Universal Epic Universe Preview: Super Nintendo World

Super Nintendo World at Epic Universe

Universal Orlando continues to dole out details about its Epic Universe expansion opening in 2025, but the Unofficial Guides team is granting you an early glimpse through Super Nintendo World’s green warp pipe with the help of Theme Park Stop’s Alicia Stella.

Concept art illustration of guests outside entrance portal into Super Nintendo World at Universal Orlando Epic Universe.
Learn all about the innovative interactive adventures awaiting inside Super Nintendo World when Universal Orlando’s Epic Universe opens in 2025. (Concept art & photos courtesy of Universal Orlando)

We are still a year away from the debut of Epic Universe, but anticipation is already mounting for Universal Orlando’s new theme park. In January, we gave you an initial overview of the under-construction attraction, including a look at the Celestial Park central hub. Now, the Unofficial Guides “Mario Day“ with our first in-depth preview of Epic Universe’s Super Nintendo World, courtesy of our contributor Alicia Stella.

Super Nintendo World Overview

The multilevel, highly interactive Super Nintendo World is based on settings and characters from Super Mario Bros. and its spin-offs, best-selling video games since the early 1980s. Guests will enter the vibrant and lively land through an iconic green warp pipe, ascend an escalator, and emerge through a swirl of colored lights and 8-bit sound effects into a Mushroom Kingdom–inspired courtyard flanked by Princess Peach’s castle on one side and Bowser’s Fortress on the other. Flag-topped Mount Beanpole and a range of terraced hills screen out the surrounding park, and everywhere you turn there’s another moving animatronic—marching Koopas, waddling Goombas, and spinning coins—enlivening the area with infectious kinetic energy. Beyond this colorful courtyard is also a Donkey Kong Country miniland, which is accessed via another warp pipe within the land.

Featuring more than its three standout rides, the Super Nintendo World area also contains multiple opportunities to meet iconic Nintendo characters, including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, and more. Go beyond the attractions with the purchasable Power-Up Bands (see below) and unlock additional areas to explore. Shop for exclusive Super Nintendo World merchandise at the 1-UP Factory store, and indulge in 8-bit-inspired meals at Toadstool Café or kawaii-style eats at several snack locations. On days when Super Nintendo World may temporarily reach capacity, especially in the mornings, it’s possible that you may require a Virtual Line reservation to enter the land. These reservations are not always required, but you may want to check the official app on the day of your visit just in case.

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

Based on the long-running series of racing games, Mario Kart combines traditional dark ride elements with cutting-edge augmented reality technology that blurs the line between the real and virtual worlds. The storyline sees Bowser, the villainous King of the Koopas, challenging Mario and his pals to a kart race through flaming lava fields, floating clouds, and other iconic tracks from the best-selling Mario Kart games. Prospective competitors enter Bowser’s castle, touring its bowels where his anthropomorphic bomb minions are built, before being handed special visors styled after Mario’s distinctive red cap. Once riders strap into the four-seater vehicles, a video display with angled transparent lenses snaps onto the visor, creating Pepper’s Ghost–style digital holograms that appear to float in front of you among the physical sets.

During the ride, racers cooperate to claim the coveted Universal Cup by aiming at their virtual opponents with their heads, then pressing buttons on their steering wheels to shoot shells, as well as by turning the wheels in response to flashing arrows. Everyone on your team will need to collect at least 100 coins in order to beat Bowser to the finish line, and ammunition is limited, so look down along the track for crystal blocks to reload. TIP: Press both buttons during the starting countdown on “2” for a bonus, and look behind you for hidden coin blocks. The ride spins quite a bit but doesn’t actually move particularly fast; however, the combination of game-play elements and projection effects creates a chaotic sense of speed, especially during the climactic Rainbow Road sequence.

Mario Kart will develop a multi-hour wait as soon as the land opens in the morning, and lines won’t drop until closing time. Although the best time to ride Mario Kart is at rope drop, be warned that the ride may open late or close early due to maintenance. With no Express option for now, the easily overlooked single–rider entrance (on the right immediately inside the queue) can be a lifesaver, although it bypasses the Easter egg–filled queue and the cartoon preshows instructing players on how to score. Universal advises guests with waist sizes over 40 inches to test the vehicle restraints outside the attraction before entering the queue, but the lap bars are actually less restrictive than those on some other rides in the resort, such as Revenge of the Mummy or Gringotts.

Yoshi’s Adventure

Take a ride with Yoshi over the Mushroom Kingdom, with incredible views you can only achieve from this family-friendly attraction. Fans of games like Yoshi’s Island or Crafted World will recognize many of the characters from this kid-centric, slow-moving, omnimover-type attraction featuring Kamek, Baby Mario, Baby Peach, Poochy, and more.

Geared towards families with children, Yoshi’s Adventure offers an interactive experience for a smaller audience that’s easier to understand than the more-involved Mario Kart ride. See Toadette in the queue for a list of instructions on your way to the colorful Yoshi-shaped ride vehicles. Each ride vehicle is equipped with three egg-shaped buttons for each of its two seats. When riders see each of the red, blue, and green eggs on the ride (which are quite easy to spot), they press the corresponding egg button on their cars. An animatronic Captain Toad will let you know if you were successful or not at the ride’s conclusion.

