PHOTO & VIDEO TOUR – Ride Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge With & Without AR Headset and Tour The Full Queue in Super Nintendo World
The embargo on Super Nintendo World coverage is finally over, which means we can share everything related to Universal Studios Japan’s exciting expansion with you now! And that includes its signature attraction—Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge! From the incredibly detailed queue to the actual experience itself, there’s so much to share and talk about! For starters, you can watch a full start-to-finish experience video including augmented reality below! Or keep on scrolling for a full picture tour and a POV video without the augmented reality goggles getting in the way.
A disclaimer about the above video: The attraction is very hard to film through the goggles, but the characters and such seen through them do align nicely in real life on the ride.
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Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge is housed inside Bowser’s Castle, located in the upper left corner of Super Nintendo World. It’s quite imposing, with ominous music playing right outside.
The attraction is intended to be split into three lines—Standby, Universal Express, and Single Rider. Currently, Single Rider is not available, and Universal Express is not being sold for this attraction before the grand opening.
Right inside are a set of stairs, and that massive Bowser statue previewed in the Nintendo Direct with Shigeru Miyamoto. It’s around 8 feet tall and extremely imposing, almost as if you get the feeling that you shouldn’t be here. In here, a remix of New Super Mario Bros. U’s Castle theme sets the mood.
Bowser is fully detailed on all sides, right down to the crevasses in his shell.
The floor (with social distancing markers) features Bowser shells on the borders of tile designed to look like red carpet.
Throughout the entrance area, shell shields adorn the walls to remind Guests whose castle this is.
Massive Koopa-themed doors (including this one designed to resemble Castle boss entrances from the New Super Mario Bros. series) are also littered through the entrance area.
After leaving the statue room, Guests come face to face with this large painting of the king Koopa himself.
The next stop for Guests is this trophy hall, seen previously in released images. In the Trophy Hall, Super Mario World’s Fortress theme plays, of course in a remixed version.
On the right of Guests walking in is today’s trophy—the Universal Cup! Featuring a Universal globe flanked by two wings, this iconography can be seen throughout Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge.
Flanking the trophy is a portrait of Mario and Bowser, seemingly after a race.
And on the other side is a note that reads “Listen up, Mario! Get over to my castle! Let’s have a race! I’m waiting, so don’t chicken out! Gua ha ha ha!”
Banners with Bowser’s iconography also hang from the walls.
Opposite the Universal Cup are other famous cups from the Mario Kart series.
The first extended queue room features storage for several items used in the Mario Kart games, including bananas and Bob-Ombs. Posters featuring in-game sponsors also decorate the walls.
Another addition to this room are the tires similar to those seen in the actual games.
Storage Room #2
Along the walls of the second extended queue room, banners featuring Team Mario and Team Koopa members hang on opposite sides. On Team Mario, we see Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Toad, and Yoshi.
More in-game sponsor posters also hang in this room.
But the defining feature of this room is definitely the posters of Super Mario enemies through the years, many of which make cameos in the Mario Kart games (and the attraction itself)! Represented are Bloopers, Pokeys, Chain Chomps, Bullet Bills, Piranha Plants, Boos, and Fish Bones, among others.
More props as well as sponsor signs decorate the switchbacks of the queue.
And as we mentioned previously, banners for Team Koopa hang opposite those of Team Mario. On this wall we see Bowser, Roy, Lemmy, Morton, Ludwig, Wendy, and Iggy.
By far the best room in the extended queue, however, is the Broadcasting Room. Why, you ask? Because of the giant MKTV satellite truck parked right in the middle!
The entire room, particularly around this truck, is covered in fake broadcasting equipment, and sounds of Mario Kart races emanate from inside the truck as if it’s broadcasting live to the world!
Next to the MKTV truck is this control panel, which not only shows images of particularly famous Mario Kart tracks but also gives a small hint at what Guests riding Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge will experience.
Broadcasting equipment, like this prop camera, litter the entire room!
All four walls feature this poster intermittently between banners, giving the basic concept of the attraction in English.
Several iconic race courses from Mario Kart 8 are also paid tribute on the walls of this room, even the infamous Rainbow Road!
Even Bowser has to post some safety warnings when entering his castle.
Presumably this door will be the gateway for Single Rider and Universal Express Guests to skip straight to Driver Briefing, which we will cover later.
The incredible detail in this queue really steps up to another level in Bowser’s Library. This dark room plays a remixed version of the Ghostly Galaxy music from Super Mario Galaxy and features tons of props and nods to past Mario games.
