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Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World

by Mommy Frog on January 7, 2024 4 Los Angeles

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Super Nintendo World is an incredibly detailed and popular land at Universal Studios Hollywood. However, the land has limited space due to long lines for the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge ride, as well as for the interactive challenges and games. What if we told you there was a great tool for gaining access to Super Nintendo World with low crowds and short lines, allowing you to play the games and experience the ride before the park even opens? Level up your day with the Super Nintendo World Early Access ticket! We're going to break down just how to get it and how to use it. Plus, we offer hopful tips for exploring Super Nintendo World and maximizing your time during the Early Access hour.

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Overview of the Super Nintendo World Early Access Ticket

The Early Access ticket is an add-on ticket that you can purchase from Universal Studios Hollywood, regardless of where you purchase your theme park tickets. (Purchase discount tickets through Undercover Tourist to save up to $50 per ticket on general admission and up to $111 per Express ticket. Then you can use your savings to purchase Early Access through Universal. Just sayin'. You may even have enough savings left over for lunch!) The Early Access ticket allows you to enter Super Nintendo World one hour before the park officially opens and enjoy the lowest crowds of the day. You will need a valid, separate theme park admission for the same day as your Early Access ticket.

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Aerial view of land in morning without crowds

We recommend purchasing your Early Access ticket and theme park tickets in advance because the limited quantity of Early Access tickets available each day do sell out weeks in advance for peak times. Plan your visit a month in advance, especially for peak times such as the summer and the holidays.

Cost of Early Access

The price varies per day. The cost per person is generally about $20 to $30 per person. You do not need to purchase a ticket for children 2 and younger. Every member of your party ages 3 and up needs an Early Access ticket to enter the Lower Lot and Super Nintendo World before the official park opening.

Studio Tour Express Access

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Studio Tour enters King Kong

Another benefit of the Early Access ticket is that it gives you Express access to the Studio Tour until 11 a.m. You can explore all of Super Nintendo World and the Lower Lot before hopping to the front of the line at the Studio Tour.

Tips for Using the Super Nintendo World Early Access Ticket

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Signs at the park entrance directing to Early Access entrance

Here are some Early Entry tips for maximizing your time at Super Nintendo World!

Check Early Access Time and Park Hours

Park hours can change as the date approaches, even within the same week! Be sure to check the specific park hours for the week of your visit the day before you go, in case these differ from when you first bought your tickets. If park hours are moved to an earlier time, you'll want to know so you don't miss your Early Access window.

Arrival Tips

The parking garages open one hour before Early Access. We suggest arriving 45 to 60 minutes before your Early Access time. That will give you time to park, walk to the park, go through security and line up to get inside. Keep to the left side of the red carpet when entering the park and have your park ticket in hand. Have your Early Access tickets available to show the attendant for scanning before you get to the turnstiles. The park may open the turnstiles to enter about 30 minutes before Early Access starts, so you want to be ahead of the crowds.

Once inside, head to the back of the park (Springfield area). In the past, we had to show our Early Access tickets to the park attendants at the Early Access checkpoint just before the escalators leading to the Lower Lot. But during our most recent visit, we only needed to scan it once outside the park gates.

Guest Relations and wheelchair rentals are open before and during Early Access.

When and Where to Purchase Power-Up Bands

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Power-Up Band

If you do not already have a Power-Up Band and want to play the games and challenges, punch blocks and earn virtual coins, keys and stamps, you’re going to need to purchase one. Have the Universal Studios Hollywood app downloaded and ready to go before you arrive.

You can purchase a Power-Up Band at shops in the Upper Lot and Lower Lot, as well as at Super Nintendo World kiosks or the 1Up Factory. Scan the QR code on the back of the band to link it to your app and name it. Then you are ready to play! Wahoo!

Read up on our Power-Up Bands post before you go! Basically, you need at least one Power-Up Band for your group. One band gets several players into the group games and up to four players into Bowser Jr.'s Shadow Showdown. Each player must present a band to play the single-player games but you can share a band if you don't mind that.

Super Nintendo World Early Access Exploration Plan

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Super Nintendo World warp pipes and signBefore you enter the land, take the time to snap a photo with the warp pipes and the land's colorful logo. These are located to the right of the larger warp pipe you walk through to enter the land. It gets crowded later, and on very busy days you may not be able to exit the same way you entered.

Once you enter the land, it can be very impressive but overwhelming. You're basically walking into a living video game! Your first instinct may be to ride Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge immediately, but we think it's smarter to play all the games and challenges first and then ride Mario Kart afterward. There are up to five challenges to complete within the land. We were able to play them all in under 25 minutes during the first half of the Early Access hour! Lines will build by the end of the hour, though. You must earn three keys by playing at least three of the interactive key challenges/games. Once you earn those three keys, you can enter Bowser Jr.'s Shadow Showdown.

