The Seas with Nemo & Friends

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The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Seasfacade.jpg
The coastline facade in front of the Seas With Nemo & Friends.
Epcot
Land Future World
Theme Finding Nemo, the sea
Opening date January 15, 1986
Number of Attractions 3
Formally Known As The Living Seas (1986-2005)
Sponsored by United Technologies (1986-1998)

The Seas With Nemo & Friends is a pavilion within Future World in Epcot. If you are looking for the attraction located within the pavilion please see The Seas with Nemo & Friends (Attraction)

Pavilion History

Development and Construction

Although The Living Seas would not open until 1986, plans for The Seas pavilion had been a part of EPCOT Center's early designs. The first mention of The Seas pavilion appeared in the 1977 Walt Disney Productions Annual Report. While touting the breakthrough of their newest plan to make EPCOT Center a reality, Disney described the planned Seas pavilion:

The Seas -- Guests will board the clipper ship, "Spirit of Mankind," to sail through moments of peril and triumph with seven legendary mariners ... the great explorers who charted the seas for civilization. In another adventure, Poseidon the Sea Lord will challenge visitors to journey through ocean depths ... from the Continental Shelf to the Great Coral Reef. Finally arriving at "Sea Base Alpha," guests will experience an authentic ocean environment with live marine life, an undersea restaurant, and a showcase of oceanographic exhibits and displays [1].
Early concept art for The Living Seas pavilion featuring the glass bubble ride vehicles.

As plans for The Seas continued to develop, the makeup of the pavilion began to change. By 1980, the "clipper ship" attraction seems to have been removed. In this new version of the pavilion, guests would enter The Seas through a “portal” which transported them into a grotto [2]. From here, they would enter a large preshow theater. As a storm raged around them, the doors of the theater would close. With a strike of lightning, Poseidon would appear and calm the storm with a stroke of his hand. He then noted that despite mankind's superstitions regarding the sea, it was the oceans themselves that were the “cradle of life”. Looking back at the few men who were brave enough to explore the oceans, the god would then note that with wisdom and courage, guests too could explore the sea[2].

At this point, the entire theater was to turn 180 degrees, as the action on the screen followed guests. Another crash of lightning would then reveal a load area in the distance. As Poseidon called guests to move forward, they would travel down a long corridor to their ride vehicles, which were shaped like large glass bubbles[2].

After boarding their omnimover vehicles, guests would go on an adventure where they would pass through a “series of scenes depicting the visual drama of ocean kelp forests, abyssal canyons and other marvelous and mysterious ocean environments” [3]. They would then enter a clear acrylic tube which was to run through the pavilion's 5 million gallon sea water tank. Following this journey, they would arrive in Sea Base Alpha, where they could further examine interactive exhibits, as well as enter a long viewing platform to observe the activity in the large aquarium.

Continuing to tinker with the pavilion, eventually, Imagineers cut the large entrance hall between the Poseidon show and the omnimovers[2]. Furthermore, the ride path that the omnimovers would take was changed so that instead of going straight through the pavilion's massive tank, the ride vehicles now went around its circumference, before entering and exiting through the central viewing module[2].

By the end of 1980 plans for The Seas pavilion were still changing. At this point the omnimover ride was shortened and the tone became more scientific. In the 1980 book Walt Disney's Epcot Center, the Seas pavilion is described:

"Visitors to The Seas pavilion will explore the wonders of the aquatic frontier through two major presentations. First, "The World of the Sea," a ride-thru experience presenting various ocean environments; and second, "Sea Base Alpha," a futuristic undersea research station complete with a 5,000,000-gallon tank supporting a living coral reef community." [3]
The Grand Opening of The Living Seas.

Between 1980 and 1982, the tone of The Seas had clearly shifted. Gone was the fantasy elements of the pavilion's designs (including the "bubble" ride vehicles), as the focus of The Seas moved completely to the scientific, with an emphasis on the Seas Base Alpha portion of the pavilion. The 1982 book EPCOT Center: Creating the World of Tomorrow, notes that while in The Living Seas ride guests would see:

The environment, designed to look like a futuristic sea base, is an actual working environment in which man and machine coexist with the sea and its original inhabitants. All around us, we see diver’s carrying on their tasks, often accompanied by their coworkers, the dolphins, trained to work alongside man.[4]

When EPCOT Center opened on October 1, 1982, however, The Seas pavilion was nowhere to be found. Instead, an empty large plot of land could be found in Future World West, with a sign that announced that The Living Seas would be opening in 1984[2]. Despite this promise, Disney had yet to find a sponsor for the pavilion. This changed on July 20, 1983, when United Technologies agreed to sponsor the 90 million dollar pavilion[2].

