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Why For: The Seas-and-desist edition

Jim Hill

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Why For: The Seas-and-desist edition

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Will L. writes in to say:

Have you seen the concept art for Epcot's new "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" attraction yet?

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Originally I was very excited when I saw all of this stuff.

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But then I got to see some of the concept art for Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage."

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

And these two attractions look virtually identical. Except for the fact that Disneyland now appears to be getting twice as many fish as Disney World will be getting.

Why does the Walt Disney Company keep doing this? First create a truly great attraction, then quickly throw together a half-ass clone of that same ride on the cheap. Don't they understand how doing something like really hurts Disney's reputation? Don't they realize that the public isn't stupid? That it's obvious to us when they cut corners on these things?

When is Disney finally going to start learning from the mistakes of its past? That what the theme-park-going public really wants aren't all of these clones but top-dollar quality attractions.

Dear Will L.

My, that was one very impressive anti-Disney rant you had going there. Do you feel better now? Did you get it all out of your system?

Good. I hope so. Because -- to be blunt here, Will L. -- you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

You see, Disneyland's new "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ride and Epcot's "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" pavilion aren't clones. They're entirely different attractions. To be honest, these two couldn't be more dissimilar if they tried. Disney World's "Nemo" dark ride will basically serve as the new introduction for the Future World pavilion that WDW guests will encounter once they exit their "clamobiles." So the emphasis at this particular attraction is being placed on education.

Whereas Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ... This ride is a stand-alone that's just meant to be entertaining. So as you putter along below the surface of Tomorrowland Lagoon, you won't be hearing any annoying factoids about how many fish there supposedly are in the sea or how we have to work even harder at keeping the world's oceans pollution-free. This radically revamped version of the old "Voyage through Liquid Space" ride is deliberately not going to be educational.

The "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" is just meant to an exjoyable experience for Disneyland visitors. A chance to briefly get up-close-and-personal with the cast of this smash hit Pixar film. And nothing more.

So you see what I'm saying here, Will? We're talking education versus entertainment. More importantly, one attraction is basically a continuous-loading dark ride that pretends to take you under the water. While the other ride actually does take guests below the surface aboard a series of slow moving, small capacity vehicles. So -- if you actually get cold-blooded here and start comparing storylines, overall themes, ride systems and THRC (Theoretical Hourly Ride Capacity) ... You'll see that "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" and the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" are not in fact clones.

I mean, sure. These two soon-to-be-opened attractions do share the same set of Pixar characters. And -- yes -- the same Imagineer (I.E. Chris Turner) did create pieces of concept art for both "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" and the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage." And -- yes -- two of these concept paintings do look very much alike. But that coincidence doesn't then give you the right to play the clone card, Will. To get on your soapbox and then start ranting & raving about how Disney's cutting corners again.

Because (the way I hear it) the Imagineers are throwing an awful lot of money at this Future World redo. And that's all Disney dough, Will L. "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" doesn't have a corporate sponsor anymore. I mean, it's been years since United Technologies actually footed the bill for the operation of this Future World pavilion.

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

And -- to be honest -- maybe it's a good thing that UT is finally gone. From what the folks at WDI have told me, United Technologies management was pretty tight with a buck. Which meant -- if you approached these guys with two plans for "The Living Seas" pavilion -- and one of these plans was ground-breaking but expensive while the other was uninspired but inexpensive ... The money guys at UT would invariably go for the cheaper plan.

Which is why this Future Word pavilion eventually wound up with the underwhelming pre-show that it got (I.E. That introductory film, a quick trip "below the surface" in a hydrolator, followed by a 3-minute-long ride in a sea cab to Seabase Alpha) ...

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

... rather than the truly impressive introduction that the Imagineers had originally designed for "The Living Seas" pavilion. Where guests would have initially encountered an oversized Audio Animatronic version of Poseidon, the God of the Sea. Who -- after railing at the humans in the pre-show area for daring to enter his realm -- would have then pulled back a curtain of water.

