Universal Is Selling Early Access to Super Nintendo World

February 1, 2023, 3:01 PM · If you want to be among the first people to get into Super Nintendo World each morning after it opens officially later this month, you will have to pay extra to do that.

Universal Studios Hollywood now is selling early access to Super Nintendo World, starting one hour before the park's scheduled opening time. The access will cost $20 or $25, depending upon the date, and does not include park admission, which must be purchased separately for the same date. Super Nintendo World early access starts February 18, one day after the land's official opening.

Super Nintendo World currently is in annual passholder previews, though soft openings to all guests are possible on days with extended park hours.

The early access changes the strategy for getting the most from a day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Forget about rushing downstairs to the new land at park opening to walk on Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge without waiting. The early access ticket now means that park guests already will be in the land and its ride queue when you get there.

The early access ticket for Super Nintendo World also includes a one-time express access to the Studio Tour, which is valid until 11am. That seems to be the carrot that Universal is using to entice its early Nintendo visitors out of the land promptly, so that they can get to the Studio Tour and free space in Super Nintendo World for other park guests.

Universal has prepared to use its Virtual Line system to control access to Super Nintendo World, so I will continue to recommend that all Universal Studios Hollywood visitors try to enter that as soon as they enter the park, if they want to visit Super Nintendo World. But the desire to skip the uncertainty of a virtual queue might convince many Universal Studios Hollywood visitors to pay up the extra $20-25 for the guaranteed spot in the land at the start of the day. And that's especially true for Universal's many local annual passholders, who might prefer the certainty of knowing not only that they will get into the land, but also when.

Update: Universal Studios Hollywood just emailed passholders who had attended the overcrowded preview on Sunday, offering them a second-chance preview on Monday, February 6. If you were one of them, check your email for the details.

First Look at Super Nintendo World

For more on Super Nintendo World, please read our previous on-site coverage and reviews: Super Nintendo World Soft Opens in Hollywood, Having Fun With Real-Life Gameplay in Super Nintendo World, Having Lunch With Super Mario at Universal's Toadstool Cafe, and Crowds Slam Super Nintendo World for Passholder Preview.

Or watch our videos from inside Super Nintendo World:

Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

For more on the park, including our latest reader rankings and advice, please visit our Universal Studios Hollywood page.

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Replies (20)

February 1, 2023 at 3:19 PM

Disney: "We've monetized everything that is possible to monetize!"

Universal: "Hold my butterbeer..."

February 1, 2023 at 3:21 PM

don't worry folks, this is fine because we expect to be nickled and dimed by some mega corporation and not others.

February 1, 2023 at 3:54 PM

So this is what my supervisors meant when “Early Entry” was coming back for Super Nintendo World. I just assumed it was going to be like how it was pre-pandemic, free.

Basically, when Potter opened, there was an early entry to the land between 30 mins to an hour(depending on the day) before the rest of the park opened at the scheduled opening time.

February 1, 2023 at 4:32 PM

The real question is how long this will stay in place. Considering the timing of this debut, I could see this lasting through July.

I can certainly see why Universal is doing this, but I definitely don’t like parks contining to monetize access to lands and attractions like this. If you need more money to cover the cost of the land, raise the admission price. If you need to control capacity within the land, use. 1-in-1-out system at the entrance. Theme parks should be places where everyone can enjoy the immersion together, not a place where you can flaunt your wealth to get ahead of the serfs.

February 1, 2023 at 6:07 PM

Hot take: For the price of Genie+, I don't mind Universal charging guests for early access to the newest themed land. If they were charging for access to the land outright (during regular operating hours), I may have different feelings.

But the land is small enough as it is, and this will help to spread out the demand during normal hours, and it grants buyers pretty good value (early access + one-time use Express).

Relatedly, I think we'll see more theme parks do this for new rides. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney begins opening attractions that are Lightning Lane-only for a few weeks before slowly allowing standby guests at a reasonable rate.

