July 15, 2010

Not A Normal Pooh Ride

After the rise in popularity of Walt Disney's film adaptation of Winnie the Pooh, Disney Imagineers made plans in the late 1970s for a Winnie the Pooh attraction at Disneyland's soon-to-be renovated Fantasyland. However in 1983, when the renovated Fantasyland reopened, a Winnie the Pooh attraction was notably absent. Seven years later, during a period when the character was undergoing a resurgence in popularity, plans for a Winnie the Pooh attraction were approved at Walt Disney World. Planners utilized an existing structure, that of the Fantasyland attraction Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

The next version of the attraction, considerably different in configuration, was Pooh's Hunny Hunt, which opened in Tokyo Disneyland. Due to a closure of all of the Skyways at Disney Parks across the world, including Tokyo, a space was left where the Fantasyland Skyway station once stood. With a budget of over $130 million, and featuring a never-before-used 'trackless' ride technology, Pooh's Hunny Hunt opened on September 4, 2000 to large crowds and praise by many Disney internet fansites. To date, the attraction continues to have some of the longest wait times of any attraction at the Tokyo Disney Resort.


The ride vehicles are fashioned to resemble honey pots; though these pots have wheels, they are completely hidden, giving the pots the appearance of "gliding" across the show scene's floors. Traditionally, dark ride vehicles are guided along an easily-visible track, and move at a (more or less) constant speed. The Pooh's Hunny Hunt vehicles have no visible means of guidance and appear to move through the attraction independently. Wildly stopping, starting, reversing direction, and even spinning, giving the ride its trademark whimsical and dreamlike visuals.tdl32

This 'trackless' ride system is achieved not by GPS, as widely rumored, but by a custom LPS (local positioning system). The patented system works by directional data being relayed from a master control computer directly to each individual honey pot car through a complicated matrix embedded within the actual floor tiles. Every few seconds, the master computer generates a random path and ‘steers’ the honey pot in real-time, so as the cars roll through the ride the vehicles are, in fact, being told where to go. Because this system is in real-time, they can maneuver accordingly in just fractions of a second. This also allows for spontaneous yet synchronized ‘honey pot choreography’ with groups of honey pots (as many as 8 in a single show scene) appearing to ‘dance’ with the others, often timed with ‘beats’ in the music. Due to limitless variations possible, each journey through the attraction is unique.Winnie%20the%20Pooh%2015

The queue for the ride zig-zags in front of the entrance, which is shaped like a giant story book. Once inside, the rest of the line is made up of the pages of the story book which tell various parts of the story. Guests then board big, 5-seater honey pots. These Honey pots travel through the ride in groups of three.

Upon leaving the station, and making a left into the ride, the Honey pots stop in a line in front of a short video which has Christopher Robin giving Pooh a balloon. The vehicles then enter a very large room themed to the blustery day. There are many sights in this room, and the vehicles take turns visiting the various scenes. Pooh is seen flying around on his balloon. He knocks a ladder over, which sets off dynamite, blowing Gopher out of his hole. Rabbit is seen clinging to a clothes line, trying not to be blown away by the wind. Roo tries to fly on his scarf while Kanga holds on. Pooh floats down again near Eeyore and knocks over the main stick holding up Eeyore's house, causing it to collapse. Owl's treehouse stands in the middle of room, swaying in the wind. Piglet holds on to the ladder for dear life while Owl rocks in his chair on the porch, talking about his relatives. As the vehicles unite to leave the room, Tigger bounces up and down behind a bush.

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The honey pots then enter a dark room with three screens surrounded by trees. A swarm of bees flies through all three before Tigger comes in and starts bouncing. The entire room, the trees, and the honey pots then begin to bounce with Tigger as he bounces from screen to screen. He then jumps up into one of the trees and the swarm of bees reemerges. The honey pots then go backwards down a hallway filled with branches. Tigger is seen clinging to one with a beehive stuck to his head.

The honey pots enter Pooh's house, where he is seen asleep with the balloon next to him. As he mumbles, the balloon grows the ears and eyes of a heffalump and the entire room vanishes into a starfield. Pooh then floats up into the air.gallery005

The vehicles then enter Pooh's dream sequence. This big room is filled the heffalumps and woozles that Pooh dreams about. This room is by far the most vibrant as the honey pots dance in circles with each other to the music as colored lights and disco balls spin throughout the room. There are lots of vehicles in this room and whenever three enter, three leave. The leaving vehicles exit through the trunk of a giant heffalump which contains a tunnel. The vehicles go down the tunnel backwards as Pooh spins above them and projections of heffalumps spin along the walls.

The last room is filled with honey and Pooh eats his fill while saying how much he loves to eat it. There is a scent of honey in this room. The vehicles then pass a big, closed storybook of the adventure and then enter the unloading area.Winnie%20the%20Pooh%2012

As with many Tokyo Disney attractions, there aren’t that many pins, but there are a few. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt has a couple that were made for the opening of the attraction in Fall 2000, like this button, and these couple pins.


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Other pins for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt feature scenes from the attraction, like the Blustery Day, the finale Hunny scene, and the outside of the attraction.

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This final pin was released as a part of the Tokyo Disney Resort Pin of the Month Collection, it features Mickey holding a balloon dressed as a Cast Member from the attraction.pin63404

Pictures and Information from Tokyo Disney Resort Fan, Jack Spence of All Ears Net, Theme Park Review, and PinPics

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