Guests strolling Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday, January 12 were offered an unusual treat. An unexpected “Technical Rehearsal” of their Super Nintendo World allowed not only access to the eagerly anticipated expansion, but an opportunity to experience its signature attraction, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
There was nothing unusual on the announcement board in the upper lot: Super Nintendo World “Coming Soon,” and a five minute wait for Jurassic World: The Ride. (Come to think of it, that is kind of unusual!)
But a simple placard placed at the top of the Starway to the Lower Lot offered a promise of something far more exciting.
Could this be a chance to finally see what was on the other end of that entrance pipe that Universal had been teasing the public with? Hopes were not dashed after gaining entry, and, for the very first time, guests were admitted to the Hollywood version of Super Nintendo World.
The other end of that pipe proved to be the entrance to Princess Peach’s castle (although we were technically exiting).
Ahead lay a world defined by colorful bits and bytes.
And behind, not only Princess Peach’s castle, but her charming gazebo as well.
Friendly cast members encouraged visitors to explore this brand new world.
Through this door, guests could power up interactive wristbands.
The signature attraction for Super Nintendo World is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
It must be around here someplace…
There’s the entrance! The lower level of the queue line led to a series of caves and dungeon rooms.
The upper level offers a different perspective of Super Mario World.
Once inside, there was no question you were in Bowser’s Castle.
The queue line through the castle offered a plethora of iconic items beloved of Mario Kart fans.
Bowser’s Challenge, preserved on the wall of the queue line. More documents and artifacts could be found, as well.
The queue line passes through a bomb making area.
There are a couple of locations along the way where videos offer tips and safety instructions.
After viewing the suiting-up room, final instructions are given.
A view of the room after the rest of the crowd had moved on.
Time to receive the interactive goggles.
For Mario Kart, guests do not pick up goggles, but are instead given caps, which are easily adjusted to fit snugly around their heads.
The goggles are permanently attached to the karts, just under the controller-type steering wheel. Racers fire projectiles by pushing the red buttons, just visible at the top of the steering wheel.
Goggles are easily snapped into place. And cover the full range of vision.
Here is a side view of the goggles, showing how they slide into place under the edge of the cap.
Inside (this photos is upside down!), three small projectors bounce images off of a reflective surface, and onto the surface of the goggles, creating a traveling “Pepper’s Ghost” effect. This is how all the digital interactive elements appear for each guest during the course of the race.
This portal marks both the start, and finish line, of the race.
At the end of the race, only the caps are returned. The goggles remain in the karts.
More details may be found throughout the exit of the attraction.
You may check out your score on the tote board outside the attraction
And there is more to see, of course, including the Toad Stool Cafe. (It was open, but only for guests actually purchasing meals.)
Universal thoughtfully provided a gift shop.
An outside kiosk offered interactive wristbands in a variety of designs.
More interactive elements are scattered throughout Super Nintendo World.
Princess Peach will offer regularly scheduled visits in her gazebo.
Mario and Luigi were on hand to greet their fans.
There are toadstools low…
…and toadstools high.
And even the restrooms offer colorful themed murals!
That wraps up our unexpected visit. But just one last thing…
What do you think of Super Mario World?
Queue line for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (caverns and access to upper level)
Queue line for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (Bowser’s Study)
Queue line for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (Bomb Making Area)
Finale – Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge
Mario and Luigi Arrive
Farewell to Super Mario World (walking backward through the exit)
Daps Magic would like to extend a very big thank you to Cameron Stewart for the amazing photos and videos that gave such a wonderful look at Super Nintendo World! We appreciate your contributions Cameron!