From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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Midway Gates are checkpoints near the middle of most levels in Super Mario World, excluding auto-scrolling levels, underwater levels (in the original version), Star World levels or Special World levels. They appear as two blue-white-striped posts, linked by a white bar, thus looking like smaller versions of the Giant Gates in the same game. When Mario or Luigi passes through, the bar disappears, which respawns them at the Midway Gate if the player loses a life in the level. If Mario or Luigi cut the bar when in their small form, they turn into Super Mario and Super Luigi, respectively. When restarting at the Midway Gate, the bar will be missing.
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