Mini turbo guide to Super Nintendo World Hollywood
By Helen Wright
Spin! Hammer! Fire! JUMP! It’s game on for the wacky world of Nintendo as Super Nintendo World Hollywood has now opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles California and it’s going to be a major player in the new generation of immersive theme parks.
Originally the theme park that puts you into the movies, Universal Studios have unlocked a new level of interactive fun with the first theme park in the USA dedicated to computer games. The happy, colourful Mushroom Kindom is a trip and is already a hit with generations of players who grew up fighting dragons and collecting coins to save Princess Toadstool. I learned that she is, in fact, now called Princess Peach AND that Bowser is a turtle, not a dragon (?) as well as so many other things while exploring the new land. Super Nintendo World Hollywood is a dopamine hit and here is everything you need to know about the world of Mario and the gang. Let’s-a-go, little guys!
Cover image: Universal Parks and Resorts. This page contains affiliate links
WHAT IS SUPER NINTENDO WORLD HOLLYWOOD?
Super Nintendo World Hollywood is a themed land within the Universal Studios theme park in Hollywood, California. After passing through a green warp pipe (just like in the original game), you emerge in a punchy, chromatic universe with immersive games, themed foods, talking characters and Nintendo themed games and attractions. The world is themed around Nintendo arcade and console games and characters from the 1980s to the present day – think Mario and Luigi and Donkey Kong – and manages to be nostalgic and totally current at the same time.
Warning: Remember that plinky plonky Mario music? Yes, you do. It’s playing as you explore the world and it’s a total earworm. It’ll be in your head for days (but, honestly, it wouldn’t be the same without it).
WHERE IS SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, HOLLYWOOD?
Super Nintendo World Hollywood can be found at Universal Studios in Los Angeles California, sharing the park with some other famous lands, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Springfield: Home of the Simpsons and Jurassic World. Universal in Hollywood is situated in the heart of Hollywood, close the Hollwood Blvd Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater (where they hold the Oscars) and the Hollywood sign.
Fun fact: You can actually see the Hollywood Sign from the parking lot at Universal Studios Hollywood.
WHERE DO I GET TICKETS TO UNIVERSAL STUDIOS AND SUPER NINTENDO WORLD HOLLYWOOD?
Tickets for Super Nintendo World Hollywood are included with your Universal Studios Hollywood entrance fee. Once inside, all the different areas and zones within the park, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Super Nintendo World Hollywood are free to enter and explore. I highly recommend getting your tickets in advance from a partner seller such as attractiontickets.com. This will mean no queuing at the port of entry and getting the best deal for your visit.
The best pass for Universal Studios Hollywood from the UK is currently the buy one day, get a day free pass. Attractiontickets.com also sell a Hollywood Plus Pass, which guarantees savings of more than 30% against gate prices across Los Angeles and includes Universal Studios Hollywood and a choice of other iconic attractions, including the Warner Bros Studio Tour, the hop-on-hop-off LA bus tour and the Grammy Museum. If you have extra time to spend in Los Angeles, this works out excellent value for money.
A QUICK GUIDE TO SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, HOLLYWOOD
To enter the park, you walk through the pipeline tunnel which is the famous ‘warp pipe’ in the original game. On the other side is an explosion of colour, activity and *that* infamous Nintendo music. The concept is that you’ve stepped right into a computer game and it really does feel like that. Suddenly you’re small and everything around you is oversized, including the Bowser’s Castle and Princess Peach’s Castle, which all create different zones.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Since Super Nintendo World Hollywood only opened in February 2023 and is likely to be very popular, Universal Studios may operate a Virtual Line to enter. This is because the land itself is not huge, so to manage crowds and allow guests to fully enjoy the space and games, guests are asked to secure a reservation for entry into the Land via the Universal Studios Hollywood app.
Reservations are limited in number and based on space availability throughout the day. Guests with Universal Express passes will have reservation-free entry into Super Nintendo World Hollywood once per day as an extra perk.
What to do at Super Nintendo World Hollywood:
There is no right order to do things in the park. In fact, it’s designed to be an all-encompassing reality, like a tourist destination on a digital planet. I do recommend heading first to the main attraction in the park, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. Queue times vary and you may want to ride it more than once, so it’s worth checking out.
As well as the first major land in North America themed entirely around a video game, Super Nintendo World, Hollywood contains the first curated augmented reality in an attraction. Bowser’s Challenge is themed around the much-loved Mario Kart game. Despite being a ‘race’, the actual ride isn’t a white knuckle adrenalin coaster, like Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando, but a cleverly designed, themed ride using gameplay, 4D sets, animation and augmented reality. So long, eh Bowser!”
How does Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge work?
