Hi! It’s Annie!
This is definitely not the first time I’ve posted about ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and it definitely won’t be the last. What can I say, I’ve always strongly related to Belle with her love of books. This movie is also just gorgeous. My love for this movie that has now spanned over years has now given me the reputation for being the Belle girl in my family. I also am a California native who grew up going to Disneyland until somewhat recently when the tickets got so ridiculously expensive that my family couldn’t afford it anymore. I’ve also been to Disney World a few times. Though Disneyland has admittedly fallen behind somewhat with immersive experiences in comparison to some of their competition (ahem Universal Studios), they generally still have the same magic. And I had high expectations for this ride considering their recent successes with ‘Rise of the Resistance’ in Galaxy’s Edge. My expectations only skyrocketed when they released footage of some of their animatronics. And then I watched footage of this ride and I don’t think my opinion would change seeing it in person. I’m going to come out and say it- this ride completely falls flat for me. Me. The person who loves ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and doesn’t think that Disney has come out with a truly bad ride (for the most part at least). I wanted to talk a little bit about why this was so disappointing to me. And also the few things that I did like!
- The animatronics. They’re beautiful. They feel lifelike and transport you into the story. There’s also plenty of animatronics in this ride to look at, so that’s always good. I’m a sucker for some good practical effects. Also, did you see that Belle with the lantern? She’s so pretty and real-looking!
- The castle and surrounding village. The castle is really pretty and the inside is just as impressive. Walking through the castle you see giant suits of armor adorning the richly draped halls, some familiar characters, and the grand entrance hall looking just as it does in the movie. If you haven’t watched a walk-through of the surrounding village yet, you should. There are explosions coming out of Maurice’s house and several props from the movie you might recognize. Like a specific hat display in one of the shops. It really does make their guests feel like they are walking in Belle’s footsteps.
- The opening show. The opening to the ride takes place part-way through the line in the grand hall of Beast’s castle. Here you watch part of the story through a beautiful stained glass window, just like the movie, and then the amazing Belle animatronic with the lantern and Beast are shown to the audience on the top of the stairway. I know I’ve already said this a million times, but it does feel as if you’re in the movie now. It’s gorgeous and well-detailed.
- The Beast’s Transformation. More than half-way through the ride you get to the pivotal moment in the movie where the Beast transforms into a human. I have no idea how they did it, but they were actually able to pull this off with actual animatronics in this ride. You see an animatronic of the Beast turn into an animatronic of him as a human. It’s unreal.
- The opening show. I really do like this opening, but it did leave me with a few questions. Firstly, the stained glass window looks pretty small. Secondly, I’m not quite sure why they stuck the best animatronic in the entire experience in the pre-show rather than actually putting her in the ride. You only see this Belle for a couple seconds before the pre-show ends. None of the animatronics in the ride even match up to this Belle and you’re often stuck for ages in rooms with these animatronics, but I’ll get more into that later. If more animatronics were like this first Belle it would have made the ride much more interesting. I understand also that this Belle is one-of-a-kind and a difficult feat. Which makes me wonder even more why they put her in the pre-show rather than actually showing her off in the ride. You barely see her, especially because they stick her so far in a corner. It makes you wonder if there’s some issues with the animatronic.
- Four rooms. I’m pretty sure I’ve counted that correctly. And yes, this ride has a total of four rooms that you spend time in forever. They almost play full songs while you spin around these pretty small rooms. They also didn’t actually put a whole lot in these rooms, so you get acclimated to everything pretty quickly. It makes this feel more like a showcase or an art show than an actual Disney ride. You don’t feel like you’re going anywhere or really doing anything. They stick you in one room for a while and then you go to the next for a while until the ride is over. They also didn’t do a whole lot of screens for the outside or detailing, so it feels a little claustrophobic in these rooms on top of everything else.
- Sparse detailing. Like I said before, for being stuck in these rooms for several minutes, there’s really not that much to see. They skimped out a lot on the detailing. Every room seems to have one big event that they assume will draw everyone’s eye. But the issue with being in those rooms for so long is that eventually everyone will start looking at other things. Especially because you made the tea cups spin, so they kind of have to look at other things too. For example, in the ‘Be Our Guest’ room, you really only have a small room with Lumiere, a table, and Belle. There’s not anything else in the room. And the table is pretty bare until half-way through the song when things begin to appear on the table. So you’re there for a really long time looking at a tablecloth and Belle smiling unnaturally. Not to mention that this Lumiere animatronic is worse than any of the ones they’ve made before, like in the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ experience in Disney World for example. This is actually the worst in the ‘Something There’ room. There’s Beast in a tower and then all the way on the other side of the room Belle stands with Philippe under a tree. The rest of this room is completely bare aside from some fake snow. And they put you in there for what feels like the longest of any room. Because the tea cups spin, you aren’t always by the Beast or Belle, so there are times where all there is to see is fake snow.
- No Gaston. Yup. They claim to take you through the entire movie and Gaston appears once as a shadow. I know they were trying to keep it to inside the castle, but I’m not asking for Gaston’s tavern. You can see Gaston’s tavern in the village. It would have been so cool to see the Beast and Gaston fighting outside of a window before the transformation scene. It would have been much better than showing us the backsides of two more Belle and Beast animatronics in what is supposed to be a cute scene but feels like the guests caught them at the wrong time. Even the ‘Little Mermaid’ ride has Ursula, though I do think the ‘Little Mermaid’ ride is much better than this one.
- The “main event”. They want the main part of the ride to be the ending when Belle and the Beast are dancing. But these aren’t the most impressive animatronics in the ride and this is another room that feels a little empty. Some more windows at least might have been nice. But you’re just there for a while watching Belle and Beast in the middle of the room do the same little dance thing over and over. You can’t help but compare this room to the similar dining room for the dining experience in Disney World. It feels a little small and pathetic. And trust me, just from videos I like Tokyo Disney a bit more than I like what they’ve done with Disney World. I want to go very badly. It feels weird to me that the park got something that’s worse than Disney World.
I was really excited to watch the ride-through of the ride and probably hyped myself up too much for it. At first I thought a lot of my disappointment came from me hyping myself up, so I showed other members of my family to get their opinions. And we all came out saying the same things. My Mom and I even watching the ride-through for ‘Mickeys’ Runaway Railway’ and wondered at how we thought that one seemed fun considering we generally like practical effects better. I guess I’m now of the opinion that both doesn’t hurt. You don’t have to go all screens or all practical effects. Maybe a screen or two would have given the guests more to see in this ride. I guess I’ll have to give all my attention in Tokyo Disney back to Ariel’s Grotto (because I do love Ariel almost just as much as Belle). But at least it’s not all bad and there’s still plenty more to see and love in Disney parks. Even though I’m seriously considering never giving them my money again because of the giant fit the company is currently throwing. I just hope none of this becomes a trend.
See you across the pond!