20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [Looking Back]

What historic Disney World attraction required 11.5 million gallons of water and almost a quarter of the space in the largest land in the Magic Kingdom? 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, of course.

This attraction opened on October 14, 1971 as one of the biggest and most expensive ever made in Disney history. The 12 Victorian-esque passengers vehicles were not actually submarines, but boats where guests sat below water level. The boats each held 30 passengers, with their own porthole.

Walt Dated World has the script of the attraction, during which the voice of Captain Nemo narrated your way through the Atlantic and a polar ice cap.

The attraction closed on September 5, 1994 to make way for Pooh's Playful Spot. The tree at Pooh's Playful Spot has since been relocated, and the land is now a part of the Fantasyland expansion.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea still has a fierce fan following. 20kride.com has a great history page with speculation as to why the ride closed -- high maintenance cost, spotty air-conditioning and difficult handicapped access are all possible reasons.

Check out this ride-through from its heyday:

What are your memories of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Leave a comment below.

Mase wrote on Tue, 06/21/2011 - 18:26:

Mase's picture

I loved the ride as a kid. Miss it now... but can understand why its not there anymore. Its one of those movie rides that may not hold up to well these days.

JeffC wrote on Wed, 06/22/2011 - 00:51:

My Dad took us to Disney when it opened in 1971 - I was 8. I remember 2 things, and that's all...the Tomorrowland Speedway (because my brother kept rear-ending me!) and 20,000 Leagues, because I thought it was soooo cool to go under the water in a real sub! :p

Ami BRUNDICK-ELLER wrote on Mon, 06/27/2011 - 12:53:

Ami BRUNDICK-ELLER's picture

Despite this attraction being a favorite of mine ever since I was very small, I still imagined plenty of reasons for it's close (the air always had a tinge of seasickness, for example). However, the same attraction still runs in Disneyland. Ok, it is now bright blue and contains a few recognizable characters…but the track and general experience remains. So, if you are ever feeling nostalgic, look for the Nemo ride in DL.

There is also a submarine outside Space Mountain in DLP. Not sure if it was shipped over from DW, but it looks like the very same one to me! It isn't functioning as anything more than decoration, but it was a joy to see!

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