How Super Nintendo World's Creators Made Sure The New Theme Park Was 'As True To The Game As Possible'

Whenever you hear anybody talking about theme parks, you’ll often hear fans bring up “attention to detail.” When trying to build a story and create the illusion that a guest is part of that story, any detail out of place can break the illusion. With the now open Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood, the team at Universal Creative needed to make you feel like you were truly inside a Super Mario Bros. video game, and they worked hard to make the experience true to the classic games.

When you walk through the warp pipe into Super Nintendo World the first thing you’ll notice is how much of the world is in motion. There are various items and enemies from the world of Super Mario Bros. bounding back and forth across several different platforms reaching up into the sky. And what's most remarkable about them is how these things, which have only ever been digital creatures, feel real, and also true to the games.

The koopa trooper walks at the same speed they do in the games. The coins spinning in place are spinning at a precisely accurate speed. I had a chance to speak with Universal Creative Show Producer Abbye Finnan before the grand opening of Super Nintendo World. I asked if the partnership with Nintendo included actually working with the video game company to get even these small details right. She explained…

I could not begin to tell you the number of meetings that we had, throughout the course of this project. Everything is thought through, to be honest. And Nintendo looks at everything. So if they think a coin is spinning a little bit off, we're going to adjust it. We want it to be as true to the game as possible.

Nintendo, of course, wants their game words represented in the best possible way, and that means making sure that all those details are just right. The good news is that attention to detail is what theme parks do, so if Universal Studios Hollywood didn’t have things just right, they would want to know so they could dial in those details.

A fan of Super Mario Bros. might not even necessarily realize how game accurate so many of the details are simply because they’re details. But that same fan would likely notice if those details were slightly wrong. That’s why theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood work so hard to get everything just right, and it’s hard to argue that it’s not a rousing success.

I had a chance to visit Super Nintendo World on opening day and it was clear Universal's work to be “true to the game” is a hit with fans. Lines for the land’s main attraction stretched from one side of the land to the other. Those not waiting in that line were running around with their Power Up Bands and hitting Question Blocks to collect coins and engaging in the numerous other activities that are available. 

Check out my full review of Super Nintendo World for details, but the short version is that there has never been a theme park experience quite like it. It is as interactive as a video game, but it's a game where you are the avatar, not the controller. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.