Universal Studios Hollywood and Nintendo are slowly increasing the volume of the first Super Nintendo World theme park located in the United States. Now they’re shrinking its opening window to “early” 2023 while releasing some photos and a video trailer of its signature ride: Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
Augmented reality on rails is already a highlight of the Super Nintendo World experience in Japan, which we visited early last year, providing an interactive experience where four-seater Mario Kart vehicle drivers can navigate to collect coins and also throw shells to defeat Team Bowser which also achieves different outcomes for the race.
Riders wear plastic Mario hats with wired HoloLens-like visors on the front, which combine with the motion of the ride, projection mapping on the walls, and real-world physical backdrops to deliver action that feels like the karts go faster than they really are. Sam Byford described the experience as “overwhelming but a lot of fun”, which encouraged running through it multiple times to get a higher score. It’s possible this ride will improve on the initial effort, which engineers described as scalable and modular, to accommodate improving technology. But, from the description and the trailer, it looks pretty much the same.
At Japan Park, there was only one other ride on our visit, the Yoshi’s Adventure train ride, though it included other interactive areas and the Power Up band that pairs with phones from visitors to track their progress. Another built-up area around Donkey Kong is said to be under construction. As for the American theme park, the only details we have so far are that it will have “the revolutionary ride, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, and interactive areas, for the whole family, as well as shops and themed restaurants to enhance the whole experience.