Disneyland Childhood Part 1

The first of hopefully a potential series
February 02, 2010
Hi. Dalmatianlover, here. I know, I have written so many articles for this site. In fact, I think I've written more than anybody else. Well, with that aside, I'm going to introduce you to a new series of articles that I'm going to be writing.

I've lived in the same house pretty much my entire life, down here in southern California. My house is just three miles away from Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth. I've been to that park hundreds of times (maybe thousands) during my life. I've seen the park grow and change over these past 25 years.

Inspired by mcogfan's Epcot articles, I'm going to talk about some attractions I remember from Disneyland that no longer exist. In this series, I will select one attraction, talk a little bit about it's history, give a synopsis of the attraction, share my thoughts and memories, state when the attraction closed, and talk about what's in it's place today. For the first article in this series, I will talk about the attraction known as Submarine Voyage.

When Disneyland first opened in 1955, there was an attraction in Tomorrowland known as the Phantom Boats, which was basically an attraction where guests road these futuristic motorboats on a lagoon of water. In the summer of 1959, it was replaced with a new attraction, which is what we're going to talk about now.

Submarine Voyage was based off of Disney's 1954 movie, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". For this attraction, guests board these 39-passenger submarines and go on a journey through liquid space by viewing the underwater life through port holes. This attraction always seemed to have a long and winding line, and of all the extinct Disneyland attractions, this one lived quite a long life.

As you board the submarine, you are looking at pretty much just sand with starfish, scallops and seaweed. Once the submarine is all filled up, the hatches close and the cabin lights go out, then the sub starts moving. Each submarine had two sides, and each side showed pretty much the same show.

As the sub is moving, we hear the captain of the ship order his crew to dive the submarine. Just then, we see bubbles arising from below the window, which is supposed to give guests the impression that we are diving below the surface.

When the bubbles cease, we now see the open ocean and are in a beautiful coral reef. The captain then welcomes the guests and tells them what we are about to journey through on this adventure.

Along with the coral, we see a lot of ocean life that exists in coral reefs such as fish, lobsters, crabs and sea turtles.

We now go deeper into the ocean and see a school of groupers.

Following the groupers are a group of giant clams opening and closing.

We then go past a cave really close and get surprised by some moray eels.

The captain then tells us that the fish world has been known as the silent world, but then he tells us about the new marine technology their submarine has by showing off these sonar hydrophones to "hear the fish talk", and demonstrates it, then we hear the weird sounds that fish actually make.

Just then, we see...what appears to be a shark who has gotten itself in a fight with an octopus. The captain doesn't make a comment on it, but somebody on the crew warns the captain of a hurricane approaching, and the captain orders his crew to dive the sub deeper. This is the part where the submarine goes under the waterfall, which I think is a cool effect as it actually gave guests the feeling that you were really going under the storm.

The captain then says that submarines can safely dive under surface storms while other ships have not been able to do so, and he proves it by showing this graveyard of lost ships. There are also sharks slowly swimming around in this graveyard safely guarding all the sunken treasure. Maybe if you're lucky, you could catch a glimpse of two divers fighting over a treasure chest. Man, those guys have some balls risking their lives doing that!

At this time, we hear the submarine's sonar beeping off. Now, the outside world gets darker, and what the guests see now is nothing but ice. A member of the crew tells the captain that this is the polar ice cap. The captain orders to go even deeper. At this part, we see nothing but ice and hear nothing but the sonar. This is probably the creepiest part of the ride.

Suddenly, the beeping stops, and we now have gone into a shade of deep purple. (The guitar riff from "Smoke on the Water" starts playing.) Shut up! Anyway, the captain says that we are now in a deep dark region beneath the north pole where the sun has never penetrated. Here, we see some deep sea fish floating around chasing lights. I don't know what kind of fish these are, but I think they're probably angler fish (you know, the one with the light that Marlin and Dory found in "Finding Nemo").

Just then, an alarm goes off, and a crew member tells the captain that they've reached maximum depth limit, and the captain orders to start resurfacing, but then, another crew member announces that a giant squid is heading straight towards the submarine! The captain orders the crew member to activate the submarine's electric force field, which he does. Man, how much high-tech stuff can this sub possibly have? This extremely hideous squid really did stick out like a sore thumb in this scenario; I actually remember shielding my eyes it was so hideous!

