Tokyo DisneySea is considered to be one of the most advanced and unique theme parks in the world to carry the “Disney” name. Mostly because a majority of the park features all new and original attractions thought up by the The Oriental Land Company.
Many unique attractions such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, Raging Spirits and Aquatopia each give guests unique and fun experiences. But one attraction at the park has a very interesting history. A history of birth, death, and rebirth–this is the story of Tokyo DinseySea’s Sinbad themed dark ride.
Originally an opening attraction on September 4th, 2001, Sinbad’s Seven Voyages was a dark ride where guests would board a raft and embark on a journey as they followed the legendary Arabian sailor Sinbad and his crew as they venture off and encounter many dangers from the various stories of the legendary hero. From giants, to whales, to sirens, to wild monkeys, guests narrowly escape danger as they follow Sinbad as he collects various treasures from across the world.
The decision to use the character of Sinbad was an interesting choice as Disney has never made a film based on the character. Originally Jeffrey Katzenbert planned to make one at Disney before leaving and founding Dreamwork’s Animation, which later made Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in 2003. But still an interesting choice.
Almost immediately the ride was criticized for being too scary for small children. One scene where they encounter a giant in a treasure cave he can be seen in the next scene attacking the crew and juggling crew members in his hands, implying that he intends to eat them.
Another scene depicts sirens as they sing a haunting song, trying to lure the ship off course and sink it.
However, the most intense scene depicts a tribe of monkeys, with spears and rocks, trying to attack the boat while screeching at the top of their lungs. These, along with other scary imagery, were heavily criticized, and after nearly 5 years of operation the ride was closed in 2006 for an extensive refurbishment.
In 2007 the ride finally reopened as Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, and had a massive makeover to make it more family friendly. For one the Giant was locked up by pirates, so when Sinbad frees him he instead plays on an instrument and sings a song for Sinbad and his crew.
The Sirens are now replaced by helpful mermaids pointing the way to safety. The tribe of Monkeys are now carrying baskets of fruit and playing instruments. Aside from those there are a number of other small changes. One odd change was that Sinbad no longer had a beard and was now accompanied by a baby Tiger named Chandu (Yes, you can buy a toy of him).
One notable inclusion was that throughout the ride a song called “Compass of the Heart” by composer, Alan Menken, plays throughout the ride as they go from location to location. Though the song was written in English it is sung in Japanese on the ride, but every so often at a concert the original English version may be preformed.
After the changes the ride became far more popular amongst guests. It is very interesting that a dark ride that mixes Pirates of the Caribbean with It’s A Small World went from one extreme to another within a matter of years. The Oriental Land Company was probably correct in making the changes as the ride became more popular. But part of me wishes I could go back and experience the original version to compare the experiences myself.
If Disney ever does make a Sinbad film in the future perhaps they can take some inspiration from this attraction. It certainly has an audience for fans of the Japanese parks. If you ever get a chance to visit Japan be sure to check out this little gem.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.