Which would have revealed the load area of the "Living Seas" main attraction. Where Epcot visitors would have boarded large clear-plastic bubbles and then gone off on this 10-minute long journey through wet-for-dry recreations of some of the wonders of the deep. Before finally exiting the attraction and then exploring the slightly-futuristic wonders to be found at Seabase Alpha.

Copyright 1982 Walt Disney Productions

But -- as you might have guessed -- because over-sized AA figures & clear-plastic bubble-shaped ride vehicles were expensive ... The folks at United Technologies eventually took a pass on the Poseidon-themed pre-show idea. Opting instead to spend their money on exhibits that would then talk up UT's own cutting-edge inventions, like this deep sea diving suit.

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

Realizing that -- as a direct result of United Technologies going the cheap route with "The Living Seas" -- that this water-filled Future World pavilion wound up being rather dry & academic ... The Imagineers did what they could to liven the place up. Bringing in characters like Diver Mickey ...

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

... wherever they could. With the hope that that might then make "The Living Seas" that much more palatable to people vacationing at Walt Disney World.

Speaking of which ... For those of you who continually complain about how the Walt Disney Company nows seems determined to shoehorn characters into each & every new ride & attraction that they build for the parks ... Let me tell you that Epcot's managers actively campaign to get shows for their theme park that prominently feature the Disney & Pixar characters.

Why For? Because these guys know that it's the public's relationship with these characters that factors heavily into their decisions about which theme park they will visit during their next Disney World vacation. Which is why these folks were absolutely thrilled to first land that "Turtle Talk with Crush" show for "The Living Seas," and then to follow that up with a complete "Finding Nemo" -themed redo of this entire Future World pavilion.

Anyway ... Getting back to Will L.'s original complaint about how "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" will allegedly just be a half-assed clone of Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ...

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... To be fair, I guess that I should acknowledge that these two attractions will be sharing some techology (I.E. That innovative digital projection system that WDI is still trying hard to keep under wraps. Which will make it appear as if photo-realistic versions of your favorite "Finding Nemo" characters are alive & well, frolicking just outside your porthole window). More importantly, there will some animated footage that will be shown at both "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" and Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage."

FYI: This footage is not being farmed out to some outside firm. It's actually the folks at Pixar who will be animating Marlin, Dory & Co. Just like they did for the original animated feature. Though (I probably shouldn't be saying this, but ... ) I hear that these animators who are working on this project aren't all that happy with WDI is asking them to do.

Why For? Well, you see, these animators think that the Imagineers who are in charge of these two projects have written some awfully lame dialogue for the "Finding Nemo" characters. And that -- given their druthers -- the folks at Pixar would prefer to have written their own scripts for these two attractions. So that these characters would then look, sound and behave just as they did back in the Summer of 2003. Back when "Finding Nemo" was first released to theaters.

Mind you, I don't mean to say that every single show scene that the Imagineers have written for Disneyland's new "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ride is absolutely awful. I mean, how can you not love an attraction that shows Gill & the Tank Gang (Who for years held initiation ceremonies at the top of their tiny fake aquarium volcano, Mount Wanna-hock-a-loogie) ...

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... finally getting the chance to throw a party at the base of an active underwater volcano?

So I guess what I'm saying here, Will L., is ... This time around, you were wrong. Epcot's new "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" is not going to be some cheap, half-assed clone of Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage." If you don't believe me ... Then fine. Go see for yourself.

The way I hear it, all of the major construction on this new Future World attraction will be completed by late July / early August. So -- with any amount of luck -- the Imagineers will then be able to begin holding "soft openings" of this dark ride in late August / early September. Just so they can then make sure that the ride portion of "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" will actually be ready in time for this for this Future World pavilion's grand re-opening during the first week of October. Where I hear that this new Epcot attraction is supposed to be one of the real high points of this year's WDW press event.

As for Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ...

