Get immersed in the Big Blue World with the Unofficial Guide’s ongoing Disney vs. Disney series as we take a deep dive into the differences between the Finding Nemo rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s EPCOT.
Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World’s EPCOT in Florida both feature dark ride attractions inspired by the animated Disney/Pixar franchise Finding Nemo. Both rides opened in 2007, both were built on the bones of a former classic attraction, and both share similar scenes and storylines. But there are some big differences between Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and EPCOT’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland
Originally known simply as the Submarine Voyage, today’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage has guests boarding a bright-yellow electric-powered submarine. After a quick lap around 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 underwater projection screens. Encased in rock and shipwrecks a few feet from the sub’s windows, the screens allow the animated characters to appear three-dimensionally in the undersea world.
Episodes 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, and you don’t have to be a Nemo fan to be impressed by the scale and effort, although time has taken its toll on the effects. It’s not fast-paced but, rather, it’s leisurely in the way that the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is, although it lacks that classic’s ageless atmosphere.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage resurfaced in late July 2022 after an extensive refurbishment, but it still feels dated alongside the likes of Runaway Railway. The attraction’s capacity is only about 900 guests per hour, shockingly small for a headliner attraction.
Experience a full POV of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage with our 4K video:
Claustrophobes and galeophobes will not be comfortable with the experience, even though the sub doesn’t actually submerge and the sharks keep their distance.
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 that seats about six able-bodied persons plus two wheelchairs.
The visual is nearly identical (perhaps faster), but despite a large monitor, the creatures appear smaller than when viewed 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.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT
The Seas—previously known as the Living Seas—encompasses what was once one of America’s top marine aquariums with a ride that tunnels through the aquarium, an interactive animated film, and a number of walk-through exhibits. The exhibits need updating, but the tank alone makes the pavilion a must-visit.
The EPCOT Nemo & Friends attraction, which replaced the pavilion’s original Hydrolators and SeaCab voyage, is a high-tech ride featuring characters from the animated hit Finding Nemo.
After navigating the queue’s soothing simulated undersea environment, you’ll be made comfortable in a “clamobile” for your journey through the aquarium.
The attraction features technology that makes it seem like the animated characters are swimming with live fish. Almost immediately, you meet Mr. Ray and his class and learn that Nemo is missing.
The remainder of the odyssey consists of finding Nemo with the help of Dory, Bruce, Marlin, Squirt, and Crush. Unlike the film, however, the ride ends with a musical finale.
Get a front-row view of The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT with our 4K POV video:
Nemo vs. Nemo: The Final Verdict
We rate Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage as 3 1/2 stars and The Seas with Nemo & Friends as 3 stars, giving Disneyland’s ride the edge because of its more ambitious scope and uniqueness. However, it should be noted that Unofficial Guide readers give Anaheim’s attraction lower survey scores than EPCOT’s, largely because many find the submarine ride to be uncomfortable, overlong, or “boring.“ Either way, we would not recommend waiting more than 20-30 minutes for either attraction.
Which of Disney’s Finding Nemo dark rides do you like better? Let us know in the comments below!