How many Nintendo fans would’ve flocked to Japan from around the globe when Super Nintendo World opened at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka in early 2021? We’ll never know, because a certain pandemic made it practically impossible for anybody outside Japan to just pop over to Osaka and spend a day in the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s always been known that versions of the Nintendo theme park land would be coming to both Universal parks in America, but it can be hard to remain patient when you’re watching people racing Mario Kart in real life just a simple plane ride away. Fortunately American Mario fans won’t have to wait that much longer, or at least ones able to make it to California; Universal released more information on the Universal Studios Hollywood outpost of Super Nintendo World today, confirming that it would be opening at some point in early 2023. So we’re less than a year away from immersing ourselves in the timeless automotive battle between Turtle and Italian Man in a psychedelic dream world of whimsy and wonder.
Super Nintendo World will launch at Universal Studios Hollywood with one ride, and in keeping with the decades-old localization pattern for Mario games, it’ll have a slightly different name than it does in Japan. Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is an AR-infused interactive dark ride that will make you feel like you’re in a real-life Mario Kart race, complete with collectible coins and virtual turtle shells to hurl at other racers. It’s a combination of animatronics, practical effects, and augmented reality graphics set inside Bowser’s Castle, and Universal promises that has “a variety of outcomes,” making it a ride you’ll want to ride multiple times. Universal released a short video about Bowser’s Challenge on YouTube today, and you can watch that at the bottom of this post.
Super Nintendo World will also be coming to Universal’s next Florida theme park, Universal’s Epic Universe, which is on pace to open at Universal Orlando Resort in 2025. So West Coasters will get a two-year jump on all of us East Coast sad sacks when it comes to that sweet Mario Kart action. At least the Florida location will most likely launch with more attractions—it should have the Yoshi dark ride that’s in Japan but won’t be at Universal Studios Hollywood, and could potentially even launch with the Donkey Kong expansion that will include a roller coaster.
Check out that video below and I guess start planning your trip to Southern California for early 2023 if you want to be among the first to take on Bowser’s Challenge.