On Bowser’s worktable sits a small paper-looking model of the course the evil Koopa has designed to once and for all defeat Mario!
On its left is probably our favorite prop in the entire queue—an old-fashioned stained glass Piranha Plant lamp! Why this isn’t on sale is beyond us.
Adjacent to the model is a gorgeous Bowser paperweight statue.
And above is a model featuring some Mario baddies like King Boo, Bullet Bills, Kamek, and an Airship. That large planet is the Gateway Galaxy planet, the first level of Super Mario Galaxy.
Along the walls are small work stations for Bowser which include books and to-do lists as he formulates his plan for destroying Mario.
Bowser’s library is well-stocked, with book titles including “Raising Destructive Children”, “Bruce Force: A Guide to Solving Every Problem”, “Karts Through the Ages”, and “Sibling Rivalries and How to Exploit Them”, among many others.
Around the other side of the shelf, blueprints for iconic Mario enemies like Thwomps can are pasted on a chalkboard.
A haunted portrait of King Boo also hangs above a book titled “The Haunting of Banshee Board”, and occasionally a Boo pops out to scare Guests!
Nearby, Podoboos jump in and out of Bowser’s library fireplace.
Stacks of other books decorate the queue area.
Nearby, a model of Bowser’s iconic Airship sits on a shelf, along with various blueprints for the vehicle’s components.
A map of Bowser’s ultimate course is nailed to the wall, along with various placements for enemies designed to get Mario once and for all!
And in Bowser’s reading chair lays a portrait of Princess Peach, whom he hopes to finally win over!
Bowser’s boiler room is currently doubling as a manufacturing hub for Bob-Ombs and Mechakoopas.
Completed Bob-Ombs, Bullet Bills, and Mechakoopas lay dormant in storage bins throughout the room.
And along the walls, Guests can observe the construction process as it moves along.
The Boiler Room is quite an interesting sight, and truly gives the feeling of being in the bowels of Bowser’s Castle.
Spilled oil barrels also reveal where Koopa has been recently in this room.
The Boiler Room is where Guests are given their augmented reality headsets. The front looks just like an iconic Mario cap, and on the back are twist wheels to fit the headset to other head shapes. The actual goggles are attached magnetically to the sides and are wired into each ride vehicle.
Briefing Room #1
The first briefing room introduces Guests to each member of Team Mario and Team Koopa, and instructs the waiting racers on how to properly fit their headset.
Many of the items in here feature special “fragile” prop tags (since it’s a lot of broadcasting equipment), and the best part is that the fragile symbol is a cracked Yoshi egg!
Briefing Room #2
The second briefing room features tons of screens. Guests are instructed here in a two minute video on how to properly play as they experience Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge.
On the floor is yet another Universal Cup icon as well.
But by far the coolest part of the second Briefing Room is the display on the back wall featuring Team Mario’s racing gear!
Luigi’s green suit is supplimented by a hat themed to his L cap, and the Poltergust 3000 from Luigi’s Mansion just below.
Princess Peach’s helmet is ornate, just like her gold crown. Next to her pink and white suit is a parasol with a heart handle.
Mario’s classic red and blue racing suit reflects his typical red shirt, blue overalls look. Next to his suit is a Tanuki costume, and his plumbing tools sit below.
Yoshi’s outfit features a helmet that looks just like his actual head, and Yoshi eggs sit both adjacent to and below his outfit!
And Toad gets a helmet just like his mushroom top, along with a Super Mushroom next to his blue and white racing suit.
Descent to Load
On the way down to load, team banners for Team Mario and Team Koopa hang on the walls.
Above, conveyor belts move Mechakoopas and Bob-Ombs on to their final destinations.
The load area features tons of pipesand gears as Guests prepare to board their Karts and race!
If you wish to experience the full attraction, you can find a video with the AR goggles at the top of the article. Otherwise, you can experience just the scenery in our second YouTube video above!
After exiting and handing back the Mario headset, Guests ascend up stairs and pass plaques featuring each Cup from the Mario Kart series, as well as the Universal Cup they just raced in!
Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge is an exciting addition to Universal Studios Japan, no doubt about that. There’s so much detail in every area, it’s hard to capture it all! Be sure you let us know your favorite parts in the comments below or on social media, and keep on reading Universal Parks News Today for complete Super Nintendo World coverage!