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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

REVIEW: Super Nintendo World wins all stars, despite few banana peels

Asaph Li
Super Nintendo World, Universal Studios Hollywood’s new theme park, presents an immersive game-like experience in the colorful Mario world on a Monday, March 20, visit. The park officially opened on Friday, Feb. 17.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s newest attraction, Super Nintendo World, offers a second-to-none aesthetic and interactive experience that leaves visitors in awe at how perfectly the theme park brings to life the Super Mario franchise. 

Despite some cloudy and rainy weather recently, the exciting world of Mario and his friends was all but dreary during a Monday, March 20, spring break visit. The cutting-edge technology and a bountiful of entertaining and familiar locations are very impressive — though the perfect set outshines some of the interactive activities the world features.

The fact that visitors are not guaranteed entry into the Mushroom Kingdom — unless they have VIP Experience (from $369) or Universal Express (from $199) — speaks to how popular and highly anticipated the theme park is. That being said, buying the upgraded ticket to visit the Mushroom Kingdom is worth the extra dollars as part of a comprehensive Universal Studios experience. 

The journey begins with the purchase of a slap-on Power-Up Band to wear on the wrist that costs $40 each. Essential to get the full interactive experience, these bands are sold in six different colors based on a character: Mario, Luigi, Toad, Yoshi, Princess Peach or Princess Daisy. Though optional, if visitors opt not to buy one, the game-like way the theme park works can’t be fully enjoyed.

Scattered around the kingdom are bright yellow plastic Question Mark Blocks that people punch with their Power-Up Band to collect virtual coins. The bands connect to the Universal Studios Hollywood app, which helps keep track of players’ stats like the number of collected golden mushrooms and coins.

A white Power-Up Band bought from Nintendo World is surrounded by other accessories from the video game platform ranging from the Wii remote to Mario and Toad amiibos. The latest item serves as an essential part of Universal Studios Hollywood visitors’ interactive Super Nintendo World experience. (Photo by Asaph Li)

The Power-Up Bands come into play here as well because people virtually team up with players with the same character band, competing against others to collect the most coins — all of which the app keeps track of through separate leaderboards for teams and individuals. In addition to the satisfaction of seeing themselves among the rankings, visitors get a sense of camaraderie with people wearing the same character, making the visit much more mutual than at other amusement parks. 

Going around exploring the Feb.17-opened park for about a four-hour visit with the incentive of collecting the most coins is a fun way to wait out long lines while somebody in the party saves the spots as others frantically go in and out of tunnels slapping blocks. 



Speaking of enormous crowds, the line to go on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge — the land’s only ride — stretched out to the entrance, and the estimated wait time was already triple digits at around 10 a.m.

Despite the long queue, visitors can immediately tell how much effort and thought designers put into curating a beautiful design that does the vibrant Mario world justice. The line moves people through various sites, including an aesthetic pastel forest and a luminous neon rock cave.

Along the queue for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, visitors can admire the aesthetic interior, such as the pastel-colored walls, which also offer a great photo opportunity. (Photo by Jaimie Chun)

While waiting in lines, many people, who are also sporting Mario merchandise, can be seen taking pictures in front of the beautiful backdrops, which are a perfect way to capture the moment.

To entice guests further, the setting showcases familiar figurines like a dazzling Super Star and, of course, the colossal Bowser statue before finally boarding the four-person Kart wearing augmented reality [AR] glasses.

The goal of the game is to shoot Koopa shells at the Team Bowser enemies using a console and pointing people’s vision to the target as the Kart moves on a predestined path. Every hit accumulates points, which players can compare with the other group members at the end of the ride. 

The Mario Kart ride, lasting about five minutes, offers a unique experience compared to other attractions at not only Universal Studios, but also other amusement parks as a movement-tracking AR ride. Players do not actually drive the Kart as they are taken through a predetermined path shooting Koopa shells into a void of characters.

The Super Star, one of the many characters seen throughout the queue for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, lights the way for visitors. (Photo by Asaph Li)

This non-thrill ride perfectly matches well with the playful yet adventurous experience down an exciting memory lane of fond maps and characters. Drifting on Rainbow Road and firing rampantly at the formidable King Bowser can be an unforgettable experience for any Mario Kart fan.

However, it fails to entertain visitors to the point where they decide to “play again,” especially at the expense of waiting for another hefty amount of time when they can explore the other parks at Universal Studios with their already-bought Express pass. 


In terms of meals, don’t make the same mistake of waiting to get off the Mario Kart ride to reserve a spot at Toadstool Cafe. The smaller-than-expected cafe remained fully booked throughout the whole day. Fortunately, various food places, including Panda Express and the Jurassic Cafe just outside the Mushroom Kingdom, are available.

After lunch, the other important tasks left to accomplish are the Key Challenges in the form of minigames spread throughout the park that present opportunities to obtain digital keys.  

Inevitably, some challenges are better than others. For example, the Thwomp Panel Panic places visitors in front of a big touch screen in which people team up with at least one other person to flip digital blocks by tapping on them in a limited time. 

These aspects of the park successfully brought out the game-like parts of Super Nintendo World. 


Unfortunately, the second to the longest line we waited for — the Koopa Troopa POWer Punch challenge — was the least rewarding activity. After waiting an hour, the presented task of merely bumping the Power-Up Band against a Question Block at the perfect time so the mushroom enters the pipe was quite anticlimactic, ending in about 10 seconds and without any difficulty to pass.

Crowds fill Super Nintendo World on a visit on the first day of spring break for Sunny Hills students, leading to long wait times for many of the attractions, including Key Challenges. (Photo by Jaimie Chun)

Nevertheless, visitors should take the time to maneuver around the park to complete these challenges because an exclusive tunnel where the final showdown against Bowser Jr. is only open to those who have collected three keys, along with a surprise game at the end.

At the end of the day, players leave the Mushroom Kingdom with still lingering giddy excitement, knowing that they got the chance to see what their favorite childhood Nintendo video games look like in real life.

For those planning for the summer or graduation, the Super Nintendo World is well-worth students’ consideration for a novel experience besides the classic Grad-Nite Disneyland visit. After all, nothing’s more fitting to say “okey-dokey” to than a visit to the Mushroom Kingdom.

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About the Contributor
Jaimie Chun, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Jaimie Chun returns excited and grateful to lead The Accolade as the editor-in-chief. Since her first year on staff two years ago, The Accolade newsroom has become a home away from home. She looks forward to each issue, story, audio and video reaching the biggest audience possible and bringing the community together. Chun will continue honing her skills as a journalist to ensure that her storytelling is informative and empathetic. Because of her love for print journalism, she hopes that The Accolade's publications will be read by many people and equally appreciated. When Chun isn't in the newsroom, you can find her searching to try new food, exploring new music or reading in the nook of her room.
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