The global theme park industry has been in a rough spot for the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic still makes large crowds of screaming people a rather unappealing prospect. If, however, there were any one property that would still bring people in droves to theme parks, well, it’d probably be Disney. But if there were another property that would bring people in droves, it would definitely be Nintendo, which was why, despite everything, the grand opening of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka attracted a big turnout on opening day.
After being delayed multiple times from its planned opening in 2020 by the pandemic, Super Nintendo World has finally opened for business. As soon as the gates opened, lines immediately formed to get pictures with the Mario and Luigi mascots, purchase the park’s signature Power Bands, and check out the various attractions.
Osaka local Sakura Konohana told CNN the park “is beyond my expectations. I feel like I’m in the Mario world.”
Super Nintendo World opens in Osaka, Japan. Visitors can jump up and punch “question blocks” and collect virtual coins or play Koopa’s Challenge: a real-life Mario Kart race through Bowser’s Castle. https://t.co/vVy2HyUrU8 pic.twitter.com/zULHfrEMRW
— CNN (@CNN) March 18, 2021
Sisters Mika and Yuko Kobayashi, decked out in Mario clothes and accessories, became slightly emotional upon entering the park. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that Mario raised me,” one of them said.
Of course, even amidst the merriment, the presence of COVID-19 call still be felt. Masks and social distancing are still required, temperature checks are performed at the entrance, and hand sanitizer dispensers are readily available around the park. Like other parks around the world, Super Nintendo World has also requested that guests do their best to refrain from screaming while on rides.
“I’m scared when I take off my mask to eat food,” Kyoto resident Noriko Yoshinaka said. “But the park seems to take safety protocols, cleaning the rides and wiping surfaces every time people touch them, so I feel safe.”