February 1, 2023 at 5:30 PM

"Theme parks should be places where everyone can enjoy the immersion together, not a place where you can flaunt your wealth to get ahead of the serfs."

100% THIS. It just breeds resentment and anger.

?I wouldn't be surprised if Disney begins opening attractions that are Lightning Lane-only for a few weeks before slowing allowing standby guests at a reasonable rate."

If they do that, Disney is going to burn to the ground. I'm not paying hundreds to get into a theme park only to be told the admission price doesn't include all the rides. LL slowing down the standby is bad enough, if they press it further it's going to be bad.

February 1, 2023 at 5:14 PM

Man this is messed up, they used to have early access for free as was mentioned. But so was fastpass free once upon a time with the mouse.

So a positive here if I can find one... well it gives folks who dont frequent USH often an opportunity to have a more guaranteed chance of seeing the land. Would I pay it? Yes but at the expense of a sit down meal at citywalk and out of any souvenir budget I may have had.

February 1, 2023 at 5:29 PM

What is this I am hearing about a 40” waist limit on Mario Kart? Not sure I believe it as the same article quoted similar limitations for Forbidden Journey and Mummy. I am 6’4” with a 42 inch waist and have ridden those last two with no problems for years. Surely that is incorrect. My height has made some coasters with shoulder harnesses uncomfortable, but a whole lot of people exceed a 40” waist (especially those that play an inordinate amount of Nintendo).

February 1, 2023 at 5:35 PM

No one is measuring people for waist size that I saw the four times I have been there. But I suppose that Universal might discreetly mention the tight seats to certain guests as they enter the attraction, pointing them to test seats.

Second, I think that the early access benefit including the express for the Studio Tour is an interesting and novel development, especially for one-day ticket holders who haven't done the tour before. That's worth some discussion, right?

February 1, 2023 at 5:50 PM

I will say I have sat in every seat on the Forbidden Journey just fine, but the shoulder harness on the leftmost seat has much more room, and I have been directed to it from time to time, but not always. I have only had the walk of shame once in my life, and it was on a Six Flags coaster that I had ridden when I was much heavier. I suspect the information is slightly alarmist to be kind.

February 1, 2023 at 6:07 PM

If it winds up that the majority of people who buy this get their rides in and exit the land shortly after opening, I'm fine with it. However, if it results in regular guests not being able to access the land until several hours after opening and/or results in a virtual queue that is difficult to get into, I'll be pretty unhappy. I bought an AP for the purpose of making several visits to Super Nintendo World, and if Universal's going to burn me by making it difficult to do that, I most certainly will not be renewing.

As for the size question, it's a pretty common disclaimer at most parks that guests over a 40-42" waistline may have trouble fitting on some attractions. There is no official maximum measurement, it's just whether or not the bar lowers enough to lock. Having experienced it, I'd say the seats on Mario Kart are very similar in size to those on Mummy. If you can fit that, you'll be fine, but if you find that a squeeze, try the test seat before queuing.

February 1, 2023 at 6:27 PM

This is garbage!
Remember the time a theme park would stay open deep into the night to GIVE their customers the chance to experience their newest addition?
They don't need to do that anymore as there are enough idiots to pull their wallets.

February 1, 2023 at 6:39 PM


The schedule for the opening weekend of Super Nintendo World is already up on the app and it’s going to be 8am - 10pm those 4 days.

February 1, 2023 at 6:51 PM

If it’s straight up early access then I’m ok - it starts to get stupid when you have to plan your day and every ride with a ridiculous app.

February 1, 2023 at 6:54 PM

I must say I'm baffled why this generates such a negative reaction. It's all about choice, or should we all drive identical cars, wear identical clothes and live is identical houses. I hate getting up early in the morning, but others chose to do so so they can book rides or get in line. Fine. I'd rather spend money to accomplish the same thing. My choice, their choice.

February 1, 2023 at 7:55 PM

If this is any indication, can you imagine how many ‘extras’ Universal will charge people for, when Epic Universe opens?!