With United Technologies now sponsoring the pavilion, the final layout of The Living Seas began to take shape. At this time, the Poseidon preshow and the long dark ride attraction (which United Technologies was unwilling to pay for) were removed [2] [5]. Instead, guests would now enter the pavilion and watch a short preshow video. After this, they would take a quick trip through the pavilion's aquarium before arriving at Sea Base Alpha. After a series of setbacks, construction on The Living Seas began in March of 1984 [2].

The Living Seas Presented By United Technologies (1986-1998)

The entrance to The Living Seas prior to the 2005 refurbishment. Photo Michael Grey.

The Living Seas officially opened to guests on January 15, 1986 [6]. On hand for the pavilion's Grand Opening were Disney president Frank Wells (who cut the opening ribbon inside the pavilion's 5.7 million-gallon tank), chairman Michael Eisner, Florida Governor Bob Graham, United Technologies chairman Harry Gray, and Roy E. Disney [7].

The completed Living Seas pavilion was unique among the original EPCOT Center pavilion's in that it did not house a "feature attraction". Instead, the pavilion was made up a series of interconnected smaller attractions, concluding with guests arrival at the futuristic underwater research center Sea Base Alpha.

The Living Seas began with guests entering a winding queue that featured artifacts from the history of sea travel. They would then enter the first preshow, where they watched a slideshow touting United Technologies. Following the slideshow, guests would walk into another theater, where they were shown the 7 minute film "The Sea". This movie showed guests how water made life on earth possible, while also touching on how humanity's understanding of the seas has developed. After the film, guests exited to the Hydrolators, which were "sea elevators" designed to take 30 guests "below the surface". Exiting the Hydrolators, guests would then board their "SeaCabs" and travel on the Caribbean Coral Reef Ride through the pavilion's Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium (thus the name of the ride) to Sea Base Alpha.

Sea Base Aplha was designed to look like a futuristic, underwater research center (thus guests had to take Hydrolators to get there). While Imagineers had originally planned on Sea Base Alpha being made up of eight modules, the final version only featured six [2]. Each of the modules housed a series of interactive exhibits which focused on a central theme. In addition to the modules, guests could also further observe the Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium from a viewing platform. Finally, The Living Seas was also home to the Coral Reef Restaurant, which allowed guests to look into the pavilion's aquarium while they dined. Of note is the fact that in order to exit the pavilion, guests would enter another set of Hydrolators.

The first major change to The Living Seas came in 1991 when the pavilion's corporate lounge was closed due to due United Technologies' budget constraints [2]. Following the closure, the space was used for park events. Subsequently, between August 10th and September 14th 1998, the Coral Reef Restaurant underwent major renovations [2]. At this time, the restaurant was moved upstairs to the former corporate lounge. During the refurbishment the restaurant's color scheme and original wood was removed, and the decor was lightened.

The Living Seas (1998-2006)

In June 1999, United Technologies decided to end its sponsorship of The Living Seas [2]. With the end of the sponsorship, all references to the company were removed from the pavilion by the end of the year [8].

The next major change to come to The Living Seas took place in 2001, when one of the two preshow theaters was closed in order to allow returning guests to skip "The Seas" film altogether and move directly to the Hydrolators [2]. Subsequently, on October 21, 2001, the Caribbean Coral Reef Ride portion of the pavilion closed, with guests now walking from the Hydrolators, past the Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium, and into Sea Base Alpha. Although the SeaCabs remained intact, in January 2002 they were boarded up [2].

By 2003, The Living Seas was a far cry from the busy and vibrant pavilion that it had been when it opened in 1986. The changes to the pavilion's structure in the previous years had killed the natural flow that it relied on. As previously mentioned, the original Living Seas was designed to be more than the sum of its parts. With the ability to bypass the preshow and the loss of the SeaCabs however, the pavilion no longer worked. As attendance problems continued to plague The Living Seas, Disney began to look for a change.

Following the release of the Disney-Pixar movie "Finding Nemo", in December 2003, Disney began to tie the animated characters from the film into The Living Seas. While this integration originally took place mostly in the pavilion's gift shop, exterior and in some of the Sea Base Alpha exhibits, a larger change was coming [9]. In the end, the first Nemo references would only be Phase I of a complete remodel of The Living Seas.