Older kids and teens may rather spend time waiting for the Mario Kart or Donkey Kong rides, so this can be a skip if the line is too long, but with a limited number of small-kid-friendly attractions overall, this may be a must-do for families with young ones. While the ride moves extremely slow, it still requires an adult to ride with children who are at least 36″ tall. Kids must be at least 48″ tall to ride alone.

Donkey Kong: Mine Cart Madness

Donkey Kong: Mine Cart Madness is a new type of roller-coaster attraction, with both outdoor and indoor scenes, that can make it appear that your out-of-control cart is jumping over gaps in the track. Encounter characters from the Donkey Kong games on the ride and in the queue, including Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Cranky Kong, and more, and come face to face with the floating antagonist Tiki Tong.

Without the extreme speeds of more intense roller coasters, and because it never goes upside down, Mine Cart Madness is a good in-between coaster that most of the family can enjoy together, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in its wildly unpredictable maneuvers and death-defying “jumps” over apparent gaps in the track. Despite the fast action, this attraction features physical sets and animatronics, without a reliance on screen-based media, so it can offer a refreshing counter-balance to the area’s other headlining attraction, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.

Capacity for this unique roller coaster attraction is not as great as the other coasters at the park, so the line may back up in the middle of the day. If members of your group are fans of the Donkey Kong games or are in the mood for a more visceral attraction within Super Nintendo World, you may want to prioritize this ride over Mario Kart. The ride does offer a single–rider line (when available), but it may not save you as much time waiting as other single–rider lines due to the limited seating per ride vehicle and tendency for older thrill-seekers to be alright riding alone, which can clog the queue.

Interactive Power-Up Bands and Key Challenges

To keep track of your Mario Kart score, as well as fully participate in the interactive elements around the land, we strongly suggest that you install the smartphone app and purchase a colorful character-themed Power-Up Band ($40), which allows you to “punch” blocks and participate in activities throughout the multilevel complex. Even though the bands (which also double as Amibos for the Switch) don’t need batteries or charging, their level of interactivity is far more sophisticated than Hogsmeade’s magic windows, reacting readily to the scores of sensors secreted around the land.

Beyond simply discovering all the sound and light effects you can activate—thereby adding digital badges to your app’s bragging board—you can participate in several physical challenges, each with multiple difficulty levels to keep veterans on their toes. The wacky tasks have you slapping alarm clocks so a monstrous Piranha Plant stays snoozing, tapping a touchscreen wall of sliding blocks, as well as other tests of timing and coordination. Once you’ve conquered at least three of the key activities, you (and one companion) are allowed inside Bowser Jr.’s lair for an arm-waving interactive “boss battle” that’s a fantastic full-body workout. After you’ve beaten Bowser Jr., head upstairs to the Frosted Glacier overlook and use the augmented reality binoculars to find the final hidden key on the hovering airship.

To save time in the morning, purchase your Power-Up Band and link it to your phone before entering the park; use a small rubber band or security sleeve to prevent your snap bracelet–style wristband from flying off when you fling your fists.

Dining in Super Nintendo World

At Toadstool Cafe, cute Nintendo character theming makes way for a new spin on theme park burgers and chicken, with unique variations on classic American cuisine. Kids meals offer a good amount of food for the price and include a fun surprise Power-Up themed cookie and toy character figure. Everyone will enjoy the adorable desserts, which are just as tasty as they are photo ready for sharing on social media. For an extra layer of fun, watch the Toads preparing food in the kitchen through magical windows (screens). Periodically the restaurant comes under attack from Bowser’s baddies in a fun mini-show that can be seen outside the windows, temporarily changing the dining room’s mood via darker lighting and music cues!

Tree Top Treats is a quick-service kiosk for picking up Donkey Kong Country-themed snacks and milkshakes.

Shopping at Super Nintendo World

The 1-UP Factory is the best spot to browse the largest collection of exclusive Super Nintendo World merchandise, including apparel, plush toys, and collectibles. Mario Motors (the Mario Kart exit shop) offers a smaller collection, but it’s the best place to find Mario Kart-related merch and specially packaged candies. And Funky’s Fly ’n Buy, an outdoor kiosk, offers items specifically branded to Donkey Kong Country.

What part of Super Nintendo World are you most excited to experience when Epic Universe opens? Let us know in the comments below!

For all there is to see and do at Universal Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Threads, X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. #theunofficialguide #theUGSeries


  1. Jacob March 17, 2024Reply

    Thank you for the update on the ride restraints for Mario Kart. In the past, I have barely managed to fit on Revenge of the Mummy, Hagrid’s, Forbidden Journey and Gringott’s, so I am cautiously optimistic.

    I actually played the original Donkey Kong full-size arcade game a lot, reaching a top score of 440,000 if memory serves. The immediate sequel, whose name I can’t recall but it involves climbing up and down vines or something like that, I played a bit but was never that great at it. The subsequent games and movies I know nothing about. If I can manage a trip to this land next year, I’ll probably need to catch up at least partially in order to get a sense of what all this stuff is about.

    • Seth Kubersky March 17, 2024Reply

      Hi Jacob, I also have fond memories of playing the original Donkey Kong (and Donkey Kong Jr) in arcades! For the new mine cart ride, look up videos of Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo (or play it on an emulator). The easiest way to catch up with the characters is by watching the recent Super Mario Bros movie (the new CGI one, not the old one with Dennis Hopper!)

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