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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?

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

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."

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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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  • My only question is how "educational" will The Living Nemo & Friends be? I mean, we're talking about a film with a target audience of, what, kids in grade school? Will The Living Seas become a place where I'm going to step inside and hear "Nemo is a fish. He lives in the ocean. He can live there because he has special parts called "gills" that let him breathe underwater. You do not have gills. If you want to go underwater, you need a SCUBA suit."? I mean, I know I'm not going to hear "The clown fish, one of twenty-seven species of the Amphiprioninae sub-family, live in a mutual relationship with sea anemones, or in some case settle in some varieties of soft corals, or large polyp stony corals. Once an anemone or coral has been adopted, the clownfish will defend it vigorously."*, but where will the education level be?
    *courtsey Wikipedia
  • Wow, Jim, I think somebody put on his grumpy pants this morning.
    I am excited to hear, however, that the new Living Seas Nemo attraction will be open in time for our annual trip this November. We haven't been to Living Seas in years for the same reason other here have already mentioned -- it was boring as heck. I never understood why they removed the ride portion. At least that was something. Looking forward to the updates. Glad to hear that Disney is finally spending some of their billions on the parks, rather than always expecting someone else to foot the bill. Now if they'll just steer some of that cash towards MGM, World Showcase, and Animal Kingdom.
  • What happened to the nice, jolly Jim Hill who would have answered this reader's question with a positive enthusiasm and reassuring response?  He might have said "Don't worry, my dear reader" instead of "you don't know what the hell you're talking about."  This "Why For?" seems to be completly lacking a friendly, professional tone of voice.
  • My wife and I are sceince geeks as well as Disney geeks. Living Seas has always been one of our favorites -- we love watching the real fishies. And so did our 5 year old (well, only 4 when he was last there. So, while I enjoy a god show, too, I'm also worried that too much show will both dumb down the attraction and perhaps emphasize the cartoon characters over the True Life Adventures.

    And oh, yeah: we love Animal Kingdom, too. And Animal Kingdom lodge just might be our favorite hotel.
  • And let's not be too hard on Jim, here, folks--It's like an ugly child, nobody wants to be the one to *say* it, but fact is...it WAS a Stupid Question.
    Let's look at it in detail:
    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?
    Okay, so Will had seen only concept art, didn't know WHAT the attractions were, or even if they were different attractions (which they were), but--with a leap of intuitive logic--immediately assumed that
    - A) They were identical attractions with no creative or technical distinctions between the two, because
    - B) Disney is cheap and only clones itself to save costs, because
    - C) Disney is Evil (insert Pressler era Toad/Pooh/etc. whine here)

    ...My, what psychic powers our dear poster has!
    It wasn't so much that he genuinely *believed* Disney had "cut corners", unquote, but that he HOPED they had.  So he could complain about it.  He didn't know whether or not they actually had, of course, but it never hurts to dream.

    And again we say:  People....Paul Pressler is GONE.  He's been gone for several years now.  The Boogeyman of Cheap Movie-Obsessed Tie-Ins will haunt your bedroom closet no longer, as it now being occupied by Mike & Sully.
    It wasn't so much that Jim was picking on a Poor Little Net-Anonymous Lamb, as an old-generation whiner who wanted to whine, so that it could be just like his old generation again.  Well, Will...it ain't.  And yes, to answer your question, they're different.
    (And if some of us use flyswatters to swat and some of use hammers, that is our own toolbox.)
  • ..and here comes the other half of the Mega Powers 2.0.. DEREK! Jim took a few proverbial steel chairs but his tag-team partner will rip his yellow tank top, Hulk out and deliver that crushing (no pun intended) leg drop.

