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A couple of years ago, we got our first look at The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, the first ride-through theme park attraction based on the 1991 Disney animated classic. Now, just a few days before the ride’s official opening at Tokyo Disneyland next month, a complete video of the experience is here to show off what the developers have been working on. Check it out below.
Let’s break this down into sections. The first part, with socially distanced gathering zones at the base of the grand hall stairway, is fine, introducing guests to the story of the movie and then having an impressive-looking Belle and the Beast briefly interact on opposite sides of the stairwell.
Once you get seated, you’re off to one of the coolest parts of the attraction: a front-row seat to the “Be Our Guest” song and dance sequence. Sure, it doesn’t capture the full Busby Berkley insanity of the animated movie, but after staring at this for a few minutes, I can’t quite figure out the mechanics of how all of those items appear on the dinner table by the time the song is over. Pretty impressive stuff.
The next section, however, is an outright disaster. While the winter interlude of the animated movie is light and charming, this ride zaps the scene of its life and energy. The fact that Belle and the Beast are each planted in the same spot for such a dreadfully long period of time with no interaction between them (nary a snowball is thrown!) seems to be a huge misstep in the design of this ride. The Imagineers evidently hoped people would be content with spinning around on the floor in an open teacup while nothing visually interesting happens, resulting in what is easily the worst stretch of the ride.
The rest of the sections are short – Belle and the Beast looking out at the night sky, a halfhearted recreation of Gaston and the townsfolk storming the castle, the Beast’s transformation (is that done using a projection in front of a physical maquette?), and capping the whole thing off with the iconic ballroom dance sequence. If you can handle the nausea that might come with spinning through this entire thing, then you have a stronger stomach than I do.
The attraction, which officially opens at Tokyo Disneyland on October 1, 2020, is housed inside a 97-foot castle in the park’s Fantasyland area, and as you can see in these pieces of concept art from Disney’s website, there are little areas nearby like the “Village Shoppes” and “Le Tavern de Gaston” which “will further allow guests to explore the world of the film and enjoy the ambience of Belle’s village.” Personally, I’d love it if there was a ride devoted to the “Gaston” song that took place in that tavern. Then again, maybe antlers, ale, and eggs wouldn’t mix well in a theme park ride after all.