I'm not a Disneyland junkie, but I have a big soft spot for the movie Finding Nemo. So when billboards appeared announcing the opening of a new Nemo ride at the theme park, we had to go. To get the best out of the experience, it definitely helps to have a toddler in tow, and to have seen the movie 48 times or so. It also helps to know the story behind the ride. Nine years ago, Disneyland California's classic
Submarine Voyage was closed down because it took up too much space, cost too much to run, leaked thousands of gallons of water a day, and was (at 40 years old) considered out of date.
The ride was closed off mysteriously, and the public left to wonder what was happening to it. In reality, managers planned to pave it over. But creative types at the theme park (called Imagineers) were outraged (it was, after all, the brainchild of Walt Disney himself) – and set about trying to thwart the plans. Disney's creative chief even threatened to lie down on the street in front of the theme park to stop the ride's demolition. Imagineers fought hard to keep the subs going, causing organisers a major headache.
Ideas were thrown around for years but it was only when Pixar Studios' Nemo hit gold at the box office that the subs were given a second chance. The ride was cleaned up, patched back together, and given an estimated $70 million makeover. It now features a mixture of live action and computer animation that lets you voyage under the sea, meet a variety of cute (and scary) fish, dodge exploding volcanoes, and find the tiny clown fish.
Three days after it opened, the line for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage was approximately eight times as long as the ride itself (a 12-minute journey into the depths of an artificial lake in the middle of the park). Standing in line that long for anything seems a little crazy, but in this case I have to say, it was worth it. RM