We are big fans of Beauty and the Beast. Not a huge surprise given that we are millennials who came of age during the Disney Renaissance. Because of that, we were really excited for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, the mega E-Ticket trackless dark ride and accompanying Fantasyland expansion at Tokyo Disneyland.
Suffice to say, we’ve been waiting nearly 30 years for the 1991 animated classic to get its own ride. Yes, there are other attractions, like the shows at Walt Disney World (two of them!), but Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is the first bona fide ride featuring Lumière, Cogsworth, Chip, Mrs. Potts, plus Belle and Beast.
Even more wild is that, by my count, this is only the second unique ride revolving around any of the Disney Renaissance era films. The first came with the Little Mermaid dark rides in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom and the DCA overhaul a decade ago–and over two decades after the movie debuted!
Otherwise, there are no real rides (so no spinners) for Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan or Tarzan. So if you ever wonder fans our age are salty about all of these newfangled Pixar movies getting attraction after attraction and cloned land after cloned land…there’s your answer!
Before we get started, I do want to note that this will be less vague than our other spoiler-free ride reviews. While we’re not going to purposefully ruin any of the wow-moments in this attraction (and there are a couple), there will be photos of the exterior, queue, pre-show, and multiple scenes of Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast.
If you haven’t experienced the attraction yet and are simply wondering whether it’s worth your time, the answer is an emphatic yes. Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is easily a top 5 attraction at Tokyo Disneyland and top 10 at Tokyo Disney Resort as a whole. The operative questions are whether it’s #1 in the Japan parks and top 5 or 10 in the world. That’s what this review seeks to answer.
Rest assured, it’s a very good to great ride that’s well worth your time. And it should be! Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is the tentpole of a new area that cost $750 million, making this blockbuster expansion one of the biggest budget additions to any Disney park anywhere, ever.
With that said, there’s only so much that can be spoiled here unless you’ve never seen the animated classic. At its core, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is essentially a classic Fantasyland ‘book report’ dark ride, that puts you in the middle of a condensed retelling of the movie. It’s not like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or other attractions with original stories that truly surprise.
In any case, we do recommend going into any major new attraction knowing as little as possible, but that’s just us. As much as we love the views, you should probably stop reading if you’re heading to Tokyo Disneyland anytime soon. Go in fresh. It’s better that way. You’ve been warned…
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the Belle’s Village and Fantasy Forest areas of the expanded Fantasyland is Beast’s Castle looming in the distance. This is totally unlike the toy castle perched on a faux mountaintop in Magic Kingdom that relies (a little too much!) on forced perspective to do the heavy lifting.
Instead, Imagineering has been given the chance to create a second castle at Tokyo Disneyland, and they did not pass up that opportunity. Beast’s Castle is towering, grandiose, ominous, and imposing all at once. It’s regal, mysterious, and moody–prompting a range of different reactions and emotions based on you, the weather, and who knows what else. It’s also another very visible signal of the difference between Tokyo Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. Holy cow.
The preshow for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast takes you into a lobby with a grand staircase and two balconies overlooking guests. This serves as an introduction for Belle and Beast to one another, and our entry point into their story. It’s also vaguely reminiscent of Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea, which is a parallel throughout the opening acts of the attraction, before the ride proper begins.
A stained-glass window at the top of the grand staircase dispenses with backstory in Japanese, explaining how Beast was once a selfish prince…yada yada yada...he was cursed along with everyone in his castle. The effects here are simple but engaging, and the narration being in Japanese shouldn’t be an issue whatsoever…assuming you’ve seen the movie.
There are some attractions where not speaking Japanese will definitely detract from the experience–Tower of Terror or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea come to mind–but this is not one of them. You know the story and songs of Beauty and the Beast, and between that and the visual-heavy nature of the ride, I suspect you’re losing about 5% of the experience by it being in Japanese instead of English.
Both before and after the pre-show, there’s a significant amount of queue in Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. Unsurprisingly, this is incredibly elaborate and ornate, and home to some incredible effects. Lumière, Cogsworth, Chip, Mrs. Potts, Sultan, and others I’m probably forgetting all make appearances. Unsurprisingly, they are adorable.
For all of the wow-inducing technology, some of the simple practical effects (shadow and light play) and lavish interior design accomplish equal measures of placemaking and storytelling. Suffice to say, the queue for the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is really good–easily top 10 in the world, perhaps top 5.
