First up is Abbye Finnan, Show Producer of Super Nintendo World…
Nintendo Life: Can you talk about the process of what it was like translating the Japanese park for here in the west?
Abbye Finnan: We know we have to adapt certain things. Part of our problem here is size. We’ve very limited room here, with the studio being so close. So we have to scale some things down a bit without making it seem scaled. You still want people to have… If not the same experience, a very similar experience. So that, I think, is the trickiest part is figuring out exactly how we’re going to pull it off, to bring the magic to life.
So for example, we don’t have the Yoshi attraction here, but we still wanted to incorporate Yoshi, so that’s why we have the Yoshi section of the queue. It’s still trying to bring that character’s world to the guests without being able to do the Yoshi attraction at this time.
Are there other elements that you’re really proud of that you managed to bring into this park, like the Yoshi elements?
I’m a big fan of Yoshi, he’s my favorite character, so I love that we were able to incorporate him into the park. There’s one interactive I wish we had here just because it seems fun and would have been an interesting one to build and that’s The Shrinking Room. I just think it would be interesting to figure out how to build that, and do the paint job, and yeah… that’s the boring side of my job (laughs).
Have you been working closely with both Nintendo of America and Japan?
Nintendo of America, they’re based out of Seattle, so that’s a much easier trip for them, especially with COVID protocols being different in Japan, so it was much easier for us to work closer with them. They then take that information to NCL and relay everything we’ve talked about, pretty much every night, if they were here, that night they’d go back and have a conversation with a Nintendo team over in Japan.
Have you had any special interactions or moments that made you realize ‘the park’s complete!’?
I’ve had two or three grown adults approach me and just say “thank you, this is unbelievable. I’ve been playing Mario my whole life and being able to experience it, it’s definitely met my expectations.” That was one of those moments where we thought “wow, we did it, we actually did it.”
Have any key creators visited the park yet?
Miyamoto-san was out here, he’s been out here all week, and I was lucky enough to be on the walk with him when he was able to walk through and play all of the games and ride the attractions. He was very good at Bowser Jr., so that was fun to be able to see that. Mr. Takahashi-san is out here as well and this was his first time seeing it. Mr. Miyamoto had seen it previously, but now that we’re done opening to guests, he was able to really come through and play all the games and ride the attractions as many times as he wanted.
Next, we speak to Julia Thrash, the Head Chef (well, if you don’t count Chef Toad) at Toadstool Cafe…
Nintendo Life: What sort of involvement still did you have with creating the menu at Toadstool Cafe?
Julia Thrash: So Chef Toad actually created the entire menu. Chef Toad actually drew all of the inspiration from out in the Mushroom Kingdom. So if you look at the menu, everything either looks like a mushroom, tastes like a mushroom, is a mushroom, or is themed to some port of the Mushroom Kingdom. I was kind of the “middle human” between Chef Toad and Nintendo, so I was really looking at whether the dish matched what Nintendo was looking for.
Is Chef Toad easy to work with?
Oh yes, he is! He’s an absolute pleasure to work with.
Is the restaurant planning on serving the same dishes year-round?
Chef Toad is always working on something new.
Are there any dishes that came out completely unchanged from the Japan menu?
Chef Toad had full view over the restaurant there as well. But when he came here to open this restaurant, he took some inspiration from the Japan menu, but the majority of it was purposely made for this restaurant. So you’ll see some similarities because Chef Toad created them in both restaurants. But the majority of it’s been made here.
Is there something you’d like to see expand or evolve in the restaurant over time?
I would just like to see the reactions of the guests coming in continue to grow. I think that’s going to be the biggest thing. It’s more of “how can we continue to evolve that emotion to the guests that are coming in?” Because as long as we can continue to do that, we’re successful.
A big thanks go to Abbye and Julia for taking time to talk to us. The responses above have been lightly edited for clarity.
Will you be paying a visit to Super Nintendo World soon? What aspect of the park excites you the most? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.