A Mayan Temple in Tokyo: Our look at Raging Spirits

After Tokyo DisneySea opened to universal acclaim in 2001, Walt Disney Imagineering had submitted 3 smaller attraction projects for the American Waterfront New York area.  The first of those would have been “Motor Mania”, where riders were given the experience to try out a brand new Roadster car and mayhem would ensue as they tried to guide their new cars through one of two different tracks.  Both tracks went indoor and outdoor, but having only 4 guests per car, capacity would have been quite low sadly.  The next attraction would have been the Cops and Robbers Chase, a dueling Wild Mouse roller coaster where guests would have visited an early 1900’s Manhattan police station and at a booking desk, sent either to the motor pool (for cops) or the jail (robbers) and then boarded the roller coaster cars for a pursuit around a construction zone near the Police Station.  Last, two 40 seats Vekoma Mad House attractions would have been placed in the S.S. Columbia sailing ship and themed to a trip overseas to Europe and named the S.S. Columbia Showcase of Nautical Marvels.

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We discovered online this very rare concept art of the proposed Motor Mania attraction.  Copyright belongs to Walt Disney Imagineering.

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In this other concept art, we see what the Nautical Marvels Mad House would have looked like. Copyright belongs to Walt Disney Imagineering.

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The Nautical Marvels attraction would have gone inside this beautiful cruise ship anchored in the American Waterfront New York Harbor.  This is a view from outside the park.

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A view from the front with the Dockside Stage in front.

Preliminary work started on all 3 attractions, but Oriental Land Co. , owner and operator of the Tokyo Disney Resort, was not sure this was what the park needed.  The park was filled with innovative and immersive attractions and those attractions used off the shelf ride systems that would probably not have had the impact of larger scale attractions.  WDI was sent to the drawing board and came up with two new attractions instead, based on other Disney attractions around the world.  The largest one and a new headliner to join Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull and Journey to the Center of the Earth was Tower Of Terror, a brand new version of the acclaimed attraction at Disney MGM Studios in Walt Disney World.  The storyline and design was changed to fit in with the turn of the century New York setting and the result is incredible: even better than the original one.

Hotel Hightower

Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea.  We will elaborate more on it in a future article.  Picture was shot at dusk with a full moon in the background which greatly enhance the creepy atmosphere surrounding the gothic hotel.

The second attraction proposed and the first to open was Raging Spirits, a looping roller coaster in the Lost River Delta.  It is located to the right of the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull show building, the ride was constructed on a narrow strip of land between Indiana Jones and the Arabian Coast area.  Walt Disney Imagineering started with the Temple du Peril coaster from Paris and to conform to the agreement between the Walt Disney Company and Oriental Land, gave the design and fabrication contract to a Japanese manufacturer:  Sansei-Yusoki, a ride and show equipment manufacturer from Osaka, Japan.  The company has since been renamed Sansei Technologies and bought a participation in American ride manufacturer S&S Power, renaming it S&S-Sansei.  Beside Raging Spirits, Sansei has built 6 omnimover attractions for Walt Disney Imagineering and various ride systems for Tokyo Disney Resort.  Among those are the exceptional vehicles used on Toy Story Mania! around the world and Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek! at Tokyo Disneyland.

Toy Story Mania TDS Loading station

Loading Station of Toy Story Mania! at Tokyo DisneySea.  You can see the huge and elaborate trolleys used in the attraction.

Lost River Cookhouse

The Lost River Cookhouse opened at the same time as Raging Spirits and currently serve Baked Chicken Legs right now.  It added much needed capacity food wise to the area.

Sansei looked at the design and adapted it with their technology to fit the Japanese market.  For example, they kept the double pneumatic brake configuration, but added a third fin under each car to work with small pairs of pinch tires to control the trains in the station and block areas.  The cars with 3 rows of 2 were selected and the ride structure modified to withstand those versus the original 1993 design.  In the station, they went with separate unload and load positions instead of loading and unloading two trains at once.  They solved the issue of slow moving trains at the end by installing moving pusher tires that retract when not needed.

Raging Spirits Loading Station

The station at night.

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You can see a pair of Hopper Cars approaching the final brakes here and the retractable pusher tires in the middle.  Here, they are in the “open” position and won’t touch the cars third fin.

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An overhead view of a brake zone on the ride.  You can see here the pusher tires are fixed and always in contact with the braking fin.

One interesting modification was the addition of a permanent towing system in the final curve.  This is used when a slow train get stuck between the small hill and final curve.  By having the pulley system right there, it is a very easy process to bring trains back to the final brakes.

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The pulley system and decorative wooden crossties.

