So Long Subs – A Farewell Update from the Disneyland Resort

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disneyland Resort, Features, In the Parks

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,


Published on January 03, 2014 at 3:00 am with 106 Comments

All good things must come to an end.  It was a wildly successful season that saw insane crowd levels in both parks.  While Holidays at the Disneyland Resort ends Monday night, this weekend will be the final chance for many to experience Christmastime at the Disneyland Resort.  Both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland will still be in holiday mode until the end of operations on Sunday night. Keep in mind that the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is going down Monday, January 6th, for what the Disney Parks Blog is calling a “refurbishment.”  We take you down for one last ride. Things are also coming along on Big Thunder Mountain as a large section of barrier wall was removed along the back end.  On the opposite side of the park, Space Mountain is finally getting a proper cleaning. Otherwise, things are relatively quite in the parks.  Andy Castro will be covering the recent New Years festivities in detail this Monday (Dusty and I, along with about 60 MiceChatters, spent NYE at Knott’s Berry Farm this year), so please check back on Monday.  Now sit back, relax, and enjoy a brief update from the Disneyland resort.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

According the the Disney Parks Blog, Nemo is going down for refurbishment from January 6th, to Friday, September 26th. However, a recent MiceAge update indicates that it is likely Nemo may never reopen. It is well-known that aside from being a glacially slow loader, 800-ish an hour, it is the single most expensive ride to operate in the resort.  But with the belt being tightened at the moment on all spending, Nemo is an easy target.





We suppose that if the park must tighten its belt, this would be the attraction to close. However, the loss of that beautiful lagoon is painful indeed.



We will soon know where the financial ebb and flow will guide this poor, iconic attraction.  But, for now we invite you to enjoy a final ride on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.


After Paul Pressler closed the Subs in September of 1998, it left a large unused piece of real estate in the middle of Disneyland.  Eventually, all agreed that the Tomorrowland problem needed to be addressed. But the only way to get the board to approve the huge financial expenditure and revitalize the existing attraction, was to tie it to a successful intellectual property.  After a bit of testing, it was finally announced that Pixar’s Finding Nemo would be used.







When the subs reopened in 2007, the fan community was overjoyed – not so much for the Pixar overlay  (which many deride for its lackluster use of video screens in place of animatronics), but for the chance to ride, once again, in the submarines designed by Disney Legend Bob Gurr.  It was good to see motion in the lagoon again after so many years of it sitting empty and lifeless.

Now we find ourselves on the verge of losing the subs again.  It’s an inevitable fate for this unique experience.  Walt wanted to give guests a “real show” in producing a submarine that was under water.  But Walt was the dreamer, not the financial wizard.  His dream came to fruition, but was hardly something sustainable.



Our advice?  If you want to experience this attraction before it goes away, get to the park before Sunday Night.




Bon Voyage Subs!  You gave us some wonderful adventures in liquid space.

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies

Another park staple that will be departing after Monday night is Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.  Kirk Wall and his original clan of music makers began performing in 1992 and have since become a fan favorite.  But, back in November, the Disney Parks Blog announced that the Billies would have their final performance at the park on Sunday, January 6th, 2014. Which leaves the Billies without a job.







They are performing way back in the outdoor, Jingle Jangle Jamboree.  Expect a large crowd for the final performance and get there early.

If you love the Billies, there is still some hope . . . but not at Disneyland. On New Years Eve, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies performed just down the road at Knott’s Berry Farm. They were given the freedom to perform numbers that Disneyland hasn’t been letting them do and they had a HUGE crowd of folks there to see them (including us). If you’d like to help Krazy Kirk and the band, please be sure to contact Knott’s Berry Farm and ask them to put the Hillbillies on the regular entertainment schedule. The decision is really up to you at this point.

Knott’s Berry Farm – 
8039 Beach Boulevard, 
Buena Park, CA USA 90620
Guest Relations: (714) 220-5200


Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard.
Buena Park, CA USA 90620

Additional Contact Information

  • General Info, Guest Relations: (714) 220-5200

- See more at:


Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard.
Buena Park, CA USA 90620

Additional Contact Information

  • General Info, Guest Relations: (714) 220-5200

- See more at:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Testing is happening around the clock.  The familiar sound of the chain lift in the earthquake scene can be heard while walking along Big Thunder Trail. Cast members can be heard making announcements over the loudspeakers throughout the attraction.




A large section of construction barrier walls was removed along the backside of the mountain, revealing part of the landscape once again.





While the interior show lighting is still being tweaked, the exterior lighting at night is saturated and beautiful.



We are eagerly anticipating the reopening of this beloved attraction on February 14th.  No word yet on soft-opening dates.


