It was 1998 when Disneyland grounded the submarine fleet, calling it costly and dated. Then park President Paul Pressler, leader of the park bean-counters, wanted the ride shut down because it hogged space, proved too expensive to maintain and cycled riders through too slowly.

But the ride had its champions, including Marty Sklar, then Disney's creative chief. He publicly threatened to lie down on the busy street that fronts Disneyland to prevent the subs from being deep-sixed. It was a rare case of an internal Walt Disney Co. dispute being thrust into the public eye.

"Oh, I said it," Sklar said. "I meant it. I'm sure glad I didn't have to throw myself across Harbor Boulevard…. I never gave up."

The empty lagoon's high-profile location became an eyesore that served as a constant reminder of the park's less-than-pristine condition.

"It just created this jungle [park executives] had to hack their way through," said Al Lutz, editor of, a website about all things Disney. "Even when they closed the ride, the fight continued. Everybody that could throw themselves in the way [of closing the ride] — obstruct it, block it, or stop it — did."

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