Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

In 1959, Disneyland launched its E-ticket attraction, Submarine Voyage. In the lagoon in Tomorrowland near the Matterhorn, which you can’t miss because it’s a big bunch of water, submarines traveled under the polar ice cap and saw, among other things, fish and mermaids. I remember this being a particularly cool ride.

However, it closed in 1998.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

And after what seemed like forever but was really nine years, Disneyland opened the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in 2007!


I remember when Nemo first opened (which isn’t much of a feat since it was 5 years ago) and line was loooooooong. It stretched back to Small World and back. Now if you’ve been to Disneyland, you can appreciate how long that is. But if you haven’t–it’s long.

The Nemo queue is a bit uninspiring.

Toward the end it’s just switchbacks, but it’s covered!

Your submarine is a cheerful yellow with blue accents.

How jaunty!

The sub is already at water level, so you cross a removable bridge and climb down one of two sets of spiral stairs to get inside.

This was on the trip with Ingrid and Rachel

I’m always kind of paranoid that I’m going to take a nose dive down those stairs. However, so is everyone else, so we all step carefully and hold onto the rails like our lives, or at least our legs, depend on it.

Ingrid’s sunglasses on her head are really trippy here–it looks like she’s looking up at me when in fact she’s trying not to trip and kill herself.

Inside the sub is a tight squeeze. Two rows of seats line either side of the sub, and each seat flips up, so you walk to the end, flip your seat down, and smile for the camera.


You do have to get cozy with your neighbor.

In true Disney efficiency, each sub entrance feeds directly into its own row.

Oh, maybe I should take this opportunity to point out that the submarine is not idea for people who cannot make it down the stairs or are claustrophobic (or both). Fortunately, you can wait in the regular queue and when you reach the front, tell the cast member you’d like the “alternate experience,” which is a room with a video presentation. All the fun of the submarine without being in the submarine!

Anyway, directly in front of you is your very own porthole.

Barnacles and such lining the wall of the loading dock

The porthole gives the effect of making you think you’re like 3 inches away from the wall and could go screeching across it Titanic-style any second now. However, this is just an illusion. In fact, you are 5 inches away from the wall and probably are not going to scrape it.

After your sub is fully loaded, your narrator comes on and informs you that through the power of Disney magic, you are in Australia. Cool! You avoid scraping the wall and enter the lagoon, soon doing your first of two dives. You know you’re diving because you can see it out of your porthole.

The bubbles all flow up because, you know, you’re diving

You don’t dive very far though. You can still see the surface, and some coral and other things you find under water, and the girl from the  movie with the unfortunate orthodontistry.

Darla, I believe

But then you dive a little deeper and that’s where the Nemo action happens! In reality, you go under a waterfall so guests outside see the submarine disappear, and the sub continues on its journey. But when I was little, I really did think you dove way, way down.

Anyway, soon our Nemo friends start showing up. And this is where it gets really hard to photograph.

It’s Dory! And an in-motion Marlin!

The fish effects are really neat. It’s a projection, so the fish actually swim around in front of you just like the movie. They’re not objects on posts or dangling on strings like the original Submarine Voyage (which was cool in its time, but technology marches on). Also, each submarine is equipped with its own “sonar hydrophone” that allows you to eavesdrop on what the sea life are saying. Even Dory speaking whale!

One thing I should mention–parts of Nemo Submarine Voyage are kind of scary. Toward the beginning, electric eels jump out of holes, for example, and the lights are dimmed inside of the sub. And then if you’ve seen the movie, you probably remember the fish with the lightbulb over its head and then the whole thing lights up and it’s got these huge teeth and everything–that’s there too. As well as Bruce the shark with sharp teeth.

I’m saying this because we took my BFF on this ride and I’m pretty sure her daughter, who was I think 4 at the time, is still severely traumatized. I felt so bad!

Anyway, you get other scenes with characters like Crush

You so totally rock! Duuuuuuuude.

And an expressive Dory

This isn’t good

But there’s good news–Marlin and Dory find Nemo! Hooray!

You then ascend.

There’s those bubbles again!

And pull into the loading dock, having completed your voyage.

I really like Nemo. I don’t think I’d wait a very long time for it, but it’s a fun ride and if you’re okay with being a bit squished and the scary parts don’t bother you or any member of your party, it’s a nice, air-conditioned way to spend a few minutes.



9 responses to “Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

  1. Nanc May 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

    The line is always super long for this adventure. When we go, I pick up breakfast from the walk-up restaurant across the way and consume mass quantities while waiting. There are lots of trash cans in the line so you have the ability to discard your plates etc. once you have finished eating. It makes the line less boring and you kill two birds with one breakfast sandwich. Yum!
    Great ride. Totally worth the wait, with food.

  2. Amy May 4, 2012 at 11:27 am

    As a person who is both larger than average and claustrophobic Nemo is not worth the extremely long line only to have a panic attack in the sub. When I was exciting the sub for my “alternate experience” a cast member told me that they have people get off the ride for claustrophobia “all the time” so I’m thinking Disney needs a sign about it at the beginning of the epic line. Now I haven’t had the real Nemo sub experience but the alternate experience was in no way worth the hour long line I stood in. So there’s my claustrophia insider’s perspective on finding Nemo.

  3. Janice May 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who is paranoid about those stairs. I have yet to let Alexei (2.5 yo) walk down them by himself.
    He does ok even during the scary parts so far but he is just starting to be more aware of “scary things.” Maybe one of these times I need to take him in to see the alternative experience. Does it have the same scary stuff?
    We always try to arrive at rope drop and get on this second or third with very little wait so that’s my tip.

  4. Tamara June 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I went on opening day June 11th!! It was a great experience I will never forget. The ride itself is wonderful because we all missed the old subs, so to be in them again, to try to picture the old ride is awesome to me : ) I am going to Disneyland to celebrate tomorrow the 5th anniversary of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I can’t believe it has been 5 years since I waited in line, for 5 hours may I add, anxious, wondering what it would be like to be in a submairne again, looking out a porthole into beautiful and relaxing waters, trying to imagine the mermaids that used to swim in there!! I remember it like it was yesterday. I will never forget the best day of my life. You could just feel in the air everyone was so exited and happy. You could just feel those vibes. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, what do we do we swim… swim…… swim…………”

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