Last week's article on the uncertain
fate of the Submarine rides at Disneyland and Disney World sparked
fond memories and some hostility among readers.
|Former cast member Michael A.
I truly do miss those nostalgic vessels of the Disneyland
and Walt Disney World lagoons. A little history about myself.
Having grown up in Florida, my first "job" was at
the Walt Disney World Resort, circa 1978. I was a junior in
high school and landed a position as an attractions "host"
at Fantasyland's '20K' attraction, a.k.a 20,000 Leagues Under
The Sea. When you're 17 and working at WDW, it's really not
a job, it's mostly fun.
One great highlight of my "tour of duty" on the
Nautilus was the opportunity to welcome aboard the then famous
Amy Carter, daughter of President Carter. Amy was allowed a
"sub" all to herself as well as her entourage of guests
and Secret Service agents. It was kind of exciting to me. I
was picked to host the President's daughter on a voyage '20,000
leagues under the sea.' I still remember my lead contacting
me via the radios and relaying the message, 'You're it!'
The submarine attraction was always described by my peers
at the time as being corny, boring, fake. I guess if they had
been in my shoes, their opinions would have drastically changed.
Working on the subs was, at least in my opinion, 100 times more
exciting than sitting at a console at one of the 'dark rides'
or the 'cycle-type' attractions (Dumbo, Carrousel). There were
many positions to work. It was never a dull time during peak
operating days. And I had the opportunity to pilot and control
my own vessel. The interior and exterior lights, the sound system,
the front and rear hatches, the speed of travel. I was
Captain Nemowell, only in spirit.
Ah yes, but then all things do come to an end and so did
my career on the Nautilus. Upon graduating from high school,
my parents decided that we were moving to California. (sigh)
The Sub dock today
Upon visiting Disneyland during the '80s and early '90s,
I embarked on a journey through liquid space as often as I could.
I landed a position at Disneyland at the old Character Shopbut
that's another story.
I personally would like to see an innovative and clever
rehab of the submarine attractions at both parks. It's very
sad to walk past those empty lagoons. I truly enjoyed reading
your article and hope to see more if there are any new developments
in "sub" resurrection. Thanks for a great article.
|Ben Johnson wrote:
On your next visit at Disney World, drive past the Contemporary
towards the backlot area to the Magic Kingdom. Just shortly
past Space Mountain on the opposite side of the road is the
scrap yard for the Magic Kingdom. It includes old Jungle Cruise
Boats, Indian War Canoes, and the remaining fleet of the Submarines.
This area is usually vacant of employees but is monitored heavily
by security. They also store busses in this parking lot.
So next time you are in the area of the Magic Kingdom in
Disney World, drive back into the backlot area and just before
the Train & Monorail station you can see the remainder of
the subs on trailers at the back of the lot.
Loved that article on the subs. I haven't heard anything
in years, and it was good to finally see an article on it. But
I was kind of hoping you would focus a little more on 20K version,
since I am close to WDW. I never knew that 20K sub on the backlot
was the one from Magic Kingdom! That is so eerie to me. It's
weird to think that an old Disney attraction vehicle is somewhere
in a coral reef in Castaway Cay. Maybe someone will go out and
raise it like they did the Titanic
Anyway, keep up the good work!
Bryan, I spent a little less time on
WDW since there's less chance the attraction will be resurrected
there. Officially, Disneyland's subs are just on hiatus, but Disney
World's are dead in the water. As for what actually will happen,
we'll have to wait and see. And keep you eyes on the box office
totals for Atlantis.
It's funny you should say that, Dave. I would have thought
the opposite. Magic Kingdom has an entire show building not
in use, and they have a lot of land around the site. I would
have thought it would have more of chance than Disneyland, because
the Sub Voyage there is underneath the Autopia, making it impossible
to "beef up" the ride with special effects and whatnot.
I guess time will tell. I'll just be looking at that empty lagoon
for a few more years, I guess
Glad to hear about the fight to keep Subs. About the film
Atlantis, it has the signs of being a moneymaker. If you go
into the Animation building in the Hollywood section of DCA,
there is concept art relating to the film. The feel of the film
is a combination of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Black
Hole, with a little Edgar Rice Burroughs thrown in. There is
a heavy Japanese influence in the film, no doubt many of the
production crew were influenced by Japanese Anime.
While the hardware looks great, the design of the female
lead leaves a lot to be desired. She is not as pretty as the
princesses of Disney films past.
