Saturday, June 30, 2012

Is It The Beginning Of The End For Nemo's Subs?

I remember the original Tomorrowland Submarine Voyage or whatever they called it. As a kid, it was one of the coolest things ever. The TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was one of my favorite shows on television growing up. My brother and I watched it religiously on Sunday nights. A trip to Disneyland and a chance to go on a real sub? Wow! How great is that. We'll ignore the facts that the subs, while looking like the real deal on a miniature scale decked out in official Navy gray, never actually went underwater, ran on a track, and well, there just wasn't a lot very interesting to look at down there through those port holes. The ride was still cool. A kid can pretend.

The old subs grew tiresome and the underwater scenes grew faded and in disrepair. Even the kid in me knew the subs were going down as the ride and me both grew older. By the end of their existence, the slow loading ride was pretty much a walk on and its only real interest was generated from the nostalgia aspect of the subs. Time killed the old submarine ride.

Finding Nemo still is Pixar's second highest grossing movie. I wasn't a particular fan of the movie but many were and Disney saw this as an opportunity to resurrect the old subs into a fancy new attraction based on the Finding Nemo movie. Kind of a win / win for Disney since the basic infrastructure of the ride still existed - subs, track, lagoon, and show building. Never mind that the ride was physically still in Tomorrowland and Finding Nemo has absolutely nothing to do with the world of Tomorrow. An opportunity to cash in is an opportunity to cash in for Disney. Up came Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage back in 2007 and cool got replaced by cartoon. Gray Navy subs were now painted bright yellow, and digital animation projections told the Nemo story. People came, lines formed, Nemo was a hit and continues to be a very popular attraction with typical wait times into the 30 - 60 minute range. No way I'm waiting that long for it but people do (I much prefer the 7 minute wait I had in a driving rain storm a few years back).

So MiceAge's great Disneyland prophet, fortune teller, and rumor monger Al Lutz reports this week that with the success with the DCA expansion, Disney people are now turning their attention back to Disneyland itself and specifically Tomorrowland with its now patch work quilt of rides and attractions, popular for sure, but far from being anything remotely resembling a cohesively themed area. Everyone knows that Innoventions has got to go. A cavernous building that is sparsely attended tends to be a waste in a park that is real estate challenged. Forum posters have always had a bulls-eye on the adjoining Autopia ride as well since most forum posters know how to drive and have little interest in the ride ignoring the huge line of kids (and their parents) who can't wait to get behind the wheel of their first car. Knock out Innoventions and Autopia and all of a sudden, Disney imagineers now have a huge chunk of land to play with. But why stop there? 

According to Al, and he is right about a lot things, why not throw in the Nemo subs as a potential target of renovation, after all a large portion of Autopia runs over the top of the Nemo show building. It came as news to me that Nemo's Submarine Voyage is Disneyland's costliest ride to operate according to Al and expensive slow loading rides that occupy large chunks of land would seem to be a prime target to me as well. So with Innoventions, Autopia, and Nemo all the target of bulldozing, Disney park developers can get almost 20% of the real estate back into their creative hands and a real chance to set Tomorrowland straight once and for all.

This isn't going to happen anytime soon. Disney needs to see if the remarkable attendance for Disney California Adventure that has been occuring the past two weeks is sustainable before they get into any new billion dollar projects but all pointers seem to lead that something big is going to happen.

I'm good with the removal of Innoventions. It doesn't have a lot of supporters though ASIMO is a first rate minor attraction. I'm good with the submarine removal. I just don't care for the ride and real submarines haven't looked like the miniature Disneyland replicas in decades. And I'm good with removing Autopia because I know how to drive though an updated Autopia attraction in Cars Land would be a sensational idea. 

This is an rumor that has legs as they say and it may take several years to get it done but it seems like it would be time and money well spend, at least to me.

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