December 3, 2009

Voyages Under The Sea

What is there to say about the demise of Florida's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction that hasn't already been said? Maybe this photo I took in 1982 will give you some idea of why many of us have fond memories of it. I left the photo very large, so click on it and get a sense of the massive amount of space this Fantasyland classic occupied.

At opening, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom had few space limitations. More importantly, the Imagineers were still operating under Walt's mandate of high quality as the way to win a fan for life. Compared to today, advertising was few and far between with any extra capital going to a creating a great guest experience versus creating great advertising.

When Jules Verne wrote the novel almost 100 years prior to the opening of this "E" Ticket ride, the Nautilus submarine was nothing more than a very detailed figment of his imagination. As built to the style of the book, the vessel itself is a work of art. Cruising along the lagoon to an undersea voyage would be very popular, and the fact that Disney built twelve of these gorgeous machines testifies not only to the enduring power of Verne's tale but also to the old standards of quality held to by the Walt Disney Company of long ago. For 23 years until its closing, Captain Nemo welcomed enthusiastic guests to his underwater home. The voyage satisfied many boyhood dreams and launched a thousand more.

Almost 20 years after closing its attraction doors, the Vulcania lagoon will be transformed into another undersea adverture. This time, a perky little mermaid named Ariel will make us part of her world. The attraction will appeal mostly to girls and their parents, as the area will be part of the large Fantasyland expansion of character meet and greet areas. However, I bet quite a few young men will join the adventure as well. After all, who can really resist an opportunity to travel under the sea?
(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

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