Readers may wish to note that fellow
MousePlanet columnist Jim Hill just presented some of the Atlantis
concept art from the new park's exhibit in his recent piece
on upcoming Disney animated projects.
|Robert Meyer wrote:
Looking over your comments about the sinkhole that needs
to have water pumped in or Autopia and Innoventions will have
structural problems, I have some questions. First, is this at
Disneyland or WDW?
Also, if the amount of water that needs to be pumped in
needs to be increased each year, this indicates erosion that
would make any repairs harder and more expensive as it increases,
right? And as the volume of water needed increases doesn't this
increase the likelihood of a rather huge disaster?
Now, I know Disney carries insurance for accidents, but
by pumping water into a sinkhole and increasing its size, it
would seem Disney is not just increasing their liability, but
also affecting any insurance coverage they might have in the
event of a collapse (as this could be considered partially self-inflicted).
Hopefully Disney is working with their insurer to minimize
this occurring, but the size of the potential accident and the
number of people who could be affected is frightening! With
Innoventions on a slow spin, what might happen if there is a
sudden shift? I would think if the structures (Autopia and Innoventions)
drop as much as a foot things would be just a bit scary, but
much more than that and some major problems might occur making
the accidents we have seen at Disney in the last few years seem
minimal. Any idea what the projected figures are?
And what happens if rolling blackouts occur shutting off
the water pumps?
Robert, the problem is at Disneyland,
but I have to believe the park wouldn't be neglecting the area
if there were a realistic chance of such a catastrophe.
Since Disneyland contracts its power
from the city of Anaheim, it likely won't face any rolling blackouts.
Plus, the lagoon holds about 8 million gallons of water, so the
pumps would have to be out of commission for a long time to significantly
affect the water level. -
Even More Tiki
In addition to leaky subs, the creaky
Tiki Room continues to be a hot topic
My name is Ken Hay. I'm 35. I am a Disneyland fanatic. I
am grateful for your coverage of the Tiki Room. I remember going
on the attraction many times as a youth. I am disappointed on
the current condition of the attraction.
Believe it or not, the Flavor of Hawaii film that is the
topic these days, used to be a part of the garden experience.
The Lanai Garden was also beautiful, and secluded so you didn't
have to be reminded that a lot of people were strolling around.
Once you entered the garden, you could be assured that you would
get a seat. There was a guest count at the turnstiles and once
capacity was met, the rope went up. The Hawaiian music was much
louder than it plays these days; you were supposed to have entered
a tropical/Hawaiian themed garden.
Before the film started, an attraction host would hold a
mike and turn our attention to the film. As a youth, I remember
a crowded garden, with all of the guests gathering to the screen
to watch the film The Flavor of Hawaii. It featured pineapple
planting, harvesting and the canning process. By the time the
film was over, the line at the juice bar was long. The juice
bar served guests in the garden, as well as those walking outside
of the attraction. I always thought this to be a disadvantage
as you could not take your refreshing pineapple bars in with
As the show was about 17 minutes long, restrooms were provided
for people who needed to make room for the refreshments. Amazingly,
there are no restrooms for the Magic Eye Theater with a wait
about as long as the Tiki Room, nor is there a refreshment bar.
When I was 16, I signed a contract, flew to Lanai, and engaged
in pineapple picking myself. I worked for five months. I lived
in Lanai City. I had no idea the garden at Disneyland's Tiki
Room was named "Lanai Garden" until Disneyland Forever
called it that. It makes it more special. Having lived in Lanai,
I consider the Lanai Garden to be like an old friend. I have
a bootleg tape recording of The Flavor Of Hawaii. I know the
hard work of harvesting pineapples and nothing beats eating
them off the plants in the field.
Other things noticed: A few years back during a rehab, several
of the gods were placed inside the bazaar store as decor. I
examined them closer, realized how fragile they were, and thought
they should be replaced. During my last visit, I was a bit saddened
by the attraction's overall condition. The front of the garden
area is exposed to the public, hardly magical. The Hawaiian
music is an afterthought; I could barely hear it. One of the
gods was missing. He used to 'spit' water into a bamboo shoot
and when it filled up, it would dump into a small water pool.
I noticed his voice was missing from the Lanai Garden lineup
and this meant a long break between gods.
One visit, the water god was spraying, and we were seated
into the Tiki Room and, with barely time to sit down, the show
began. It did not coincide with the outside show.
Finally, I saw the Tiki Room Under New Management at Walt
Disney World. I picked a lousy seat. I could not see Iago at
all during his two appearances and our section was constantly
blinded by the new lighting, prompting five of us to get up
and move to avoid a direct hit by a blue light for most of the
show. The show was short. I disliked the new Tiki Totems song.
