Super Nintendo World, the highly anticipated themed land will officially be opening at Universal Studios Hollywood on February 17, 2023. The main ride attraction will feature AR technology.
Super Nintendo World is a Nintendo-themed land that opened in Osaka Japan back in 2021. Fans have eagerly awaited a themed arrival in the United States, and that wait is almost over. Similar to its Japanese counterpart, Hollywood’s Super Nintendo World will act as a new area to explore at Universal Studios.
The dynamic land is expected to be a visual spectacle with vibrant colours and a Bowser’s Challenge ride. Interactive activities fill the Mushroom Kingdom which offers entertainment for all age groups. There is also themed dining at the Toadstool Café and retail shopping at the 1-UP Factory. The timing of the launch is fitting with the release of the Super Mario Bros movie.
The main attraction
The main attraction is a themed Mario Kart ride, Bowser’s Challenge. The technologically advanced ride is inspired by the popular Mario Kart video game titles. What sets this ride apart however is its seamless use of augmented reality. Guests will be seated in stadium-style, four-set vehicles and navigate courses that feel familiar, all while wearing AR goggles. The ride uses projection mapping technology and actual set pieces along the moving track.
Guests in team Mario will steer through courses to compete for the Golden Cup while collecting coins to defeat Team Bowser. The ride not only sets itself apart from other theme park rides with the use of AR but it also offers a variety of outcomes, making a second go all the more fun.
Augmented reality goggles make an interesting partner to theme park rides. By using goggles rather than say, a tablet, the experience can remain immersive. Covid-19 hit many industry sectors hard, one of which being theme parks. New innovative rides could be a great way for parks to get customers visiting again. Rollercoaster rides can be amplified with digital content and the rider is still able to experience the real space buzz.
Future of AR rides
Video games or movie-themed rides seem like a perfect match for future AR rides. Rides such as Disney‘s Avatar Flight of Passage make use of 3D goggles and link chairs which simulate motion. The ride takes the user through a 3D digital experience of riding a flying creature around the alien world of Pandora. This unique experience saw Flight of Passage win the 2018 Visual Effects Society award for outstanding visual effects in a special venue project.
Imagine if a ride like this could be taken even further. Rather than sitting on a link chair in a dark room looking at a screen, you could be on an actual rollercoaster. A rollercoaster could resemble the motion and speed of flying in a far more realistic way and AR could incorporate digital assets into the experience.
Merging the real and virtual worlds
As time goes on we are sure to see AR and virtual reality being used more to expand upon the theme park experience. Europa-Park in Germany has two unique virtual reality experience rides. One of these takes guests into an outer-space adventure and the other has five selectable virtual adventures that are fitting with the track of the ride, such as flying in the sky.
Not only can AR be used to make the ride itself more spectacular but it could also help with the queuing process. Big rides often have content relating to the ride leading up to it. First to increase anticipation and secondly to save you from boredom. With the use of AR, guests could learn about the ride as they wait.
Disney already makes use of AR in its Walt Disney Park. Covid made it so that meet and greets with fan favourite characters couldn’t happen. So instead, Disney partnered with Snapchat to release lenses that allowed guests to virtually snap a picture with the characters. Guests at Lego Land also used AR to scan QR codes that created an augmented scavenger hunt for mythical creatures.
Augmented reality offers a ton of potential for theme parks. Not only can it make for more unique experiences but ones that help guests feel more immersed in the stories that theme park rides try to tell.