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Universal’s Super Nintendo World Changes the Game—In Both Delightful and Tricky Ways

The Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, for those who are unfamiliar, shares its campus with its namesake Universal Studios, where movies and TV are made, and the grounds are scattered up the side of the mountain behind the Hollywood sign in the middle of the Los Angeles area.

Everything you’ve just seen is packed into a cramped section of the Lower Lot of Universal Studios, where movies have been made since just before World War I. Back then, tourists could pay a quarter to sit on bleachers and watch silent movies being made. Now, people who put a quarter into arcade games can visit a whole world based on the games.

Comcast, the parent company of Universal, decided to demolish some historic structures (including Stage 28, the reportedly haunted soundstage where 1925’s landmark The Phantom of the Opera was shot) to clear what little room there is for Super Nintendo World. Several of the features present in the Japanese version had to be cut for space. 

But a much larger iteration of the land is on its way. In Orlando, Universal is deep into construction of Epic Universe, a full theme park that’s slated to open in 2025 with a Super Nintendo World of its own. California’s version is but an abridged version of the major compound that’s on its way to Florida, which will reportedly include extras like a show-moving Yoshi ride and a Donkey Kong-themed roller coaster.

Consider Hollywood’s Super Nintendo World to be a trial run—not just of the land and its operational aspirations, but also for the new tactic of forcing American guests to spend much more, beyond the admission ticket, to be able to experience a theme park properly.

Super Nintendo World brings the industry several giant leaps forward, and it’s the new benchmark for what’s possible. But for guests’ budgets, it’s a sign of much more expensive days ahead.