The next step of the overhaul came in 2004 when Module 1C and Module 1D in Sea Base alpha closed. When the modules reopened on November 16, 2004 they featured two new Finding Nemo based exhibits- "Bruce's Shark World" (in Module 1D) and a new attraction Turtle Talk with Crush (in Module IC) [10]. While Bruce's Shark World was a playground for younger guests, Turtle Talk With Crush was an interactive show that featured Disney's newest technology, "digital puppetry". Looking through an arcylric window, on Turtle Talk with Crush, guests could talk and interact with Crush the Turtle from Finding Nemo. The new show proved to be so popular that Disney decided to integrate Nemo into the entire Living Seas pavilion. In order to do this, on August 21, 2005, the whole pavilion closed to the public (although the Coral Reef Restaurant remained open)[9].

The Seas with Nemo & Friends (2006-Present)

Mickey swimming in the Coral Reef Aquarium.

On November 23, 2005, the Sea Base Alpha half of The Seas pavilion reopened [9]. During the refurbishment, the exit Hydrolators were removed from the pavilion, and guests now (temporarily) entered and exited through large glass doors [9]. The Sea Base (as it was now called) had also been completely remodeled. New signs and decor were added and some of the previously scientific exhibits were replaced by Finding Nemo themed ones[9].

Although Sea Base (and thus Turtle Talk with Crush) was operational by November, the front half of the pavilion remained closed. In this area, Imagineers were hard at work creating a new dark ride attraction, "The Seas with Nemo & Friends". The new attraction was constructed in the location that had previously housed one of the pavilion's preshow theaters, the Hydrolators, the holding areas, and the old Caribbean Coral Reef Ride (the SeaCabs) [9].

The Seas with Nemo & Friends's queue replaced the Hydrolator portion of the attraction. The new queue was themed so that guests would travel from the beach, under a pier, and finally underwater. This allowed Disney to eliminate the need for the Hydrolators, but retain the original story that they told. The removal of the third Hydrolator, as well as the preshow theater, also allowed Imagineers to install nine new dark ride scenes [9]. In order to extend the original Caribbean Coral Reef Ride track to include these new scenes, 280 ft of additional track was installed[9].The SeaCabs themselves were replaced with the "Clamobiles" that would take guests through the story.

Finally, on October 10, 2006, the construction walls outside of the pavilion came down. The rest of the pavilion opened to the public on October 19th as The Seas with Nemo & Friends. The pavilion now features a substantial dark ride (also named the Seas with Nemo & Friends) to go along with Turtle Talk with Crush and the rest of Sea Base. On January 4, 2007, the pavilion was officially rededicated[9].

With the Seas with Nemo & Friends operational, there was still one final change to The Seas pavilion. On January 29th 2007, Turtle Talk with Crush closed [2]. The popular attraction was then moved from module 1C to the larger module 1A. A corridor was also built to connect the module to the old preshow theater #2, allowing Turtle Talk to have a much higher capacity [9].

Current Attractions

The Seas with Nemo & Friends (Attraction)- This dark ride allows guests to explore the "Big Blue World" with Nemo and his friends. On The Seas with Nemo & Friends, guests board Clamobiles and set off to help rescue Nemo, who is once again missing. The Seas with Nemo & Friends is based on the Finding Nemo franchise.

Turtle Talk with Crush opened in The Seas with Nemo & Friends in 2005.

Turtle Talk with Crush- This interactive show allows guests to meet and talk to Crush himself. Turtle Talk with Crush uses digital puppetry to help the sea turtle answer guest's questions.

Sea Base- This interactive area allows guests to further explore the seas. Here, guests can look out into the pavilion's aquariums, and learn more about aquatic life from various interactive exhibits.

Tours

The Seas with Nemo & Friends features three different tours that guests can experience (for an additional cost):

Epcot Seas Adventure- DiveQuest- This tour is a three hour experience that certified SCUBA divers can take. The experience is broken up into three parts, a 40 minute underwater tour in the Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium, a backstage tour, and free time. Guests must be at least 10 years old to participate in Epcot Seas Adventure- DiveQuest

Epcot Seas Adventure- Aqua Tour- This tour allows guests to swim in the Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium with the assistance of a SCUBA Assisted Snorkel system. The tour last approximately two and half hours, and guests must be at least 8 years old to participate.

Epcot Seas Adventures- Dolphins in Depth- This three hour tour allows guests to learn about, meet, and even swim with the dolphins. Guests must be at least 13 years old, but do not need to know how to swim to participate. Only one group of up to 8 guests can participate in the Dolphins in Depth experience per day.

