Since around 2013-2015, The Seas w/ Nemo & Friends has seen a dramatic drop of new visitors. It might be because of the new versions of Test Track, Soarin’, or Mission: Space (probably not) or it could be because the theming is getting outdated.
If you look closely at the new Epcot concept art for Future World, the Living Seas area looks different, as Jack Kendall (DSNY Newscast) covered in a news report a few months ago. I have a genius idea for Disney. I mean, this seems like a no brainer since fish aren’t really a futuristic thing… Why doesn’t Disney move ‘The Seas’ over to the Animal Kingdom? I mean fish are ANIMALS so wouldn’t it make sense. So, as you guessed, this article is all looking at why Disney should move ‘The Seas’ from Epcot to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
It’s 1982 and the EPCOT Center has opened. But guess what? There is no ‘The Living Seas’ pavilion because it wasn’t opened yet. But when 1986 rolls around United Technologies opened the pavilion and it was wildly successful. The Hydrolators and the Sea-Cabs through the largest saltwater aquarium in the U.S. (until 2005 when the Georgia Aquarium opened) amazed guests. The main issue with Epcot though was the sponsorships and when attraction sponsorships get dropped, so does the quality of the attraction does also. The maintenance budget dropped especially because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the sponsorship drop so Disney needed a new push for the attraction.
In 2003 Disney and Pixar released a new film called “Finding Nemo” and it was a major success. When a movie is majorly successful at Disney, especially in recent years, it gets an attraction at the parks and whether it is popular or not is a different story.
At the Living Seas in 2003 though, things weren’t looking good. The Sea-Cabs were closed and the Hydrolators led to a bypass to get to SeaBase Alpha (the aquarium [current post-show area]) and the preshow was able to be bypassed. Within a year, the so-called Nemo invasion of The Living Seas began. The former Earth Systems exhibit was made into Turtle Talk w/ Crush which was a major hit so then they built a children’s play area themed to Bruce, the shark, from Nemo. In 2005 the Hydrolators and Sea Cabs area were completely closed and so was the front entrance.
The mural in the front was changed. The former preshow area was made into the queue for the new Nemo based ride. The omnimover ride track was changed to where the ride vehicle was turned to the aquarium. Projectors were placed on the track to face the glass aquarium look in where it would project characters from “Finding Nemo”. The ride track was extended into the former Hydrolator & Theater I areas to build new scenes.
Before the grand opening of the new pavilion, Turtle Talk w/ Crush was moved to the second preshow theater and on January 24, 2007, the new pavilion opened.
It was very popular but in recent years the wait times dropped. People don’t hang out and look around in the aquarium as much as they used to which brings Disney to an interesting stance. The question they are asking is why? Here is how Disney can fix it.
During the Nemo popular phase, a musical replaced “Tarzan Rocks!” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Dinoland area. The Theater in the Wild had a very amazing new performance which is still very successful today. Over behind the theater is a plot of land available for use today. This area could be known as ‘The Marine Life Institute’ like from the sequel (Finding Dory) and also like the attraction at DisneySea in Tokyo.
The new land will make some changes to The Theather in the Wild starting with the queue. A full indoor queue in theme with The Theater in the Wild will be built as seen in the diagram above. The existing queue is in the red box and in the highlighted path in the trees. From personal experience, that queue is the worst. Imagine waiting for ‘it’s a small world’ with the switchback outside. Ugh. It is very hot and unthemed so that is why if the area is built the exterior queue will need to be removed and built on the other side. The reason it couldn’t be in the current place is that the exterior queue would need to remain open during the refurbishment and also it needs to be placed on the side so it can match the theming of the new themed land.
One problem with placing a themed land here is the exterior theming because of the location. Across the bridge, past The Theater in the Wild, you land in the Asia section of the park. The exterior would be themed a crossover theme from an Asian outpost to The Marine life Institute as seen in the movie or park. The exterior would have a lot of trees and would have gardens and colored flowers to match a sea theme (green, blue, white).
You enter the main building and see an atrium with three floors. The first floor has an entrance to a ride that will be a mix of the Crush Coaster from Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris and the Sea-Rider over at Tokyo DisneySea. The reason I picked these to attractions instead of the current attraction at Epcot is that Florida guests are looking for a new experience. The cross of the two attractions will produce a story not themed to the Nemo storyline but sea exploration explained by Nemo characters using a rollercoaster format. The queue will be indoor, interactive, and not a switchback. It will be more like a Pandora queue than a Frozen ever after queue.
Back into the main area on the first floor, the rest of the floor is devoted to sea exploration and at the rear, a three-floor tall aquarium will be placed. The bottom floor will have a quick-service dining area where you can watch fish swim in a smaller aquarium and will have not seafood (because fish are friends, not food) but it will have Austriallian food because Nemo is based in Australia.
The second floor will be devoted to individual species in the water and it will also have the famous attraction ‘Turtle Talk w/ Crush”. The area will be devoted to the conservation of the fish inside each mini aquarium. The third floor will have a VR interactive activity area where you can be a fish and see the ocean through the eyes of a fish. The restaurant themed similarly to Coral Reef but it will be on an omnimover ride track going through different aquariums but will be slow enough to where you can enjoy different scenery throughout your meal.
This new pavilion will draw numbers back into Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Different experiences can be placed inside The Living Seas. You never know, maybe you will see The Marine Institution move into Epcot and not the Animal Kingdom.
Join the discussion below and tell me what you think. Maybe your idea will happen. As the attraction Horizons (1983) stated, “If you can dream it, then you can do it.”