Another word of warning, the crowds will be intense this weekend.  In fact, pics from yesterday show Splash, Space and Indy with two hour waits. Yikes! Disneyland has enacted some crowd control measures to help ease the flow of people around the park.


A glance at the wait times board.


In order to enter Adventureland on crowd-control days, you will be forced to enter via Frontierland and make your way around a traffic divider of  benches. The tight path through Adventureland becomes a one-way exit out of the west side of the park.


It’s actually a clever use of existing space.


Tomorrowland traffic is equally bad.


This spot (between Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear – with Astro Orbiter in the middle) is one of the worst bottlenecks in the park.


Even at the exit, crowd control is there to funnel guests into the correct turnstiles.

Space Mountain

With all of the proper safety equipment now in place (per Disney’s OSHA standards), cleaning of the exterior of the Space Mountain Dome is underway.


In space, no one can see you clean. But we saw these guys on the backside of the mountain. You can immediately see the cleaned portions and yellowed dirty section.




From the hub, inside the park, you can see a difference between the top portion and the lower.


The side facing Tomorrowland itself is rather filthy.


That just about wraps things up for this update of the Disneyland Resort this week.  We hope that you all had a wonderful New Years celebration.  Andy Castro will be returning on Monday morning to give you a full run down on the festivities that occurred on New Years, along with pics and video!  We will be seeing you again soon, In The Parks!

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • pattimarie

    I have a couple of questions. All the Disney calendars show Christmas going to Monday. Is it really ending Sunday? This is a little off topic, but has anyone else noticed that all merchandise discounts at Disneyland have ended as of the 31st for all pass levels? I haven’t seen any discussion of this, and I wonder if the note on the annual passholder page just appeared stealth-like on the 1st, or might even be wrong. I was going to renew my pass, but now I’m reconsidering.

    • Christmastime is through Monday.

      Haven’t heard about the end of passholder discounts. Will have to research that. Would certainly be a stupid move by Disney if true.

    • Bobbee

      Just looked at the DL website and it now says discounts good through 12/31/2014. The discounts are the same as before.

      • pattimarie

        Thanks for the info. Even on January 1, the site said they ended 12/31/13, but I guess that was just an updating issue. I really use the discounts and it makes the pass worthwhile.

  • LoonAZ


    I share your concern about the discounts, but I think this is just an annual update to the website. Here is a link to another website outlining the same concerns last year (2012-2013)….

    My guess is that Disney sets it up this way in order to give them the opportunity to make changes to the discount structure annually.

    We’ll have to wait and see if they implement any changes to the 2014 discount structure. I’d bet the discounts will be posted soon.

  • FerretAfros

    I’m still very skeptical that the Disney Parks Blog is trying to pull such a blatant bait-and-switch with the subs. Their intentions should become more clear in a week or two, once work begins, but I suspect the attraction will reopen later in the year

    I also have a difficult time believing that the Subs are more expensive to operate than the Disneyland Railroad. With 5 steam locomotives, the wooden rolling stock, and large dinosaur AA’s to maintain, in addition to its huge onstage cast, I imagine it takes a lot more work and requires more specialized labor

    • Country Bear

      Good comment that I hadn’t considered. I suspect that the trains cannot be shut down because you don’t want a closed attraction at the very entrance to your park. Sends the wrong message – even accountants must realize this.

      • 9oldmen

        The trains can be shut down. They were shut down for 18 months back in the late eighties for “Splash Mountain” construction.

      • 9oldmen

        The trains can be shut down. They were shut down for 18 months back in the late eighties for “Splash Mountain” construction.

    • Freddie Freelance

      But the DLRR can carry 200 passengers each train, and does a full circle tour in 20 minutes, so each train can carry 600 passengers an hour, and often carries more since many people just ride the train one or two stops, and then the DLRR usually runs four trains at a time during busy hours, so they’re moving 2,500 people an hour easily at busy times. Compare that to a ride that carries 800 an hour when running at peak efficiency, and has been suffering constant breakdowns of subs for years due to battery issues which means it almost never runs at peak efficiency.

      Even if the DLRR may cost more to run as a single item, it costs less at a per rider level, plus the DLRR is one of the iconic rides of the park and would probably be the very last ride to close if they ever closed down Disneyland.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    On our last visit to Disneyland, my sons were really excited to ride the subs because we had never done that before. It was never an intention of ours, we just never fit it into our day before…and my boys saw old home movies of ours on VHS from when my husband was a boy and his parents took him on the subs at WDW. My boys thought the subs would be cool. Neither my husband nor I had ever rode on them as adults, but I had good memories from my childhood of the original sub ride at Disneyland. I don’t think I ever rode it in Florida though.

