Super Nintendo World set to open at Universal Studios Hollywood next year

Universal Studios Japan visitors wear themed augmented reality goggles in a video-game ride.
Universal Studios Japan visitors wear themed augmented reality goggles for the “Mario Kart” ride during a media preview last year of the Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.
(Philip Fong / AFP via Getty Images)

An expansion at Universal Studios Hollywood will bring the spinning coins and floating blocks of the “Super Mario Bros.” video game to the theme park next year, marking the completion of one in just a handful of theme park expansions in the U.S. since the onset of COVID-19.

Super Nintendo World, a Universal partnership with video game developer Nintendo announced in 2016, will include a ride, an interactive area that will probably resemble a scene from the Super Mario video games and themed shopping and dining areas, Universal Studios Hollywood representatives said.

They wouldn’t disclose the size of the expansion but said the site will be in the lower lot of the park, replacing several soundstages. The project follows a similar expansion completed last year at Universal Studios Japan.

Universal Studios Hollywood, where the main draw has been movie-themed attractions and backstage set tours, is likely to gain new visitors with the opening of Super Nintendo World, especially from tourists who are ready to travel and spend money again after two years of pandemic restrictions, industry experts said.


“They are getting a jump on the market, getting people excited early,” said Dennis Speigel, president of the consulting firm International Theme Park Services. “With the pandemic and other craziness, they are putting things out there for people to look forward to.”

Few U.S. theme parks have embarked on major expansions during the pandemic. A new Sesame Street park is set to open this month in Chula Vista. The 17-acre project is being built by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment — the latest effort by the theme park company to move away from live animal shows.

Universal Studios Hollywood launched its biggest and most expensive expansion project in 2016 when it opened its 6-acre Wizarding World of Harry Potter at a cost of about $500 million. That followed the opening in 2015 of Fast and Furious: Supercharged as well as Springfield, a city block of eateries inspired by the fictional town in the TV show “The Simpsons.” Before that, Universal opened the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and Super Silly Fun Land in 2014 and Transformers: The Ride 3D in 2012.

Construction on Super Nintendo World began in 2019. Company representatives didn’t give details on what new rides and attractions it would include.

The featured ride at Super Nintendo World in Japan is called Mario Kart, an indoor attraction in which players ride in vehicles rolling on tracks, speeding through a race course in a setting featuring colorful animatronic characters and 3-D video screens. The players wear augmented-reality helmets and shoot “koopa shells” at opponents to earn points.

The land in Japan also lets visitors play an interactive game in which parkgoers get points for taking part in activities throughout the area.