Tuesday, January 4, 2011
History of WDW: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The 20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage opened with Walt Disney World on October 14, 1971. As an opening day attraction it was immediately designated as an "E" ticket attraction, meaning it was one of the best that the resort had to offer.
The attraction took guests on an under sea adventure in "submarines" to the depths of the ocean. Guests encountered eels, lobster, and a slew of divers before Captain Nemo (voiced by Peter Reneday) ordered the sub to dive. Once under the waterfall (which happened to be the entrance to the show building) Nemo would navigate through a graveyard of ship wrecks, the polar ice caps, and the lost city of Atlantis before encountering the squid from the films lore.
The "submarines" that were used to guide 12 guests at a time through the attraction were not submarines at all. They were really just boats. They were boats that had a guest viewing level under the water line. These boats never went completely submerged. It would be like being in a ships hull while on a trip. This plus the bubbles that were released in front of the portholes gave the illusion that the sub was diving.
The attraction closed on September 5, 1994 to be "renovated" and "refurbished." That was the last operating day that the attraction would ever have. Without warning the attraction was never re-opened. Now there are many ideas as to what caused the attraction to permanently close, but one thing is for certain, the maintenance company was not upset that the attraction was never returned to operating shape. Legend has it that when Michael Eisner (boooo....!) was looking to save money throughout the parks the WDW crew decided that they could close 20k for good. It was because of the high cost of maintenance that made the attraction difficult to maintain. Between the chlorine to keep the water crystal clear, the constant re-painting of the show building, and the lack of a real wheelchair access it was apparent that this was the perfect time to close it. So that's what was done.
But the story does not end there. Apparently the support the fans had for this attraction prompted Eisner to deploy is newly appointed President Michael Ovitz (are they still paying him as of today?) to check out the ride to see if it was really not worth fixing. Well it seems that the crew at WDW pulled a fast one on this day because before the park opened one day Ovitz rode the attraction. Well the crew choose the worst "sub" they could find and legend has it that they dumped water in the boat to simulate that it was leaking. It was also blowing diesel gas into the air like an 18- wheeler. The attraction took a rough trip through and when it was finished, surprisingly Ovitz called Eisner to tell him that the decision to close the attraction was the right one.
So there it is the life and sad end many peoples favorite attraction. To find something similar to this you will have to travel to Disneyland's Finding Nemo: Submarine Voyage to bring back some memories.
special thanks to 20kride.com for info