This terminates, as all attractions do, in the load area for the ride-through portion of the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. Here you enter the castle’s kitchen, and are first greeted by the strange stove, Chef Bouche. This area is also quite industrial, which is fitting for a kitchen…but also necessary to accommodate the massive teacup ride vehicles.
Each of the ride vehicles for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast seats 10 guests. To the best of my knowledge and recollection, that’s more than any other trackless dark ride that Imagineering has created. That makes this an incredibly high-capacity attraction, but it also means massive ride vehicles. Massive ride vehicles dancing with one another in unison means, you guessed it, massive show scenes. We’ll circle back to this in a minute.
The first scene of Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast puts you in the middle of the dining room with Belle and Lumiere for “Be Our Guest,” arguably the most memorable and definitely the most high-energy song from the movie. True to the film, Belle is seated at the end of a long banquet table, with singing and dancing dishes all around the room and the table, transforming over the course of the song.
There’s a lot going on, and the trackless ride vehicle unquestionably enhances this scene as your teacup spins and dances with the music, keeping you disoriented and redirecting your attention throughout the scene. That’s a good thing, as Belle isn’t really doing much. Throughout this, the scene and song unfold around here–which is consistent with the movie–but still a bit odd as the rider’s attention is unquestionably on the main character. That’s a relatively minor quibble, though, and “Be Our Guest” is otherwise a really well-done scene.
The next scene in Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast takes you from the dining room to outdoors in the snow with Belle and her horse Phillipe; Beast is also there, overlooking from a balcony in the castle. During this scene, the duo (Belle and Beast, not the horse) sing “Something There.” The conceit here is that your teacups are now ice-skating around the frozen pond between Belle and Beast.
I really like this scene…and want to really love it. But I think it overstays its welcome just a tad, and there simply isn’t enough of visual interest to propel the scene as long as it goes on. For me, this would’ve been a great opportunity to have the type of “breakaway” scene that’s common in trackless dark rides, where each vehicle goes down a separate path. This can help with pacing, create intimacy, and keep things fresh.
As noted above, the problem is that the teacups are absolutely massive and “Something There” is a fairly long song. So having this be a breakaway scene really would’ve required a lot of space. Failing that, I think putting a treein the middle of the room (a la Pooh’s Hunny Hunt) or adding something of visual interest might’ve helped a bit. Really and truly, I hate to complain about show scenes being too long (I love long attractions!), but this drags just a bit.
Following these two longer scenes, your teacup moves into a couple of corridors room where you see Belle and the Beast, and other things. The biggest ‘how did they do that?!’ moment of the entire attraction occurs here, so I’m not going to fixate and spoil anything.
What I will say is that, like the Little Mermaid dark ride, the climactic conflict of the movie is largely glossed over. This is criticism in a sense, I guess, in that the pacing isn’t perfect. But we also have to remember that these are attractions in an operational theme park environment, and need to appeal to their target audiences (families with small children and Japanese guests). I would hazard a guess that Imagineering received a directive to make it happy and not too scary, as that’s what the local audience wants. Fair enough.
Unsurprisingly, the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast ends with the ballroom scene. This is another large room sequence, but I’d argue that this is the best of the bunch.
Not only is there a lot of detail to the room itself, but there’s Belle and Beast dancing–plus Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Featherduster–all modeled on their human appearance at the end of the movie. I don’t think video does this scene justice. There’s a lot of visual interest that engages and holds your attention, it’s just not the main characters, for the most part.
Speaking of which, here’s our full Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast ride-through video:
In the last several years, Imagineering has debuted a slew of trackless dark rides, so it’s inevitable that comparisons will be made between those and the Enchanted tale of Beauty and the Beast. To that point, potential counterparts include Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Without question, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is better than the latter two entries on that list. To each their own, but I think Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is only okay. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice addition to EPCOT, but it leans way too heavily on screens and the illusion is ruined too often. Runaway Railway is much better, but it’s still not this good. (I’ll take fully dimensional sets and Audio Animatronics over screens–even well done ones–any day of the week.)
That leaves Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which is tied for the #1 attraction at Walt Disney World and also tied for #1 at Disneyland on our semi-objective rankings of the rides in each of those parks. For me, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast does not measure up to that high bar. That’s really more about Rise of the Resistance, which I view as a nearly-flawless experience that almost transcends a typical theme park attraction. Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is really good, but it’s more conventional.
The key distinction, I think, is that you’re actually part of the action in Rise of the Resistance. It feels like an adventure and is engaging as such throughout. With its cavernous rooms, extended show scenes, and Audio Animatronics that are occasionally under-animated, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast feels much more passive.
