Super Nintendo World opens on February 4 with the AR Mario Kart roller coaster

Universal Studios Japan has announced the opening hours of the long-awaited Nintendo-themed area. The Super Nintendo Land Zone will open at the Osaka Amusement Park on February 4, 2021.

That’s actually a little earlier than expected – last month, Nintendo said the project would open in the spring. A themed cafe and department store has already opened in the larger Universal Studios Japan park.

USJ and Nintendo have also provided details of what will be one of the park’s highlights: the Mario Kartthemed roller coaster. Housed in the refurbished Bowser Castle, it uses AR and projection mapping technology, and riders wear Mario-headed AR headphones:

Bloomberg took an early look at Super Nintendo World, including Mario Kart ride and noted that the park continues to expand Donkey Kongthemed area:

Cars do have a steering wheel, and multiple vehicles can race side by side, but it sounds like the road itself is running on rails. It’s not guaranteed to win the competition – there’s an item that throws resources out of the boxes, and the USJ says the experience will be different each time.

The park says it is working with health administration officials to provide a safe environment for visitors and staff and is currently operating at 50 percent capacity. COVID-19 cases in Osaka have recently increased, reaching a record 490 positive tests in one day last week. To date, Japan has largely avoided strict containment measures, but has relied on curbing the epidemic and wearing worldwide, almost universal masks to alleviate the epidemic.

The opening of Super Nintendo World will be closely watched as a model for the amusement park industry that has been hit hard by COVID-19. Last week, the Walt Disney Company announced it would lay off 32,000 employees, mostly in its park division.