Tokyo DisneySea is heralded as one of, if not “the best,” Disney park in the world (and you can check out my opinion on that subject in an earlier article). One of the reasons that DisneySea is held in such a high regard comes down to the fact that the park is populated with a plethora of unique and enjoyable attractions. My favorite attraction in Tokyo DisneySea is my favorite due to its charm and uniqueness. Yet, it is one attraction that seems to fly under the radar when talking about “great” attractions. The attraction in question? Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage.
History and Backstory
Like the attraction itself, the history of Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage is a unique one. Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage was an opening day attraction that debuted with the park. However, the attraction was deemed unpopular and criticized for having too “dark” of a tone. Thus, the attraction closed for a time, received an animal sidekick and an Alan Menken soundtrack titled Compass of Your Heart, and re-debuted on March 29, 2007.
I never rode the earlier version of this attraction, but you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell that the attraction received a re-theming. The Sinbad of present today feels like it has always existed in its current state, thus whatever the Imagineers did clearly worked.
Location and Exterior
Instead of lands, Tokyo DisneySea has “Ports-of-Call,”one of these Ports-of-Call is the Arabian Coast and this is where Guests will find Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. The Arabian Coast is a stunning Port-of-Call that looks like it could come straight out of the movie Aladdin. High stone walls, extravagant brickwork and unique alleyways give you a regal place to explore. Before you get into the more hustle and bustle area of the Arabian Coast there is a rather open area where you might find Aladdin, Jasmine and friends walking around. It is here where you will come upon the entrance to Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. Simple yet luxurious, the entrance to this attraction resembles a stone palace where a giant golden emblem of Sinbad and his loyal companion Chandu sit below the banner for the attraction.
Not overly extravagant, it is still exquisitely themed and prominent in this area of the Arabian coast. Not only that, it perfectly sets up the world that guests are about to enter and the journey they are about to embark on.
Remarkably, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage never has a large queue line. Every time I have been on the attraction, it has been a walk-on (which is great, especially at Tokyo Disney Resort). Thus, there isn’t much of a queue, but what there is, is nice. As soon as you enter the show building, you are transported into the world of Sinbad. Paintings of Sinbad’s voyages don the stone walls, not only setting the tone, but also informing Guests of what is in store for them. At the end of the queue lies a gigantic map that is breathtaking and puts Sinbad’s whole world into perspective.
From the moment you step into the queue, the tone is completely set and you fully know what to expect. Although there is no preshow per say, the tone and story is set in the short walk you take from the attraction entrance to the loading bay.
The loading bay of the attraction is set out to look like a traditional dock, also set in Sinbad’s world. It is semi-covered with gaps showcasing the night sky, giving the attraction a Grand Fiesta Tour vibe from Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion.
The ride vehicles are boats in a similar vain to those at “it’s a small world”, and in all honesty, these ride vehicles are the only things that stand in contrast to the theme of the whole story. They’re not bad. They’re serviceable, but the rest of the ride is so well themed that I would have liked the vehicles to look a little bit more traditional or not be a green color. Only a minor complaint, but one I think that would improve the attraction tenfold.
Your ride vehicle departs and you find yourselves in Sinbad’s village where Sinbad is getting ready to embark on his journey with his sidekick Chandu. The last thing we see is a sign saying “Safe Journey Sinbad” leading us into things to come.
The jubilance of the village is soon replaced by a harrowing storm, which strands Sinbad and Chandu, who have to seek help and guidance from several mermaids. Once we are on the water again, more disaster hits as pirates are try to steal giant eggs (from a giant bird). Luckily, Sinbad is able to save the day and the eggs, and he is rewarded by being given a magical feather.
Using his smarts, Sinbad uses the feather to unlock a genie who has been trapped in a prison. Grateful, the genie joins Sinbad in song and bestows more riches upon him.
Next, we are transported to a magnificent city where Sinbad is seen trying to trade his wears (and Chandu is being given the royal treatment). This piece doesn’t last as we next visit an island of monkeys. Sinbad somehow manages to befriend the monkeys and is rewarded by a plethora of bananas that are lowered onto his vessel.
Sinbad attempts to make his way back home, but his boat is grounded by a whale who also helps Sinbad get where he is going, whilst also joining Sinbad on a chorus of “Compass of Your Heart.”
It is dark when Sinbad returns home. But, the party is in full swing with the villagers praising and congratulating Sinbad on a successful voyage.
I have mentioned it in this article already, but the key word to this attraction is “immersion.” As soon as you step through the entrance of the attraction, you are immersed into the world of Sinbad. Not only that, but the world you are immersed into is an adorable one. The attraction is similar to “it’s a small world”, but has more of a threw line of more coherent dark rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight and Mystic Manor. It is beautifully themed with a cornucopia of unique things to look at throughout the attraction.
Not only that, Alan Menken’s soundtrack deserves special mention. It’s cute, memorable and will have you humming the chorus for hours to come. Not only is the attraction one of the best dark rides around, the soundtrack also is one of my favorites.
I unashamedly love this attraction. It is definitely one of my “must-dos”and a highlight every time I visit DisneySea. For me, more than anything, dark rides need to be transportive and that’s exactly what Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage is. For those 10 minutes or so, you honestly feel like you’re on an adventure with him… and it’s a good place to be.
What do you think? Have you heard much about Sinbad’s Storybook Village? Do you want to experience it? What’s your favorite ‘dark ride? Let’s continue the discussion over on the WDW Radio Box People Facebook Group Page.
(All photos are from the personal library of Daniel Morris.)
To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.