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Monday, June 04, 2007

Sneak preview! Disneyland's Finding Nemo ride

Jon Crowley, aka LA Dodger Jon, the authoritative mind that conjures Hollywood Thoughts, the definitive pop culture website for all things Dodgers, Hollywood, NASA and Disney, wangled his way into an employees-only try-out of the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction at Disneyland. Though there's a press preview Wednesday, the submarine ride doesn't open to the general public (that's you and us) next Monday afternoon.

For some reason, Crowley didn't post the info on Thoughts but tucked it away in the forums of the Mouse Planet (another Tabloid Baby Top Link), so here it is-- and, as he warns the Mouse Planet folks:

***Spoiler Alert!!!***

Don't read any further if you don't want to know what'ss contained in the ride!

I'm writing this for a couple of reasons:

1). For the land-locked folks unable to make the trip to the DLR...

and, 2). To start the discussion of the various effects found on the new attraction.

Let me start by saying what a weird -- yet familiar -- feeling it was to find myself in line to ride the subs! I know it's only been nine years since I made that winding trip down the sub's stairs, but it sure did feel like I was revisiting my childhood...

Because of my work in television, we were able to attend the preview tonight and ride the subs twice. Don't hold me to this, but I think the ride took about 12 minutes.

Frankly, I don't think my addled brain will allow to give a FULL account, but I'll try hard to be thorough.

Yes, you still sail through a curtain of bubbles to "dive." First stop? The film's dentist's little neice (daughter?) as a scuba diver A fun underwater AA as she's bagging some poor little fish. Then we move to a story (our narrator is the skipper and his female first mate-- both with Aussie accents) about undersea vents... volcanoes... and ancient "lost" civilizations.

Both times through this section we had slow downs. I later spoke to a CM who confided that the boat drivers still "needed practice"-- hence the unscheduled stop.

In truth, this is the weakest portion of the trip-- the art direction is thin.

Pretty soon, though, the ride picks-up, and would clearly earn itself an "E Ticket" valuation on sheer imagination and technical know-how.

The new animation techniques are nothing new-- but they are employed incredibly well. This is one of the few attractions (aside from Star Tours) that REALLY has a true storyline with dense dialogue that easily "tracks."

To be specific, Nemo and all the familiar characters from the film, track alongside the subs portholes as our sub encounters explosions... sub eating whales... snaggly-toothed sharks... shipwrecks... and deadly undersea explosive mines.

It's a heckuva fun ride!

While I am not certain of how the technology is emplyed, I can make some fairly good educated guesses:

Yes, there are several "old school" underwater AA figures (remember the mermaids? I don't see any of them-- but there are scubadivers, chomping eels, and swinning sea turtles that go about their rote movements like their predecessors). The new ANIMATED figures really only come into play when the subs enter the covered "cave."

I believe that in the center of the cave is a dry, "control room" where Nemo is projected onto glass to appear as though he is swimming alongside the sub's portholes. The "animated" Nemo is actually separated from the sub by a wall of plexiglass.

Pay attention to the "lava flow" scene. GREAT STUFF! The lava is actually high-def video being (rear?) projected into the lava troughs. The entire lava scene is actually in a DRY room-- again, separated from the sub by an invisible wall of plexiglass. The scene is layered with swimming fish-- all being projected onto separate pieces of glass that are devided from the sub by the water we're floating through.

It's late-- I hope I'm making sense!

Some of the stand-out scenes:

We get our best, first, glimpse of Nemo as the "class" of school-aged fishies arrive on the back of their mantaray teacher.

We meet the shark on a GREAT set of a shipwreck.

Lots of fun watching Dorrie tray to communicate with a pod of whales (yes, we get swallowed by one).

Fun interation with Dorrie and Nemo among a deep sea field of explosive mines.

Did I mention that the effect of lights and bubbles makes for a super cool explosion?

Also, look for an homage to the old sea monster-- he's towards the end... and is now part of a corral reef.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on the effects.

Enjoy the ride!

(Crowley adds in a later post that he believes that the voices Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks were actually soundalike imitators...)

UPDATE: Crowley's posted at Hollywood Thoughts. Check it out here.)

1 comment:

Minako said...

Hi... just happen to cross your site... I see that you also love Disney... me too...

Im planning to go to Tokyo or Hong Kong Disney this Christmas. Hoho and I found some stuffs from Hong Kong Disneyland here as well:
disneycloth.cwahi.net

I will definitely take tones of photos there!!!