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It Came From the Lagoon
Since September 8, 1998, the Disneyland Submarine Voyage lagoon has been dormant - unused due to decisions by the Disneyland Resorts previous management. Rumors had persisted for a while that it was an attraction being targeted for closure due to the expense to operate in comparison to the capacity and the labor involved. After all, the attraction has been around since 1959 and was decidedly low-tech by the standards of the 1990s.
With the opening of the New Tomorrowland in 1998, there were new attractions open in Tomorrowland, which management reasoned took some of the burden off of the Subs. One of those new attractions, the Rocket Rods, was apparently causing damage to the lagoon.
Thus, the Submarine Voyage closed so that resources could be allocated elsewhere. Hopeful, maverick Imagineers briefly put park guests on notice of their intentions to bring an Atlantis-themed attraction to the location by 2001. Their visual aid, displayed for guests, was quickly removed. When Walt Disney Feature Animation's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" failed to generate the buzz or box office returns that make executives more open to investing in "permanentâ€? ride-through adaptations, it looked like the lagoon would sit around as a giant trash collector for the foreseeable future.
Fast-forward six years from the closing of the attraction.
Resort management has changed, the Rocket Rods have gone the way of the Flying Saucers - only they aren't missed as much, and Tomorrowland needs serious help. The overhaul of the Autopia, which has existed in various incarnations in the same corner of Tomorrowland since the park opened, has kept the land alive as Space Mountain is rebuilt and Buzz Lightyear's new attraction shoots for a 2005 debut. Most importantly, "Finding Nemoâ€?, which is about the underwater world of sea creatures, became one the highest grossing films of all time.
The time has come for the lagoon to rise to the occasion.
After six years, the Disneyland Submarines have come out of the watery grave. Well, kinda. Tests are being conducted in preparation for a new attraction that will adapt the existing facilities and vehicles.
When the pictures of a yellow submarine hit the Internet, I knew a part of the magic was coming back. This past Friday, I saw the sub myself, just to make sure it was really happening.
Many Disneyland fans are excited by the return of a classic attraction, even if it will be in a modified form. They are excited that it will restore more kinetic energy to the Tomorrowland landscape, and that one of the few theme park attractions that takes guests on a extended actual underwater ride will be back.
Permit me to take you back to that night six years ago. Below is my account of the final ride aboard the old Disneyland Submarine Voyage...