“The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the Living Infinite.” - Jules Verne
The Walt Disney Company has long held association to the tales of the French author, Jules Verne. From the 1954 Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to the unique Jules Verne influenced Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris (the original “Space Mountain” will always be remembered for its dramatic journey from the Earth to the Moon).
At Tokyo DisneySea there are two attractions, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” & “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (located inside the “Mount Prometheus” show building) and an entire port, “Mysterious Island”, based on Jules Verne tales.
Mysterious Island lies inside a large water filled caldera, called “Vulcania Lagoon”. Mount Prometheus is the centerpiece of the island. It is accessible from Mediterranean Harbor, Mermaid Lagoon and Port Discovery. Mysterious Island is Captain Nemo's secret base. The center of his exploration and adventure. Whether you’re actually in a volcanic caldera is debatable, as there must be underwater access to this secret lake also.
Behold the Nautilus! It is docked right there in Vulcania Lagoon. This stunning craft designed by Harper Goff for the 1954 Disney produced 20,000 Leagues film, is not a full size walk through attraction like at Disneyland Paris, but is mighty impressive and very detailed.
But the Nautilus isn't the only submersible vehicle at Mysterious Island. There is an entire fleet, and sub 157, “Neptune”, is hanging from a crane beside the magnificent spiral portion of the outdoor queue for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride. It may look small, but these vessels will hold 6 adults comfortably, and is the same craft as the ride vehicles.
The inside queue of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction takes us past diving gear, Captain Nemo's planning equipment and offices. The detail is amazing, but if you go on a quiet day, you skip most of this (Nemo insignia fence post) switch-back line.
Inside the ride vehicles, riders will be seated on small benches and each of the three bench seats has a view from its own porthole as you tour the ships graveyard of “Kraken Reef”, and then fall down into “Lucifer's Trench” where the mysteries and dangers of the deep become all too real. A joystick controller at each window gives the riders their chance to manoeuvre an underwater lamp to illuminate treasure, and terror.
This attraction is quite unique in many ways to other “submarine-type” rides throughout Disney theme park history. After all, the ride vehicles are suspended from an overhead track and don't actually travel underwater. The double pane glass dome windows, containing the water and bubbles, create the illusion of the submarines diving deep into the ocean.
Tokyo’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is essentially a dark ride of the highest quality. Perfect lighting, ride movement, soundtrack and a terrific story (easy to follow along even though the speaking is in Japanese). Brilliant animatronics, including everyone's favorite cephalopod.
So, that is how to explore the oceans depths with the help of Captain Nemo's 19th century technology, how about the depths of Earth itself? In a few weeks, we’ll ride the Journey to the Center of the Earth attraction. The second ride based on the tales of Jules Verne on Mysterious Island, located inside Mount Prometheus.
This article was written by guest writer Q Gabriel – Smith, an avid Disney fan from Perth (Australia). We thank Q for the effort he made.
Photo Nemo’s Office: (c) Peter E. Lee
Concept Art: (c) Disney