Everything I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Super Nintendo World™ in CA

Universal Studios Hollywood welcomed newest attraction to the park, February 2023

By Sarah Hauge, Macaroni KID Englewood-Greenwood Village-Centennial Publisher April 10, 2023

The first time I played a Mario game on a Nintendo console was in the waiting room of my dentist's office in the early '90s. (I know, I know... my dentist was the best!) Since then, my love for the franchise has multiplied with each game and character release.

My kids inherited my passion for video gaming, and when we learned that Super Nintendo World™ was making its way to the US, we knew we had to book a trip. This new theme park area opened at Universal Studios Hollywood (California) in February 2023, and we made a trek to see it just a few short weeks later.

If you're a fan of all things Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi, then you're in for a treat! This immersive land is filled with interactive family fun, but with so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan a visit. That's why we've put together our best tips to help you make the most of your time in this new magical world.

Getting into Super Nintendo World™ at Univeral Studios Hollywood

Being a new and popular attraction, we quickly learned that getting into Super Nintendo World™ is NOT guaranteed with your standard Universal Studios admission ticket. Yes, it DOES sell out, and if you don't plan ahead, you may miss it entirely.

Ensure entrance into Super Nintendo World™ before getting to the park:

⭐ BEST VALUE OPTION ⭐ Early Access Ticket ($20) ~ Buy an early access pass in addition to your general admission ticket to get into Super Nintendo World™ one hour before the rest of the park opens. This is our recommended option for seeing the new attractions because you can beat the crowds at a reasonable price. Early Access tickets are limited, so you'll want to add these to your shopping cart when you get your general admission tickets.

Universal Express Admission ($90 more than standard ticket) ~ Express admission offers one-time reservation-free entry into Super Nintendo World™. Guests with Express passes can visit the new land anytime during their day. However, we recommend using these privileges as early as possible because once inside, there are no express lines for attractions (including Bowser's Challenge, Super Nintendo World's only ride) within the land.

VIP Experience ($369 per person) ~ In addition to a handful of park perks (valet parking, guided tours, food, beverage, etc.), guests with VIP privileges can visit Super Nintendo World™ once per day without a reservation. The price tag for this option is quite hefty for a family, but you'll certainly be treated like a VIP!

Ensure entrance into Super Nintendo World™ while you're at the park:

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood during Spring Break meant that Early Access to Super Nintendo World™ had sold out long before we got to the park. Finding Express/VIP admission to be cost-prohibitive, we took a chance on standard admission and still had an opportunity to explore the new park with some additional planning.

Crowd conditions will vary, but while the popularity of Super Nintendo World™ is at an all-time high, entry-time reservations are required.

⭐ BEST FREE OPTION ⭐ Virtual Line (For guests who don't have Early Access, Universal Express, or VIP Experience) ~ Once the park opens for the day, the Virtual Line becomes available on the Universal Studios Hollywood Mobile app. You can only get a spot in the Virtual Line while you're at the park, so show up early! Our family got our choice of timeslot while standing in line at the Front Gate of Universal Studios approximately 5 minutes before the park officially opened for the day.

Toadstool Cafe™ Reservation (No additional cost aside from the meal itself) ~ Reservations for Toadstool Cafe™ are likely to sell out before the virtual line does, so don't rely on this option. However, if you book a meal reservation at the land's only restaurant, you can enter Super Nintendo World™ ~30 minutes before your reservation regardless of ticketing and line queue position.

From personal experience, we were only able to book a dinner reservation. Timing-wise, this reservation was 7 hours after our Super Nintendo World™ entry timeslot, so we left the land to grab lunch elsewhere and visit other parts of Universal Studios before re-entering for dinner and further exploration.

Power-Up Bands at Super Nintendo World™

At $40 a pop, Power-Up Bands™ are essential for participating in everything Super Nintendo World™ has to offer. With the bands, visitors collect virtual tokens (coins, stamps, and keys), compete in challenges, and even team up with their favorite characters for special bonuses.

Power-Up Bands™ come in 6 different character options:
Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, Princess Peach, and Princess Daisy.

⭐ Buy your Power-Up Band™ before getting into Super Nintendo World™. Universal's CityWalk™ shopping area opens before the theme park, so you'll have plenty of time to shop for your Power-Up Bands™ and connect them to the Universal Studios Hollywood Mobile app.

