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Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to ride the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage thanks to my friend Greg. While the ride doesn't open to the public until the 11th, this weekend was Cast Member previews. I got to tag along as a guest. A bunch of my other friends from the main entrance came with us. For a crowded Sunday, we sure went on a lot of rides before we ended up on the subs at our 10:00 PM ride time. Greg and I got to the park around 4:30 and met up with our friend Danni to head over to the new Pirate's Lair at Tom Sawyer's Island, which I also hadn't seen yet. When it was announced, Pirate's Lair caused a lot of controversy among Disneyland purists since Tom Sawyer's Island was designed by Walt himself and many considered this a disgrace. I think most of Walt's vision for the island was already destroyed over the years by either lawyers who decided parts of the island had to be removed for liability concerns or because of poor maintenance, in the case of Fort Wilderness. Pirate's Lair breathes new life into the island. Everything that was there when they closed the island for refurbishment at the beginning of the year is still there. Now there's just a bunch more cool stuff. The biggest changes are in the former Injun Joe's Cave, now Dead Man's Grotto. There are some really cool animatronics in the cave now, including a pop up head that will probably scare the crap out of you if you aren't paying attention and a pirate that turns into a skeleton. Instead of just plain old caves, there are now a lot more themed elements and things to see and explore. It's pretty darn cool. I've always loved Tom Sawyer's Island because it's the one attraction in the park you can really explore and enjoy at your own pace. Now it's even more fun to explore.
After Pirates Lair the logical choice was to hit up Pirates of the Caribbean, especially since I'd been aching to go on the ride since watching At World's End last week. I never get tired of this ride. I'm not quite sure why. Then, of course, we had to hit up my favorite ride in the park, The Haunted Mansion, which I also never get tired of. I can't really explain it. All the animatronics, effects, and set pieces just really fascinate me. We also managed to ride Thunder Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Indiana Jones, Jungle Cruise, and Space Mountain before getting in line for the Subs. I guess that's what happens when you go to the park with a bunch of cast members. We are highly efficient in getting on rides.
Then it was time. As Sue Kruse writes in her excellent write-up of the attraction, stepping on the dock again for the first time in 9 years was like visiting an old friend. It felt really good. I have a lot of nostalgia for the subs since they were my dad's favorite ride. Even if the line was over an hour, we always rode on the subs, no matter what. I think he loved them so much because of his naval background and his own love for scuba diving. Also, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was probably his favorite Disney movie. As far at the attraction itself goes, I really enjoyed it. I'll have some pictures soon. I'll just say that this is not your old Submarine Voyage. It's an entirely new adventure with a few nods to the old ride. I was a tad surprised at the lack of traditional animatronics, but the new effects definitely make up for it. Also, the sound inside the subs is amazing. I think folks of all ages will enjoy the ride, especially kids. Yes, the wait is going to be terribly long probably for the entire summer. Unlike Pirates, the Subs have a ridiculously low per hour capacity. This is one of the reasons why the ride was closed in the first place. Surprisingly, in the 9 years the ride was closed nothing was done to improve this. So get ready to wait. However, I think the ride is worth it. It's as long, if not longer, than Pirates. I'm really glad the Subs are back, hopefully for good this time.
Here’s the 10 Thousand Dollar Question for those of us with Four little kids, and who only get to Disneyland MAYBE once a year now if we’re lucky, and don’t have the wherewithall to wait in line for three hours: Is there fastpass?
It does not take luck. It takes a willingness to stand in line. It is a 15 min. ride. Is it worth it?
I too was surpised at the lack of animatronics. Isn’t that what Disneyland is all about? Bringing make believe to life? I was so disapointed in this ride. It used to be my favorite. With all the money Disneyland rakes in on a daily basis, this revamping makes them appear cheap, or just plain lazy! They removed all the favorite animatronics, example: the mermaids, sea monster. The diver at beginning of ride is just hanging there. How hard would it be to upgrade a “favorite” with some more robotic movement???? They put alot of work into the Johnny Depp character at the pirates ride….what happened here?? I never in a million years expected to see a film of Nemo projected into “what is left” of the existing ride. What happened to the magic, the imagination? This was such a sad thing to see. It really hurts when you think of the fond memories from your childhood. It’s like they have torn down a beloved home, and constructed a strip mall. Devoid of any warmness, life and history.