Okay. So the construction fence has gone up and the water level has gone down. So what happens next in Disneyland's Submarine Lagoon? What's first on WDI's "To Do" list as work finally gets underway on the "Finding Nemo" project?
Well -- for starters -- Disneyland's Press & Publicity Office has to actually acknowledge that there is in fact a "Finding Nemo" attraction in the works. Though my understanding is that particular item will be taken care of on or about May 5th during the "The Future of Our Resort" portion of that day's press conference.
"So what happens after that, Jim?," you ask. "Do the bulldozers then move in and flatten all that faux 1950s-era coral?" Actually, no. Much of the coral stays right where it is. As does the sub's 1365-foot-long ride."Okay. Then what about the sets inside the caves?," you continue. "Surely, all of that stuff is going to get deep-sixed."
Photo by David Michael
Again (And I know that this news is going surprise a lot of you Pixar fans) no. Many of the attraction's pre-existing settings & set-pieces are going to stay right where they are. And -- yes -- that includes that silly-looking sea serpent.
"But -- if that's really the case," you sputter, "Then how is any of this 1950s era stuff ever going to fit into an attraction that's supposedly based on a movie that's as colorful & stylish as 'Finding Nemo.'?"
To quote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," don't panic. The Imagineers have come up with a clever plan to fold new elements from "Nemo" into existing parts of the old Tomorrowland attraction. With the end result being a new-ish Disneyland ride that tells one rather funny story.
Take -- for example -- how the Sub's old "Lost City of Atlantis" sequence is going to fit into "Nemo" 's new storyline. Think back to the scenes from that film that were set in the dentist's office. In particular, how Gil, Bloat & the rest of fish who lived in the aquarium used that fake underwater volcano as part of Nemo's initiation ceremony.
Well, after they finally escaped from 42 Wallaby Way, what better place could there be for the Tank Gang (Who clearly enjoyed getting dressed up & doing ceremonial chants at Mount Wannahockalougie) to set up shop than at the base of a real underwater volcano?
So -- as our submarine floats by the old Atlantis set -- here's Peach, Gurgle and Bubbles (along with the rest of the Tank Gang) in the middle of another one of their initiation ceremonies. Only -- this time around -- they're dancing & chanting around the mouth of a real (Well .. real for Disneyland) volcano.
That's the real beauty of WDI's sub redo. The Imagineers are actually placing the fish from "Finding Nemo" in areas along the old sub track that actually fit their characters. Still uncertain about that sea serpent? Well, what if I were to tell you that he's the punchline for a joke that's set up almost at the very start of the attraction? To explain: No more than two minutes into the ride, our sub floats by Nemo & Marlin. Who are just sticking their heads out of their sea anemone when the son clownfish turns to his father and says:
NEMO: Dad, are there such things as sea serpents? Because Sandy Plankton says that there are. And ...
You get the set-up now? Marlin (of course) says: "No, there are no such thing as sea serpents." Which is why it'll be so cute -- near the end of the attraction -- to be peering out the portholes at the same sea serpent. Only to have Nemo suddenly pop up again and exclaim: "Wow, Sandy Plankton was right. There really are sea serpents. Just wait 'til I tell Dad!"
See what I mean about the Imagineers being clever? Only the pieces of Disneyland's old submarine ride that will actually help WDI tell the "Finding Nemo" -related story that it wants to tell will be left in place.
As for the rest of this old Tomorrowland attraction's sets ... Well, a number of the Submarine's pre-existing settings (I.E. The ones in that cleverly camouflaged show building. Which is hidden under the Autopia track) will be torn out. So that there will then be room for the sub's encounter with Bruce, Anchor & Chum (You know? That trio of 12-stepping sharks who kept chanting "Fish are friends, not food"?) as well as Dory's latest run-in with the jellyfish (Not to worry, though. This time around, the forgetful Blue Tang's encounter with those poisonous Portuquese Man-of-War will be a lot less painful).
As for the rest of the ride ... Rest assured that you will get some face time with all your favorite "Finding Nemo" characters. Mr. Ray, Crush, Squirt. Even the seagulls who could only say "Mine!" They're all going to pop up at some point in this radically revamped Tomorrowland attraction.
Not in an arbitrary fashion, mind you. All of these characters from this Academy Award winning Pixar film will only appear in places that either help set up and/or pay off gags. Or -- more importantly -- because their appearance actually helps move along the "Finding Nemo" story that WDI is trying to tell.
Okay. That's the good news. Now do you want to hear the bad news?
The bad news is ... This revamped Tomorrowland attraction will still be making use of the same old subs that have been taking Disneyland guests on "Adventures Thru Liquid Space" since June of 1959. There are only eight vessels in the fleet. There are only 38 seats on each boat. And it takes each sub approximately 8 minutes to make it all the way 'round the ride track.
You finished doing the math yet? Tomorrowland's new "Finding Nemo" ride -- just like the old version of Disneyland's sub -- is going to have a very low hourly capacity. By that I mean: Even if every sub is operating and the cast members in the attraction's load/inload area are working at peak efficiency, that still means only 1400 Disneyland guests per hour will get to sail out to the Great Barrier Reef, float along in the E.A.C. (I.E. The East Australian Current), etc.
So if you're looking to experience Disneyland's new "Finding Nemo" attraction during its first year of operation, you'd better get a Fast Pass as soon as you get to the theme park. Otherwise, you're going to be standing in a two-and-three-hour long line. Waiting with what appears to be every child from Southern California. Who've come to Anaheim just so that they then can go & try and find Nemo.
But -- that not-so-minor quibble aside -- this not-so-new attraction will still be a great addition to Disneyland's currents line-up of rides & shows.
And you wanna know the best part? Even though I've revealed a number of scenes from Disneyland's new "Finding Nemo" attraction as part of today's story, I haven't actually spoiled the real surprise. That moment in this soon-to-be-open Tomorrowland ride that's going to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Where you're going to experience something that has never ever happened to you in a Disney theme park attraction before ...
What am I talking about? Meet me in Anaheim in a year and a half when work is finally complete on this newish newish version of Tomorrowland's submarine voyage. And then you can sea for yourself what I'm talking about ... Your thoughts?