Finding Nemo Submarines
Review by Ross Anthony

This article describes a day at Disneyland and California Adventure with a special focus on the newly revitalized submarine ride.

Columbus day, 2007, the park opened at 9. My girlfriend and I arrived at the enclosed parking garage by way of Disney Way exit off the 5 freeway at 9:30. After finding a spot, walking to the shuttle, walking from the shuttle to the ticket window then to the entrance, an hour had passed. There are lockers inside and outside the entrance gates. This is a great convenience. We stored some water, fruit, a soda and our jackets. The lockers cost $7 for about a square foot of space and the parking was $11. Daily admission costs $66 for each amusement park, the one-day park hopper was $91. If you've never been to Disneyland be forewarned, though smaller than Disney World, it's still too big to do all in one day. Even California Adventure might deserve a full day on its own -- certainly 1/2 a day. My point is -- better to buy separate park tix for two separate days (if you have the time) -- to get the most bang for your buck. Oh, and don't go for the coffee at the first Disney cafe -- you'll end up stuck in line forever. There's a Kiosk in the circle at the end of the Main Street, 1 minute away -- little to no waiting.


Since I was specifically interested in the New Sub ride -- we strolled over there first. After 9 years of lying dormant, Disney has remade this ride and stirred up the waters in the lagoon. I really love the design of the ride. Though the subs are actually boats (they never submerge), they really do look like cool yellow submarines. (The Beatles would have been proud.) And the illusion of submersion is so good, most people will be fooled. As I marveled at the design, I'm not completely convinced either -- but the signs are all there. steps When you step into the "vessel" you step down a tiny spiraling staircase into the hull of the boat which rounds up at the top -- like being in a passenger airplane. And since all the portholes are in the hull they are underwater and even though the top of the boat isn't -- you still feel submerged. Unlike planes, each person has a seat that faces his or her personal window. It's very nice to have your own porthole. Despite 30 or so passengers, there's no worry about tall people blocking your view. I felt completely comfortable, but a tall friend said he was cramped.

The craft rounds the lagoon and heads into a cave, which has a waterfall draping over its entrance. It's an aesthetically beautiful scene to view while in line. But in the sub, you can't see any of it -- you're view is underwater. The waterfall on the top emulates submerging sounds and the darkness of the cave makes you believe you've just dived to lower depths. Yes, a fake dive, but a great illusion. I like it. I'm pretty sure I enjoyed all of that more than the underwater images painfully created to entertain me out the window. For instance, in the lagoon (non-cave), there were plastic or plaster oversized clams, and clamscene other fake sea animals and even a couple of fake divers. It was what a gold fish in someone's aquarium might see -- minus the other real fish. Inside the cave, video replaced the fiberglass figurines and plants. I enjoyed wondering how Disney solved the many problems of putting video underwater more than I enjoyed what was displayed on that video. Nemo and the misc. fish cast of that film weave and dart on video placed in the pocked caverns in the cave. This worked best when they left the background in the video black. Attempts to animate a matching background to the actual underwater sets showed their seems. Nor did any of it break out of its 2-D format.

Lastly, though an exploding volcano was hinted at -- I never saw it. That left me empty. Fortunately, little things amuse me -- I loved the bubbles. They rolled past the portholes by the hundreds during the fake dive. They were fascinating.

bubbles On the whole, the created visuals simply didn't live up to the quality I expect from Disney, but I still enjoyed the mechanics of the ride (whether it submerges or not). My suggestion (not that Disney's listening) tear out all that fake stuff and stock that lagoon with real wild life -- and real divers. Okay, maybe a fake shark attached to the bottom of the sub that can pop right in front of the porthole to surprise. All that said, I applaud Disney for keeping the ride active, it is still fun, it is still nostalgic and despite the fact that it simply can't move people through as fast as the other rides -- park-goers like it! (Our wait time was 1hour -- even though the sign said 90 minutes.)

