Inside Disney’s new ‘Finding Nemo’ ride

From the LA Times
May 23, 2007

It sports new colors, a new sound system, a new story and new underwater "ecology," but when the classic Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland reopens June 11 as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, designers promise some familiar details for nostalgic fans. The attraction, closed for nine years, uses the same eight submarines as the original 1959 voyage. And those subs follow, with slight adjustments, the original track.

But instead of a loud diesel engine providing some of the acoustic accompaniment, the sub sounds on the new ride will be piped in through the audio system, since the new electric engines on the completely refurbished subs are almost silent.

Instead of peering through a porthole to see plastic-looking fish — and the strings that suspended them — visitors will be immersed in a world that is part animation and part animatronic.

The 11½ -minute ride and Disney-Pixar animated tale about the lost-again Nemo lets submarine riders follow the fish's friends as they search for him in a shipwreck, an erupting volcano and inside a whale. (Don't worry, they find him in the end.)

To make the new attraction, Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative team for Disney parks and resorts:

• Wrote their own three-dimensional design software that allowed them to construct a virtual set and integrate it with the animation and audio.

• Used 30 tons of crushed recycled glass instead of paint to keep the scenery vibrant under water and environmentally friendly. Designers created 45 custom colors – including Phantom, Mango Mud and Yamber, a cross between yam and amber – that were applied to the coral and other undersea features with special glue.

• Created 126 animatronic sea creatures, 180 static figures, 10,000 artificial plants and 23,000 pieces of artificial coral.

• Reduced the amount of water in the lagoon by nearly 3 million gallons, refilling it with 6.3 million gallons instead of the old version's 9 million.

Designers aren't telling how much they spent to make the new attraction. But they said they developed the new ride to "respect the classic." To that end, it contains what they described as "nods" to history, including the familiar "Tomorrowland" logo adorning the ride's sign.

Although the sub's captain still narrates the voyage to his 40 passengers and will use some familiar phrases, this time, he and his first mate will speak with an Australian accent in keeping with Nemo's locale.

Leave a Reply