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Les Voyages de Pinocchio

Again, with this classic dark ride, I've titled it with the French name as this is the version I have most recently ridden.

Les Voyages de Pinocchio has guests enter a ornate, wooden entrance modelled on the buildings seen in the film.  After the usual twisty, turny queue, riders climb into carts not dissimilar to those on the Snow White dark ride.  These ones are decorated with images of Figaro and Cleo.

The riders first enter doors with the legend: Stromboli; Theatre de Marionettes.  On the other side we find Pinocchio on stage dancing with two other marionettes.  The bright, cheerful theatre is very quickly replaced by a dark, forbidding corridor leading up to the fierce figure of Stromboli himself.  On the way we pass tiny Jiminy Cricket.  We pass by Pinocchio, trapped in a cage and then find ourselves in one too before passing through on our way to Pleasure Island.  Again, we pass Jiminy Cricket; this time floating from above us on his umbrella.  

The riders then take a tour of the gingerbread world of Pleasure Island replete with carousels and ferris wheels.  Here we find Honest John and Gideon trying their hand at the Test Your Strength machine.  The scene darkens slightly and we find ourselves approaching the Coachmen, leering from a booth as we watch Lampwick transform into a donkey whilst Pinocchio watches in amusement and horror.  

Now we see the remnants of the boys' antics on Pleasure Island and come across transformed boys, braying and crying in crates bound for who knows where; again watched over by the red-faced coachman. 

Turning a couple more corners and we are by the sea and the terrifying maw of Monstro the Whale rears up at the riders, teeth bared.  Soon, we are back in Pinocchio's village and we see Geppetto searching for his lost son.  Eventually we reach Geppetto's home and see the Blue Fairy grant Pinocchio's wish (and vanish before our eyes).  Various toys and clocks tick and whirr as we travel to the end of the ride. 

As with all the dark rides at Disneyland Paris, my biggest complaint is that they are simply too quick.  No sooner are you taking in one scene, than you are whipped on to the next.  As with Snow White's Scary Adventure, Pinocchio has one lengthy scene: in Snow White it was the Queen's dungeon; in Pinocchio it is Pleasure Island; but everything moves too quickly to take anything in properly.  There are aspects I noticed on the Youtube videos I don't remember from riding it: Figaro in his little bed; Jiminy Cricket floating down from above on his umbrella; even the effect of the Blue Fairy didn't work well for us as it had disappeared a split second after I noticed it (I actually turned round to look behind our cart to see the Blue Fairy's figure hidden behind the scene - it disappearing effect is created with a Pepper's ghost style affair).

I also think some obvious ideas have been missed.  Why don't the riders enter the mouth of Monstro to find Geppetto in the belly of the whale?  Why are Honest John and Gideon tucked away on Pleasure Island and not given a centre piece scene?  I also think it's odd that the first scene of Pinocchio in the marionette show has him singing An Actor's Life for Me and not I've Got No Strings.

There are two other iterations of this ride: Disneyland California and Tokyo Disneyland.

The California version runs through the scenes in the same order as the Paris ride: the marionette show; Stromboli's caravan and cage; Pleasure Island etc.  It does seem to have more space though meaning it is easier (at least from the video ride-throughs) to take in all the scenes.  There are also more doors between scenes allowing the rider to briefly take stock before each one: for example between Pleasure Island and the room where Lampwick transforms into a donkey.

One aspect I don't remember seeing on the Paris version is at the end of the Pleasure Island section where the boy-donkeys are being herded into crates to be taken to the salt mines.  Jiminy Cricket is behind the large wooden gates which slam shut on him as he tries to find where Pinocchio is (as in the film).

As you enter the village in the final part of the ride, as with Paris, When You Wish Upon a Star is playing.  This signature Disney song is the perfect way of ending the ride.

The Tokyo Disneyland version is practically identical to the other two rides although one difference I did note was that Lampwick doesn't turn around to reveal his transformation; rather he has already turned into a donkey before the riders pass through the scene.  One other difference is that the entrance to the ride doesn't have Pinocchio atop it, but two nameless marionettes.


Also, it may be the video ride-through on Youtube, but this ride didn't seem as vibrant as the other two.

It is interesting that there isn't an iteration of this ride at Disney World as, birthing the company's signature song, you would think it would need more presence than a single restaurant.  With a Snow White ride appearing in the four 'main' Fantasylands (admittedly with the Florida one now retired) it seems odd that Pinocchio hasn't followed suit.

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