How Scary Is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge?
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How Scary Is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge?

We’re HUGE Nintendo fans in our household, so we were really excited when Super Nintendo World opened at Universal Studios Japan. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, therefore, that it’s one of the first things we did after moving to Japan! We were a bit nervous taking the little kids, though. We wondered “how scary is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge?” We’ve got the answers!

Our youngest kids (and their dad!) experience motion sickness, so this was part of our concern also. If this is something you’re worried about, keep reading. We definitely discuss our experience in this area!

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge at Universal Studios Japan

You’ll find Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Studios Hollywood, and soon at Universal Orlando Resort. We’ve only ridden the one in Japan, so this review will be based on that experience. The rides are very similar, though, so this should work no matter which Universal Park you’re at! 

Is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge a Roller Coaster?

Related post: How to Overcome Fear on Roller Coasters

Here are some quick facts about :

  • Opening date: March 18, 2021 (February 17, 2023 in Hollywood)
  • Trains: 4 riders per kart seated in rows of two.
  • Ride Height Requirement: 40 in (102 cm)
  • Duration: 5:00
  • Lift/launch system: n/a
  • Height: n/a
  • Drop: n/a
  • Max speed: n/a 
  • Inversions: n/a
  • Length: n/a

Queue Area

There is AMAZING theming on this ride. You really will feel like you’ve stepped into Bowser’s Castle, especially in the version in Japan. I’m not going to spoil the fun, but make sure you read the titles of the books and notes throughout the queue area. It’s hilarious.

There are MANY stairs in the Japan location. Unless there’s a reason to take the elevator you’ll be up and down a LOT of them. This is a little tricky with small kids. Keeping them safe was the scariest part of the ride, if I’m honest!

Loading Area, Seats & Restraints

You’ll be four in a car (or kart!) on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. I’m a bigger woman and I was very comfortable. You’ll have to step into the ride vehicle and then secure your headset yourself. 

Is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge Scary?

No, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is not scary. At least not to our family! There were six of us on the ride and none of us could wait to get back on! 

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge headset and seat


It’s your typical Bowser’s Castle but come to life. Some kids might find it a little creepy, but it’s mostly that cheesy, dark humor associated with Bowser (known as Koopa in Japan). 

Restraints / Headset

There’s nothing scary about the seat or restraints, but if you don’t like things on your face, the headset might be a bit stressful. Here in Japan, they did NOT let me use alcohol wipes or anything on it, so that part wasn’t my favorite.  

Vertical Lift / Drop

Is there a drop on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge? Nope! And since there’s no drop, there’s no vertical lift either. It’s all on the ground!


It’s not too fast at all. It’s designed for riders of all ages, so it’s pretty tame. Plus, there’s a lot of stops and starts, just like the Mario Kart video game, so it never gets a chance to pick up speed.


This is an indoor dark ride, so there is some darkness. Fortunately, there’s a lot of bright Mario Kart theming and lighting to brighten things up. It has to be somewhat dark, though, for the headset projection to work. 

Motion Sickness

Okay, I’m gonna be so honest. My little kids have TERRIBLE motion sickness. In fact, coming home on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka to Tokyo, one of them threw up everywhere while the other one did some meditation. 

We were VERY worried about them before going on this ride but we did it twice and it was fine! I’d never take them on Transformers 3-D or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey because those even make me feel queasy. The technology on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is excellent. It really helps reduce the chances that you’ll feel nauseous.

Best Things About Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is such a fun family ride. We had a blast fighting for Team Mario against Team Koopa. We went on this ride multiple times and every time was different. It really does respond to what you do during the ride. 

We did our best to use our items to earn points. At the end of Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge they show a leaderboard which my kids really loved. We also bought the Super Nintendo World wristbands and they interact with this ride. Overall, we loved it and can’t recommend it highly enough!

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