It was a lovely morning in Tokyo today Mar 27th, and I arrived at the park at 7:30am sharp, along with half the population of Japan since spring break was on, and kids were out of school. Seemed like a million people had decended upon TDL today.. and they were all standing outside the gates waiting for the park to open at 8am. I quickly took my place in turnstyle #16 as I usually do and waited patiently with the rest of them. Once the gates opened at 8am, it took me about 15 minutes to reach the park's entrance and once I was inside the park, I joined the morning race into the park, down World Bazaar and then first right into Tomorrowland, in hopes that TDL's newest attraction "Monsters Inc Ride & Go Seek" (MIR&GS from now on) was opened for previews. MIR&GS is not officially opening until April 15th 2009, TDL's 26th anniversary.
After all the running, I got there to find MIR&GS closed! Boo hoo!! I think many other guests had the same idea since they were all running there, slowing down at the sight of the ride bing closed, pulling out their cellphones, and calling family and friends behind them to "not bother running...they are closed" messages. Very disappointing. I then decided to walk around and went on to the "Dreams Within" castle show lottery area and won a seat for the 11:30am show. Went over to the Adventureland side of World Bazaar for some quick shopping near POTC, and enjoyed a rare moment of solitude by the Great American Waffle restaurant.
Yes, that^^ is a custodial CM *working* at an empty restaurant. Very rare sight at the MK at WDW.
On the way back to MIR&GS to check if the ride had opened, I ran into this ultra cool junior high band performing at the World Bazaar plaza as part of Magic Music Days. These kids rocked! They not only played instruments with great rhythms, they also featured several costume changes, sang songs, and had great choreography. This was a real treat and those kids deserved the huge audience they go. Great show. They were not your average frumpy marching band. Halleluyah for that!
Arrived back at MIR&GS, and the attraction was still closed. It was now like around 9:15am. Bummer.. However, something was brewing since there were around 15 CMs in MIR&GS costumes outside the ride willing to assist guests with questions. (They usually have less than 15 CMs operating all the c-tickets at the MK at once) I joined the several dozen other guests hanging around waiting for something to happen... just in case.
The Fastpass ditribution area for MIR&GS was also closed, so if I was to ride this today, It had to be on a "standby" line... so I sat down and waited.. and waited..
The Attraction's official sign outside the Main Entrance.
**ATTENTION: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!!! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!
At 9:45am, all of a sudden, CMs started yelling at the crowds something in Japanese and faster than you can say... "it's opening!", those of us who were sitting around the area started running towards the ride's queue, which was forming rather quickly. CMs like the one seen on the photo below had things under control as people stated lining up in queue at the rate of about 10 guests per second. Many of them pulling out their cellphones and feverishly calling family members or friends who probably were in the park to advice of the ride's opening soon..
The Outdoor queue quickly grew to cover the entire roped area...
And in a matter of 10 minutes, the entire area of the ride became an organized mob scene. Kudos to the CMs for keeping things under control and managing the queue so efficiently.
Once in the queue, we moved quickly thru it because as you may remember... the Fastpass system was not operational. (keep in mind during recent Fastpass tests in the middle of spring break, the wait times in this area have reached 230 minutes. Horrible!) While in queue, we are entertained by the MonsterVision TV, and it is here where guests first are instructed of the attraction's purpose.. as we are to go into Monstropolis and help find Monsters which in term will help create laugher to create power for the City. Or something like that. To be honest, this one time being my first ride, I was so hyped up that I paid little attention to the video and PAs which were mostly in Japanese. The video visuals do explain pretty much what goes on once you are inside riding the attraction.. A segment feat. a chorus line of flashlights on the screen is quite amusing.. in a 'be my guest' flatware dance kinda way.
While in the queue, we also are entertained by some silly posters along the way...
After being in line about 35 minutes, I reached the front door of the attraction and went inside. We passed a set of blue walls into a waiting room set up with more switch back ropes... then emerged in the main waiting area. Above this area is a colorful mural that is somewhat reminicent of the old "Meet the World" world clock at that former old show's waiting area, but it's not exactly the same mural. Here, the murals on the ceiling make up the different World continents in subtle and pastel shades of colors, but look closely.. the different continents are actually made up of doors, yes doors, as the ones you see suspended from conveyor belts in the Monsters Inc movie inside the monsters' headquarters?
The ceiling mural also incorporates some of the characters from the Monsters Inc movie in clever.. almost Mary Blair"ish" ways, that reminded me of Mary Blair's Grand Canyon murals in the Contemporary Resort at WDW. Also in the waiting area, there is a receptionist desk, that serves to block the merging of Fastpass and Standby lines from view of guests. Look closely on top of that desk, you will see some monstrous contraptions.. like a monster in a shape of a stapler machine.. etc etc. Clever theming. It is also here behind this desk where english speaking guests get their chance to see an english video of what's going to happen once you are on the ride and also receive safety instructions on how to board the vehicle and use safety restrains and the flashlights, etc etc.