You are given an augmented reality headset, which is actually a Mario or Luigi visor (I loved that) and the view through the visor replicates the view the characters presumably get during the actual Mario Kart races. The steering wheel has a controller, just like playing at home, where you can throw shells to derail Bowser and his gang and you use your heads to aim. You even zoom along the rainbow road in the dazzling finale.
It sounds complicated, but the whole thing is explained in a fun way before you get into your car. To be honest, I was just erratically speeding along and firing like I do when I pay on the Nintendo Switch, I’m never going to get the highest score of the day but I had a lot of fun – and that’s the whole point. Each ride is different, depending on how people play. All ages can get involved equally and the height minimum for the attraction is 102cm.
Get a glimpse at the ride in our Instagram Reel
What is the queue time for Bowser’s Challenge?
With Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge being the only ride-on attraction at Super Nintendo World Hollywood, it’s obviously very popular so expect there to be a line. Due to a limited capacity for the whole land, the wait time is expected to reasonable. There is no virtual queue for the attraction once you have entered the world itself. The good news is, there are fun Easter eggs planted in the queue line, including tips on how to play, so look out for those.
Snap on a POWER UP BAND
For maximum enjoyment of Super Nintendo World Hollywood, you need to buy the interactive ‘Power Up Bands’. These fun wristbands are sold inside the world and are priced at $40+tax. You’ll want to build the cost into your budget, because without them you won’t be able to properly enjoy the cool, games and extras throughout the park. These include Goomba Crazy Crank and Koopa Trooper POWer punch. As you play you collect coins and keys – just like in the original game – and these can be used for extra challenges.
By ‘punching’ these rubber blocks, you can score points, which all add up toward your total for the day when you leave the park. As well as the ? and POW punching cubes, you can unveil secrets in the walls where you see the grey M sign and play life size interactive Nintendo games. Some games (such as Shadow Showdown) can only be played when you have a certain amount of keys. This adds a real gaming element to the land, which is pretty cool.
Power Up Bands can be purchased in the 1-UP Factory shop, but I liked that you could get them from cute vending machines around the park too. Once you have chosen a band, you connect the band to your smartphone and all the information on your activity and scores is stored in the Universal Studios Hollywood app. The app allows you to keep individual and team scores (so if you have kids with you, they can connect their bands to your phone). You can collect digital coins, obtain keys after winning challenges throughout the park, and other fun gaming elements. Characters can also see how many coins you have collected and interact with you about it. Wifi is free throughout the Universal Studios Hollywood park. All the Nintendo World games are free to play.
TOP TIP: Power up bands can only be purchased inside Super Mario World Hollywood and can’t be purchased online.
How do I play the games at Super Nintendo World Hollywood?
Super Nintendo World Hollywood has four key games and one “boss” battle, which is a group game that requires a bit of energy. The games are just simple and fun; On Goomba Crazy Crank, you spin the wheel to try to make a Goomba fall over. In Piranha Plant Nap Mishap, the idea is to stop the alarm clocks ringing so you don’t wake the toothy flower. It’s a team effort for Thwomp Panel Panic to flip bricks to matching colours and on Koopa Troopa POWer Punch, you bop blocks to try to knock down a turtle-like Koopa. Sounds bonkers? It is!
There is a key logo close to the challenges. Playing the games wins you keys and with three keys you can unlock the Bowser Jr Battle. Throughout the park you can also win coins which make a satisfying ‘briiing’ when you get one. You don’t need to have a power band to play but the sounds and optics are different without the bands, so you will miss a key part of the experience (no pun intended) and you wont be able to keep track of your score.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can’t participate in Bowser Jr Shadow Battle unless you have a Power Up Band and have collected THREE keys.
If Universal follows the same format as the interactive wands at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Power Up bands will also be activated at the new Epic Universe park in Orlando that opens in 2025. So if you plan to make a repeat visit to Universal Studios Hollywood and to Universal Orlando Resort in Florida when Epic Universe opens, the snap bands work out much more value for money.
What else is there to see?
There is so much going on that despite being a relatively small world compared to the larger scale ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter,’ it’s really easy to miss something or just completely forget it amid the wackiness. Telescopes dotted in various locations also use Augmented Reality to see game style antics throughout the park in real time. Through these, you’ll be able see characters integrated with the ‘real life’ view. It’s pretty cool if you’re an adult but kids’ minds will be blown!
Go for an animated lunch at the Toadstool Café
One of the best parts of the immersive Super Nintendo World Hollywood is the highly themed and super fun Toadstool Café. It’s such a fun little restaurant with windows that look over the mushroom kingdom and extra instagrammable food, drinks and snacks.
See our dedicated post to the food and drink at Super Nintendo World Hollywood.
Can you meet Nintendo characters at Super Nintendo World Hollywood?
