Super Nintendo World finally has an opening date in Japan. The first Nintendo theme park will be launching at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka on Feb. 4, 2021. Guests will be able to enter the Mushroom Kingdom from the Super Mario games, where they’ll compete in a Mario Kart race in the centerpiece ride, take a pleasant trip through the world of the games on the back of Yoshi, and play a real-life Super Mario adventure through the magic of a Power-Up Band (sold separately, of course).
Here’s a quick look inside the park, courtesy of Universal. You can also find a photo gallery (along with some artist concepts) at the bottom of this page.
Originally scheduled to open about eight months ago, in time for the 2020 Olympics in Japan, Super Nintendo World was delayed along with pretty much everything else in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan, which has had almost 1/100th the number of COVID cases as the U.S.A., despite having about 40% of America’s population, has done a much better job with the virus than we have, so they get to have cool and fun things, like a Mario theme park. It’ll be coming to America eventually, but given the indefinite delay of Epic Universe, and the disastrous toll the pandemic has taken on the theme park business, who knows when it’ll eventually be built over here.
Universal also released new details on the area’s rides and alternate reality game. The flagship attraction—the E-ticket, as theme park folks say—is Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, an approximately five minute ride that aims to bring the speed and thrills of Mario Kart into the real world. You’ll wear an AR headset that makes it looks like you’re throwing shells at your opponents as you race through Bowser’s castle. The other ride, Yoshi’s Adventure, is a dark ride journey through the Mushroom Kingdom where you help Captain Toad “find the 3 colored eggs that lead the way to the Golden Egg.” You’ll get to ride a Yoshi on this family-friendly jaunt, which is pretty exciting. It also lasts for approximately five minutes. The Power Up Band Key Challenge is an AR game where you use the Power Up Band wrist doohickey to interact with the park itself; it sounds like the wands at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but more overtly gamified. Universal promises that you’ll jump and punch your way to finding three keys, which then opens up a real-life “boss battle” against Bowser Jr.
Universal also hosted members of the press in Japan to show off the new land, and many of them have uploaded video from the queue and loading area of the Mario Kart ride. Here’s one of those videos, courtesy of Attractions Magazine.
We’ve been breathlessly tracking the development of Super Nintendo World since it was first announced in 2015, and yep, I’ll pretty much be on the first plane to Osaka once the pandemic has quieted down and international travel is allowed again. In the meantime, check out this video we made about Super Nintendo World earlier this year. it includes everything we knew about it at the beginning of 2020—before the pandemic threw messed up absolutely everything.
And now here are those photos. Some of them come from the land itself, others are artist mock-ups of what you can expect from its attractions. They all make me really want to go to Osaka. Let’s hope science and humanity at large make that possible at some point in the next, oh, decade, or so.