Possibly the most illustrious theme park attraction at Tokyo DisneySea, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a one-of-a-kind adventure set in the world of Captain Nemo.
How many theme park attractions take place in artificial volcanos? Plenty around the world, I’m sure. Of my many trips to theme parks so far, I’ve been to that rather mysterious Bermuda Triangle ride at Sea World Australia. And a long, long time ago… there’s Volcanoland at Sentosa.
But there’s one attraction of this quality in the world, in Tokyo DisneySea’s Mount Prometheus.
The ride’s Fastpass Distribution area is in the middle of a massive cavern. Given the scale of Mysterious Island’s caldera, it is missable if you approach the ride entrance from some paths (the back-end of the park).
Thanks to newer rides like Toy Story Mania, most people probably get their 2nd or 3rd Fastpasses here. (Back when the park first opened, definitely not.)
And there we have it: custom-designed Fastpass machines.
And the Safety Information board. To experience this attraction, all guests must be at least 117cm tall. Also, this ride is a high-speed adventure that includes sharp turns, sudden lifts, drops and travel over rough and rugged terrain.
The ride entrance is accompanied with a large animated sign – complete with flowing lava and steam. The first photo in the entry is a close-up of that sign.[This ride is sponsored by Dai-ichi Life, a major insurance company in Japan. How apt is that!]
The entrance, which has cutaway marks from some tunneling machinery.
Once inside the queue, we were quickly greeted by some fissures on the floor, that violently belched (harmless) steam. So active, this place!
The first section of the queue winds around several enclosures and work spaces of Captain Nemo.
There’s certainly no lack of heavily themed spaces to gawk at while waiting.
The later half: A series of illustrations foreshadow our adventures at the world below.
Tunnels of the Winds, Great Cathedral and Lake of Fire.
Crystal caverns. We’ve got a perilous journey ahead of us.
The switchbacks here certainly don’t look repetitive.
In fact it’s scary how far back the paths seem to lead. There seems to be a trick in the queue design at another section – an inaccessible area created to make the caverns seem endless (or I could be imagining things).
More elaborate workspaces to look about, and for the keen-eyed traveller to make sense of the notes and artifacts lying about.
And this is one of the queue’s emergency escape paths. No flat walls even for that!
Finally, after much waiting, this is what you’d want to see. The Lobby. The Fastpass and Standby lines merge right before the elevators, known as Terravators. Given Tokyo Disney Resort’s generous allocation of Fastpass tickets, the Standby Line may stall for as long as 15-20 minutes if there is a constant flow of guests on Fastpass Return.
The Terravator will bring guests to the Base Station, some 800 feet beneath sea level.
We got lucky number 2.. twice.
Detail on the lift doors, along with meter showing the lift’s position (above).
The view inside the Terravator. A combination of lighting, sound and “4D” effects simulate our descend to the Base Station. Very well designed and executed – especially the lights as we get whisked through the vertical tunnel. The elevator rumbles and we hear soil shifting at the end.
Once the doors open, we were whipped with warm air. The base station is filled with giant pumps and machines (one of them creating a lot of steam, I might add). A loud generator sets off electric sparks occasionally, while status lights continually rotate throughout the base station.
The good news is, once you’re at the Base Station, it’s just another 5-7 minutes to get to the loading platform. Just enough to look at all the details around the area.
Across the station – an endless stream of Subterranean Vehicle, the ride vehicles at this attraction.
Designed by Captain Nemo (and brought to reality by Walt Disney Imagineering), each vehicle carry 6 guests – in a 2-per-row fashion – on a journey to the Earth’s core.[In front of each seat is a net pocket for guests to stow bags and loose items. You can be sure that anything that drops out during the ride would fall into an endless pit somewhere.]
These are similar to the ones used at Test Track and Radiator Springs Racers. Unlike the other two rides though, Nemo’s design are obviously the most stylish. It is also much more powerful, with the ability to travel through rough terrain in the caverns, and very likely, escape from some dangers from the deep beyond.
This pre-show (but still a queue) portion is designed so guests get an overall view of the entire base station at the start. And then slowly make their way down sloped walkways to the lower level.
Some communications booth of sorts, dangling between the walkways.
The fog pumped into the base station makes it look like it’s and endless pit.
Fun Fact: Once you’ve boarded the Subterranean Vehicle, the following message plays from within the vehicle.
Please hold on to the safety bar in front of you. Also, please remain seated and keep your hands, arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Thank you.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is a dark ride with a high-speed element and drop at the very end. Ride vehicles move slowly at the beginning, but the speed ramps up in the middle of the ride. There are some minor bumps along the way (after all, you are in another world) but the thrill kicks in when you meet the ride’s surprise star character – a gigantic lava creature.
It is hard to explain how incredible this ride is. Videos and photos of the actual ride don’t do it justice. Like Tower of Terror, this attraction is a stellar composition of a brilliant queue, memorable pre-show and thrilling ride experience.
This is definitely one ride you must not miss during a visit to Tokyo DisneySea. It lies in the heart of the park’s concept. The volcano is clearly built around this attraction, and the entire park literally revolves around Mount Prometheus. If you are able to ride this, please do so (even if the queue is more than 100 minutes).
In the next entry, we will return to Mysterious Island… at night.
An Introduction | Getting There and Around | Pocket Wi-Fi | Tips and Tricks
Tokyo DisneySeaMediterranean Harbor | Mediterranean Harbor at night | Fortress Explorations
Magellan's | American Waterfront | Tower of Terror | Toy Story Mania!
Port Discovery | Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
Lost River Delta & Raging Spirits | Sindbad's Storybook Voyage
Arabian Coast | Arabian Coast at night | Mermaid Lagoon
Mysterious Island | Journey to the Center of the Earth
Mysterious Island at night & 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Tokyo DisneylandWorld Bazaar | World Bazaar at night | Adventureland | Pirates of the Caribbean
Westernland & Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Splash Mountain
Haunted Mansion | Pooh's Hunny Hunt | Fantasyland | Fantasyland at night
Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall | Toon Town | Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek | Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Tomorrowland & Space Mountain | Happiness is Here Parade
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