Friday, July 29, 2011

Nemo's Submarine Voyage or Missing the Boat

When it comes to taking pictures in Disneyland, few vistas offer better opportunities for memorable shots than Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage. Bright yellow subs, blue water, Matterhorn in the background - yep, I have picture after picture of Nemo's subs making their trek around the lagoon. Everybody who goes to Disneyland has a bunch of Nemo pictures.

But the time comes when you actually "ride the ride" and here is where, for me and Mrs. DisneylandTraveler anyway, the submarine voyage misses the boat. Now granted, when the original sub ride closed down in the early 90's, it had seen its better days. The gray diesel subs had a look of "official Navy" about them but the water features had shown the years wear and neglect. It took years for Disney to figure out what to do with the prime park real estate but the massive success of Pixar's Finding Nemo movie gave Disney just the inspiration of what it needed to do to bring the subs back to life. Nemo is the second highest grossing Pixar film in terms of dollars of all their releases. For the life of me, I don't know why because it is my least favorite. Anyway, back to the ride.

First of all, get ready to wait and wait to get on. No fastpass here and the line is always long, usually 30 to 60 minutes even on slow days at the park. Then there is the sub seating. I think each sub holds about 40 people and the seats are small so you do feel crammed in unless there are a lot of small kids that take up less space. Me and Mrs. DLT hit the jackpot in a driving December rainstorm at the park, a 7 minute wait and a sub that was maybe only 2/3's full. It was the last time we bothered with the ride.

As for the ride itself, well the sub never really goes under the water, just the portholes. It starts off kind of cool in the lagoon but once the ride passes through the waterfall and you are in the actual show building, that porthole you have your face pressed up against seems more like a tv screen or computer monitor - kind of like watching the infamous aquarium screensaver. It follows the basic Nemo story of being lost and finding his way back with all the familiar characters, but it lacks charm. At one point in the ride when the underwater volcano explodes, the ride goes black for a few seconds which has been known to frighten the bejeezes out of some small children. Eventually Nemo and you find your way back home. Not a bad ride mind you but not a great one either in a setting that should have been great.

The original subs were definitely part of Tomorrowland. Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage has nothing "tomorrow" about it. It's kind of cartoony and probably fits better now in the neighboring Fantasyland. Like other Disneyland and DCA attractions, I'll go on Nemo again someday but I won't go out of my way to do it and certainly won't wait an hour. My best chance of getting back in one of those subs is if someone asks, the line is fairly short, and I'm in a pretty good mood.

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