I recently watched Alice in the Wonderland (Disney 1951 animated version) and I came up with a few ideas for SMB level or wolrd themes. The theme of the rabbit and the clock (or time) is very prevalent throughout the movie. At one point the Mad Hatter and the Hare destroy his clock reveling the gears and widgets inside. So how bout a clock (or time) world in which the insides of the pocket watch can be laid out as platforms. We could also bring back the carrot power up from Super Mario Land 2. As you had previously mentioned in your blog, it could also use a time mechanic. Where taking a specific action in the present could effect the future.
Another important theme through the movie was that Alice was always confused about which direction to go. The world in which Alice travels through is like a maze. In fact at one point Alice actually traverses a physical maze. So how about a maze world (or combine it with a illusion/magic world)? There has been some precedence of this. In SMB1 level 7-4 near the end of the level there a series of top middle and bottom platforms, one has to navigate through the correct path to reach Bowser.
The illusion stuff is probably better situated for solitary levels than an entire world devoted to it. I think Phantasm Forest of Super Mario World tried to pull this off, and it failed in my opinion.
The Clock World sounds really cool especially with the addition of the hare (hares are already in the 3d Marios). In fact, this could be a case of a Mario Kart level becoming a real Mario world instead of the other way around.
Tick Tock World! YES! Complete with Time Bunnies. Strong visuals. Great mechanics from the gears, the moving clock hand, as well as doing things to add and subtract the time on the game clock. Much can be done with this.
Above: Clock towers are famous in movies.
Tick Tock World would be fantastic. I’d much rather see that than another boring ‘swamp world’ or ‘mountain world’.