Land of the Rising Mickey
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Tokyo DisneySea's Port Discovery
Periods of Adjustment
Note: This article was amended by the author on March 8th in order to make an important correction regarding Hunny Hunt's control system and also to add (some pretty interesting) additional background information on Hunny Hunt and Aquatopia. - Marc Borrelli
Pooh's Hunny Hunt, the $100 million E-Ticket attraction which opened at Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) this past September... is incredible! It blows me away! I find its creative use of video projection, the fluid movement of its Animatronics, and its rich lighting impressive in their own right, but its innovative trackless ride system has me in awe! The four to six passenger honey pot themed ride vehicles depart the loading area in groups of three. Through the course of the ride, they turn, spin, reverse direction, stop, bounce, and narrowly avoid colliding with each other and their surroundings, while performing a fast paced high-tech ballet. I've never experienced anything like it. I've ridden it on several occasions and I still marvel at it like it's my first time. But, even though Hunny Hunt is located in Fantasyland, unfortunately, Fantasyland is located squarely in reality.
The sun hasn't always shone on TDL's Hundred Acre Wood. Hunny Hunt has had a history of constant breakdowns. It's been common for it to not open with the park, due to technical difficulties. Once up and running, it's been standard for the attraction to cease operating (go "101" in Cast Member (CM) speak, or in the case of Tokyo Disneyland, "ichi zero ichi"), sometimes for extended periods, several times over the course of the day. The ordeal has been stressful for the attraction's technicians, not to mention the CMs who have to fend off irate guests (Yes, even in Japan.). But hold on. The situation isn't all that bad. Actually, it's completely normal.
The problems have resided mainly in Hunny Hunt's use of it's impressive new trackless ride system. It's the first of its kind to go into operation. And like every innovative new ride system, from the Matterhorn - the first roller coaster with a tubular steel track and individual breaking (block) zones that allow for multiple cars on the same track, to Star Tours - the first example of flight simulator technology to be used outside of pilot training, to Indiana Jones : Temple of the Forbidden Eye with it ground breaking Enhanced Motion Vehicles (EMVs), it will take time to work the bugs out of it. It's common for the period of adjustment that a new ride system goes through before it operates smoothly to last for months. Even then, a first of its kind system will very often require much more babying than its subsequent versions.
All the pre-opening testing in the world will never be enough to solve the unforeseen problems that are bound to occur when a new system is put through the grinder of relentless daily operation at the hands of guests (as the legendary Imagineer Bob Gurr has written so well about in his columns here at LaughingPlace.com).
And, as these new ride systems become increasingly more complex so, of course, do their problems.
After six years, the EMVs, know as "transports", at Temple of the Forbidden Eye are still unpredictable and technically troublesome. They've been known to suddenly move in reverse (and they aren't even programmed to go backwards!), lurch forward, and rise up without warning. Some Indy CMs have said that the vehicles sometimes act as if they have a mind of their own. Others have said it's as if they're haunted (So many CMs like to blame ghosts!). Also, Indy's transports use hydraulics to impart there enhanced motion and their hydraulic pistons have the dirty habit of bursting, sometimes covering large portions of the ride's course with hydraulic fluid as the vehicles continue on their way, despite the problem.
At EPCOT, the innovative high speed ride system at Test Track was scheduled to open in Spring of 1997, but it wasn't until December of 1998 that the public was allowed onto the attraction. Excessive tire wear, control system issues that were limiting the number of vehicles which could operate on the track at once, partial derailments, and at least one reported crash were some of the causes behind the delay.