Imagine taking a warp pipe straight into your favorite Super Mario World game – that’s exactly how you will feel visiting Super Nintendo World in Hollywood, CA. As a die-hard fan of both Super Mario and amusement parks, I can confirm that this gamer destination is worth the visit and will leave you in awe!

From the moment you step through the larger-than-life warp pipe entrance, you’re transported into another world- a world that we’re familiar with seeing only when our TV sets were set to channel 3 and the Nintendo console was turned on. The attention to detail is mind-blowing; it’s like the designers raided the Mushroom Kingdom and brought it to real life for all of us to enjoy. The immersive landscapes and animatronics make it feel like you’re in the Mushroom Kingdom. Give yourself some time to take in the experience as you’re walking through the pipe and once you have entered the land. But don’t take too long if you’re hoping to ride Bowser’s Challenge or get reservations for Toadstool Café.

I went and learned the hard lessons so I’m sharing my pro tips to help fellow gamers avoid the stress I encountered and ultimately live your best gamer life at Super Nintendo World Hollywood.

Pro Tip #1 – Plan Ahead. Having a strategy is key, especially if you have limited time. Prioritize must-see attractions like Bowser’s Challenge and plan your visit during the off-season to avoid crowds.

Super Nintendo World Power Up Band Pro Tip #2 – Buy your power up band and set up the app the night before. If I had planned better, I would have flown into Burbank earlier the previous day to head to Universal CityWalk to buy my Princess Peach Power-Up band early to connect my band to the app before my park day.

Instead of beelining to the ride, I had to make a pit stop at a Nintendo shop to purchase my band. Then came the struggle of setting up the band to sync with the app on my phone….I spent my one hour wait in line for the ride trying to get the app and the band to sync with no luck. So, I had to experience the ride without the true game experience of collecting points and tracking them through the app.

Pro Tip #3 – Buy the early access to the park. Just do it. Invest in early access to the park for a head start. This is particularly beneficial for securing reservations at Toadstool Café, as spots fill up quickly once the park opens to general admission.

Pro-Tip #4 – Prioritize the Bowser’s Challenge ride. The Mario Kart ride is an absolute game-changer in the world of theme park attractions. Yes, you will likely have a line but even the experience of going through the queue line is worth it due to all the Mario-related décor. The closer you get to the ride, you start to see Mario Kart related items including trophy cups, uniforms and a behind the scenes tour or Bowser’s castle.

Then you’re given an adjustable Mario headset before you board the ride. Once you step into the ride, there is a pair of goggles attached to the steering wheel that you will snap into your headset for you to experience augmented reality parts of the ride.  You get to zip around, throw virtual shells at your friends (or enemies, depending on how competitive you are), and experience the rush of a real-life Mario Kart race. You are now truly in the game and facing off the King Koopa himself, Bowser. When you are loaded into the ride, you can tap your Power-Up band on the M of the steering wheel to track the points you earn during the game. If you don’t buy a power-up band, you can still do the ride and earn points, they just won’t be tracked in the app.

But the Mario Kart experience – it’s a sensory overload in the best way possible. I remember saying “Wow,” out loud when the track turned into Rainbow Road. I’ve never experienced another theme park ride like it, and I imagine other theme park engineers are scrambling to figure out how to use AR after seeing the successful execution of the technology in this ride. At the end of the ride, you can see a total of points collected by the team in your vehicle vs Bowser’s score to determine the Mario Kart winner! Bowser’s Challenge really gives us gamers who grew up with Nintendo all the feels – even more feels if you get to walk away from the ride beating Bowser!

Pro Tip #5 – Enjoy the full experience including the food, mini-games, character meet and greets and shopping. I only had a short window of time available for Super Nintendo World. I skipped the food, character experiences and mini-games and I fully regret my decision. A few family members went to Super Nintendo World a couple weeks before me (I caught COVID so I was out of luck) and secured a reservation at Toadstool café. They said the food was alright, but the experience was well worth their time.  Think typical theme park food that’s Instagram-worthy. On my next trip, I’ll make sure to post about the Nintendo specific foods/drinks available.

Goomba Mini Game ChallengeMini-games –Another hit – Nintendo brought classic mini-game experiences to life in Super Nintendo World. You can punch question blocks to collect virtual coins, team up with other visitors for real-life boss battles, and even compete in a scavenger hunt to find hidden keys to unlock an exclusive boss battle with Bowser Jr. Lines do tend to get long for the mini-games so be prepared with some patience.

Character meet and greets are available during certain times throughout the day. If it’s your priority to get photos with the characters, make sure to line up well in advance.

Save some time for shopping as well. You’re going to want some Nintendo related souvenirs from the 1-Up Factory. This factory has a little bit of everything – apparel, candy, housewares, plush toys, popcorn pails – all the Nintendo merch that you can handle. I also love that Super Nintendo World took a few notes from Disney and created their own Mickey ears using the Nintendo characters instead. If the ears aren’t your thing there are also other character-related hats available to wear. I can assure you I dropped a lot of coins purchasing several Princess Peach related items.

Overall Feeling about the Experience – Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood is a must for gamers and Nintendo enthusiasts alike. Grab your power-up mushrooms and star power, and let’s embark on the adventure of a lifetime in this iconic gamer paradise. Immerse yourself in this magical Super Mario World. “Let’s-a-go!”