As adults, it’s easy to get lost in the routine of everyday life. But Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood is a refreshing reminder of the joy that comes from embracing your inner child.
Here, you step into a warp pipe and emerge on the other side with a heart full of happiness and memories to last a lifetime.
Warp to the Mushroom Kingdom
We’ve been avid Mario fans for decades, but nothing could have prepared us for the sheer wonder and joy that awaited us as we stepped into the world of our favorite video game franchise.
We were smiling ear to ear as we made our way through the iconic green warp pipe entrance and through Peach’s castle (complete with N-64 Easter eggs galore). That first moment when you enter Super Nintendo World is unlike any other – it really feels like you’re stepping into a portal to another dimension.
The first thing that struck us was the attention to detail. Every brick, every power-up and every character felt like it had been plucked right out of the video games we’d spent our childhoods playing. The vibrant colors, the familiar faces of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad and all their friends – it was like being inside the game itself.
But what truly left us awestruck was the immense scale. The park felt like it had jumped off the screen and into real life. The stunning architecture made us feel like we were right there in the Mushroom Kingdom, exploring it for the first time. It wasn’t just a theme park; it was a living, breathing Nintendo world.
Meet the Superstars Themselves
One of the highlights of our visit was meeting Mario, Luigi and Peach. It felt like we were meeting celebrities! (We fangirled when meeting Mickey Mouse last year too 😂) Of course, we couldn’t resist posing for photos with our favorite superstars.
Pro tip: Get an Early Access Ticket (starting at $20 extra per person) to enter Super Nintendo World one hour before the theme park opens. There was only a 5-minute wait for character meet-and-greets first thing in the morning!
Level Up Your Experience
Besides seeing our favorite fictional world come to life, one of the most unique parts of Super Nintendo World is the interactivity woven into its very environment.
It isn’t just a park with traditional rides – in fact, there’s only one “ride” in Super Nintendo World (Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge). The rest of the park is a series of mini-games, challenges and interactive experiences.
A Power-Up Band – which you can buy at the 1-UP Factory as well as many other stores within the park – is the key to unlocking this immersive world.
The band is linked to your smartphone and allows you to participate in various interactive features, from collecting virtual coins and stamps to battling iconic enemies. With the Power-Up Band, you can punch question blocks, discover hidden surprises and work together with fellow parkgoers to complete missions and challenges.
The ultimate goal is to unlock Bowser Jr.’s Lair to find the Golden Mushroom, which he has hidden behind three locks. Just as you would do in the video games, you must complete quests, defeat enemies and solve puzzles to earn the keys to these locks.
It adds a layer of gamified fun to your visit, turning the park into a real-life video game where you’re the star. Plus, the Power-Up Band is a memorable keepsake and it can be used as an amiibo with your Nintendo Switch!
The park’s seamless integration of interactive experiences and augmented reality totally level up the experience. The line between reality and the Mushroom Kingdom blur, making it an adventure unlike any other!
Race against Bowser in Mario Kart
We had a blast racing against Bowser in Mario Kart. We lost our first race, but came back a second time to defeat him and win the Golden Cup!
During this augmented reality ride, you hop into a kart and battle it out with Bowser and his crew, feeling the rush of the race and the thrill of experiencing Rainbow Road in “real life.”
Even before getting in your kart, the line itself is an attraction not to be missed. As you wind your way through Bowser’s castle, you’ll discover tons of fun Easter eggs from the game and Mario franchise.
You’ll walk by a larger-than-life Bowser statue, navigate through Yoshi’s Island, see how Bob-ombs are made and more. At the end, there’s a crash course on how to drive, Mario Kart-style (courtesy of MKTV), then it’s off to the races!
Indulge at Toadstool Café
Last but certainly not least is dining at the exclusive Toadstool Café. Our best piece of advice for snagging a coveted reservation is to get an Early Access Ticket and beeline it to the café first thing in the morning. At the entrance, you’ll scan the QR code on the menu sign and *hopefully* make it on the waitlist.
We didn’t get on the first waitlist, but we stuck around and learned that they were opening up another opportunity later in the morning. At 10:55 a.m., they opened reservations again and we were able to grab a spot for dinner!
Once you’ve secured a reservation, make a plan for what you’ll order. We recommend ordering a variety of dishes and enjoying family-style dining. Share with your partner so you can taste as much as you can on the menu.
Keep in mind that it’s a bit of an expensive meal, so budget accordingly. But since Toadstool Café is the only dining spot in Super Nintendo World, it’s an essential part of your adventure.
From the Fire Flower Spaghetti & Meatballs (surprisingly spicy) to the Luigi “Burger” (Pesto Grilled Chicken) and the charmingly oversized egg-shaped croutons on Yoshi’s salad, you can’t really go wrong with any of the menu options. They may not be the most adventurous cuisines, but they’re undeniably good and offer a satisfying glimpse into life in the Mushroom Kingdom, thanks to Chef Toad.
But there are some items that shine brighter than others. The Super Star Lemon Squash drink is a must-try. It’s a delightful concoction of honey lemon soda with mango stars and assorted tropical bobas, a refreshing way to quench your thirst after a day of adventure. I wish I would have ordered two!
For dessert, don’t miss the ? Block Tiramisu or the iconic Princess Peach Cupcake, which features a raspberry-filled Funfetti cupcake with buttercream frosting and a charming Princess Peach chocolate crown.
Super Nintendo World isn’t just a theme park; it’s a portal to a world of joy, adventure and nostalgia.
It had rekindled a sense of childlike wonder and joy in us that’s often lost in the hustle and bustle of adult life. And it served as a reminder that it’s OK to embrace our inner kids, even if just for a day.
Our advice? Run, don’t walk, to get your tickets!