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

... Given that John Lasseter has supposedly asked that some small changes be made to several show scenes & that additional effects be added to this radically revamped Tomorrowland ride ... No one wants to go on record just yet about when the official opening date for this new Disneyland attraction might be. Other than to say that the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" will undoubtedly probably be open to the public sometime in the Spring of 2007.

There. Is that vague enough for you?

Anyway ... That's all the news that I have (to date) about these two new Disney theme park attractions. So -- for the time being -- can we just seas-and-desist with all this negative talk about these "Finding Nemo" -based shows?

Your thoughts?

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  • Hill with a body slam from the top rope !!!

    Yeah you stupid reader, you're wrong, wrong, wrong.  Neener, neener, neener. That's quite enough negative talk - there'll be no more of it.

    Don't mention that Disney could have built any AA figure they wanted to - if they can afford to buy ABC,  Fox Family, and Michael Ovitz, they can afford an AA figure, even a big one. That is unacceptable negative talk. Promise me you won't mention that Pixar can change any dialogue they want with John's help - especially after all the lame dialogue that's been written by Imagineers these past fifty years. Finally, no negative comments on this ride - cause it's all Disney money - it's not money from admission tickets, ponchos and plush - it's all Disney money.
  • What sucks the most is that when The Little Mermaid came out in '89, there was plenty of room for improvement with WDW's 20,000 leagues under the Sea. Instead? They close the ride in '95. And stick a greeting grotto and a statue of triton in the water. Followed by removing the statue and giving us ***. I mean pooh.

    Now because Little mermaid is on broadway theyre gonna remove Voyage from MGM.

    Didnt they ever think of using TLM in any of these undersea adventures? She is the most popular Disney Princess.

    I like Nemo.... but its gonna be lame. regardless of how awesome the technology is. You cant re-create the oneliners from that movie.

    IMO its all just another way to sell merchandise. Nemo merchandise. Just like Stitch. Blah blah Disney is a business. I spend most of my money there. But its still magic to me. I just want more Ariel stuff. And princess dresses for adults. Yeah thats all i want.
  • Also a few tech details:
    DL's Nemo ride is simply a new coat of AA on the skeleton of the existing ride...While the Nemo characters in LS's ride will reportedly be projected CG animation on "invisible" screens inside a REAL sealife tank that's the focus of the attraction.  And, as Jim noted, all the other stuff in the building, too.

    (Oh, and if you think Ariel wasn't added as an in-joke background figure to the "Mermaid's treasure" section during the last/pre-Grotto days of WDW's original 20K ride, Mr. Greenskyp, you've been submerged entirely too long!)  :)
  • Jim, you sound like a Disney apologist... however correct you may be.

    I don't see this change as a way to sell more merchandise, I see it more as a way to liven up a very dull attraction. The hydrolators were nice, but boring. My elementary aged kids did not particlularly enjoy the place, etcept for the fish feeding time.

    Adding Turtle Talk was a great addition to the pavilion, and making an interesting pre-show that hopefully ties in with what else you're going to see, based on characters that kids like, will only make the kids stay there a little longer...and maybe learn something in the process.
  • I think "anything" will be an improvement over the last time I visited "The Living Seas". Watching the deep sea diver come in and out of the airlock was the high point of being there. It was one attraction I eventually crossed off my map and just didn't bother with.
  • Two things DerekJ:

    1. I'm a chick. ;)

    2. I'm in my early twenties... Meaning my memories of 20k are limited. There may have been an in-joke. But i was too young to appreciate it, and now i'm too old to remember it. Pictures would be nice. If you have them that is.

  • Not that these Nemo additions are perfect, but face it Future World in Epcot needs additions like this, Especially if it adds color or spunk to the park.  Future world look is getting old and tired.  Would u rather them build another Test track, or mission space.  I think this is what disney has gotten away from at epcot, adding the smaller attractions that are not on such a gigantic scale but provide something else to do that isnt an after ride activity.  Thier losing Cranium command, ruined figment, finally added a mission space people could go on, built a big blue building behind Canadas mountains (even though Sorin is amazing), Wont take down the mickey wand off Space ship earth, Still call Innoventions an attraction, hasnt added any rides to World show case in forever, etc.  This change to Seas is needed.  Now hopefully they can get rid of Honey I shrunk the audience, the new figment, and put something amazing in Wonders of Life.  

