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Super Nintendo World Looks for a Level Beyond the Pandemic

After a year of pandemic life, many people need an escape. On Thursday, thousands in Japan found one in the fantasyland of the Mario Bros.

A theme park, Super Nintendo World, opened at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, ending months of delays and testing the proposition that people will want to gather in large numbers while the coronavirus is circulating to race in a Mario Kart or punch question mark blocks.

The authorities said they were taking steps to prevent the spread of infections. The park’s capacity is limited to 10,000 people. Guests have their temperature taken upon entering, and they must wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and maintain a distance from others.

film and sports industries combined. The new park also capitalizes on the success of the Nintendo Switch, a video game console released in 2017. About 80 million units have been sold.

“Because it’s coming straight from the imagination of Shigeru Miyamoto, it really brings the atmosphere of Super Mario Brothers into the real world,” said Robert Sephazon, a game developer based in Japan who has visited the park.

“Although it’s a bit of escapism, and it does really work,” he added, the pandemic never fully disappears, with masks and hand sanitizing to ensure that shared touch screens do not present a danger.

some have speculated that a locked door with a familiar design could be a clue that the site will expand to include a Donkey Kong world.

“I couldn’t tell which world I was in, a virtual or a real, as it’s so well created,” said Moe Ueura, a 31-year-old high school teacher from Hyogo Prefecture who attended the opening ceremony.

While fans rushed through the site on Thursday, others, both overseas and in Japan, expressed sadness that it might be some time before they, too, could escape into the world of Mario.

“I want to visit the Nintendo World when Covid is over,” wrote one person on Twitter. “But I wonder when the day will be.”

Hisako Ueno contributed reporting.

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