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Panel game

Follow the shortest lines, but here's our suggested order:

  • Piranha Plant Nap Mishap: 1 or more players
  • Thwomp Panel Panic: 1 to 3 players
  • Koopa Troopa POWer Punch: 1 player
  • Goomba Crazy Crank: 1 player
  • Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown: up to 12 players (To enter, you must earn three keys by successfully winning the other challenges.)

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Piranha Plant Nap MishapOnce you've completed the challenges, ride Mario Kart and explore the land. There are so many fun details to see and blocks to punch. If you want to ride a second time (of course you do!) we suggest getting in the Single Rider line if you are willing to split up from your party and fill in available seats. You'll experience a much shorter wait in that line as the crowds begin to arrive. But make sure you go through the ride queue the first time because it's one of the most immersive and detailed queues we've ever seen! It's definitely worth the wait. The Single Rider line, however, skips most of the queue. Nonetheless, it provides a toadally awesome view of the land from above.

Don't froget to make your reservation to join the queue for Toadstool Café. You may be able to do that before you even enter the park by using this link. More on that below.

Remember to check out the signs near character meet-and-greet locations. You can see the times they will be out during the day. It's best to be able to hop in line (or be ready to hop in line) before they appear. Princess Peach, Toad, Mario and Luigi may come out at different times. We've seen them out during Early Access!

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - People meet Mario and Luigi

Leave the land as the crowds arrive. Go ride the Lower Lot attractions while everyone else heads to Super Nintendo World. Make sure to head up the escalators by at least 10:45 a.m. so you can redeem your Express access for the Studio Tour before 11 a.m. (although we have arrived late on more than one occasion and we were still able to use our Early Access for the Express line those days).

Getting a Reservation for Toadstool Café

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Toadstool Entrance

Another important, early morning task is making a reservation for Toadstool Café. You can actually do this before you even enter the park with this link to the menu and reservation system. Another way to join is by scanning the QR code you see before entering the land through the Warp Pipe, or there may be a waitlist QR code outside Toadstool Café itself on some days. We suggest reserving earlier in the morning before the park opens (via the link we shared) as spots can fill up quickly and be gone by the time the park opens.

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Guests scan the QR code outside the warp pipe

Reservation, waitlist and queue are all different names for the same thing. Basically, you'll pick a time to arrive at the restaurant and check in. Then, you'll get in line to order, be seated and wait for your food to be delivered to your table.

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Toadstool Food

A key factor to consider is that the reservation link opens at a different time each day. It usually opens somewhere between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., but it can open later or even earlier. If you are there for Early Access, you may be able to walk into the café before the park opens (or join a waitlist). Unfrogtunately, the restaurant doesn't serve traditional breakfast food. You may want to reserve for lunchtime and come back to dine later. However, dining early (before the lunch rush) has an advantage in the form of shorter waits for food. Your reservation will get you back into the land if it's at capacity and utilizing a virtual queue. Find out more in our Super Nintendo World food post. No luck in the morning? Keep checking the link, especially between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions About Super Nintendo World Early Access

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Early Access:

What’s Open During Early Access?

The entire land is open during Early Access. The rest of the park is closed until the official park opening time, with a few exceptions. Some souvenir shops are open in the Upper and Lower Lot, so you can purchase Power-Up Bands there. Guest Relations and Wheelchair Rentals are open as well.

What If You Arrive Late?

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Line to get into Super Nintendo World

Traffic is a real issue in LA, so allow plenty of time to arrive. If you arrive after Early Access starts, stick to the left side. You may notice other guests entering the park early, but they will be held back at certain points. Follow the Early Access signs on the left to bypass them, as they cannot enter the land until the park opens.

If you arrive after Early Access ends, you can still use your Early Access code to enter the land without a reservation if a line or virtual queue is in place to enter. You won’t get the low capacity or short lines, but you can at least get in. You can also still use your Studio Tour Express access by 11 a.m.

How Do I Manage Special Needs During Early Access?

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - AAP Card at Guest RelationsIf you have someone with special needs or disabilities in your party, Early Access is a great idea. It can be hard to manage heavy crowds with a wheelchair and physical disabilities, or even autism or sensory integration issues. Visiting during Early Access will provide you with room to move about the land and process the environment properly. You can actually see the incredibly colorful, elaborate land when it's less crowded. It also means you can complete the challenges during the cool morning without subjecting yourself to long waits under the hot afternoon sun (as challenge lines are not covered).

