Donut Plains 1 – Super Mario World Map Selection

Super Mario World: 10 Hidden Areas You Didn’t Know Existed Super Mario World has more hidden areas than most SNES games, so it goes without saying fans are still uncovering secrets they may have missed.

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With a game as ingrained in the medium’s pop culture as Super Mario World, it’s perhaps “common sense” to assume everyone knows everything there is to know about the SNES platformer. After all, Super Mario World is one of the most documented games ever, but that doesn’t mean new gamers aren’t playing it for the first time every year. 

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As technology marches on, so does the appeal of retro games, and few are as well polished & well designed as Super Mario World. Any young gamers looking to dig through Mario’s catalogue will without a doubt want to play Super Mario World, potentially unaware that they’re about to embark on one of the most secret heavy games in the SNES’ library. 

10 Green Switch Palace 

While Yellow Switch Palace is more or less handed to players at the start of the game so long as they go left on the overworld, the rest of the Switch Palaces are obscured and hidden by Secret Exits. While they aren’t necessary for completing the game, they help make some of the trickier platforming sections easier.

Unfortunately, some of them can be hard to find for a first time player, especially the Green Switch Palace. As one of the first potential secrets players can find, the Green Switch Palace is unlocked by finding the Secret Exist in Donut Plains 2. In the stage’s bonus area, knock a Koopa Shell into a turnblock to reveal a climbable vine. 

9 Top Secret Area

This is far and away the most useful hidden area in the game, and arguably the one every player should strive to find. Top Secret Area is one of two areas in the game with no enemies. Unlike Yoshi’s House, however, Top Secret Area allows players to restock on Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, Feathers, and 1-Ups. 

Needless to say, anyone playing the game for the first time is going to want to be able to visit Top Secret Area whenever they can. To access Top Secret Area, players need to enter the Donut Ghost House as Mario and fly right above where they start. By following the path, players will find an alternate exit leading to Top Secret Area. 

8 Vanilla Secret I

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What’s particularly notable about Vanilla Dome is that it actually branches in one of two directions. By following the path as intended, Mario will head to Castle 3 and confront Lemmy. By finding the secret exit in Vanilla Dome 1, however, players can instead access the Vanilla Heights, an alternate path that skips the rest of Vanilla Dome and brings players to the Twin Bridges. 

What makes this secret exit tricky to reach is the fact that it’s designed around the Red Switch Palace, a stage players won’t be able to reach until after completing Vanilla Dome 1. That said, players with a Yoshi can swallow a Blue Koopa and fly up towards the secret exit right after the stage’s block maze. As Yoshi swallows shells on a timer, however, you’ll need to be quick. 

7 Red Switch Palace

For those that can’t just can’t muster the skills to get Yoshi to the secret exit fast enough, fret not, as finding the Red Switch Palace isn’t too difficult– but it is something most players will miss. Although reaching the secret exit in Vanilla Dome 2 isn’t hard, it’s very time consuming and it requires a pretty decent knowledge of the stage’s layout. 

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Once Mario runs into the stage’s P-Switch, carry it to the wall of brown blocks. Step on the P-Switch, cross the path, grab the key, and bring it to an underwater key hole that’s surrounded by Cheep Cheeps. This’ll be the only actual tricky part of reaching the secret exit, but just stay patient and steady handed. 

6 Soda Lake

The secret exit needed to reach Soda Lake is arguably the single coolest one in the entire game. By playing Cheese Bridge Area normally, players won’t notice anything amiss. At the same time, its level dot glows red, signifying that there is a secret exit in the stage. Interestingly, the reason the secret exit doesn’t appear on the level path is because it appears after. 

The secret exit is actually stationed behind the goal post. Mario needs to either fly over the goal (which is surprisingly difficult to do without triggering it,) or use the height from jumping off of Yoshi to get over the post. From there, players can simply keep moving right to unlock Soda Lake. 

5 Larry’s Castle Shortcut

Now, this isn”t a full on hidden area like the other secret areas on this list, but the shortcut into Larry’s Castle is incredibly useful and can help players circumvent a decent bit of the Valley of Bowser. Not just that, actually getting the shortcut requires thoroughly exploring the most confusing Ghost House in the game, something most players naturally won’t do. 

In the second room of the ghost house, step on the P-Switch and then run all the way to the right and enter the last door. Pick up the P-Switch in the next room, drop it, create a stair of coins with the D-Pad that heads to the upperight of the screen, step on the P-Switch, and then use said staircase to find the shortcut into Larry’s Castle. 

4 Star World

Star World is the first set of secret stages in Super Mario World, composed of five fairly challenging levels that tend to make greater use of Yoshi than the rest of the game. What’s perhaps most interesting about Star World is how one enters it. Unlike other hidden areas, multiple different stages lead into the five Star World levels. 

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Star World 1 is the only stage connected to a single level: Donut Secret House. Star World 2 can be unlocked through Vanilla Secret 1 or by finding Star World 1’s secret exit. SW3 is connected to Soda Lake and SW2’s secret exit; SW4 is connected to Forest Fortress and SW3’s secret exit; and SW5 is connected to Valley of Bowser 4 and SW4’s secret exit. Depending on which exit players find first, they’ll either be able to tackle Star World very early or very late. 

3 Special World

Of course, Star World isn’t without its rewards. By finding the secret exit in Star World 5, players won’t unlock Star World 6, but instead Gnarly, a brand new stage in the brand new Special World. The Special World stages are far and away the hardest in the game, so it’s suggested players only come here once they’re already more or less mastered the main game. 

So long as players have been to all the Switch Palaces, the secret exit in Special World 5 will make itself clear. Otherwise, Blue Yoshi will get the job done. Caped Mario can too, but it’s very hard– albeit not as hard as Special World’s 8 levels. 

2 Autumn Dinosaur Land

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Any challenge as difficult as Special World requires some kind of reward, and while players don’t unlock more levels, they do unlock a massive change of scenery. By completing the final stage in Special World, Funky, players will now be able to access a version of Dinosaur Land where the season has changed from spring to autumn. 

Some enemies wear masks, other enemies are redesigned, and Super Mario World’s lush green is replaced with a soft orange. It’s a fantastic cosmetic reward for clearing the game’s hardest stage, and it really adds a breath of fresh air into the game’s art direction. It’s like visiting an entirely new island. 

1 Back Door

Soda Lake is the coolest hidden area to unlock, but Back Door is the coolest– and most useful– in concept alone. By playing through the Valley of Bowser as intended, Mario will eventually reach Bowser’s Front Door where he’ll be able to tackle the final stage normally. Find the secret exit in Valley Fortress and players can make the final stage their third in the final world. 

This is easier said than done, however, as Valley Fortress is arguably the hardest level in the main game (and by a good deal.) On top of that, Valley Fortress is only unlocked by finding the secret exit in Bowser Valley 2. Thankfully, it’s easy to find. In the room with the Monty Mole, fly up to the left and run across the top of the screen. 

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