You sure can and the really cool thing is that they are the first theme park ‘head’ characters that can actually speak to you during a meet a greet. Plan for some fun gossip and cute photo ops with Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach.
What is the best merch at Super Nintendo World Hollywood?
The 1-Up Factory, inside Super Nintendo World Hollywood has some of the best and most fun merchandise at the whole Universal Studios Hollywood park. The opening of the land could not have come at a better time, with the kitsch 90s Nintendo style bang on trend.
What age is best for Super Nintendo World Hollywood?
All ages are welcome at Super Nintendo World Hollywood. The land is very visual and there is a lot to just look at and enjoy. Some of the games do actually require some skill and the under-5s might find it goes way over their heads.
The main attraction, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge has a minimum height requirement of 40 inches (102 cm) and children under 48 inches must ride with an adult.
What else is there to do at Universal Studios Hollywood?
There is so much going on at Universal Studios Hollywood, now that the Nintendo world has opened, you will likely need two days to do everything. All the information about the theme park as a whole can be found at universalstudioshollywood.com and you can buy tickets in advance from the UK.
Below is a brief overview of the other excellent worlds at Universal Studios Hollywood:
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
Did you know, California has its own Hogsmeade, complete with Hogwarts Castle? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood is more compact that its counterpart in Florida and doesn’t have the option to explore Diagon Alley, but has some unique features of its own. In the west coast depiction, you pass through the Forbidden Forest to access Hogwarts (look out for Mr. Weasley’s muggle car after its run in with the Whomping Willow and Hagrid’s motorbike). There are also different spells to create with your interactive wands around the park. You will also be able to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Flight of the Hippogriff rollercoaster.
The music alone transports you directly into the movie so be prepared to come face-to-face with a dino or two at Jurassic World. The main attraction is Jurassic World: The Ride. During an exciting take on the traditional theme park boat ride, the Indominus rex as she stalks you through the jungle before fighting the Tyrannosaurus rex in the grand finale. Meet a dinosaur face-to-face at the Raptor Encounter but be wary of ‘Blue’ she often has a few surprises in store. Kids can excavate dinosaur fossils at DinoPlay and grown-ups can soak up the California sun with a cocktail at the Isla Nu-bar.
THE SIMPSONS WORLD
I love this bonkers area of the park, which is set in the land of The Simpsons. Grab a beer in Moe’s Tavern or a Krusty Burger, go to the Kwik-E-Mart for gifts and merch and then jump in the car with Homer and the gang on The Simpsons Ride for a chaotic race across Springfield.
HOLLYWOOD BACKLOT STUDIO TOUR
This is one of my favourite things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood, because it’s not something you can do at the Florida park and totally unique to California. This is because Universal Studios in Los Angeles used to be a real working studio, so you get to see how movies are made behind the scenes and experience some real life ‘surprises’ along the way, based on popular films. Leave enough time for the tour, which takes an hour.
You can also enjoy attractions and shows based on Despicable Me!, Ku Fu Panda, the Secret Life of Pets and Transformers.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO STAY FOR VISITING SUPER NINTENDO WORLD HOLLYWOOD?
Universal Studios Hollywood is situated slap bang in the middle of iconic Hollywood in LA (You can literally see the Hollywood sign from the parking lot). We stayed at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, which is walking distance from the park and Universal Citywalk and at the foot of the Hollywood hills.
Any tips for getting to Los Angeles from the UK and is there a package deal?
Virgin Atlantic Holidays offer five nights in Los Angeles from £1,499pp with direct flights from London Heathrow, staying at the Sheraton Universal and a two-day Universal Studios Hollywood pass. virginholidays.co.uk
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO close to Universal Studios Hollywood?
My post on how to spend three days in LA has lots of ideas of things to do during your visit. As well as other attractions in the area, you can head to Santa Monica or Venice Beach, or go hiking in the Hollywood Hills. If you have time, I highly recommend Maria Del Rey (one of my favourite areas of Los Angeles) and Malibu.
WILL THE NEW EPIC UNIVERSE THEME PARK IN ORLANDO BE THE SAME AS SUPER NINTENDO WORLD HOLLYWOOD?
A brand new theme park is under construction at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida called Universal’s Epic Universe. Rumoured to be open by early 2025, Epic Universe will be the largest Universal park in the USA and will feature lands and attractions from How to train your dragon, Illumination (the makers of Despicable Me), Nintendo and a rumoured extension to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
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It is thought that the Nintendo World in Orlando will mirror the design and theming of Super Nintendo World Hollywood but will likely be larger, offering extra attractions akin to the original Super Nintendo World, which is in Japan.
A land built on the fun and interaction of a computer game is definitely a ‘game-changer’ for the modern, immersive theme parks that guests know and love. It’s always exciting to see what they’ll do next and when each new offering opens – I’ll be there!
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