On February 17, 2023, Super Nintendo World Hollywood officially opened its doors — or should I say pipes? — to the general public.
This particular destination is admittedly not the first Super Nintendo World to open at a Universal park, nor is it the biggest. Nor will it be the biggest Super Nintendo World to open in the United States. But it is the FIRST Super Nintendo World to open in the United States, and darn it all, that’s worth something!
The main (read: only) attraction of this deceptively small land is an augmented reality Mario Kart ride, which is/will be present in every version of the park. In addition to this, there are a number of environmental minigames scattered throughout the space; completing a certain number of these unlocks a secret final ‘boss fight’ with Bowser Jr. And of course, for someone like me, the lovingly recreated environments themselves are reason enough to visit.
The dining location, Toadstool Cafe, also has some really stinkin’ cute food. And you know I’m a sucker for really stinkin’ cute theme park food.
I’ve got a long way to go before I could even begin to describe myself as a Universal convert, but the last year or so has definitely made me more aware of the things this company does right where theme parks are concerned. Will I be visiting Super Nintendo World? That’s a harder question. I’m a huge Nintendo fan, and travel to California often, but the rest of Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t bring much to the table — certainly not when I could instead spend the day at Disneyland just an hour down the road. Universal Orlando is, by all accounts, a much better park (and will have a much bigger Super Nintendo World come 2025), but it’s also in Florida, and Florida and I haven’t exactly been seeing eye-to-eye lately. In conclusion, I really don’t know when or if I’ll get to see this new park for myself. But at least I’m thinking about it!
There is one other bit of business I feel obligated to mention, this time on the Disney front. It’s not the opening of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland (though there is that), nor is it the release of the first trailer for this summer’s Haunted Mansion movie (though THERE IS THAT). No, instead it’s the fact that Disney has decided to let its negotiations with the Local 737 Cast Member union at Walt Disney World completely fall apart.
You may not be aware of this,1 but the Orlando area has become quite an expensive place to live in recent years. Which is why a number of Walt Disney World cast members (that is, employees) took it upon themselves to ask their bosses for a raise during the most recent round of contract negotiations, seeking an $18/hour minimum wage. Disney’s initial offer was a $1/hour increase to their minimum wage, bringing it to $16/hour, with an additional $1/hour added to that each year through 2027. This proposal was resoundingly voted down by 96% of cast members — many of whom are struggling to make ends meet, and some of whom are literally homeless — feeling that they needed the $18/hour right now. It was at this point that Disney decided to take their ball and go home, explicitly declaring their refusal to add “even one cent” to the previous offer, and in fact making their subsequent offer worse. Does that mean we’ll soon see a cast member strike? Well… no, because their current contract doesn’t give them protection to strike without being fired.
It’s no secret that I’m a big Disney fan. In fact, I’ve worked for them in the past, and I honestly wouldn’t rule out doing so again (though I would never in a million years go back to Parks, Experiences, and Products). But this story is just gross, and I feel that it’s important for even someone with my extremely limited platform to make it known. The company as a whole isn’t exactly in the middle of its best years, but the Parks are doing better than they ever have. Disney can afford to pay these people, and the fact that they won’t is made even worse when they jump at every opportunity to spout off about how their cast members are the real magic. Sorry, Mr. D’Amaro, inspirational quotes don’t pay the bills.
But hey, you know what central Florida employer just announced that they’re in the market for over 2000 new theme park staffers with a starting wage of $17/hour? Universal Studios! How about that!?
Feel free to use this space to discuss all things theme- or amusement park!
Optional Discussion Question: What characters or series would you like to see used as part of a Super Nintendo World expansion?