    I love all you guys. :)
  • Well, keep in mind, part of Will's paranoia was not only over the replacing of DL's 20K, but probably that he'd automatically knee-jerk assumed it was the same situation as "Crush's Turtle Talk" being exported over to DCA's Pixar attraction, without...any particular place or reason to put it in, over there.
    What with Crush's turtle fact dude-dishing being so well suited to the Epcot "info-tainment" it had been developed for, and only exported to the West Coast out of educational context simply because the darn thing was so popular overnight.

    If that was the conclusion Will wanted to leap into with both feet, and taking absolutely no other assumption into account, it's certainly understandable--
    But on the whole...wouldn't it have made more sense to ASK what the two attractions were, before pronouncing The Death of Disney Imagineering based on our own fertile imagination?
  • PingBack from http://bullfrog117.wordpress.com/2006/06/02/jim-hill-gets-hostile-kind-of-minimalizing-ms-windows-as-art-and-dilbert-calls-for-sanity/
  • i feel that jim, you may have gone a little overboard in making this reader feel like a fool. he's just a fan like you. i find it depressing to remember that everyone is trying to out-fan everyone else.
  • "Because -- to be blunt here, Will L. -- you don't know what the hell you're talking about."

    Thank you Jim! Who the hell judges an attraction based on the concept art? That is just downright dumb. Since when does concept art display what really happens? And Will's intelligence decreased even more when he said that Disneyland's would have twice as many fish. For goodness sake, do you not know what The Living Seas is about? It is one of the largest aquariums in the world!!! There will be hundreds, maybe thousands of more fish in Epcot than in Disneyland.

    To quote John Stossel..... Give me a break!
  • Jeez, Jim, from the tone of your response you'd have thought Will was personally attacking YOU.  I mean, it wasn't like he was griping about something YOU've done or haven't done [ie, haven't finished several promised article series, Disneyland CD, etc.]  Heck, I was thinking about shooting you an email with a question myself but I'm not that into abuse.
  • Hmmm... yeah, perhaps a little too hard on the misinformed guy, but do I also detect a little bit of negativism in the "annoying factoids" and "work even harder to keep the world's oceans pollution-free" statements?  Sounds like oyu aren't looking forward to that type of content.  Isn't education part of what Epcot is supposed to be about (even if Future World is changed to Discoveryland?)
  • i can't wait for the reopening of the living seas. Keep the nice work. I love Finding nemo.
  • How "timeless" will NEMO be - as a franchise?  How many nostalgic passholders and Disneyland guests returning to ride their beloved submarines will go on it again after it has become a cartoon featuring NEMO?  And, not even Captain Nemo at that!  

    Tomorrowland, as with Futureworld, was based on the idea of "Edutainment" - offering educational experiences with entertainment and adventure as the spoon that holds them.  Even Space Mountain is becoming little more than a glorified rock and roll light show with the advent of the new show they are testing during Grad nights in California now and implementing for the public next year!  That clip of "TODAYLAND" in the "MEET THE ROBINSONS" trailer is far more believeable than we might wish it to be.  

    The attractions and adventures have got to be timeless in their foundation for lasting placement in Disney Parks.  Look at the classic of JUNGLE CRUISE...still one of the biggest draws for repeat guests at the Disney Parks it is installed in.  HAUNTE D MANSION - even though a film was made after the fact - is still timeless...even PIRATES - with the new film elements added, is still timeless.  

    FINDING NEMO may, or may not, pass the timeless test.  Same with CARS, BUZZ LIGHTYEAR...whatever....

    And, these PIXAR based attractions are based solely upon synergetic ties with films and entertainment.  Nothing to do with the timeless story of education blended into adventure and entertainment.  

    Just a personal take on this thing.

  • I think the images that Pixar & Disney plans to do for both attractions should be very interesting. For an example, go on the Monsters Incorporated attraction at Califoirnia Adventure. In one scene the bad guy (name forgotton) appears to materialize out of thin air. I beleive the affect (I may be wrong) is based on Peppers Ghost, though the image isn't transparent. Another example could be the new projection in the POTC attraction. Just my opinion.
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