What’s Going On With the Finding Nemo Submarines at Disneyland?

in Disneyland Resort


Credit: Disney

Since Disneyland and California Adventure Park officially reopened April 30, Disneyland fans have been fulfilling their every Disney wish. Disney fans were amazed to find out this week that the parks are now allowed to operate at 35% capacity and more Guests can visit every day.

Also to note, Disney fans are finding more time to spend in the parks as tons of theme park reservations have been added. To many of us, it seems life is returning to normal. As many of us plan our next Disneyland adventure, some Disney Guests wonder about the status of Disney attractions that have been at a standstill for so long and still remain closed, even though most attractions have reopened. One of the attractions that is not currently operating and that remains a mystery is the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction.

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

How the Finding Nemo Submarines Were Born

As we have previously mentioned last year, Nemo Submarine Voyage hasn’t been the most popular ride in Disneyland Park. It was speculated that it would not survive during the pandemic era given how Guests have to ride the attraction in such close quarters, but to so many Disney fans it does hold a huge piece of history.

Located in the beautiful Tomorrowland lagoon, this Disney attraction started off quite popular and enjoyed a 39-year run, but later became a hassle to reimagine and keep afloat.

Disney shared some history of this nostalgic ride, stating,

The original Submarine Voyage debuted on June 14, 1959 and was one of the first “E” Ticket attractions. The attraction was loosely inspired by the 1958 voyage to the North Pole by the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, which shares its name with the fictional submarine in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

As per Wikipedia, this Disneyland attraction was at a complete standstill for years as Disney Imagineers contemplated which Disney film would inspire a retheme including Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, and The Little Mermaid. 

The upkeep for this Disneyland attraction was expensive, but because the submarines still had many years ahead of them, Disney decided to keep this ride. Disney Imagineers were inspired by the new projection technology they had developed, and at the same time Pixar was in the middle of working on Finding Nemo. As Bob Iger’s first huge project since becoming the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage was born on July 15, 2005.

Disney’s website shares an adorable description of the ride:

With all the humour and heart of the original film, this immersive submarine ride takes you on an unforgettable ocean adventure—to find a missing clown fish.

Climb down into a yellow research submarine operated by the Nautical Exploration and Marine Observation Institute (N.E.M.O.).

Peek through the portholes as you sail past scuba divers and artifacts of an ancient civilization scattered along the seafloor.

Some familiar fins soon swim into view: it’s Nemo and his turtle pal, Squirt, with Marlin and Dory hot on their trail. During your underwater adventure, you’ll encounter other friends from the movie, including Bruce the Shark, Mr. Ray, Gill, Bubbles, Pearl, Peach, Crush and more—and thanks to special “sonar hydrophones,” you can hear what everyone’s saying!

Is This Attraction Worth Saving?

Since it opened with a new theme over 15 years ago, much has had to be done for this attraction to stay intact, and it has become a very expensive project to upkeep. So many times, Disney Guests have seen this ride under major refurbishments and have even seen the lagoon completely drained!

Last year, while the pandemic was at an all-time high in California, David at FreshBaked on YouTube along with many other Disney fans expressed their concern for the survival of this ride, in particular. If you have been inside the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, then you know how cramped and enclosed this attraction feels. Some Disney visitors feel completely claustrophobic during this underwater ride. And as Disneyland has had to ensure Guests are social distancing and parties are separated on attractions, it became clear that this ride wouldn’t reopen with the parks did.

Check out this video of the full ride experience from 2011:

So, naturally, the ride did not reopen with the parks. It seems, for now, this ride would very difficult to operate with social distancing practices in mind, so for the time being, Disney’s website states that Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is temporarily unavailable. But for how long? Will this attraction return? And do Guests want another experience to replace these submarines?

Right now, Disney fans are excited to return to the parks now that vaccines are continuing to be distributed, virus case numbers are going down, and the world is getting “back to normal.” But will visitors feel comfortable sitting next to each other in an enclosed space again? I personally love this area in Tomorrowland, but I can see Disney going in a different direction.

For example, Aquatopia in Tokyo DisneySea is a fun-filled attraction and water ride that is loved by many! Think of bumper cars, but on the water, and instead of being the front seat driver, this ride unpredictably turns and spins for you! If Disneyland in California were to open this attraction as a replacement for the submarines, it would allow Disney Guests to still enjoy a water ride in Tomorrowland’s Lagoon and eliminate the huge costs for Disney to upkeep this historic submarine ride afloat.

Here is a clip from the Aquatopia attraction in Tokyo DisneySea:

Keep in mind, this is my personal opinion. We are still waiting for Disney to announce the current status of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction in Disneyland. Right now, it is still unclear when (or, really, if) the ride will reopen, but Disney hasn’t said what the future holds or given an indication that it will close for good. I think it’s key to remember that these older attractions such as the Matterhorn Bobsleds are always being refurbished over time due to their age.

Nothing lasts forever, although sometimes with Disney attractions, I wish they could as they have been the most amazing memories I have kept inside my heart. Personally, I think Disney has done a wonderful job reimagining new ways for Disney Guests to experience the wonder and magic Walt Disney wanted.

Do you love Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage? Do you think this ride needs to be changed? Let us know in the comments below. 

If you’re planning a Disneyland vacation soon, our friends at Academy Travel can help! 

View Comments (18)