From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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Special 8 is the eighth and final special world that appears in the 3DS game, Super Mario 3D Land. It features seven levels and a Toad House. Except Special 8-, all levels in Special 8 must be unlocked by collecting a certain amount of Star Medals, with the amount growing by ten with each level. Instead of a remix of World 8's music, Special 8 instead rearranges the Mario Drawing Song. When Special 8-Crown is unlocked, that music is remixed, featuring more bass.
Special 8, unlike all other special worlds, does not imitate World 8 to any extent, and as such, is the only truly original special world. It takes place in a light yellow meadow that highly resembles World 1 from Super Mario Bros. 3, with large blocks, the same ground texture, and small hills highly resembling the ones found in Super Mario Bros. 3. It takes place in a light yellow plain with Blocks, Coins and Warp Pipes in the background. What sets this apart from the other Special Worlds is that while the others have all the levels available to begin with, the player must clear each level to access the next one (not unlike the progression of the regular worlds).