Former Attractions

Sea Base Alpha

Originally, The Living Seas featured three separate but interconnected attractions. The attractions formally located in the pavilion included:

The Sea- This short video explained to guests how the Earth changed from a volcanic planet, to one covered in oceans. The Sea film played from 1986 until 2005.

Caribbean Coral Reef Ride (aka The SeaCabs)- This short omnimover attraction allowed guests to board SeaCabs and take a ride through Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium to Sea Base Alpha. While on board the ride vehicles, guests could get a 270 degree view of the large aquarium. The Caribbean Coral Reef ride closed to guests in 2001. Following their closure, guests simply walked down a corridor to Sea Base Alpha.

Sea Base Alpha-Sea Base Alpha featured many scientific exhibits related to underwater research. Although the exhibits changed over time, they always had a marine focus. From Sea Base Alpha, guests could look out into the pavilion's aquariums and see many exotic marine animals. Sea Base Alpha was open from 1986-2005. At this time, the area was renamed simply Sea Base, and many of the exhibits housed within were given a Finding Nemo theme.

Restaurants

Coral Reef Restaurant- The Coral Reef Restaurant is a table service restaurant which specializes in seafood. The restaurant is located to the right of the entrance to The Seas with Nemo & Friends (Attraction). Inside, guests can look out into the Caribbean Coral Reef aquarium and observe over 6000 sea creatures.

Shopping

The Seas with Nemo & Friends Gift Shop- The pavilion's gift shop is located in Sea Base, near the pavilion's exit. The shop sells Finding Nemo and aquatic merchandise, as well as general Epcot souvenirs.

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • When United Technologies signed on to sponsor The Living Seas, the company wanted their own set of characters similar to Dreamfinder and Figment in the Journey Into Imagination pavilion. Perhaps in jest, Imagineer John Hench designed Captain Saltyhinder and his pet mackerel. The characters were never used [11].
  • The background music played in the original Living Sea's Hydrolators was composed by Russell Brower and based on a theme by George Wilkins [12].
  • There are 61 different windows through which guests can view the Caribbean Coral Reef aquarium[13].
  • Spaceship Earth could fit completely inside the Caribbean Coral Reef aquarium [14].
  • Many of the interior pipes in the Seas With Nemo & Friends have the name and extension number of Imagineers who worked on the pavilion [15].
  • Montgomery Watson was the prime architectural and engineering contractor for The Living Seas pavilion [10].
  • The gravel floor in the Caribbean Coral Reef aquarium was replaced for the first time in 1998[13].
  • Lorilei, the first manatee born in captivity, was born in The Living Seas pavilion in 1991 [13].
  • The Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium holds 5,700,000 gallons of water [15].

Consultants [13]

Consultants that helped in the creation of The Living Seas included:

Consultant Credentials
Dr. Robert Ballard Senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Sylvia Earle Vice President of Ocean Engineering, Inc.
Gilbert Grosvenor President of the National Geographic Society.
Dr. Murray Newman Director of the Vancouver Public Aquarium
Professor William Nierenberg Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Dr. David Potter Vice President of public affairs, General Motors.
Dr. John Ryther Director of the Division of Applied Biology at Harbor Branch Foundation, Inc.
Robert Wildman Deputy Director of the NOAA, Office of Sea Grants Program.

References

  1. Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Productions 1977 Annual Report , 1977. July 2018.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7TGeBE_0cQ
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.intercot.com/edc/LivingSeas/lsconstr.html
  4. Beard, Richard R., and Walt Disney. Walt Disneys EPCOT: Creating the New World of Tomorrow. Harry N. Abrams, 1982.
  5. https://futureprobe.blogspot.com/2012/10/from-seas-to-living-seas-and-beyond.html
  6. https://d23.com/a-to-z/living-seas-the/
  7. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1986-01-16/news/0190190142_1_walt-disney-disney-productions-living-seas
  8. http://www.intercot.com/EDC/LivingSeas/index.html
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj6VD1bJEYs
  10. 10.0 10.1 Pedersen, R. A. The EPCOT Explorer's Encyclopedia:. United States: Epcyclopedia, 2011. Print.
  11. https://d23.com/the-saga-of-captain-saltyhinder/
  12. https://d23.com/a-to-z/living-seas-the/
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 http://www.intercot.com/edc/LivingSeas/lsfacts.html
  14. https://twitter.com/wdwtoday/status/872105819361480704
  15. 15.0 15.1 http://www.wdwradio.com/2007/09/the-seas-with-nemo-and-friends/