We had lunch at Tomorrowland Terrace. Tasted just like McDonalds's new big burgers and their fries. Though it cost $20.44 for the two of us -- we were still pretty happy with it. The fries were really good.

Next we rode one of our favorites "Space Mountain." This is essentially a sporty little roller coaster completely capped to darkness in a dome which has stars projected onto its inner walls. That's all. What fun to be whisked through the darkness of virtual space. It's exhilarating with lots of turns but no real big drops.

By this time we figured out Disney's Fast Pass system. Previously, I'd thought this was an extra cost or for special ticket holders -- NO! It's for everyone. With an hour wait for "Haunted House" we picked up a couple of Fast Passes at the nearby station, then enjoyed "Pirates of the Caribbean." The best part of Pirates is that wonderful effect of twilight on the bayou just as the ride begins. And since the success of the films a few new pirate figures have been added to the scenery -- most notably Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. I must say, they've done a great job with both the likeness of Depp and the mechanics of his movement/mannerisms.

Once out, we stopped for a ride on the Jungle boat and by that time our Fast Pass times had kicked in, we zipped passed the "regular" lines and entered the house in almost no time at all. These Fast Passes are great. Unfortunately, the "Haunted House" was not so great. It had been re-done for Halloween with the "Nightmare before Christmas" theme. It certainly didn't feel haunted at all -- rather untimely holiday seasonal. And our favorite part, the ghost dancers in the main hall, were hampered by a stack of stuff that distracted from their illusion. We were not impressed. Good thing we didn't wait in line.

By this time it was 2:30, we were exhausted from dodging in and out of stroller clad families and sought refuge (or so we hoped) in "the other park" California Adventure.


Happily, California Adventure was many times less crowded, less loud. Next time, we'll go there first. But somehow its "Main Street" also seemed less magical. Anyway, we jumped into a gentle kid's ride called "Monstropolis," my girlfriend like it. From there, we entered perhaps our favorite ride of the day "Soaring over California." This is basically a large format (IMAX) theatre with seats that "lift off" (about 10 feet toward the screen) to give the feeling that you're flying over river kayakers, the Golden Gate Bridge, surfers catching ocean waves, orange orchards and hot-air balloon spotted skies. Invigorating!

tower In contrast "The Tower of Terror" proved to be much more menacing than we'd anticipated. The "Twilight Zone"/Rod Serling tie-in worked well -- but a slight bit more disturbing than I like (but I don't like to be disturbed). The ride part is definitely a serious scare. This is not a kiddy ride. You know those straight fall rides that drop you and/or shove you straight up about 6 stories. That's what this is -- encased in a hotel and masqueraded as an elevator. It's a cool design and effective scare. Made me feel queasy.

For whatever reason we rode "California Screamin'" after that. This is a respectable roller coaster with a good couple of drops, a loop, and alternating turns. Though I can't give an unbiased review of this ride as I became completely nauseous during and afterward. My suggestion -- don't ride "Terror" and "Screamin'" back to back. It did me in. My girlfriend was nice enough to buy me a Sprite. That helped a lot. I was up for dinner and then enjoying Disney at night, but she was already beat and ready to go and despite my will to carry on a bit longer, I was pooped out as well. So when we went back to the lockers for our jackets, we decided we were ready to leave. And again, the exodus took us another hour before we were out on the street in our vehicle.

Overall, we enjoyed ourselves. Next time though (as Los Angeles area residents), I think we should show up at 1pm, go to Cal Adventure first, then Disney at 6ish as stroller families tend to clear out.

Also, check schedules, if you haven't seen it (we both had) stay till 9pm and see Fantasmic -- it's quiet spectacular.

-- Book Contest --

  • Disneyland's Finding Nemo Submarines.
  • Based upon an October 9th, 2007 visit to Disneyland and California Adventure in Southern California.

  • Copyright © 2007 Ross Anthony, Photos & Text.

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Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Tuesday, 16-Oct-2007 14:53:04 PDT