Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pooh's Hunny Hunt

Once upon a time in 2000 in a Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh's Hunny Hunt arose in Tokyo Disneyland to become a groundbreaking dark ride attraction that still remains the park's most popular ride to this day.  An evolution in Disney's fabled dark rides, this was the first attraction to utilize a trackless system that guided cars by radio waves and multiple sensors.  It's the same system that was later used to develop the spectacular Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studio's fun Ratatouille ride.  And while both successors have their merits, it was Pooh that launched the original fantastic revolution.

The story of the ride is similar to the Winnie the Pooh rides in other Disney parks.  Effectively, it recounts Pooh's time in Hundred Acre Wood, from the blustery day to an introduction of Pooh's friends, and then a hop with Tigger (what a wonderful thing!), before Pooh falls asleep and ventures to the land of Heffalumps and Woozles, and then finally gaining his beloved honey.  While that sounds simple, the execution is not.  The trackless system takes each "honey pot" car around a myriad of routes, choreographed with the other cars, in a whimsical journey through each setting.  Each ride is unique, with multiple possibilities and slight adjustments in routes, and the experience is charming and lovely and full of that childlike innocence that even adults will fall in love with.

Take a look at the ride via the photos below.  And if you ever visit Tokyo Disneyland, make sure to head straight to this attraction right at park opening.  Grab a FastPass, then get in the standby line.  The ride is so good that you'll definitely want to ride it twice--if not more!

An adorable open storybook marks the facade of the ride from the outside.
The line winds around a lovely garden.
There's a lot of old-fashioned charm here.
Before boarding, guests get a glimpse of spaces featuring props and elements from the stories.
This map of Hundred Acre Wood lists various sights that will be visited in the ride.
The queue is very cute, with cozy furnishings.
The ride itself begins, as most stories do, at the beginning.  This animation of Winnie the Pooh with Christopher Robin starts things off, informing the audience that Pooh is off to look for his favorite thing: honey.
Immediately in the next scene, guests encounter a blustery day.
Pooh, with his floating balloon, is blown around the forest.
He's not the only resident with some troubles.
Owl and Piglet try to escape the winds, but to little avail.
Rabbit can barely hang on to avoid being blown away!
Kanga has precious cargo to grab too.
Little Roo is having a blast on his kite, sailing in the gusts, though Kanga hardly thinks so.
The blusters also blow down poor Eeyore's house, much to his dismay.

Well, that's his luck.
In the next scene, we encounter Tigger.
As he begins to bounce, an amazing thing happens.  The ride vehicles, the screen, and the foreground set itself all start to bounce with him, creating an incredibly fun moment.
And then, Pooh falls asleep.
As Pooh drifts off to dreamland, the background transforms into a field of stars.
It's a dramatic and beautiful effect, similar to the Tower of Terror..
And now, he's off to dreamland.
You know what that means... Heffalumps and Woozles!
They want honey.
This room is an incredible display of synchronized melody.
Two sets of cars swirl through this space at any given time, and there's even a ride vehicle used as one of the scenic pieces, spinning around with the honey pots!
Guests are taken to various scenes for interactive moments.
Some of these involve projections that interact with the reflections of the guests!
For first time riders, it's definitely a wondrous experience.
All's well that ends well, though.  By the end of the ride, we see Winnie the Pooh with his precious honey.
And so, with all that adventure, he eventually got what he craved.
The exit takes guests through Christopher Robin's room.  You can see Pooh "in real life" at the corner.
It's a really cute display to cap off a really cute ride.  Definitely the best in the park, in my opinion!

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