February 1, 2023 at 9:07 PM

I'm not particularly thrilled about the move, but I see it as the same as Disney and Universal offering early access each morning for the hotel guests. At least this will be more limited, available to anyone, and far cheaper than spending a night at a hotel.

February 2, 2023 at 3:58 PM

I think in the eyes of the general public, there's no way Universal can win here. Whether it's because the land (and as a result, the park) is crowded and they can't ride any rides, or there are people with deeper pockets who can ride the rides before they do, there's always going to be someone complaining. However, I think they're doing the best they can with the decision to copy the original Super Nintendo World- smallness and all. The express pass for the tram is a nice perk.

February 3, 2023 at 6:36 AM

RM: "Theme parks should be places where everyone can enjoy the immersion together, not a place where you can flaunt your wealth to get ahead of the serfs."

Me: When someone attends a concert or sporting event, is it wrong for the event's producers to charge more for front row seats?

February 3, 2023 at 3:15 PM

@TH - Sure, but is there a theme park in the world that charges extra for guests to sit in the best seats for every attraction?

FWIW - A lot of concerts and shows have a general admission floor/pit (everyone paying the same with the best spots going to fans getting there early or assertively making their way to the front), while other concerts are putting front row/close seats into a lottery to give the biggest fans better odds in sitting closest to the stage. You can sit in the front 2 rows to see Hamilton for $10 (even when the show first opened).

I would agree that it's been common to see a sliding scale applied to concerts (closer = $$$$, certainly on the secondary market), but there's been a concerted effort recently from artists and producers to take a more egalitarian approach to pricing tickets.

I've always appreciated Disney's approach with their VIP Tours (plaid vests) that allows the uber rich/elite to feel special in the parks without being overt or significantly impacting operations for the rest of the guests - I feel Universal oversells their VIP Tours, but uses a similar approach. However, these new ways of generating revenue by creating micro-classes of guests has gotten out of control. I can certainly see that this helps to generate revenue while allowing guests who cannot afford the VIP treatment to feel special through these smaller and more incremental improvements to the guest experience.

My biggest problem with this is where does it all end? Are we going back to ticket books? Are we going to start tapping MagicBands at the front of the attraction and sorted into a line with a length corresponding to how much we're willing to pay to ride? I feel theme parks are becoming like home entertainment over the past few years. People complained about cable TV providing hundreds of channels that they didn't want for one big price. Along came the streaming services that each offered curated entertainment, but require people to pay for multiple subscriptions that ultimately cost as much, or more than a traditional cable subscription. That's what I feel has happened with theme parks where guests used to pay one price and get virtually everything (and more) included. Now parks see the power of micro-transactions and prey on individuals wanting/needing to feel or appear better than everyone else, and have introduced all of these different ways to subdivide people while creating an additional revenue source out of thin air.

There's something to be said for standing in a 2-hour long attraction queue with thousands of strangers (granted that appeal has declined with everyone staring at their cell phones), but there's also that sense of determination and anticipation that comes with waiting on line for something new that's now being lost.

I feel like too many theme parks are missing what makes the experience of visiting a theme park different than other forms of entertainment. That sense of wonder, joy, excitement, and anxiety that just isn't there when you can just pay your way to the front of the line. I understand the need for crowd control and to reduce the chances of disappointment from those who wait on line for hours only to not reach the end of the line (I don't know how many times I've waited on line for stuff before and wasn't successful - we spent the night in near-freezing temps outside of Rockefeller Center trying to get tickets for an SNL dress rehearsal to no avail), but sometimes that disappointment needs to be felt by the coddled, "everyone gets a trophy" crowd. Theme parks should be a place where everyone goes home with a smile on their face, and while it can't be sunshine, pixie dust, and lollipops for everyone, theme parks shouldn't be immediately defaulting to paywalls simply because demand exceeds supply just so people can buy a slightly bigger smile.

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