21 Super Nintendo World Tips: Universal Studios Hollywood (Early Access Strategy Included)

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You love Super Mario, so you plan a trip to the new “Mario Land” during your Southern California vacation. But it isn’t as simple as buying a ticket and showing up. From virtual queues to Power Up Bands, there are some big things to know for your visit. Super Nintendo World is open at Universal Studios Hollywood and we went to check it out and get all the insider tips.

After you read this article, you will be all set for your visit… including being all set to be one of the first people in the land that day.

Super Nintendo World in Hollywood Studios is Now Open

Super Nintendo World is a “land” in Universal Studios Hollywood. Universal is one of several theme parks in Southern California. It is quickly becoming a top rival for Disneyland.

Hand holding a Universal Studios Ticket with Super Mario on it, in front of the actual entrance to Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Hollywood

With the opening of Super Nintendo World, I feel like Universal is breaking out of its reputation for not being kid-friendly. Between this, The Secret Life of Pets, and the Despicable Me area, there is plenty to do at Universal Studios Hollywood for younger kids.

But today we are only going to focus on Super Nintendo World. This land can be a bit overwhelming. Between virtual queues, dining return times, and more, you need to do a bit of planning for your visit.

Don’t worry!

Our tips will make your visit, as Mario would say, “Fantastico!”

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Things To Do When Planning Your Trip

Some of the most important tips to make sure your Super Nintendo World visit isn’t a “Bob-Omb” are about the initial planning of your trip. Here are five tips you will want to follow when planning your trip.

1. Buying Discount Tickets

You will want to spend a lot of money in Super Nintendo World. Your bank account may say you can’t. But, we can help you save some money on your admission to Universal Studios so that you have a little extra for a Mario hat.

My preferred travel partners at Get Away Today offer discounted tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood. The best deal is the 2-day ticket. Before, I used to believe that Universal is a one-day park, but with the addition of Super Nintendo World, I think you could easily go for two days.

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2. Do This To Get In Super Nintendo World Before Anybody Else – Yes, While Planning Your Visit

Super Nintendo World is the new, hip land to be in at Universal Studios Hollywood. That means the small “world” gets super crowded.

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BUT – You can beat the crowds and get into the land before everyone else.

Picture of crowds in Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Hollywood around 11:30 am
Crowds in Super Nintendo World around 11:30 am on a weekday.

Here is how:

After you purchase your discounted Universal Tickets from Get Away Today, head to the Universal Studios Website to purchase a Super Nintendo World Early Access Ticket. These start at $20/person and get you into Super Nintendo World an hour before the official park opening. (This is amazing as Disneyland Hotel Guests only get 30 minutes Early Entry at Disneyland.)

This gives you a chance to meet characters, ride Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, and start playing the games before the land officially opens.

This is a great way to beat the crowds, and avoid super long waits for the ride.

3. You Will Want To Download The Universal Studios App

Everything seems to have an app these days, and while the Universal Studios Hollywood App is not a must for more of the park (in my opinion) you will want it for your time in Super Nintendo World.

This is where you will be able to keep track of the games and coins you earn, as well as preview the Toadstool Cafe Menu.

4. Plan Out Transportation

If you are adding Universal to a Disneyland area vacation, you may need to figure out transportation to get up to the LA theme park. Especially if you don’t have a car.

While Uber or Lyft is always an option, my preferred option, as a family of 5, is to book private transport through Karmel Shuttle. You can purchase your transportation at a discount through Get Away Today when you buy your Universal Tickets, and then call Karmel to schedule your ride.

5. Measure Your Kiddos

Be sure to measure your kiddos before your visit. Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge has a minimum height requirement of 40″. Guests over 40″ but under 48″ must ride with an adult. That means for every child under 48″ that is able to ride, you need an adult to sit next to them.

Height Requirement markers for Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge in Super Nintendo World

Tips For During Your Visit To Super Nintendo World

You have booked your vacation and bought tickets and early access.

Now what?

Well, your trip prep is reading the tips below so you can put them into practice during your trip.

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If you are wanting to play the games and do the challenges in Super Nintendo World, you will want to purchase a Power-Up Band. The bands feature symbols representing some of your favorite Mario characters and let you earn coins and stamps throughout the land.

You can pick up a Power-Up Band for $40/each (at the time of this post) inside Super Nintendo World or at various locations inside Universal Studios Theme Park or the Universal City Walk.

Once you purchase your band(s) you will use the Universal Studios Hollywood App to link your bands.

You will be able to check your progress and follow the challenges in the app.

INSIDER TIP: Behind the plastic with the Power-Up Band is a map of the land, with information and tips. Don’t throw these away.

2. Arrive Early

Whether you are using the Early Access or just visiting during normal park hours, you will want to arrive early. I suggest arriving at least 30 minutes before the park opening or your Early Access time.

This will give you time to get through security and to the land. It is located on the Lower Lot so it is a bit away from the park entrance.

