ONE | TWO
MousePlanet is blessed
with some wonderful readers, many
of whom write in, offer suggestions, give tour reports, and generally
help out so we can assemble our content for you every weekday. Sometimes
we get something really special from those nice folks - and we want to
share it with you. A few weeks ago a kind reader, Ted, sent me the
Al, In surfing the
web I have found several good photo essays of Tokyo DisneySea
including the one you have run on MousePlanet.
However, I have seen very little information on, or reviews of the
actual attractions. There has been a little information here and
there, but nothing that really examines each ride or show in depth. If
other fans are anything like me, there is some pent up demand for this
type of thing.
As part of a longer
trip through Japan my wife and I will be spending 5 days at the Tokyo
Disney Resort , staying at the Hotel Mira Costa. Would you and your
readers be interested in ride reviews and a peek inside the
attractions of Tokyo DisneySea?
Were we interested? Of
course we were, and thanks to Ted,
we now have a new series of photos and reviews to share with you from
this terrific new park - showcasing the attractions themselves. As this
series will run as Ted's time permits, keep checking back for his latest
installments. I'm sure you'll agree with me that's he's done an
absolutely spectacular job, and the staff here at MousePlanet thanks him
for allowing us to present his tour to you here.
And before I forget, YES THERE
ARE SCADS OF SPOILERS HERE. In fact just close this browser window
right now if you don't want to know anything about this ride. I assure
you Ted gives it all away here, so don't say we didn't warn you!
Part Two: 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea
Photos and text
(Please note that he retains the copyright to all photos and
they may not be used without his permission.)
wrote the epic novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea over 130 years ago.
It tells the tale of an American naval investigation surrounding a rash
of suspect ship sinkings attributed to a mysterious sea monster. As it
turns out the havoc is being caused by Captain Nemo and his fantastic
submarine, the Nautilus. Nemo is a enigmatic and somewhat mad genius who
has withdrawn himself from the civilized world in order to pursue a life
of his own making.
Walt Disney was fascinated by
Verne's writings. In 1954 a live action movie version of 20,000 Leagues
Under the Sea was released by Walt Disney Studios. Now considered a
classic, the film introduced Captain Nemo and the Nautilus to the
movie-going public. As designed by Disney production designer (and later
an Imagineer and Disney legend) Harper Goff, the Nautilus submarine has
become an enduring design icon. Ever since this tale has found a home in
Disney theme parks around the world.
A photo of the author's own
attraction poster - Artwork © Disney
When Disneyland opened in
1955 Walt had the original movie props from the film placed on display
in a Tomorrowland attraction. Visitors could walk past scale models of
the Nautilus and through intricate recreations of the submarines
interiors. Along the way they could also check out the giant rubber
squid which attacked the Nautilus in the film's climactic scenes.
A few years later in the
Spring of 1959 Disneyland debuted a slate of new attractions for the
park. The Matterhorn and monorail saw their introductions as did the
Submarine Voyage. This attraction took visitors aboard miniature
replicas of then cutting-edge nuclear submarines on a voyage through
liquid space. The attraction was clearly inspired by 20,000 Leagues
Under the Sea. Aboard the gray submersibles passengers traveled past
sunken ships and deadly sharks, explored the lost city of Atlantis and
even had a close encounter with a sea serpent. The connection with the
film are obvious. In fact one of the attraction's submarines was even
named the Nautilus! (The photo below shows the lagoon a few years ago,
before the subs were removed.)
Disney World resort opened its gates in 1971 it was home to a brand new
version of the Submarine Voyage, this time fully themed to 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea. Set in a volcanic lagoon and on a larger scale
than it's Disneyland Cousin the new 20K attraction (as it was known to
Disney employees) was a sight to behold. Large scale replicas of the
Nautilus churned through the waters in groups of three. Just like in the
film the the crew battles a giant squid before narrowly escaping doom.
As was the case with the
original Submarine Voyage attraction the boats never actually submerged
bellow the water. Rather passengers sat below the water line and viewed
the depths through portholes on either side of the vessels. The effect
was surprisingly good, however the surface was clearly visible and by
today's standards the ride was slowly paced.
Still not finished the
Imagineers added a nearly full scale Nautilus to Discoveryland at
Disneyland Paris in 1994. "Le Mysteres du Nautilus" allows
folks to take a walking tour of the boat's interiors. They may view its
lush Victorian decor and even have an encounter with that pesky giant
squid. (In case you missed it, Ian Parkinson offers a detailed
photo tour of this unique attraction here on MousePlanet, a sample
photo of which is shown below.)
Les Mysteres du Nautilus - photo
by Ian Parkinson
As you can see
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea has a long and storied history
with the Walt Disney company. So it should come as no surprise
that when designing Tokyo DisneySea, a park dedicated to the myths and
stories of the seas, that the Imagineers would once again work in an
attraction of some sort based on this classic tale.
Not happy with a simple walk
through attraction (engaging as it may be) or the slow moving and
somewhat dated technology of the now closed Disneyland or Walt Disney
World versions, the Imagineers set out to reinvent the attraction
altogether. The result of their efforts may now be enjoyed in the
Mysterious Island area of Tokyo DisneySea. It is an all new ride, yet
still pays homage to those which came before it.
experiencing it for myself I had heard wildly different reports
on how successful, or unsuccessful the ride was. On one hand an internet
report claimed it to be the best attraction in the park and one of the
grandest attractions ever created. It gushed about how realistic it all
was and how the fear and excitement experienced during the ride were
100% real. On the other hand an acquaintance of mine who was lucky
enough to visit the park a few months back thought that it was a
worthless attraction, a complete failure and physically painful to ride
Well, after numerous trips on
the attraction myself, I can tell you that the truth (for me at least)
falls somewhere between these two extremes.
Set within the
caldera of Mt. Prometheus, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (20K)
sits opposite of Journey to the the Center of the Earth (see my previous
photo tour here) across the lagoon. Here in a stunning volcanic
setting, steam billows into the sky as lava cools and huge gas bubbles
break the surface exploding high in the air. The Nautilus is moored at a
dock (sadly, this time there is no walk through attraction) and a
smaller submersible, the Neptune, is hoisted high into the air.
This mini sub is in fact the
ride vehicle for the newest version of 20K. This time around visitors to
the deep will not travel aboard the Nautilus herself, but rather in a
fleet of these research vessels that Captain Nemo has designed. A large
spiral corkscrewing ramp marks the beginning of the ride's queue.
Visitors enter the line on the main, elevated, level of Mysterious
Island and then wind their way down to the waters edge before
disappearing into a rocky opening.
The queue is
simplistic when compared to that of its sister attraction,
Journey to the Center of the Earth, but grand in its own right. Largely
held outdoors, the queue uses Mysterious Island itself as a spectacular
backdrop. The spiral ramp affords unparalleled views across the lagoon
and onto the Nautilus anchored at her dock.
CONTENTS | CONTINUE