Adventures in Super Nintendo World
On the evening of February 6th, I was sitting at my computer working. I usually have a habit of keeping my email open, just in case an opportunity or unique proposal makes its way to my inbox. It was after business hours, even for most US West Coast offices, so when I saw a message come through, I was surprised, but I quickly realized everything else had to stop and wait. This was it!! It's an exciting chance of a lifetime to be among the VERY FIRST to experience the mecca for any Nintendo nerd like me. I was chosen to go to a very special private preview event to experience Super Nintendo World before it was open to the public! I could not believe it. ME!? They chose ME?? Of course, I immediately and carefully reviewed every fine detail and responded to the email so that the person reaching out knew for sure I was going. I quickly figured out my hotel and flight situation and then started planning what I was going to wear. I am known for my cool t-shirts and Nintendo fashion merchandise, so I had to show up and show out. I got my bags, threw my best outfits together, and mapped out my entire trip. I was READY.
The day arrived, and it was time to fly. I was staying in LA for a few days, so I only needed a small duffle bag. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and because of that, I learned to pack lightly and efficiently. I boarded my flight to LAX after grabbing a small breakfast. I had my Nintendo Switch and played Animal Crossing New Horizons the whole flight. I usually sleep on long flights, but I was too excited this time. All I could think about was my gratitude for an opportunity like this. I never take these events for granted, so I sent a couple of emails and messages of thanks to the people who made the trip happen. I also took a notebook with me to write down all my expenses. I knew I wanted to get all the Power-Up Bands, dine at Toadstool Cafe, and purchase souvenir plushies/toys, pins, and any other cute and exclusive knick-knacks I could find. I sure do love giving my coins to Mario, hehe. After a smooth flight, I left the plane and headed to my hotel.
I stayed at a hotel on the Universal Studios Hollywood property. It was a short walk away from City Walk and the park itself. I dropped my bag and walked over to City Walk because I heard there was a Super Nintendo World shop open to the public there. I fast-walked/almost ran there. I was so gleefully happy to see the shop open! It was my first in-person glimpse of all the exclusive merchandise. Before my trip, I was online looking up photos and videos of the shop, but it seriously didn't do it any justice. This place was AWESOME! There were pipes, question blocks, and cute Mario-themed décor everywhere. There was even a photo op with Mario in the front of the store. I figured I would buy as much as I could before I went to the park so that way I could focus on the rides and games. I purchased all the Power-Up Bands, some plushies, and a few keychains and pins for friends back home. Everything was packed in a cute Super Nintendo World bag, and I was returning to my hotel room to rest before the big day. I carried a pocket-sized Luigi plushie for videos and pictures. I unpacked him from my bag, rested him on the bedside dresser, and slept.
The next day, I got breakfast at the hotel. I had my favorite Nintendo jacket on with the teeny plush Luigi in my pocket. I had a designated timed entry into the park, but I could roam around freely once I was in. I walked to the Universal Hollywood entrance and saw a grand red carpet. At every flag pole hung a Super Nintendo World banner featuring Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and other characters. The banners led the way to the new portion of the park. I took a few pictures, went through security, and found the desk where I was to have someone escort me to the park. The guide told me we were allowed complimentary food in Toadstool Cafe. They also explained how to use the Power-Up Band with the Universal app so I could keep track of my score and "keys." The Power-Up Bands allow you to interact with games in the park. You scan the band on coin blocks, bricks, and even secret spots to earn coins and stamps, which place you on a leaderboard for that day. The bands come in Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Toad, and Daisy. I picked Team Toad. Whoever you choose designates the team you are on. You want to complete all the activities and find as many of the secrets as possible so your team can be on top. After walking through the Transformers portion of the park, I could finally see it. The warp pipe into Super Nintendo World!
There is a super cute photo op at the entryway. I took as many pics as I could. I slowly walked through the pipe, absorbing every little detail. Now I know what Mario sees when we press down on the controls and send him through a green warp pipe, rainbow lights!! The warp pipe exits into Princess Peaches castle, which is a replica of her castle in Super Mario 64. It even has frames with the "paintings" from the Super Mario 64 game. If you look closely, there is also a message from Bowser Jr. Why is there a message? Well, there is a story within the context of visiting the park. When you complete each mini-game, you unlock a key, and unlocking three keys means you gain entry into a particular section of the park for your final battle against Bowser Jr. Once you are done looking around the interior of the castle, you are met with a view of the entire park, and it is grand!
Super Nintendo World opens up with a never-ending view of Yoshis, Piranha Plants, Goombas, coins, wigglers, and lots of other characters from the Super Mario universe. You might even see characters from another franchise as an easter egg :) There is a stage next to Peaches Castle, where Princess Peach herself makes an appearance for photo ops. There are four games to play throughout the park, and each one has two difficulty settings. The first play-through of each game with a successful win will get you a key. The second play-through will net you more coins. There is a Goomba Crazy Crank game where you have to crank a wheel as fast as possible, Koopa Troopa POWer Punch where you have to time a button press to activate a POW block, Piranha Plant Nap Mishap where you have to run around and activate timers that light up, and Thwomp Panel Panic which is a touch screen game. Each game is super fun, and once you unlock all the keys, you can play the Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown. After that, I ate at Toadstool Cafe, and the food was so DELICIOUS!! I had the fire flower spaghetti, which had a little spicy meatball and a wafer with a fire flower printed on it. I also had a lemon squash drink with sweet, bursting boba and a Princess Peach cupcake. All the food was terrific, and the restaurant had animated windows with talking Toads that were super cute. After a delightful lunch, I decided to experience the main attraction, Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge!
Fire Flower Spaghetti & Meatballs
As you enter Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge, you walk through a very detailed interpretation of Yoshi's Island brought to life. It was one of the most incredible line waiting areas I have ever seen: glowing crystals, clouds, flowers, eggs, and immaculately painted props and scenery. You traverse the line and eventually end up in what seems to be Bowser's castle with a full-on Bomb-omb, Bullet Bill, and Mecha Koopa factory. There are real-life replicas of Mario Kart trophies, which I would have paid any sum of money to own. There were also some pretty cool screens showing how various baddies are built. The last room you enter before the ride is a locker room with the personal effects of Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach. Luigi was my favorite because there was a Poltergust 3000 in his locker. Now it was time for the ride! We had to put on special glasses that utilized AR technology. There were also practical effects along the ride. I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say by the end of the ride, I had tears in my eyes because I genuinely felt like a kid again.
After you exit the ride, you leave through the gift shop, also known as the 1-UP Factory. Unlike the smaller shop in City Walk, this one had a lot more stuff you could only get in the park. I picked up a few more things and then went to the Mario and Luigi photo op. My day was finally nearing its end at this point. It was around five p.m. when we were told the preview event had to conclude to allow set up for the grand opening to the public the next day. I took photos with new friends I made during my visit and then checked out some other rides in the rest of the park. After that, I had dinner and returned to my hotel to pack and head home.
Overall, I am beyond happy I had the chance to go. The park is gorgeous, and I had a ton of fun completing the activities and trying to find all the secrets. If you ever have a chance to go, take it! Eat at the cafe, play games, ride the Mario Kart ride, and spend a little coin. You will never forget it. Rumor also has it Universal is already planning to add to the park, which gives me an excuse to go again, and I can't wait!