After several delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, “Super Nintendo World” at Universal Studios Japan is now open.
The amusement park is a bigger-than-life-size replica of the company’s most famous games, featuring characters like Mario, Luigi and Yoshi.
A Universal executive promised “an experience that can be found nowhere else in the world.”
But, there are restrictions due to COVID-19, like limitations on the number of visitors allowed, clear instructions on how to keep social distance, and facemasks are mandatory, except in some mask-free zones.
CNN’s Selina Wang got an insider’s look at the new park, showing how guests enter through the warp pipe.
The park is a life-sized replica of Nintendo’s most popular games, including Yoshi’s Adventure, Bowser’s Castle, Peach’s Castle and all of the iconic characters.
Wang mentioned on her tour, “Your temperature is checked at the entrance. Hand sanitizer is everywhere. Masks are required at all times, except for in mask-free zones.”
On the tour, Wang showed how she could interact with Mario and Luigi without touching them while being maskless for photo ops.
Park officials said the park cost about $500 million to construct and more than six years to develop. Now, the gaming industry, and Nintendo especially, got a big boost during the pandemic as more people were stuck at home playing games.
“This whole park is interactive,” Wang said. “You can even compete against other attendees here. And, just like Super Mario games, I’ve got this band on my wrist, and I can just punch-up on these blocks and I can get points in the Mario App on my phone.”
Wang went on to say Koopa’s Challenge, a real-life Mario Kart race using augmented reality, is what fans are most excited about in the park. The game has you racing through Bowser’s Castle right next to Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi and more.
“For Nintendo, this is an important step beyond its core business, video games and consoles. It’s cashing in on its treasure trove of international property and iconic characters here in the store and in the restaurant,” Wang said. “(At) Kinopio’s Café, we’re here in the Mushroom Kingdom, and mushroom-themed food is everywhere. It looks like cartoon food, but it’s edible.”
For now, the park is only open to residents of Japan as the country’s border is still closed to international travelers, according to Wang.
Mario creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, says he wants the whole world to come visit when the pandemic is over.
The opening comes as the global theme park industry is struggling and theme parks are reopening in a patchwork around the world.
There are plans to open Super Nintendo World in other parts of the world, including Orlando, where the opening has reportedly been delayed until 2025.