The train design was revisited to look more like worn out Hopper Cars and the over the shoulder restraints were modified to have a rounded bottom bar.  This was done so they would rest more comfortably on the riders lap.  This had a great effect on the minimal height restriction:  whereas Temple du Peril requires guests to be 1.40 meter tall (55 inches), Raging Spirits minimal height restriction is only 1.17 meter tall (46 inches).  One interesting thing is that a minimum position was implanted where the shoulder bar has to go down past a certain point in order to restrain taller or larger guests securely and cast members check that by placing a small ruler on the side and then see if it touches the bar.  If it does, you’re fine or else, it needs to be lowered more.  For taller guests prior to 2013-2014, a cast member would take the person to the exit and have him or her try the seat before allowing them in line.  It has since been abandoned since a fixed 1m95 (76.77 inches) maximum height was implanted and a portion of the entrance has the appropriate height mark hidden for cast members to check guests.

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The Hopper cars.

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Overhead view of a Hopper car.

The ride position was flipped versus Paris where the drop into the loop is at the back of the ride and the final curve in front of the ride.  Giant walls on two sides were constructed to make sure guests could not see the tall hotels right behind the attraction and those were themed to crumbling Mayan ruins.

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The ride offers three lines:  Fast Pass on the left, Single Riders in the middle and Stand-By on the right.

Raging Spirits overhead view

You can see the tall walls on the right side of the picture.  This picture was shot from a guest room on the 12th floor of the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay located behind the park.

Raging Spirits View

A close up of the Giant Walls hiding the ride from the rest of the world when you’re inside the park.  The building on the right is the giant soundstage where Indiana Jones Adventure:  Temple of the Crystal Skull take place.  This was again shot from the same room at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay.

Seeing as the ride is set in Mexico and not India, Imagineering changed the Temple design and storyline to something fitting the Lost River Delta.  Here, we are exploring a recently unearthed 5000 years old Mayan Ceremonial Site where things have gone wrong.  The archeologists doing the dig moved two idols to prepare them for shipment, but in doing so… placed them face to face.  Local myths warned against doing that and they were correct!  The Water Idol started spewing steam and a waterfall came out of it.  The fire Idol caught fire and an ancient brazier brought back to life.  The ancient steps in front of the Temple are now perpetually covered in water and fire and this curious phenomenon has brought tourists from all over the world to observe it.

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The Stone Steps in daylight.  This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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An overall view of the front of the ceremonial grounds as seen from the entrance.  The giant torch on the left at the top is burning as well.

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Flex provided us with this dramatic picture of the Ancient Ceremonial Grounds at night.

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The staircase at night.

The Idol forces also had the effect of twisting the mine car track in extreme forms, even causing the center space between the Statues to form a 360 degree loop.  This is where we come in and guests ride the Mine Cars around the excavation site.  A few turns were reengineered to be more comfortable, especially the turn after the second drop.  Catwalks follow the whole ride except for the Inversion and this is common in Japan.

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Hopper Cars going around the Loop.

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The Water Idol.

The ride theming is also a lot more extensive, with a waterfall and pool of water in the middle of the ride under the loop.  A steam machine was also installed nearby to boil water and cover the bottom of the attraction in a thick fog cloud and also fill the tunnel that goes under the Temple staircase.  In addition to the flames on the staircase, there is a tall flaming vase on top of the Fire Idol, another vase halfway up and the Helix spins around the Ceremonial Brazier.

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The beautiful arch that the train goes under at the end.

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The tunnel under the staircase…

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Is filled with steam before the train goes through it and at night, red lights are turned out to keep the impression of going through a wall of fire.

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The tunnel at night.

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The train going through the fog, which appears to be a wall of fire due to the lighting.

The moment in the ride where the extra theming went is most apparent at the bottom of the ride.   After the Hopper Car dives down to the bottom, it goes through a mist of hot fog, through the 360° Loop and then dives into a steam filled Cenote.  Cenote are warm sinkholes filled with water seen throughout Mexico and this was an authentic inclusion into the ride design.

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The fog filled pit the train dives into before the Loop.

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Hopper cars diving down into the loop.

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A hopper car has just excited the third mid-course brake area.

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The fog generators are so powerful it engulfs the whole bottom of the ride.

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The Vertical Loop as seen from the waiting line.

All in all, it is quite a remarkable experience and fills in a need for a thrilling attraction at the resort.  The theming is incredible and on the level of classics such as Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain.

Accessibility wise, an elevator platform was integrated as a cargo lift into the station.

In early 2007, in response to guests concerns about how uncomfortable the experience could be, the park closed the attraction for updates.  The first modification was adding a lot of soft padding to the upper portion of the shoulder bar, increasing comfort.  Next, magnetic brakes were installed on the first and third block brakes.  Those magnetic eddy-current brakes work with the third pusher tires fin and help smoothly slow the mine cars down to a more comfortable speed for the turns.  All of that managed to turn the ride into one of the smoothest roller coaster in the world and helped make it even more popular.

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