    Anyway, that sub ride was one of the worst things we ever did together. We hated every minute of it. I actually got a little claustrophobic. Someone had a toddler on the ride and the baby messed its diaper, so the inside of the sub stank like that. There was also a strong mold/standing water smell and there was indeed water in the bottom of our sub. The whole thing was very awkward. Also, I will say that I am about 80 lbs heavier than I want to be right now. I was embarrassed at how awkward it was for me to move around in the sub or get down into it. I thought everything in the lagoon looked faded and cheap like it was Six Flags and the video effects in the water were dumb in my opinion. The old Jules Verne creatures and storyline was fun and charming…and actually reminded me of an underwater Haunted Mansion (because of the creepy voice and the story of being in another place, but instead of a haunted place it was this kind of creepy underwater place).

    The Nemo stuff was awful. We all wanted off the ride almost as soon as it started. Never again will I ride this thing, even if it somehow survives and is still there when I take my grandkids to Disneyland 20 years from now. I ain’t getting in those things again!

    • Country Bear

      Was it really THAT bad? You didn’t like nor appreciate a single thing about it at all?

    • stevek

      Sorry you didn’t like it…this is the first incredibly negative review that I’ve read though I’m sure there are others. I can honestly say that I like the older version of the subs better but I also really enjoyed this new version and never experienced the issues you had.

    • billyjobobb

      I would tend to agree. You couldn’t pay me to get on the subs again, and they were my favorite as a kid.

      People don’t understand that they have to go to the end before they sit down, It is claustrophobic, then the whole thing is just wonky. It’s cheesy, and it looks like a high school class could create better effects.

    • DobbysCloset

      I rode the subs constantly as a child in the early 1960′s and from then on until they closed down…

      All of the things you so honestly mentioned — stinky diaper babies, extra-large people causing the subs to ship water and, most importantly, the stupid cartoon fish named after the real Captain of the Nautilus for some weird stupid reason — none of that present.

      The Submarine Voyage ride was, for a childhood fan of Jules Verne with a dog named Capt. Nemo in 1962, a total joy.

    • Internitty

      Personally I love the subs, I’m 50 and enjoy riding them every time I go to DLR. Perhaps adults who loved them as kids and don’t like them as adults should think about all the kids who haven’t been on them yet or are their favourites.

    • TacAlert

      I think B&Bmom was just more concerned about how she felt and not what her kids thought. She is possibly one of those people who hangs out for 4 hours in the same spot to see the fireworks every night or Fantasmic. Just saying. You know the type.

      • thebear

        That’s funny.

      • BradyNBradleysMom

        TacAlert —

        Since you have never met me and don’t know me, I think it’s best if you don’t opine on what I am most concerned about. My sons both thought the subs were a waste of our time in the park and regretted wanting to go on them. To this day, if anyone asks them about the subs, they make faces and say how much they hated being in them. We only went on the subs because my boys wanted to do it, and the whole family regretted that decision.

        And sweetie I’d never stand in one spot for four hours waiting for anything. I’ve seen plenty of fireworks in my lifetime and couldn’t care less about Fantasmic.

        I do hope you don’t make a habit of judging other MiceChat members and inventing things about people you’ve never met and don’t know. It’s really unfair of you.

    • DoctorQ9

      I enjoyed the Nemo ride, but there has to be a better video out there than the one that is featured in the article!

  • LoveStallion

    I don’t have a deep love for the Nemo sub overlay, but the existence of the subs themselves is as iconic as their 1959 stabelmates – the Matterhorn and the Monorail. The lagoon and the kinetic energy of the place with the subs disappearing into a cave are deeply a party of Disneyland’s aesthetic. It’d be a shame to lose that, despite the understandable financial reasons.

  • Country Bear

    Thanks for the update Norm.

    The news is hard to believe about the subs. Although there is no reason to question your reporting as Disney has used this tactic before. Best way to avoid any negative press or whining from the Disney purists (of which I am one). It just seems odd as this was such an expensive attraction to rebuild and is very popular (particularly with kids). Perhaps we’ll see it replaced with a lightly themed spinner that will be just as good, if not better, on paper.

    Has anyone noticed that there has been a very deafening silence from John Lassitter lately? This was one of his babies and I would think he would have some thoughts on it. Perhaps he’s being silenced so that someone else at Disney can enjoy the headlines. Or perhaps he is consciously distancing himself from the subject because he knew it was coming? Pretty convenient time to tear out an E Ticket attraction with no one to argue it in the media. Tony Baxter is out of the way now, so he can’t stand against this.