The captain then tells some of the myths of the giant squid and that they should be classified as fiction. It just so happens that we've run into another ironic scenario. It's now gotten brighter, and we have discovered...mermaids! The captain thinks that he's hallucinating and refuses to believe what he is seeing.

We then pass by some ancient ruins. The captain believes that these ruins are from the lost continent of Atlantis. Now, wait a minute! The captain doesn't believe the mermaids exist, but he does believe that these ruins are evidence of Atlantis? That's kind of a paradox, don't you think? Well, anyway, the captain says that according to rumors, Atlantis was destroyed by a volcano, and then...

Well, speak of the devil! We are now entering an underwater volcano. The captain believes that this confirms the rumor, but then orders the pilot to steer clear of the tottering columns and surface a little more.

As we are now safely out of the volcanic area, the sonar goes off again. A crew member says that it has found an unidentifiable creature. It is then when we see a gigantic green tail fin. The crew member says that the creature is a sea serpent. The captain believes him and orders an emergency maneuver to the surface. Another crew member asks the captain if they should write this in the log, but the captain declines thinking that nobody would believe it and that they've been submerged too long.

As he says this, we see more of the serpent's long body. I'm sure you're wondering what this thing's head would look like? Well...

Yeah, a nice, silly-looking face is a good way to lighten the mood after a rather dark adventure. Ironically, this is just before we come out from the other waterfall and return to the dock.

Over the years, the Submarine Voyage has had a few minor changes. During the mid 1960's, there were some female cast members who would dress up as mermaids and would sunbathe and do synchronized swimming stunts in the lagoon. Disney decided to discontinue this because some male guests actually tried to swim out into the lagoon to be with the mermaids, and also several ladies reported health concerns related to the submarines' diesel exhaust fumes and the highly chlorinated water.

When the ride first opened, the submarines were painted grey to look like Navy battleships, but in the mid 1980's, they were changed to a sea-friendly bright yellow to look more like marine research vehicles. The names of the submarines were also changed.

The Submarine Voyage sadly closed in September 1998. There are numerous reasons why it closed, but it was mostly due to a lack of popularity and the fact that a lot of the sea creatures were wearing out. After it's closure, the lagoon sat empty for several years. After it closed, many rumors have been going out on what was going to happen to the lagoon. An original plan was to make a new thrill ride based on Disney's upcoming movie, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire", and was set to open sometime in 2003. However, when "Atlantis" was released in the summer of 2001, it turned out to be a big flop, which forced imagineers to scrap the project. There were also rumors going out that they were going to resurrect the old attraction. There also were rumors going out that they were going to destroy the lagoon all together much like they did with the attraction at Disney World (which closed four years earlier).

However, the 2003 Disney/Pixar movie, "Finding Nemo" turned out to be a huge box office hit, and this opened a door to a new idea for imagineers. In the summer of 2004, a submarine was shown floating out into the lagoon with a banner that read "We're imagineering a brand new attraction." By 2005, the whole attraction was drained, and construction began for the new attraction.

The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage opened in 2007 on Memorial Day weekend. Being a big fan of the movie as well as the original attraction, I had to check this out. Two of my favorite things by Disney were coming together like bread and butter! I do miss the old Submarine Voyage, but overall, I'm satisfied with this new ride, and it's definitely one of my favorites at the Disneyland Resort. When I first rode it, I kept an eye open for memorabilia from the old attraction; sadly, there isn't much, but at least there's some. Although, I'm sure most people didn't do the same thing as me, since the only things that everyone remembers from the old attraction were the sea serpent and the mermaids.

This concludes this edition of "Disneyland Childhood". If you enjoyed this article, please post a comment; I'd greatly appreciate it. Also, if this article turned out to be a hit, then I will return with a sequel.

In memory of the Submarine Voyage

Note: All rights of the photos taken from Yesterland.com belong to Werner Weiss, whom I give a special thanks to for granting me permission to use those photos for this article.
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