The fan community is abuzz after Disney released a bunch of new information about Enchanted Tale of Beauty and theBeast, a lavish new mega E-Ticket attraction being added to Tokyo Disneyland. In this post, we’ll share a video with test footage of the Audio Animatronics, new photos, concept art, and more.
Originally, I was just going to cover this hot topic as an update to our Beauty and the Beast Fall 2018 ConstructionUpdate. After all, that’s only a couple of weeks old. However, the hype level on this one seems to be off the charts, and we’ve noticed several people mention that they’re now researching trips to Japan on social media–so we thought it’d be worth covering (and in some cases, rehashing) a few topics related to this expansion.
The biggest surprise to me here is that the Disney fan community is so surprised by the fluidity and impressiveness of the Audio Animatronics. We previously covered this in one of our Beauty and the Beast progress reports, but the budget for this new land is a bit under $700 million. (That’s not an estimate, that’s the actual number released by Oriental Land Co., the group that owns Tokyo Disney Resort.)
To put that into perspective, Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland cost a reported $450 million and contains the most-ambitious Disney attraction to date, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. Treasure Cove also featured a stage show, restaurant, lavish thematic work, and a couple of well-done play areas.
This expansion to Tokyo Disneyland entails the following: Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast (an 8-minute long trackless E-Ticket dark ride), Fantasyland Forest Theater (full-scale theater for indoor live entertainment), Le Tavern de Gaston (restaurant), Le Petit Popper (popcorn wagon), and the Village Shoppes (merchandise facility with three sub-shops).
In addition to the Beauty and the Beast mini-land expanding the footprint of Fantasyland, there are two new additions on the periphery of this expansion that will be added to Tomorrowland and Toontown–The Happy Ride with Baymax (a whip ride) and Minnie’s Style Studio (character meet & greet).
The biggest components of the expansion are the Fantasyland Forest Theater, which has an official budget of approximately $150 million, and the trackless dark ride. Previously, we didn’t know how much of that money would be allocated to the Beauty and the Beast dark ride, but in its latest announcement, OLC has indicated the investment in the ride will be a little under $300 million.
Unlike OLC, Disney does not release attraction budgets–there’s only rumor. In terms of existing attractions, $300 million would put this in the same ballpark as the aforementioned Shanghai Pirates, as well as Avatar Flight of Passage and Radiator Springs Racers.
Even the rumored investments in the latter two attractions vary depending upon whether exterior rock-work is being included, which is arguably a feature of the land itself rather than the ride.
Here’s the video Tokyo Disney Resort offering a sneak peak at the expansion:
Unfortunately, I don’t have any commentary on the video. I’m pretty anti-spoilers, so I didn’t watch it. I don’t have any doubt that Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast (or, as I prefer, Beauty and the Beast: Magical Stuff, which is the translation Chrome gave me from the official TDR Blog’s announcement); I’d just prefer to see it in person for the first time and not have any of the attraction’s impact diminished between now and then.
I did (accidentally) see a few GIFs of the Belle Audio Animatronics on social media and…wow. I’m glad to see these are “real” Audio Animatronics and not projected faces–I’m also impressed that the Belle figure is very ‘on model’ to the animated film. That aside, I guess the video will have to speak for itself.
We know a trip like this requires a lot of advance planning for most people, and the idea of planning something now for travel dates so close to the anticipated opening for this area might be disconcerting. The alternative is visiting in the summer or fall, and we cover why both of those options are less-than-ideal.
This is slated to be even more ambitious than the Beauty and the Beast expansion. It’s set to be the most expensive addition to an existing Disney theme park ever, and is more expensive than several parks (even adjusted for inflation) when they were constructed. It’s going to have several lavish E-Ticket attractions, and should really impressive.
It’s easy to look at this concept art and video and say, “why doesn’t Walt Disney World get anything this nice?!” That’s arguably a valid response, especially after our New Fantasyland consisted of a Beauty and the Beast restaurant, character show/meet & greet, fairly bland Little Mermaid ride, plus Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which I happen to think is pretty solid).
In fairness, that was now several years ago at a time when Disney wasn’t aggressively investing in the domestic parks. Going forward, both the Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Epcot and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are also in the same budgetary ballpark as the Beauty and the Beast ride, with several other additions in the $100-$200 million range.
Personally, we are more excited for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and theBeast. We were children who grew up during the Disney Animation renaissance, and seeing one of those films finally get a ride that does it justice is incredibly exciting (next up, Lion King?!). We both only have casual interest in the Marvel and Star Wars franchises (I’m nevertheless really looking forward to how Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge pushes the envelope), whereas Disney’s animated classics are the heart of our non-theme park fandom. Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that Disney is spending big money at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
Are you aiming to visit Tokyo Disneyland sometime in the future to experience Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast? If you’re a regular visitor to Japan, do you agree or disagree with our advice on going in April or May 2020? 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!