Disney has unveiled a short clip on the progress of its planned Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast ride for Tokyo Disneyland, the first ride-through attraction featuring the characters from the wildly popular film.
The big reveal of the clip was the first look at the transformation of the cartoon characters into animatronic players, highlighted by a lifelike Belle and The Beast.
The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast attraction will be part of a large scale expansion that will bring new attractions, entertainment, shopping and dining to the Tokyo park, with an anticipated launch date of spring 2020.
The darkride will have guests sit in giant teacup vehicles that carry them through a series of vignettes from the Disney film. The teacups operate without a track, so they can follow different paths.
The Beauty and the Beast ride will be interactive, featuring the “Be Our Guest” dinner table sequence from the film, and will even allow guests to dance with Belle and the Beast in a recreation of the ballroom scene.
Disney has long been a pioneer in animatronics. It introduced an animatronic bird in 1962 for the first Mary Poppins film, controlled by bicycle cables. It also created the first animatronic figure of a person, the famous Abraham Lincoln character featured at the Illinois State Pavilion of the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
The Belle character from the Tokyo ride is yet another advancement in the animatronic art. The lifelike depiction was, in part, a collaboration between Disney’s famed Imagineers and some of the animators from the 1991 film.
Reactions so far online were mostly positive to the clip and the characters, with some minor carping about bringing the ride to France, since the film was set in that country.