Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage is perhaps the most overlooked and underrated attraction at Tokyo DisneySea. Placed at a quiet corner of Arabian Coast, this dark ride portrays Sindbad’s exciting voyages with music by Alan Menken. The ride is also well known for its number of incredibly life-like (and yet cartoon) animatronics.
The attraction was revamped in 2007. The first iteration opened along with Tokyo DisneySea in 2011. Known back then as Sindbad’s Seven Voyages, it wasn’t a grand celebration of Sindbad’s tour of the world in song. Instead, it was a loose adaptation of the seven voyages, which includes Sindbad slaying creatures and stealing treasure. Perhaps the overall message wasn’t well received by the Japanese audience – Sindbad always had a very short wait, rarely above 25 minutes.
The reworking of this attraction kept the general scheme of scenes and characters, but all of them turned into Sindbad’s friends; and the treasures became “gifts” instead. Sindbad was also given a makeover (which looks very odd, compared to the original look) and a tiger cub companion called Chandu.
As I’ve visited Tokyo DisneySea over a decade ago, I enjoyed the first version of this attraction very much. There was a greater sense of mystery, violence and dark humour that is subtly masked by the ride’s cartoon look. Many people said that the ride is Pirates of the Caribbean meets it’s a small world.
I still enjoy the ride now, it’s just that much of the ride’s unique concept was lost with the changes.
The map of Sindbad’s voyage, as well as his “new friends” met along the way.
Amazing amount of detail at the loading platform.
Looking back at the river. This is also one of those very rare slow river rides that attempts to mask the water channel. The water extends into the set design – it’s not like sitting in a boat that’s moving along a concrete canal with things on both sides. You do feel like you’re floating through the rivers and seas.
Sindbad and Chandu.
The catchy song that accompanied the revamp, “Compass of Your Heart” by Alan Menken, is incredibly well executed in this attraction. While different verses are looped in each scene, the transition is fluid, even shifting into perfect counterpoint at some moments. The song also pauses at some lines so that Sindbad can talk. And all of this doesn’t just happening as “background music” – the animatronic figures portray singing movements very expressively.
Fluffy sheep – not just static decoration.
It is amazing how many animatronics are in this ride (Let’s not forget that every one of them is individually programmed to work with the song). The first scene probably has over 20 figures scattered all over. There are so many figures that it’s not possible to see them all in one sitting. Some dark rides don’t even have 10 animatronics throughout the entire ride.
With new attractions increasingly relying on projection effects, I won’t be surprised if Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage has more animated figures than some entire theme parks (i.e. Universal Studios). It is even more amazing that they are smaller than the usual humanoid fare, but yet still capable of life-like, fluid movement. And that is for a ride that opened in 2001.
Shadow Puppetry – not a video projection! The animatronic puppeteer is behind the screen.
After the first scene is where most of the changes took place. The mermaids did not cause the shipwreck; Sindbad rescued the Rukh (or Roc) hatchlings from bandits…
He also freed the giant with a giant feather, possibly a gift from the Rukh (not pictured, but it flies above guests in a previous scene!)
There is now a happy Giant in Sindbad’s voyage, who graciously gave away treasure and musical instruments.
The new Sultan, who has a new-found interest in music.
Those who’ve seen the original ride will know that the Monkeys were not giving away baskets of bananas.
The Whale also became Sindbad’s friend, giving him and Chandu a lift around the seas.
Sindbad finally returns home!
The last scene is a grand celebration for Sindbad’s safe return. Lots of animatronics and a really nice firework effect.
Next stop in the Grand Photo Tour: A walk around the majestic and beautiful Arabian Coast.
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