowns with what the final version of Toontown will look like in reality.

March 13, 2022 at 1:20 PM

The only reason I picked Disneyland's ToonTown is that I have worked for both Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, and Disneyland was the MUCH better work experience. Universal was full of heavy-handed management who would ask me things like "why is this store doing less business than it did last year?" when I was in a different department the year before and didn't know what the differences were.

I'm glad you mentioned the Waterworld stunt show, which is better than the old Miami Vice, A-Team, and even the Wild West stunt shows, because Waterworld and the Studio Tour are the two best things that Universal has going for it. And Super Nintendo World looks pretty darned good. But as far as bang for my buck goes, I have to go Disneyland. Universal just doesn't have enough attractions to be worth it for me. It's a good tourist destination, as is Disneyland, but for a regular, it just doesn't have enough to draw me in (even with the addition of Super Nintendo World) when I can get so much more at Disney, or even at Knott's or Magic Mountain. I can watch Super Nintendo World on YouTube.

March 13, 2022 at 2:00 PM

Not really sure because one is an interactive colorful/bright land with a screen-based attraction and the other is a semi-interactive colorful/bright land with a screen-based attraction. Just on gut reaction, I say Toontown because the disappointment that the Mario Kart ride didn't utilize the Dual Power Coaster from Dynamic Attractions (if you want to see what it is still haunting me to this day.

But also the fact that the SNW land will be a smaller version than Japan's and Orlando's just doesn't help. No Yoshi ride (if I can even call it a ride) and barely any space for the Donkey Kong expansion going to both Japan and Orlando just is so sad.

So honestly... Toontown because then I can go ride Indy or Rise afterwards.

March 13, 2022 at 4:44 PM

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is a fantastic attraction. High capacity, long ride length, plenty of scenes and special effects, and with no height requirement little kids can ride but its not just a kids ride.
I haven't ridden the Mario Kart ride but from videos it looks like one of those situations where the technology had not caught up yet with the idea of what they were trying to do. I'm old and not a big fan of rides where you have to work to make things happen, and i'm not a Nintendo or video game person, so it doesn't appeal at all to me. And Super Nintendo Land with all the bright fiberglass everywhere/things moving and spinning all over the place looks like the stuff of nightmares.

March 14, 2022 at 11:00 AM

Super Nintendo World is a dream for this 56 year old as I love gaming, even though Nintendo isn't my preferred platform I'm looking forward to experience this land/ride in person.

March 14, 2022 at 2:11 PM

If I wanted to look at screens I'd stay home and play mario cart on the TV. Projection-mapped cartoons brought to life are a much bigger thrill.

March 15, 2022 at 2:50 AM

Having ridden Runaway Railway multiple times at DHS and visited Toontown countless times in the past, it's hard to not say Super Nintendo World as that is a whole new immersive area I've never experienced before. That said, I expect Runaway Railway to stand superior to anything in Super Nintendo World unless Mario Kart rides a lot better than it appears to in videos.

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