Universal Studios Japan Powers Up Mario Kart Ride at Super Nintendo World with AR Headsets

Next year, fans of Mario Kart will be able to experience the game in real life with the assistance of augmented reality.

On Feb. 4, 2021, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka City will open its Super Nintendo World mini-park, which will immerse visitors in all things Mario.

The main attraction of the park is “Mario Kart Bowser’s Challenge,” a rollercoaster that pulls riders through a physical replica of the villain Bowser’s castle. To add realism to the experience, riders will wear AR headsets (adorned with Mario’s familiar red cap) that will project virtual content from the games into the real world.

Image via Nintendo

The cost of single-day tickets for Universal Studios Japan range from $47.12 for children 4 to 11 to $68.05 for adults based on current conversion rates. Timed entry tickets will be available Super Nintendo World, though the park notes that the additional passes may not be necessary on days that are less crowded.

Visiting an amusement park in the middle of a global pandemic, particularly one starring a hyper-contagious virus, is already a dicey proposition on its own. Adding the element of an AR wearable that is shared by visitors adds another layer of risk.

Physical props, such as this statue of Bowser, will be combined with AR effects to simulate the Mario Kart experience. Image by Universal Studios Japan/YouTube

However, Universal Studios notes that “enhanced sanitation” practices, including mask requirements, barred admission of visitors exhibiting symptoms, and use of chloric disinfectant and rubbing alcohol, will be in place to ensure the safety of guests.

An employee demonstrates the venue’s temperature check protocol. Image via Nintendo

The ride comes on the heels of Nintendo’s AR reimagining of its classic franchise in Mario Kart Live with camera-equipped remote control cars combined with 3D content viewed through the Nintendo Switch.

With that product available, if you’re among the risk averse in terms of pandemic protocols, especially now that Japan is experiencing a spike in cases, perhaps the stay-at-home version of the Mario Kart experience might be preferable, for now.

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Cover image via Nintendo