    If your analysis is true, then we are witnessing, first hand, the management of WDW (sorry, One Disney) beginning its plunder of Disneyland’s heart and soul. Such an amazing and unique attraction to Disneyland. Well I guess, they certainly didn’t need one in Orlando, so why do we need one in California?

    Very sad news indeed.

    • Internitty

      The plunder was inevitable, I’m surprised it took so long. Disney don’t care what fans / guests want anymore, look at the Disneyland Hotel Waterfall when the fan community was up in arms did they listen? No, but we did get some really tacky rusting slide overlays. Of course the closure of The Court of Angels to expand Club 33 so they can add more members and make extra bucket loads of money and now the postponement and cancellation of so many projects to pay for a white elephants to monitor your movement and spending in Disneyworld. The days of having rides and exhibits in Disneyland just for the art of it are over and the One Disney syndrome. It’s such a shame no one on the board really cares about anything but money.

    • BigBobxxx

      “Perhaps we’ll see it replaced with a lightly themed spinner that will be just as good, if not better, on paper.”

      That seems awfully expensive.
      Why not another meet-and-greet with a couple themed food carts?

      Maybe they could just mark it as “Operates Seasonally; Temporarily Closed” for a few years, before they quietly close it down-the-road. Or, is that just one of our WDW tactics?

  • notlemc

    Great Update! Although its tough to see some rides and performances leave the parks, I hope that they will be replaced with something original and better.

    Any update from DCA or are they still plugging along as usual?

  • skoolpsyk

    So MiceChat is doubling down on the subs closure, ehh? I still find it very hard to believe with the upcoming sequel to Nemo in production. We’ll see but it will be interesting to see how micechat spins the news if they don’t…and their credibility will take a big hit…

    • yichku59

      It is the equivalent of doubling down on a 13 against a dealer’s face card. Lolzz

    • The parks lie to guests all the time. The Rocket Rods closed for a refurbishment, so did Light Magic. All sorts of cuts are made because “our guests have told us,” as though the guests have demanded the cuts. I wouldn’t assume that anything posted by the Disney Parks blog is completely accurate. They are simply a mouthpiece for corporate control of the message. While they’ve written many wonderful things, it’s pure corporate propaganda. They also pay people to post messages here and elsewhere to support their message. Keep that in mind.

      And yes, the subs were targeted due to their expense according to multiple well placed sources. They are being closed with drained lagoon to cut costs. Consider it mothballing until final decisions are made about Tomorrowland’s future. It’s a logical fan reaction to not want to believe bad news, but this is in fact a sad reaction to a massive budget slashing which is going to result in many unfortunate things company-wide.

      Meanwhile, a bloodbath is going on in Imagineering as folks are disappearing and fingers are being pointed over MyMagic+. This is a VERY stressful time for the magic makers and lots of tongues are wagging.

      • stevek

        I’ve lived through many of these “refurbishments” through my 40+ years of visiting Disneyland but I’ll take a wait and see approach on the subs. While I can certainly understand the cost concerns, it’s still a fairly popular attraction…much more than the original subs were when they met their end if I remember correctly. I just don’t see Disney shutting it down unless they have a clear plan for that area and are waiting to announce it later this year.

        While I’m sad to hear that anyone is losing their jobs due to MM+, perhaps imagineering should look in the mirror a bit and realize that the inflated amounts they charge to develop attractions could also be contributing to some of the financial issues.

        On a side note, Magic Bands received some negative airplay on KTLA 5 here on Los Angeles today. Expressing concerns over consumer privacy and specifically stating that CM’s could track the movement of children.

      • dlpostcardguy

        I’ll have to agree with you guys (and trust your sources) on this. Not the first time something ‘closed for refurbishment’ and never re-opened. I personally don’t have an issue with them closing but do take issue with the fact it may just sit there for years with nothing being built in it’s place. Does this mean if they drain the subs we will have a semi-permanent construction wall around the lagoon for potentially several years or longer? What an eyesore if so. Maybe they can at least fill it in and put temporary additional seating for Tomorrowland Terrace. ;-)

      • frollofan

        That’s a slippery slope. Just because the permanent closure of the Rocket Rods and 20KLUTS happened without notice doesn’t mean it will definitely happen this time.

