Sunday, June 10, 2007
I hadn’t been to Disneyland in a while, so I convinced Tim to go with me yesterday after spending the day with family in Orange County. The plan was to just go shopping at Downtown Disney (DD), the street mall outside Disneyland; but when we saw no lines to get on the Monorail, which stops in DD, we decided to take a quick roundtrip above the park. I was especially curious to see how the old submarine ride had been converted into “Finding Nemo,” a new ride which opens tomorrow.
From the Monorail we could see the submarines, now painted bright yellow, moving through the old lagoon. They looked beautiful, so shiny and new. But wait a minute—what was this? People were actually getting onboard!
“Babe, it looks like Nemo is having a soft opening!” I whispered to Tim. “Let’s see if we can get on.”
Luckily the Monorail stops right above the submarines, so we raced downstairs. Sure enough, there we found a short line of people standing behind a sign that said, “PREVIEW by Special Invitation Only.” I just had to get on that ride!
“Hi!,” I cheerfully said to the guy taking tickets. “My husband works for Disney. Is there any way we can get on the ride?”
He pondered the question for a couple of seconds and then said, “How many of you are there?”
“Just two,” I sweetly smiled.
He looked around to see if anyone was watching and then waved us in. “I LOVE YOU!” I yelled as we zipped by. We were on our way to find Nemo!
The submarines were always one of my favorite rides when I was a kid. Yeah, they were hokey with their foam-rubber mermaids and moldering fake fish, but to my young eyes it all was very exotic. I was deeply saddened when Disney decommissioned the subs almost ten years ago.
All my old feelings for the ride came flooding back as we and a group of middle school boys stepped down inside one of the newly refurbished boats. “How lucky are we to be on this ride?!” one of the boys excitedly exclaimed. I knew exactly what he meant.
After a few minutes, the lights were dimmed and the boat started to “submerge.” From our portholes we could see colorful coral and starfish swaying in the water, followed by the ruins of an ancient civilization, which I think were left over from the old ride. Our automated tour guide (from Australia) next told us to listen carefully, because in these waters we could actually hear fish talking.
He was right, of course, and soon we were treated to familiar scenes from "Finding Nemo” somehow projected onto spaces between and under the rocks we were floating by. The effect really brought the movie to life and was lots of fun. The middle schoolers, who had been chattering incessantly before we launched, were absolutely silent, so I could only guess that they—like me—were completely mesmerized.
All too soon, the fish were waving us good-bye as we started to surface. Our pilot let Tim take a peak at the controls while I went topside. I felt like a kid all over again!
Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but it’s even more magical when you’re lucky enough to be one of the first people to experience a new ride. . .