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'Finding Nemo' attraction surfaces at Disneyland


Last updated 10/4/2007 at Noon

If you have a spell of déjà vu when you travel on the new Disneyland attraction “Finding Nemo,” you aren’t imagining things. The submarines that took travelers through the ruin-laden waters from 1959 to 1998 have resurfaced in the new attraction. After an announcement of plans for the ride in 2005, the submarine lagoon was drained in preparation for the development. The “Finding Nemo” ride saw its first Disneyland guest in June of this year.

The submarines seem more colorful, both inside and out, and although the ride bears a faint resemblance to the old “Submarine Voyage,” it is updated with projected images from the popular Disney/Pixar film “Finding Nemo.” The film, which earned an Oscar for “Best Animated Feature,” premiered in 2003 and chronicled the adventures of Nemo, an orange and white striped clownfish “boy” who “ran” away and had many adventures. (The Nemo character is voiced by Alexander Gould.)

Although the submarine voyagers are told that they are in pursuit of an underwater volcano, they are also engaged in “finding” Nemo. Traveling alongside the Disney vessel in the “East Australian Current” are a fish named Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) and Marlin, Nemo’s father (Albert Brooks).

Each submarine guest has a personal porthole through which to view the watery world Disney has created. At first the vessel slowly glides by a barnacle-encrusted wall. This must be the same wall as in the former attraction; I would know those crustaceans anywhere. Past the wall the view opens to a colorful coral reef with giant clams and waving fronds of multi-hued seaweed.

The vessel then “dives” to a deeper depth. To create the illusion of diving, bubbles surround the submarine and ship’s bells and other nautical noises add to the effect. In reality the submarines do not fully descend.

While traveling in the East Australian Current the vessel comes upon a minefield. After the submarine actually rocks for a bit, presumably due to a mine explosion, the interior is plunged into total darkness for a few seconds.

After passing shipwrecks and an authentic-looking school of jellyfish, visitors encounter the long-searched-for undersea volcano. This also appears to be a projected image, but is well done, with orange molten lava spilling to the sea floor. The other animated images such as the wriggling fish and graceful sea turtles are also perfected to a degree where it feels like you are living the movie.

Nemo is finally found, the submarine surfaces in the lagoon and guests emerge from the tight quarters of the vessel. All of this happens in approximately fifteen minutes, but who is counting – time stands still in Disneyland.


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