When I was a kid, we would visit Disneyland almost every year. It was a treat, and we would make it an all day affair. By the end of the day we were always pretty tired, and it became tradition to end our day with a nice relaxing ride on the Submarine Voyage. I was really disappointed when the ride closed in 1998.
The original Submarine Voyage opened in 1959 and was based on the Disney movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The ride was popular, but in later years it had some issues (I think many of us can remember the cramped stuffiness and well, interesting smells inside the ride). It was not terribly surprising when it closed, as its popularity had diminished and there were clearly issues with some things on the ride. For years after, there were rumors of it re-opening with a new theme, the strongest of these rumors was a ride based on the Disney movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The movie proved not to be terribly successful, and we would have to wait until 2007 for the submarines to re-open as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride is a character/movie driven ride, in which guests enter a mission to explore a newly erupted undersea volcano. Finding Nemo characters make their appearance throughout the ride. Diva Tip: “Nemo” actually stands for Nautical Exploration and Marine Observation Institute, though it certainly can be explained by its tie in to the character in Finding Nemo as well. The ride still consists of eight submarines, which believe it or not, makes it the eighth largest submarine fleet in the world!
Make no mistake, however, this ride is updated with latest technology and Imagineer creations. The subs are powered by Inductive Power Transfer, which consist of magnetically coupled coils that draw power from an electrical grid. Outside the ride, guests are greeted with the latest in animatronics with three seagulls saying “mine, mine, mine” (a great movie tie in). There is also the fact that Imagineers created more than 40 unique colors for the lagoon area!
The ride begins in a themed queue which surrounds the impressive lagoon. The queue really prepares the guest for what they are about to experience, as the submarines circle the lagoon. The submarines themselves hold about twenty guests, with guests sitting back to back in rows and looking out small windows. Diva Tip: Those who have trouble walking down steep, winding stairs, enclosed spaces, darkness and/or leaning forward for 12-15 minutes may wish to experience the ride in the Marine Observation Outpost room located next to the loading dock.
Guests must lean forward in their seats to properly view the ride through the portholes. Smaller children may need to sit on the lap of an adult in order to see. The ride takes the guests “under the sea” where they see many of the characters from the Finding Nemo movie. “Sonar Hydrophones” make it possible to hear fish talking, and the ride provides an interesting mix of video projections and audio animatronics. The storyline is pretty creative, with one dark scene (literally) that may frighten the youngest guest. Diva Tip: Listen for a nice homage to the former submarine ride when the captain mentions a sea serpent and a mermaid. The Submarine Voyage ride contained a large plastic sea serpent under the water and four mermaids.
One of the most interesting things about the re-imagined submarine ride is that guests may have different viewing experiences depending on where they are sitting. All guests see the same things, but due to the video projections they may see them in different places.
The scream factor is 1, simply for the dark scene, and a couple of frightening fish that seem to jump out at the guest viewing through the portholes.
Wheelchair and Electric vehicle riders must be able to transfer to ride on the submarines, though they may experience the ride in the Marine Outpost Observation room.
Just one more Diva Tip: D’land Diva does not like too tight of quarters, but this ride is quite tolerable because there is air pumped in near the portholes. With the air on my face, I feel much better and you may, too, if you are anything like me.