I liked it when they took away the show from the birds. The
Hawaiian drums sound like thunder. No rolling drum track here.
Walt's birds look real. The cartoon birds don't belong.
I heard guest complaints. They did not like it. I am not against
having a new show at the Tiki Room, but some elements should
remain. There should be a chant near the end, the songs can
be different, there could be a rain sequence during a song,
new gods could be on all four upper shelf corners with eyes
that light and glowing red volcano mouths to threaten us during
a hostile takeover. There is room behind the windows to provide
an effect with volcanoes spewing lava during a chant.
Eisner's Empire could care less. This Empire does not recognize
its roots and in fact, despises that which made them so. It
segregates the generations, so that Walt Disney would have to
stand and watch his kids play in Goofy's Bounce House. Perhaps
he should build a theme park where the parents and the kids
could jump together? Destroy the birds? Amen to Disneyland.
Rename it Eisner's Empire.
|Kim McClellan wrote:
Your article on the bad state of the Enchanted Tiki Room
truly saddened me as it is my favorite ride at Disneyland. I
fear it may be closed down for good very soon.
I would like to complain to Paul Pressler and Michael Eisner.
Do you know of a mailing address or email address where I could
write to them? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Along with fellow MousePlanet readers
and contributors, I first voiced my concern to Dole.
Reader Kelly Pierce fills us in:
The following letter was recently sent to me when I wrote
Dole expressing my concern at the current condition of the Enchanted
Tiki Room. As you can tell, it is the exact same generic
letter that was sent to Brian (Bennett). Did they even read
it? Probably not! But then again I didn't really expect anything
Dear Ms. Pierce:
Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your comments
about the Dole-sponsored "Enchanted Tiki Room."
They were shared with senior management at Dole and Disneyland,
so the situation can be reviewed and corrected. We apologize
for the disappointment and are glad you took the time to share
your thoughts and observations.
We appreciate having the opportunity to respond to your
concern and hope we may continue to serve you as a consumer
of our products.
Consumer Response Staff
Dole Food Company, Inc.
Yes, all of us received the same stock
reply from Dole, followed several days later by identical responses
Subject: Disneyland Comments
From: Disney Online Guest Services (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dear Mr. Koenig:
Thank you for your letter to Dole regarding the Enchanted
Tiki Room. Your comments were forwarded to our office so that
we may address your concerns.
We are concerned with your letter and we wish to assure
you that our high standards of Park upkeep have not diminished.
We have an extensive facilities team comprised of electricians,
painters, carpenters, engineers, and plumbers, to name just
a few of the many facets of our operation. Our Facilities team
works around the clock to maintain the Park in a pristine condition
and have received numerous compliments for the quality of their
work. All major attractions in the Park are refurbished on a
yearly basis for safety, as well as to maintain a quality "show."
Even with extensive maintenance, mechanical problems or
general wear from frequent use may occur. We take a great deal
of pride in the attention to detail we give to each area of
the Park and apologize that our dedication was not evident during
your visit. We always try to repair our facilities as quickly
and effectively as possible and sincerely apologize for the
situations you encountered. We have shared your comments with
the appropriate management so that they will be aware of your
Once again, thank you for writing. We continually monitor
our operation and our Guests' enjoyment of the Park. Our Guests'
input is very valuable to us, and we appreciate the time you
took to share your concerns.
Questioning how much thought and sincerity
was devoted to each of our letters, I volleyed:
Thank you for your response to my
letter to Dole regarding the Tiki Room. Unfortunately (and I
apologize if I am mistaken), it reads like a canned response,
the type I assumed I'd receive if I voiced my concerns directly
to Disney instead of Dole.
As a frequent visitor to Disneyland,
it is troubling to see things maintained as poorly as the Tiki
Room is. I think there comes a point when the attraction becomes
an eyesore even for casual tourists and should either be completely
overhauled or just torn down.
Walk over there sometime and check
it out for yourself.
Not to be outdone, Mr. Whitman shot
Dear Mr. Koenig:
I appreciate your continued correspondence regarding the
Enchanted Tiki Room. I wish to assure you that our office has
shared all of your concerns with the appropriate mangers.
At long last, I sensed a victory. Unless
Mr. Whitman had, in fact, shared my concerns with a small trough,
his typo suggested that someone had finally responded with a personal
message. Grateful, I backed away from the keyboard. The people
have been heard!
David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.
After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999); all titles published by Bonaventure Press.
He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.
You can contact David here.
Click here to go to David's main page for a list of archived articles.
Visit MouseShoppe to purchase copies of David's books. (Clicking on the link opens a new window.)