This is the captain speaking.
We are underway and proceeding on a course that will take us
on a voyage through liquid space.
En route, we will pass below the polar ice cap, and then probe
depths seldom seen by man.
Make yourself comfortable, but please remain seated at all times.
And no smoking pleasethe smoking lamp is out.
Youve just climbed down the entrance ladder
and taken a seat in front of your own personal porthole.
A stream of cool air blows from beneath the porthole to keep
you from feeling queasy.
As you pull way from the dock, you look into the crystal
clear water of the Submarine Lagoon where giant clams,
moray eels, groupers, and other inanimate sea life thrives.
The ride begins in the open-air Sub Lagoon.
According to the crew, theres a surface storm ahead.
Its a good thing the submarine can dive below the storm, unlike
the wrecks that you see in the Graveyard of Lost Ships.
Sorry, the submarine doesnt stop for you to retrieve the
Suddenly you find yourself below the polar ice cap at the North Pole.
The captain dives further.
Now the ocean is dark because no sunlight reaches this depth.
Strange, bioluminescent fish provide their own eerie light.
As with the other fish on this voyage, they swim without moving
their bodies, as though they were made of a rigid material.
What unusual fish!
Thats enough of that darkness.
Youve now reached the Lost Continent of Atlantis.
Although destroyed long ago by volcanic activity, theres
still plenty of evidence of the former culture and beauty
The captain safely guides your submarine past underwater
eruptions that continue to rock the ruins.
Those eruptions look strangely like air bubbles illuminated
by red lights.
Look at the tail of that sea creature.
What could it be?
As the sub reaches the head end of creature, it turns out to be a
cross-eyed sea serpent.
Upon seeing this, the captain decides its time to return to surface.
Loading and unloading is a bit slow.
Climb back up the ladder.
If you suffer from claustrophobia, youll breath a sigh of relief
as you exit from the confined space of your submarine.
Okay, so the effects werent really that convincing, but you
have to admit that theres no other ride like this one.
And if youre like most people, this is as close as youll
ever get to a trip on a real submarine.
On August 3, 1958, the USS Nautilusthe worlds first nuclear
powered submarinemade history under the command of William R. Anderson, USN.
With 116 men on board, the Nautilus traveled below the polar ice cap of the
silently and secretly, to become the first ship to cross the geographic North Pole.
In Disneyland, less than a year later, another Nautilus, this time powered by diesel, made a
different kind of history.
Beginning June 1959, the Nautilus and seven sister submarinesthe Triton, Sea Wolf,
Skate, Skipjack, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Ethan Allenallowed
38 Disneyland guests at a time to take their own voyage to the North Pole,
and to see sights that Commander Anderson and his men never saw.
For almost four decades, the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland continued
to attract long lines of guests.
Bright yellow paint made the submarines look scientific rather than military.
The ride didnt change much over the years.
The biggest change came in the mid-1980s, when the eight Cold War gray submarines
were repainted a cheerful oceanographer yellow.
And six of them were given new namesNeptune, Sea Star, Explorer, Seeker, Argonaut,
and Tritonwhile two kept familiar names, Nautilus and Sea Wolf.
Finally, in September 1998, the Submarine Voyage carried its last
The lagoon awaited a new attraction.
In the announcement that the attraction would be closing, Disneyland Publicity
suggested that there would be a new attraction in 2003.
The rumor was that Walt Disney Imagineering was working on a much-improved
undersea experience, Atlantis Expedition.
No such attraction opened.
It probably didnt help that Disneys 2001 animated feature,
Atlantis: The Lost Empire, failed at the box office.
It doesnt take five years to install a new attraction.
So why did the Submarine Voyage close in 1998?
Disneyland executives at that time considered the attraction too costly to operate in relation to its capacity.
In Florida, the submarines looked different, but the ride was similar.
At Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Florida, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opened in 1971. Nautilus-themed submarine provided an undersaea experience similar to Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage.
The Florida version closed in 1994.
After sitting unused for ten years, the lagoon was demolished and filled in.
Part of the site was used for Poohs Playful Spot, a play area for children, from 2005 to 2010.
The site of the lagoon and show building where is now part of the Fantasyland Forest, which opened in late 2012.
In 2006, a colorful construction wall around the Sub Lagoon announced the return.
Did the Submarine Lagoon at Disneyland have a similar fate?
The good news is that Disneylands submarines eventually returned.
In 2007, Disneylands Submarine Voyage reopened as the Finding
Nemo Submarine Voyage.
Unlike the old Submarine Voyage, there are no longer rigid, fake fish on strings.
Now guests gaze through the portholes of the refurbished Submarines
at entertaining scenes inspired by the successful 2003 Disney-Pixar release, Finding Nemo,
with the characters brought to life underwater.
The guests are actually looking at projections within innovative effect boxes.
In June 2007, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage opened at Disneyland.
© 2007-2012 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks
Updated November 22, 2012.
Photo of Submarine Lagoon: 1969 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Submarine (grey): 1974 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Submarine unloading: 1997 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Submarine (yellow) going through waterfall): 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Walt Disney World: 1983 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of the Finding Nemo construction wall: 2006 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of the Finding Nemo submarine “Explorer”: 2007 by Werner Weiss.