The Atlantis Expedition in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. The art is real and not a figment of your imagination. Click on it to see it in the highest resolution. Goodbye Autopia. Hello stunning E Ticket.
The attraction was long rumored and even announced - sort of. See the image below for the proof: A single photograph of the sign temporarily hoisted during the closing of the beloved Submarine Voyage.
Was it Imagineers at play or a very clever promotional tool to get guests excited and the project approved? Both.
As you can see from the concept art, a West Coast answer to Tokyo Disney Sea's incredible Mysterious Island would have played a key part in the design. Imagineer Tony Baxter tried to rescue the submarine excursion as a real underwater journey was rare among all the castle parks in Disney's kingdom.
Due to it being an expensive project, there had to be a tie in to an Intellectual Property to bring it to fruition. In this case, the film was Atlantis: The Lost Empire, an animated movie that was actually pretty good even though it was largely overlooked by the paying public in 2001. It's too bad really, as it would have made much better sense than to bring in something from Finding Nemo.
Close up shot.
Looking closer, it seems guests would be able to walk across two separate bridges into the heart of the caldera- and into a secret side building just hidden from view from the "mainland". Just now, I was reminded of a potential plan for the new attraction where guests would ride in the subs to a secret destination, disembarking for the rest of an adventure, creating a Phase One and Phase Two of the whole experience. Sounds similar to what I've heard regarding the Battle Escape attraction for Star Wars Land. Two separate ride experiences where the visitors leave one vehicle and queue for a second one to complete the entire experience.
And a cool poster on top of it all!
Newest Information: Seems folks have a passionate response to this concept art and my article:
This just in from "phruby" on the WDWMagic Boards. More information on the project and a copy (above) of the proposed attraction poster.:
"The poster was drawn by Josh Shipley and was suppose to be on the construction walls. Park management didn't like the idea and never put it up.
At the time, park management wanted to close the subs in order to send funding to Innoventions. They had no plans to put a new ride in. They just wanted to mothball the thing to save money. Unknown to park management, WDI came in and setup camp with the Atlantis Expedition sign. Park management saw the sign later that day and forced them to remove it. Later that day a flag with a trident on a blue background showed up. WDI left a few weeks later.
There is also the story about how Marty Sklar threaten to lay across Harbor Blvd if the subs were to be shut down without a replacement. He should have done it."
Even more: And now, I add to this post with this amazing insight, shared again by "phruby":
Tomorrowland is no longer about the future or even a future fantasy look as is found in the way beautiful Jules Verne inspired Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris. It's now about shoving in the latest movie tie-in. Sometimes it works- such as the case of Tron Lightcycles in Shanghai Disneyland and other times, it's a relative disaster as in the case of Nemo. Still, I'd rather have the subs than not, but I do wish we'd had Atlantis instead. Don't you?
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)