    The entire Seas Pavilion was borring, maybe this will add some life to it.  How many people used to come out of Seas and think "there wasnt even a ride".  You cant have an entire pavilion based on post show activities.  

    I enjoy when Disney adds thier characters to rides or pavilions, That is the reason I go to Disney world to see thier characters.  
  • BGrego13: Your quote, How many people used to come out of Seas and think "there wasnt even a ride".
    I remembered the first time I visited the attraction, after the Hydrolators, you boarded a little blue train. Upon my return visits, when the hydrolator doors opened, there was just a large show room in front of you. I thought I had lost my mind and perhaps there "never" was a ride (be it a small one), in TLS.

    What's worse is that you had to wait through the simulated hydrolators just to exit the building! I have a fear of elevators in general, and even though these were not real, the "being enclosed" feeling really bothered me.
  • Personally, I can't wait to go on the submarine voyage again.  I've been excited about the redo of the ride since Jim told all three of us that appeared for his DL tour all about it a few years back.  If everything that Jim told us is true, this will guarantee me going on this ride at least three to four times.  As for the LIving Seas, it's just a matter of time before I find my way back to Florida.  Perhaps in October...
  • Awesome! Open for October! Does anyone have a clearer date on the debut of the new Nemo show at DAK? Hopefully its before Oct 25...

    Jim, you did sound pretty hostile in that column. I agree with you anyway though - for once. I think they should have CMs playing Mickey in there more often - Ariel would be cool as well though.
  • The last time I visited WDW, I had very limited time. Originally I was hot to see EPCOT - an attraction I missed when the first time I visited WDW as a kid (I've been to the park a total of 2 times).  But when I read the park's map, and looked over the list of EPCOT attractions, I thought to myself: "EPCOT looks like it's nothing more than a 3D geography and science lesson, and I'm here to have FUN. I'm going to MGM and Magic Kingdom".  So I agree with some here that EPCOT needs new entertainment-based attractions to stay viable. So does Animal Kingdom. The "Bug's Life" show and the Tree of Life were cool, but otherwise, man, is that place a disappointment!
  • Give it up, Jim.

    Obviously, paying for an Annual Pass makes anybody more qualified to design a theme park than a lifetime of study and experience.  Through some amazing fluke, WDI has filled its offices with the only people in the world who don't know what a Disney Park should be and neglected to hire all these brilliant 'armchair imagineers' who, because they're overly familiar with what has been done in the past think they're the only folks who can create a new and exciting future.
  • I don't understand why every attraction has to reference a current movie.  If some things are fascinating to kids, but go over their little heads a bit- well, so what?  Those are the things that linger in a child's imagination long after all of the cartoon references have grown stale.  

    Swiss Family Robinson- I've never seen it, but it means more to me than Disney's Tarzan.  I'm a fan of 20K, but I was an even bigger fan of the attraction at the park, because it hinted at an adult experience.

    If your kids are bored with things that aren't just cartoons, you have to work on that little mind and encourage them to think for themselves.  Allow them to get a little confused- that's the beginning of learning.  Allow them to be a little afraid or upset- it's part of the palette of emotions they'll have to endure the rest of their lives.  Sugar coated, brightly colored experiences are just a part of the whole Disney experience.
  • Ron, did you take your pill today or swallow your suppositories by mistake?  That's what these kinds of message boards and sites are about, dipstick.
  • Dear Jim H.,

    My, that was one very harsh  rant you had going there. Do you feel better now? Did you get it that all out of your system?

    Good. I hope so. Because -- to be blunt here, Jim H. -- he was just steamed as hell. He didn't know you designed the rides in question. He didn't know they were your babies and would defend their honor TO THE DEATH. I think you need to sprinkle on more pixie dust. ;-)
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