The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride is based on the story line of the hit Disney-Pixar animated feature Finding Nemo. Here, you board a submarine in a loading area situated below the Disneyland monorail station in Tomorrowland. After a quick lap of the open-air lagoon, the sub passes through a waterfall and inside to follow the general Finding Nemo story. Special effects center on a combination of traditional Audio-Animatronics and, once you’re inside the dark interior of the building, what appear to be rear-projection screens, underwater, at a distance of 3–10 feet from the sub’s windows. Encased in rock and shipwrecks, the screens are natural looking and allow the animated characters to appear three-dimensionally in the undersea world. Other elements include traveling through a minefield and a sea of jellyfish (very cool) and entering the mouth of a whale. The onboard sound system allows the story to “travel” from the front to the back of the sub, and the visual experience is different depending on what seat you’re in.
The attraction is well done. You don’t have to be a Nemo fan to be impressed by the scale and effects. It’s not fast-paced but, rather, leisurely in the way that Pirates of the Caribbean is.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage Touring Tips
The attraction’s capacity is only about 900 guests per hour, a shockingly small capacity for a headliner attraction. Further, owing to the low carrying capacity, the subs are not a good candidate for FastPass (all FastPasses would be gone before noon).
We’ve determined that, taking the day as a whole, you make much better use of your time enjoying Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, and other popular attractions during the first hour the park is open and saving the subs for later, when a parade, fireworks show, or Fantasmic! has siphoned a large number of guests from the line. Incidentally, arriving 15 minutes before a parade or other presentation is not an arbitrary suggestion—during this time window, the Finding Nemo line (or lines at other popular attractions) will be its shortest. The last 30 minutes before park closing is another good time to get in line.
Claustrophobes may not be comfortable with the experience, even though the sub doesn’t actually submerge (we saw one 30-ish woman who started hyperventilating before the sub left the dock). Children may be scared of the same thing—or of the encounter with sharks (they keep their distance). The sharks here are a bit less menacing than in the movie too.
The bright-yellow subs use electric power to minimize noise and pollution. The subs fit 40 people. It’s not easy to get 40 aboard, however, because the seats are narrow and a few guests take up two. Ideally, large guests should aim to be in one of the four seats at the front or back, but this may be difficult to negotiate.
Wheelchair-bound guests or those who can’t get down the spiral staircase into the sub can view the experience from a special topside viewing room (seats about six able-bodied persons plus two wheelchairs). With the exception of one small animated effect, the visual is identical (perhaps faster), but, despite a large monitor, the creatures appear smaller than when viewing them through a real porthole. The wait for the alternate viewing area is usually brief (ask a cast member how to bypass the standby line), and there are Mickeys hidden in the dive lockers inside.
Find a review of all rides at Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure in The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and Guy Selga Jr.