If requesting attraction queue accommodations, you'll need to register for the IBCCES Accessibility Card (IAC) at at least 48 hours before your visit. Then once you're at the park, go straight to Guest Relations. Show them your IAC and they'll set up your accommodations for the day with an Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP). You can rent a wheelchair if you need one. People who use wheelchairs and ECVs will take alternative transport, to the right of the escalators, to get to the Lower Lot.

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - shuttle lower lot

Once the park opens and the crowds arrive, visit the other Lower Lot attractions before heading back to the Upper Lot. Unless your child uses the stroller as a wheelchair, you'll have to park your stroller outside the land.

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Return time

During Early Access, and the first half hour of the park being open, you do not need to collect return times for Mario Kart. Instead, you head straight to the alternate queue with the AAP. Starting about 30 minutes after park opening, you can collect a return time from a team member in front of the ride. They'll write the time you can return on your card. You are free to leave the land in the meantime if you like. Your AAP will get you back into the land reservation-free even if there is a line forming or a Virtual Line in place.

What Happens If the Ride Breaks Down During Early Access?

Sometimes the unexpected happens. We have heard stories about the ride breaking down during Early Access and things not going to plan. That's why we suggest doing all the games and exploring a bit first. That way, you will have at least made the most of your Early Access time.

Does Universal Express Allow You to Skip the Line for Mario Kart?

Early Access Tips for Super Nintendo World - Mario Kart

Nope. Your Express ticket will get you into the land without a reservation if the Virtual Line is in place. The only people who skip the line for Mario Kart are people who have purchased a VIP Experience (or the VIP Theme Park Experience).

Is Early Access Worth It?

People always want to know if add-on services are worth the extra expense. If Super Nintendo World is important to you or your main reason for visiting, it is absolutely worth it, especially for the price of $20 to $30 per person. Plus, if you purchase discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets from Undercover Tourist, you can use the money you save to purchase your Early Access tickets!

Getting to experience the land without crowds and lines is truly unmatched. You can accomplish almost everything in the land within that one hour (depending on your preferences) besides Toadstool Café. Trying to navigate the large crowds and waiting in lines can take you at least four hours on any given day, which can add more stress to an already jam-packed day of activity. You'll get a great head start on your day with Early Access and can enjoy the rest of the park with short lines during the first two hours of park opening.

Just be sure to purchase as early as possible so you don't miss out! Early Access sometimes sells out weeks in advance.

What If It Sells Out?

If Early Access is unavailable for your visit, keep checking as some spots may open up. It would be a good idea to ride Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge as soon as the park opens (or as a Single Rider), then leave the land. Go take advantage of other short lines in the morning. The wait times for challenges may lower as it gets hot around noon but be prepared to endure some strong rays from the sun around that time! Bring sunscreen and an umbrella for shade, if you can. We have also noticed that challenge lines are shortest in the last two operating hours of the day if you prefer to play games once it starts to cool down for the day.

Consider the VIP Experience if you are determined to experience the land to the fullest extent. While it won't help you skip the lines for challenges, it will allow you unlimited access to skipping the line for the Mario Kart ride. It's substantially pricier than Early Access but it includes many perks, such as a special backlot tour, unlimited Universal Express access, valet parking, meal plans and more.

Hopfully, you can use these tips for Super Nintendo World Early Access to get a jump start on your day at Universal Studios Hollywood. You can get your Super Nintendo World Early Access tickets through Universal Studios Hollywood directly and save money on Universal Studios Hollywood admission by purchasing your regular admission through Undercover Tourist. 

Related: How To Access Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood

Related: Your Guide to Super Nintendo World Hollywood

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Feb 19, 2024 at 5:13 p.m. Jeff Townsend Says...

Have Early Access to SNW scheduled for Monday 2/26 and park opens at 10AM. Early access will be 9AM. Will I be able to use express to the Studio Tour until 12 (rather than 11) since the park is opening 1 hour later than usual?

Mar 5, 2024 at 12:37 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jeff!

The time does not change from 11 a.m. officially, though from our personal experience, we have been late once and they still let us through. It may be up to the team member's discretion and can't guarantee it would be the same outcome, so we would still recommend riding before 11 a.m.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Feb 3, 2024 at 4:51 a.m. Troy Says...

We have tickets for Friday June 7th and early access to SNW. I have 2 questions. What are the typical park hours for the first Friday in June? Also, you suggest hitting the lower lot after the early access to SNW, but when we went back in early 2020 the lower lot didn't open until an hour after the upper lot. Has that now changed with SNW?

Feb 8, 2024 at 3:39 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Troy!

Universal doesn't post official park hours until about the month before. They may differ from the past, but usually the park opens at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and is open until at least 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. (or sometimes later). And yes, since Super Nintendo World opened, the Lower Lot is available upon park open.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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