We may not be allowed to travel yet, but I know where to visit when borders re-open—Universal Studios Japan. The theme park has announced that they will open the long-awaited Super Nintendo World on 4 February 2021.
In addition to the opening date, Universal Studios Japan and Nintendo have also provided details on the park’s biggest attractions—a Mario Kart-themed roller coaster. Mario Kart: Koopa’s (or Bowser’s in English) Challenge will be using AR and projection mapping technology, and will take place “in Bowser’s castle”.
The attraction ‘starts’ at a staircase leading up to a big Bowser statue, which is likely an area where visitors will line up for the coaster. You’ll then be able to ride one of the ‘karts’—one of them can fit four people.
Each person will have their own handle and an AR headset. It’s also a competing game, where you race with another ‘kart’ as there are 2 tracks. However, the tracks are on a rail, so it won’t be exactly like racing in the Mario Kart games—but it’s very similar to Disney’s Test Track ride in Epcot.
One thing that worries me is that as they will open the Nintendo-themed theme park to the masses this coming February, the COVID-19 scare will still be there and the AR headsets given don’t seem very hygienic—unless they’re disposable, which creates another problem.
COVID-19 cases have been rising in Osaka (where Universal Studios is) recently, with a record count of 381 positive tests on the 29 November. Japan has largely avoided strict lockdown measures to date, and mostly relies on contact tracing and near-universal mask-wearing to mitigate the pandemic’s impact. Universal Studios Japan is currently operating at 50% visitor capacity.
Last month, Nintendo announced that their theme park will include a themed cafe and store. The adorable food additions include Mario and Luigi-themed pancake sandwiches, a Super Mushroom drink in a tropical bottle, and fruit cream sodas with mustaches.