For those of you who don’t know, Beau is quite the Mario fan. Like many of our generation, he’s been a player of the console games since the beginning, while I regularly perish at the very first Goomba. Once we realized we’d be in Japan, able to visit Super Nintendo World, and it was his birthday month, it was obvious we would have to go!
First off, buying tickets was an adventure all its own (I found the easiest way to do this was through Klook.) Because we only had one day devoted to the park, we paid extra for guaranteed timed entry tickets, which for us, was very much worth it.
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That meant, though, that we had to wait until nearly 4pm to enter Super Nintendo World, so before we walked into the land of Mario, we enjoyed a few hours wandering around the rest of Universal Studios.
Since we’ve already been to Universal Studios (a few times) in Orlando, and had spent a full day at the two-park Hogwarts there a few years back, we felt comfortable giving the rest of the Osaka park a more casual tour. It was a bit bizarre to walk along the NYC and Hollywood inspired streets here on the other side of the world, but we enjoyed seeing the Minions and making a return trip to Hogwarts, watching the action and pyrotechnic-packed Waterworld show, and eating pizza with shrimp on top:
Then, finally, it was time for the main attraction. Along with a bunch of others, we waited in a (fairly short) line to enter Super Nintendo World! From the coin sound effects to the colorful surroundings, it was an incredibly overstimulating, oversaturated experience from start to finish. This isn’t a criticism, but even for my Enneagram 7 self, it was A LOT.
Before I go on, it’s worth pointing out that the entirety of Super Nintendo World could probably fit inside of a major league baseball field: it was not large (although it was packed to the brim).
The first attraction was Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, and while our timed entry tickets (think Fast Passes) let us walk almost all the way in to the front of the line, the route through Bowser’s Castle was pretty great, and would have held our attention if we’d had to wait in line for awhile. As it was, we stopped and slowed to take photos a few times (and laughed a bit at another couple who seemed dead set on beating everyone else to the front of the line…)
Then, it was time to don our helmets (and 3-D glasses) and get ready to compete for Team Mario:
Much like the game itself, in the ride you try to knock out other riders with virtual turtle shells and other surprises.
Much like the game itself, my strategy was to randomly press a lot of buttons and hope for the best, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise that I scored lowest out of our car of 4.
The second ride—Yoshi’s Adventure—was much more underwhelming, but we could see how young children would enjoy it. It’s similar to “It’s a Small World”, coupled with the hype and HUGE lines from when Disney’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride (which we likewise found underwhelming) first launched.
We wandered into every corner of Super Nintendo World and enjoyed browsing the shops before we said farewell to Mario & friends.
Overall this special themed section of the park was a blast; while it was crowded (as you’d expect for a newly launched section, especially with a theme that is so wildly popular around the world), the timed ticket worked well and we didn’t really have to wait to explore. We did feel like there was a total missed opportunity: there were no Cheese Coins to be found in Super Nintendo World (nor was there much themed food in general; maybe I’m just too used to Disney for this type of thing?) But other than this, we count Super Nintendo World as a win.
A few more thoughts if you think you might want to add this to your Japan agenda: If you find yourself in Japan and you’re as much of a Mario fan as Beau is, it’s a fun experience, but for casual video game lovers or general theme park fans, I wouldn’t make it a priority. It was pricey, and the rest of the Osaka Universal park felt a bit dated (and small, especially compared to comparable ticket prices for a day at Disney.) Couple that with the crowds, and you may be happier visiting Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Hollywood.
We also opted out of buying a Power-Up Band, but those with this add-on were able to engage with a whole bunch of smaller attractions in the park area, play interactive games, and collect digital keys. I could see this being fun especially for a younger crowd, or once the park calms down a bit: the wait for all the add-on games seemed to be fairly significant, and we were happy we hadn’t made the extra investment for this part of the park.
Coming up next: everything else we did in Osaka!
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Well, the excitement and the anticipation-- plus it all taking place in JAPAN had to have been a very fun experience, especially for Beau!