EDITOR'S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Rae Williams spoke with the cast and directors of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" about bringing the video game to life on the big screen. Click the arrow above to watch the video.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — The Super Mario Bros. have taken over, and Southern California has become one of the main epicenters of the fandom. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Super Mario Bros. are dominating the box office and the theme parks

  • Early entry to be among the first to go inside Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Hollywood is sold out for the rest of April and a couple of days in May

  • Theme Park Insider Editor said people are willing to shell out their money to go in early

  • Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood opened in February

As “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” dominates the box office, fans flock to Universal Studios Hollywood to enter the Mushroom Kingdom and meet Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach.

Since the opening of Super Nintendo World in February, visitors can’t get enough of the Super Mario Bros.-themed land and are willing to pay extra, on top of the $109 admission ticket, to be among the first in line to experience it on the day of their visit.  

Visitors can be seen waiting to ride on Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge inside Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood (Spectrum News/Joseph Pimentel)

For $20 to $30 each a day, Universal Studios Hollywood visitors can experience the themed land and jump on its signature Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge ride or eat or make reservations at the Toadstool-Cafe an hour before the rest of the theme park opens.

And the early entry pass has been a success, said Robert Niles, the founder and editor of Theme Park Inside, an online news site that covers the theme park industry.

Niles said that the extra price is worth it for many fans.

“This is a rare occasion when a theme park upcharge seems to be getting near complete acclaim,” said Niles to Spectrum News. “The early admission delivers a ton of value to those who buy it: a chance to complete all the interactive games with no wait, a short wait for the Mario Kart ride, and - most important - the chance to get a convenient reservation to the Toadstool Cafe.”

Meanwhile, Niles said, those who don’t buy the upcharged pass but arrive at park opening still get a decent enough experience that few have complained about.

Joshua Manansala told Spectrum News that he was able to visit the land without the early entry charge but could see the benefit of going early to save time waiting to hop on the main ride.

“Waited for the Bowser ride for about an hour or so, but the ride was worth it,” he said.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s Super Nintendo Land has been a big hit with fans since it opened in February and attracting more people since the movie came out the following month. The film has grossed nearly $700 million since premiering in early April.

Opening the much-hyped Super Nintendo World, the second of its kind in the world, and releasing the movie a month apart was a perfect 1-2 punch for Universal. 

The Super Mario Bros.-themed land features many of the characteristics from the video game: visitors enter through a green water pipe before entering the Mushroom Kingdom. They’ll see goombas, piranha plants, koopas and more. Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach are available throughout the day for meet and greets.

Princess Peach greets visitors inside Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood (Spectrum News/Joseph Pimentel)

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, an innovative augmented reality dark ride, anchors Super Nintendo World and interactive mini-challenges for those fans who cough up an additional $40 to buy a power band.  

Universal Studios Hollywood officials don’t share attendance figures, but a look at the early entrance calendar admissions, available on the Universal Studios Hollywood website, shows Super Nintendo World’s popularity. 

The early entrance calendar is sold out for the rest of April and the beginning of May.

On a recent visit, the themed land was jam-packed. The virtual queue, which Universal uses to manage the crowd levels inside the land, was fully booked by noon. Reservations for the popular Toadstool Cafe, where visitors can munch on themed Mario Bros. food and drink, went even faster. 

Universal Studios Hollywood officials did not return a Spectrum News message seeking comment.

Charging for early entrance is not new in the theme park industry. 

Guests staying at Disney resort hotels are given magic hours for up to an hour early entrance into a Disneyland or Walt Disney World theme park. Universal Orlando also offers its hotel guests and certain passholders or groups early admission into its popular attractions. 

But the Mario brothers are a different beast. People are willing to shell out their money, said Niles. And Universal is capitalizing off the fandom before it dies down.

“Everyone in the business understands that Mario is a bit of a unicorn, a rare IP and project that justifies this kind of extra expense for visitors,” said Niles. “I don’t see another project on the near horizon — certainly not in Southern California — that could get away with an upcharge like this. And I suspect that this upcharge will not last for long. Sometime before the end of the year, I expect demand to drop to the point where Universal stops offering it. Perhaps this fall?”