During our most recent visit, we arrived just before 6 am for our Super Nintendo World Early Access and were first in line for parking. It was a good thing as they started scanning us in at 6:15. At 6:30, they started walking us down to the lower lot. We were in the land by 6:50 am.

3. Super Nintendo World May Utilize A Virtual Queue

With the land being in high demand, Universal may utilize a virtual line for entering Super Nintendo World.

You can join the Virtual Line through the Universal App once it is activated for the day. When it is your turn, you will be able to enter the land, but once you leave, you will not be able to rejoin the virtual queue, so be sure to do it all!

For those not utilizing the Universal App, you can go to the kiosks (located in the alley to the right of the Transformers entrance) to get in the virtual queue.

INSIDER TIP: Guests who purchase Universal’s Express Pass receive one entry without needing the Virtual Line when it is in place. This is also true for the VIP Guided Tours/Experiences.

4. Use Early Access Wisely

If you took my advice and purchased the Early Access, be sure to use that time wisely. You will want to use that time to meet characters and ride Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. The ride itself is not eligible for Express Pass, so if you wait, you may end up with a 120-180 minute wait as we saw on the app.

Universal App showing a wait time of 120 minutes for the Mario Kart ride

The only way to get express access to the ride is by doing the VIP Experience, which is a pretty penny, but may be worth it. You can also book the VIP experiences through Get Away Today.

Want my Tips for Early Access to Super Nintendo World? Keep reading as I will share them below – newly updated after doing it with my entire family.

5. What To Know About Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is the only ride in Super Nintendo World. This means it can be quite popular, as mentioned above.

This ride is a dark ride mixed with a Virtual Reality version of a Super Mario Kart video game.

A few things to know about this ride:

The Ride is Not Super Plus-Size Friendly

The ride may not accommodate larger guests. Before you get in line, if you enter the tunnel for the attraction, directly to the right, there is a test seat. This seat is semi-blocked to make it more private.

Test seat for Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge ride

If you have big hips or a waist circumference over 40″, I highly suggest testing the seat out. The seat is off to the side right as you enter through the tunnel to the ride.

You will need the light to turn green when you pull the lap bar down (it doesn’t lock in place on the test seat) to know that you will fit in the ride vehicles. (PS- I was able to fit as a plus-sized, large-hipped woman.)

The Ride is Fairly Slow

I think a lot of guests expected a ride that was fast-paced, seeing as it is Mario Kart. However, the ride moves pretty slowly, and the action takes place inside the VR shields.

Watch the Instruction Video

One thing that was a bit confusing about the ride, during the Queue, you end up in a room with all the racer outfits. Also in this room… they will show cartoon videos of how to put on your cap, and VR visor, and do the ride. This does not have spoken instructions, so many in our group missed the instructions because there was so much to look at.

NOTE: The video may not be showing if the ride is “walk-on” during Early Access

You Will Earn Coins During The Ride

Remember those Power-Up Bands and how you linked them to the app? You will earn coins while riding and playing the VR game during Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.

To link your band, tap it to the steering wheel after boarding the ride.

6. Super Nintendo World Is Like Being In The Video Game

Yes, the ride is like being in a video game, but really, so is the entire land. All throughout the land, you will find Punch Blocks, challenges, and more.

Family playing one of the challenges in Super Nintendo World to earn coins

While the lines for the challenges can seem super long, they move really fast. These are a great way to pass the time while waiting for your return time at Toadstool Cafe.

UPDATE: We found that certain games lines moved faster. Also, we went on a Saturday in the summer, and the lines were much longer than when I went on a weekday during the school year.

7. How To Eat At Toadstool Cafe

Toadstool Cafe is a unique (and fun) dining experience in Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood. But being the only dining option in the land, it is also quite busy.

The Luigi Burger at Toadstool Face is actually a Pesto Grilled Chicken Sandwich
The Luigi Burger at Toadstool Face is actually a Pesto Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Due to popularity, they have now added virtual dining reservations for Toadstool Cafe. You will need to scan the QR at the front of the cafe to get a time.

I scanned it at about 30 minutes into Early Access and all times were already for after 1:30 pm.

(Insider tip I learned… if your camera can scan this QR code from the photo above, you can use it to access the dining wait list/reservation from anywhere.)

During our most recent visit, the return times were full within 5 minutes of the general guests entering the land (8:05 am) so definitely scan it during Early Access if possible.

Inside Toadstool Cafe

Inside the cafe, you will get to order your food and drinks at the counter and then find a seat in the dining area.

You will get a number that you place on your table for when your order is ready.

The meals were really good. Between our group we ordered all of the adult entrees and most of the starters and sides. The desserts were overly sweet and I could only eat a few bites of mine.

8. Meeting Characters at super Nintendo World: Universal Studios Hollywood

One of the draws of the land is that guests can meet Super Mario Characters… and they talk! You can meet Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach in the land.

These lines can be quite long (I saw them at 30 minutes) but this may be good to fill time while waiting to go to the cafe.