Once we get to the point of merging Fastpass and Standby lines.. you still have about another 5-8 minutes before you reach the boarding area, which is brightly illuminated in blue lights that sometimes fade in intensity.. as if the power in Monstropolis was getting weaker or stronger, depending on the level of laughter that is pumped into it to make it work. Does this make any sense to you? I hope so.. if not, suspend disbelief.
Once we are ready to board, the vehicles arrive in trios (three carts dispatched simultaneously like is the case with Hunny Hunt), moving from right to left of the platform, and they can seat 2-3 people per cart of regular body proportions. Being a little big in the waist myself, I have to admit.. the seating in the vehicles is quite petite. People of large waists may have a bit of a hard time getting in and out, so be awared if you are as big as me. The lap bar comes down over your lap and presto, you are secured. Similar to Buzz' Astroblaster vehicles, these little Monsters tractor-like vehicles with a top that resembles a monster's claw hand above, have flashlights that are detachable from the console and which can be used to search for hidden monsters scattered all over the entire ride's lenght.
Boarding platform below..
The beauty of this ride is the AAs and elaborate sets. No stupid jumbotrons or 3D glasses needed here like Midway Mania. This is a real 3D adventure dark ride worthy of a D-Ticket, but certainly bordering closer to an E-ticket as well. The vehicles, make several stops at different intervals so guests can enjoy the mayhem that follows, and many of the scenes feature AA animation in domino effects, like the one scene when a monster gets caught in a recycling machine and ends up ties up in the end in a boxed shaped mess. The way the set and action plays.. you see the entire predicament quite clearly... and it's very well done. I of course am NOT going to give away the entire ride since I know many of you would prefer some element of surprise if you visit TDL... but here are some highlights... The first time we see Mike...
Sully and Mike making sure Boo is safe. Note Mike's band-aid.
Ross telling us to get the heck out of Monstropolis... or at least that is what I got from this scene..not sure to be honest.
Before we know it, the 4 minute long romp is over.
So, what did I think of the whole thing? Very hard for me to actually review it. I will say this much... I am not a fan of looking at TVs and using 3D glasses to enhance the experience. Mercifully Disney and OLC did not go cheap and put the money down to offer guests a complete experience in the classic sense of Disney dark rides, with some nifty results. I personally enjoyed all of the drama and chaos that goes on here. So much happens at once and so much is there to see that, frankly, you have to ride this several times to grasp the majority of the special effects and going ons.. Some sets are shady and dark, and others are city like and have that "main street in the barrio" feel to them. I personally enjoyed being in the alleyway as Sully pops out of a sewage hole in the ground as if looking for Boo, who sits on top of the sewage lid above him, etc etc. So many different moments like that are surprisingly tender and have heart! yet they go by so quickly.. as the whole feel of the ride is chaotic and frenetic at times. WE do get short breaks from the action as the vehicles do stop from time to time to allow for the characters to interact and do dialogue, or to allow us to see the action unfold. In a way, the whole experience reminded me a lot of the Men in Black ride at Universal Orlando... you are going thru the city looking for the aliens..jada jada. Same here only the sets are more intimate and the targets are funny looking monsters.
In the meantime, we are supposed to be on the look out for monsters hiding just abover everywhere. Special lighting effects make it look as if there are other flashlights spotting around in front of us. Frankly, the interactivity with the flashlights is totally unnecesary here. Yes, you do see some monsters pop out when you hit the targets on cue, but you can just as well put your flashlight down, sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is. It will allow you to see how elavorate some of the sets and scenes really are.
The most enjoyable aspect for me were the AA's. Sully's AA (there are several of them throughout the ride) is really fun to watch, with all that hair and very fluid movements.
All in all, this was a very strong effort from Disney and OLC. I will be the one to admit, I am not that familiar with the subject matter since "Monsters Inc" is one of those movies that somehow do not interest me enough to sit down to watch. This having been my first ride on it, I will admit that I was not sure exactly what the storyline here was.. nor did I spot a hidden Mickey that many claim have seen already. I will have to ride more often or maybe sit thru the darn movie for once and for all so I can make out the ride's plot..
But from the technical point of view, the ride delivers pure fun and mayhem in a very disney way.
To summarize... yes, I believe the ride is worth it, but I would not stand in line for over an hour to ride, so get there early and grab a fastpass. It is a solid D-ticket effort, with lots of mayhen and fun. The flashlight gizmo did not add much to my enjoyment and half way thru the ride, I put it down and enjoyed the ride for what it had to offer. In pure Disney fashion, it's the type of ride that invites you to come back and ride again, over and over.. And if someone out there is willing to explain exactly what the story line of the ride is.. feel free to post it. Due to time restrains, I was not able to ride the attraction again this day. Will have to return to TDL and do that next time.
So, TDLFAN says.. check it out! I rated it 3***& 3/4 stars out of 5. Would have given it a 4 stars rating if I had understood the storyline better.
There you have it folks!!
BTW... I was to excited to ride MIR&GS that I never got to use my winning lotto ticket to see the "Dreams Within" Grand Finale show.