Universal Studios Hollywood and Nintendo are slowly ramping up the volume on the first Super Nintendo World theme park in the US. Now they narrow the opening window to “early” 2023, while posting a few photos and a video trailer of their signature ride: Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
Already a highlight of the Super Nintendo World experience in Japan, which we visited early last year, the augmented reality ride on rails offers an interactive experience where riders can steer four-seat Mario Kart vehicles to collect coins and also shells to defeat Team Bowser, which also makes for different outcomes for the ride.
Riders wear plastic Mario hats with HoloLens-like wired visors on the front, which combine with the motion of the ride, projection mapping on the walls and real physical scenery pieces to deliver action that makes it feel like the karts are going faster than they really are . Sam Byford described the experience as “overwhelming but great fun”, encouraging him to ride it multiple times to get a higher score. It’s possible this ride will improve from the initial effort, which engineers described as upgradeable and modular, to account for the improved technology. But from the description and trailer it sounds about the same.
In the Japan park, there was only one other ride when we visited, Yoshi’s Adventure train ride, although it also included other interactive areas and the Power Up band that links to visitors’ phones to track their progress. Another area built around Donkey Kong is reportedly under construction. As for the American theme park, the only details we have so far are that it will have “the groundbreaking ride, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, and interactive areas for the whole family to enjoy, along with themed shops and eateries to enjoy.” the whole experience.”