They have added posted times for when the characters will be there. You will need to enter the line at least 20 minutes before the character is scheduled to appear if you want to make sure you will be able to see them.

9. Using the App To Maximize Your Super Nintendo World Experience

You can use the Universal App to maximize your experience in Super Nintendo World. The App will guide you through challenges, has a map of the land, and will let you check your character scores and achievements.

When you put a name to your band in the app, it will be visible to others in the land, so be sure not too put too much personal info in the name. Because of this, two players (bands) cannot have the same name. So you may find even your first name and last inital are taken.

In addition to the app, you can scan your Power-Up Band near the restrooms to check your status and your standing compared to other players (aka guests). (They don’t photograph well so no picture.)

10. Tips for Doing Punch Blocks in Super Nintendo World

Punch Blocks are located throughout the land. But don’t just start punch blocks willy-nilly.

Using the app, you can learn the different punch block combos, etc to score the most points and collect stamps to complete challenges.

Granted, most kids will want to just punch the blocks, and that is always an option, but just be aware that there is a more advanced use for the punch blocks.

INSIDER TIP: Do not try and use the band itself to punch the blocks. You will need to use your fist. The Power-Up Band sensors break easily when slammed against the blocks, and there are no returns on the bands once purchased.

11. Stay In The Land Until You Are Done

Once you leave Super Nintendo World, you will not be able to re-enter the land. The only possible loophole is if you are able to enter the land without using the Virtual Queue/Line.

Since you most likely cannot tell the future, I definitely suggest staying in the land until you have experienced everything you want to do.

INSIDER TIP: If you purchase Universal’s Express Pass (which I highly recommend) you can enter the land once per day without a virtual access return time.

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How To Maximize Early Access Into Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood

As mentioned above, I highly suggest purchasing the Early Access to Super Nintendo World. The Early Access starts at $20/person (price changes by date) and gets you into Super Nintendo World a full hour before the parks open.

But you can easily squander away an hour if you aren’t careful. Here are my best tips to make the most of your Early Access Hour in Super Nintendo World.

1. Make sure to have your Early Access easily accessible

While you can have your Early Access linked in your Universal App, we printed ours out and I am glad we did. The scanners were having issues scanning some of the Early Access off the phones. I definitely suggest having printed copies if possible.

2. Arrive to the Parks at least an hour before early Access begins

We were staying in Anaheim during our visit, and while it wasn’t fun waking up to head out by 5:00 in the morning, it was 100% worth it.

We were able to avoid major freeway traffic and actually reached the theme park parking by 5:45 am. We were first in line for parking.

After parking, we were able to use the restroom, and stroll down City Walk, get through security and even snap some photos before heading to the gates.

Nobody in the background of the picture when we took this at 6:00 am

3. Keep Your Early Access Tickets Handy

Once you walk towards the lower lot (we were led that way around 6:30 am), there will be a second checkpoint for Early Access. Be prepared for them to scan it again.

4. When you Enter the Land, Take Photos and Play a Game

Things get crowded later, so if you are wanting pictures without crowds, take them as soon as you enter the land for Early Access. I also suggest then hopping in line for a game or two.

5. How To Ride The Ride Twice

In order to be able to ride the ride twice, I suggest hopping on the ride about 20 minutes after entering the land. We did this and it was basically walk on. (The instructional video wasn’t even running because we moved through too fast.)

After your first ride, the wait time may be upward of 45 minutes. Take a bit to do some more games, shop, etc.

At 5 minutes before park opening, hop in line to ride Mario Kart Bowser’s Challenge one more time. Yes, the line will most likely be around 45 minutes long, but it will quickly jump to two hours or more as soon as other guests file in.

Tips For Enjoying The Rest Of Your Time at Universal Studios Hollywood After Exiting Super Nintendo World

Once you have finished your time in Super Nintendo World, you will want to enjoy the rest of Universal Studios Hollywood. In order to get the most out of the park, I personally suggest making sure you have the Express Pass. This will allow you quicker access to most rides, one time, during the day.

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If you prefer, you can also buy discounted 2-day tickets from my partners at Get Away Today. This will give you an extra day to experience all of the fun in Universal Studios.

I had a blast at Super Nintendo World, and cannot wait to return with my entire family. While the land is small, there is a lot of fun to be had and I can’t wait to get back. Which of these tips did you find the most useful?

4 thoughts on “21 Super Nintendo World Tips: Universal Studios Hollywood (Early Access Strategy Included)”

  1. I have Super Nintendo early access and VIP experience on the same day. My studio tour is at 11:15 a.m. I would like to spend most of the day in Super Nintendo World. I am thinking of arriving early to be among the first 50 people in line. Enter Nintendo World and stay there until my VIP tour. I wanted to come back to SNW after the tour. Do you think I can get access again? Are there any additional recommendations beyond this webpage based on my ticket purchases?

    • Your VIP tour will most likely qualify you for extra access later in the day. In fact, the VIP tour is the only way to skip the line for Mario Kart. 🙂 I think you have a great plan.


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