With that in mind, it’s worth considering how Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast compares with traditional Fantasyland dark rides. For me, the most obvious comparison isn’t the other trackless ones in the international parks (although we’ll get to those). Instead, it’s Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid at Magic Kingdom or The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney California Adventure. (Same ride, two different names for some reason–we’ll just call them the Little Mermaid dark ride for simplicity’s sake.)
This was the first attraction for the last New Fantasyland expansion, and originally received a rather tepid response. Honestly, I think it’s slightly underrated. Even though it’s book report style, it makes you an active participant in some of the scenes, and features a few impressive moments. There are some spots were corners were clearly cut, and I’ve always wondered how much better it would’ve been with a Tokyo Disneyland budget. Alas.
Well, I think we pretty much have our answer to that with Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. This is basically the Little Mermaid dark ride, but Beauty and the Beast and with a trackless ride system and with more money for show scenes and fancy Audio Animatronics.
And you know what? The upgrades are what makes it. This attraction is such a better experience, and is so much more impressive to the point that very few people would probably think to compare the two. But they’re pretty similar…once you strip away the very things that define this ride! 😉
That brings us to the final slew of challengers, which are the modern Fantasyland style dark rides: Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Monsters Inc Ride & Go Seek at Tokyo Disneyland, and Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland. That is some staunch competition.
This is highly subjective, but neither of us would rank Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast above Pooh’s Hunny Hunt or Mystic Manor. Both of those are superior, in our view, thanks to the way they put guests in the middle of the action, and offer greater charm, intimacy, and personality.
Monsters Ride & Go Seek punches above its weight now and is no longer quite as popular as it once was, but we’d consider Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast better. That Pixar dark ride once made our worldwide top 10 list, so that alone should speak to the quality of this.
While excellent and even more impressive in places, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast arguably feels impersonal and less emotionally satisfying. In large part, that’s a result of its scale, which is a tradeoff for it being super high capacity. You just never feel quite ‘lose yourself’ and feel like an active participant in this to the degree you do in the others. To each their own, though.
We don’t want to undersell it: Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is easily one of the best attractions in Japan–parks that are already home to many of the best rides on earth. Due to its high quality and not being cloned anywhere, it’s one of the biggest selling points of a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort for an American Disney fan.
This attraction would make our top 10 lists of attractions at Tokyo Disney Resort, which may seem like faint praise given its budget and headliner status, but keep in mind that there’s a lot of competition. It might even be top 5–we really should sit down and come up with comprehensive ride rankings for Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea soon!
Before we wrap things up, it might be worth sharing some practical planning info so that you can beat the lengthy lines. The easiest way to experience Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is going to be during the ‘Happy Entry’ perk that comes with staying at one of the official Disney-branded hotels at Tokyo Disney Resort. This gets you into the park 15 minutes before the general public, which may not seem like much, but is enough to do this as a near walk-on.
You can also purchase Disney Premier Access, which is Tokyo Disneyland’s version of paid FastPass. If you do that, we’d strongly recommend you do Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast again via the standby line, as what you see in each is different.
Finally, we had great success simply jumping in line at the end of the night–especially on weekends or cold evenings. You can see our 1-Day Tokyo Disneyland Itineraryfor more info and recommendations. Whatever you do, don’t simply get into the standby line midday–Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is the most popular ride at Tokyo Disneyland, so even its high capacity, you’ll be in for an hour-plus wait.
Ultimately, the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is an excellent attraction and actually grew on us both more with each repeat ride. It can drag in places and suspension of disbelief isn’t always perfect, but there’s also a ton to love. I’d actually say the sum of the parts is more than the whole here, which may sound critical–but really isn’t. Even after 4 or 5 trips through, we were still noticing and marveling at new features and effects. The re-rideability thanks to Imagineering’s attention to detail is very high here.
Don’t let the criticism of this ride review fool you. Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is worthy of its mega E-Ticket status and is in the upper echelon of all attractions in the world. The Audio Animatronics are incredible, the staging is mostly fantastic, and there are a few amazing effects and ‘how did they do that’ moments. Not only that, but it’s a meaty attraction, with a compelling queue and pre-show, and a lengthy ride-through portion. Imagineering hit a home run with this…just not a grand slam home run.
Have you experienced Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast at Tokyo Disneyland? What are your thoughts on the attraction–good and bad? Where does this ride rank relative to other trackless dark rides and next-gen Fantasyland attractions? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!