Inside your wristband packaging is a set of instructions and a map of the park, so you'll know where to collect the keys if you choose not to download the app. You can also wait to buy your band at a vending machine kiosk inside Super Nintendo World™ (next to Piranha Plant Nap Mishap), a good option if you'd rather see how the lines are stacking up before committing.

⭐ Bowser Jr.'s Hideout is our FAVORITE part of the park. But there's a catch... and it's a BIG one. You can only visit this part of the park if you've collected three keys with a Power Up Band™. The doo news is that one "un-banded" guest may accompany each wristband wearer, so you don't need a Power-Up Band for every family member. The bad news is that it will take a while to get the necessary keys.

To collect keys, there are four interactive activities, each guarded by Nintendo's notorious villains.

  • Piranha Plant Nap Mishap - Located at the front of the land, this activity always had the longest line and moved very slowly... so slowly that this was the one we skipped. (estimated wait time: ~1 hr)
  • Goomba Crazy Crank - My kids found this to be the easiest of all the key challenges. Beware: It's easy to confuse this line for pictures with Princess Peach since they loop up next to each other. (Our wait time: 30+ minutes)
  • Koopa Troopa POWer Punch - This activity is harder than it looks. Your timing has to be just right, so study the guests ahead of you. (our wait time: 30+ minutes)
  • Thwomp Panel Panic - Located at the back of the land, this one had the quickest line and was an activity you could do as a team. (our wait time: <5 minutes)

⭐ Explore the hidden areas. Super Nintendo World™ is FILLED with interactive punch blocks and tap points. Use the mobile app to find them all! Our favorite "secret area" can be accessed by heading up an unmarked staircase near the exit of Bowser Jr's hideout. It was the least crowded area we found in the entire land, a nice place to catch your breath and quietly take in the scenic views from above.

⭐ Connect your Power-Up Band™ to your Nintendo Switch. The fun continues at home when you use your Power Up Bands™ in Mario Kart™. Your wristband will connect (like an amiibo) with your Nintendo Switch to offer exclusive outfits based on the character associated with your wristband.

Food at Super Nintendo World™

Eating a meal at Toadstool Cafe™ is an interactive experience in itself. In addition to character-inspired main dishes such as burgers, salads, soup, short ribs, and spaghetti, Toadstool Cafe™ offers Kids' Meal options and beautifully crafted desserts. Each window is actually a video screen, providing playful storytelling and scenery from Mushroom Kingdom.

⭐ Fuel up on food BEFORE entering Super Nintendo World™. Toadstool Cafe™ is the only food available in the new land and is a sit-down venue rather than a snack station.

⭐ Book your reservation for Toadstool Cafe™ as early as possible. Toadstool Cafe™ is in such high demand that the restaurant does sell out. To book a reservation, scan the QR code at the entrance of the land or in front of the restaurant.

CLICK HERE to make your same-day reservations for Toadstool Cafe™

The demand to get a table was so high that even with a reservation, we had to wait an additional 2 hours in line before ordering food. By the time we ordered dinner, two of the three desserts were sold out. Like everything else, book as early in the day as possible to maximize your experience.

⭐ Get collectible souvenirs & sweet treats at the Super Nintendo World™Snack Stand. Located near Jurassic Park (at the exit of Super Nintendo World™) in Universal's lower lot, the Super Nintendo World™Snack Stand offers a handful of on-the-go treats. Options include popcorn in an adorable Super Star bucket, fruity cream sodas with character-themed straws, and fountain drinks in mushroom cups.

General Tips & Not-To-Miss Features at Super Nintendo World™

 Download the Universal Studios Hollywood Mobile app before you go. The app will be your access to the Virtual Line, park map, wait times, dining reservations, and Super Nintendo World™ wristband achievements.

⭐ Go as early in the day as you can! The crowds will continue to build throughout the day because once you're inside Super Nintendo World™, there is no required exit time. Guests can stay as long as they'd like, so wait times are the shortest at the beginning of each day.

⭐ Take your photo in a Warp Pipe BEFORE you enter the land. Guests are escorted into and out of the park in different ways, so you won't have the opportunity to walk past this photo op again.

⭐ Get in line for Bowser's Challenge FIRST, as we faced wait times of up to four hours during our visit.

Whether you're a seasoned theme park pro or a first-time visitor, we hope these tips help you plan a fun and memorable experience at Super Nintendo World™ at Universal Studios Hollywood. "Let's a-go!"