      • Internitty

        Did anyone pay attention to the blatant shameless promotion of MyMagic+ on the Disneyland Christmas Day Parade TV special? It was sickening and when you consider they are throwing good money after bad into this project instead of investing in product that will actually draw people in it becomes even more sickening

    • ahecht

      Yeah, closing down the Subs right before another Nemo movie comes out would be almost as stupid as closing down the Country Bear Jamboree right before a Country Bears movie comes out about a greedy businessman wanting to tear down the Country Bear Jamboree… oh, wait…

  • indianajack

    I can’t say I’m upset about losing the subs. If we have to lose an e-ticket in Anaheim, this is easily the first choice to get the axe. My kids and I rode it once, and never rode it again. It just wasn’t a compelling story, the load and unload times were lengthy, and the digital projection effects were cheesy. I remember fondly the 20,000 Leagues subs from my childhood, but this Nemo version truly under-performed. I really wanted to like them but they disappointed on almost every level. The only thing I’ll miss is the kinetic energy of the subs circling the lagoon. Otherwise, I agree with the suits on this one, that if one big, expensive attraction had to be closed, then let the subs be the one.

  • airick75

    Bob Iger could pay for the operation of the subs with about a day’s salary or a day’s dividends from his stock options.

    Hey Micechat, could you get a like/dislike or thumbs up/thumbs down feature for your comments like many other websites have? It would add a fun dynamic to these sections.

    • TodAZ1

      “thumbs up” on your request. :)

  • ScottG

    Lets keep this in perspective. The closing of the subs isn’t sad news, it’s a sad rumor.

    • Due to the number of people aware of the closure, it’s really much more fact than rumor at this point. Rumor only in so far as Disney isn’t willing to confirm it yet. In part because the replacement plans (Star Wars) have been partially placed on hold. It does look like they are moving forward with the cosmetic Star Wars fix to the front of the land. But should they approve the budget for the rest of the project, the subs would need to go anyway.

      • stevek

        Nothing is truly a fact until it actually happens. It should probably be characterized as a highly substantiated rumor based on your contacts versus anything close to a fact.

    • notlemc

      According to Disney, the subs will be refurbished with “colorful, more vibrant underwater rockwork and coral.”

      According to MiceAge, the subs will be permanently shutdown without a refurbishment.

      Once the ride is drained we’ll be able to determine who is right and who is wrong by seeing if any changes are occurring in the lagoon area and if the rockwork and coral are being repainted. The Monorail platform is going to become a very popular observation deck.

  • TweedlDum9

    It just seems so silly. The Parks are PACKED. They aren’t losing money.
    The only thing I can think of is that, if plans for new things were cut or put on hold, will Disneyland management be playing a shell game with the Subs’ labor/maintenance/whatever money and using it to still move forward internally with at least one of those plans?
    That previous article talked about just how MUCH money was spent on the Magic Band scheme, and it was staggering. But to paralyze things at Disneyland as punishment?! Come on, bean counters…

  • daliseurat

    I hate the idea of the subs closing. It’s one of those things that only Disneyland has. It’s sad to see so many iconic experiences leave. One of the main reasons I choose Disneyland over WDW are some of these experiences. Subs, Matterhorn, Casey Junior, Storybookland, Alice in Wonderland, Indiana Jones, Monorail though the park, Mr. Toad, Pinnochio…these are why I come. If they take out the subs, there won;t be any subs anywhere and that will definitely give me pause when choosing a destination resort.

  • TweedlDum9

    Another thing that might have been cut: there was no Disney Parks float in the Rose Parade this year! What a silly decision… especially since the theme was “Dreams Come True”!

    • Many non-essential things are being cut right now as they try to recover some of the 1.5 billion they spent on MyMagic+.

      At the moment, most of those cuts are occurring behind the scenes through layoffs, consolidations, cancellation or delay of development projects, etc.

      While I would have LOVED to have seen them run a float in the Rose Parade, it probably didn’t make business sense this year.

      But I certainly agree that it would have been the perfect year theme-wise.

      • bfdf55

        Well, with the Public Storage float, I think the Rose Parade had a worthwhile replacement for anything Disney would have done.

  • DisneysPan46

    Everyone is looking at the downside of the Sub’s rumored closing, why not bring up your Disneyside and discuss what attractions could be put there instead?

    In my opinion, with the huge success of Frozen (I’ve seen it 4 times), why not put a Frozen inspired attraction there? An E-ticket ride perhaps. It would fit perfectly next to the Matterhorn! A mountainous winter ice land. I think it’s a pretty fantastic idea.

    What would you guys propose?

    • bfdf55

      Frozen wouldn’t work well in Tomorrowland or in a lagoon.

      • jacobeee

        If they were to make a land such as that, it would force them to remove Autopia also, which they wouldn’t be willing to do..

    • stevek

      If anything, Frozen would work in Fantasyland. Not in the sub lagoon but possibly where the old motorboat ride was. I think that should the subs and Autopia go away anytime soon, that space will be reserved for Tomorrowland.