LETTERS  PCR #322      (May 22--28, 2006)

  • Reader Used To Work At Disney's 20K Ride (and Ed Tucker's response)
  • RISK actor on review of movie
  • Will Moriaty on "The Man Who Hated Laughter"

    Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


    Hi Nolan
    I just read your 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea highlight page [on Disney's theme park ride, written for Crazed Fanboy by ED Tucker]. I found it through Google. Seems I've come across some of that text before, but I wanted a chance to clarify some of the details.

    I'm basing my comments on this simple fact: I was a 20K ride operator for several years in the early 1990s.

  • There were only 12 subs. I never knew there to be any more.
  • While I was there, one sub was powered by LP.
  • If there were two in maintenance at any given time, it didn't mean they were broken. Does the term "preventative maintenance" mean anything? I mean, we never ran more than 9 at a time. Why not use that planned downtime to change the oil?
  • As a member of the "operations staff" I never "Hated the 20K ride because of its continual need for repairs and upkeep." Sheer boredom and being cooped up in the sail for 90 minutes or more was more likely the reason! It wasn't any more boring than any other ride operator position that I experienced.
  • I was under the impression that one of the subs had ended up in a lagoon in Disney Sea in Japan.

    I agree that "Obviously the real estate the ride utilized was not in demand because it sat unused for almost ten years following the closure." I visited the park just over a week ago--the first time since the lagoon had been filled in. I'm still in shock! And why ANOTHER Pooh attraction?

    Yet, I think the ADA is what did more damage to the ride than anything else. I mean, I worked at four attractions during my time as a Cast Member, and now two of them are not only closed forever but completely GONE. (Skyway was the other.) When I think about it, both of those always had long wait times. (But does that mean they were popular? According to SOP, 20K could handle more guests per hour than Space Mountain.) Yet neither of those rides could load wheelchair-bound guests. And to modify the ride vehicles could be a huge undertaking. In the post-dot-com era, putting in a new walk-through attraction is a whole lot less expensive than re-designing and testing and building new ride vehicles for an attraction based on a movie that is 50 years old. Space Mountain can't load wheelchairs either, but Small World has special boats. I know...I think the operations staff had to make some choices as to which rides were worth spending the funds on to make them ADA-compliant. Unfortunately, 20K lost.

    I agree that its fate is sad. As a former 20K Cast Member, it's really sad--it was my first attraction. But as has been said, the park is "Not a museum." But why can't it be? Thanks for letting me vent.

    Chris Cooper

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and provide your insights into the Walt Disney World 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. I will do my best to address your questions and comments in the order you sent them.

    As to the number of subs at the ride, I was told there were a total of 14 all together. This was based on the information I was given that there were four "packs" of three subs in operation on the ride at any one time and two subs were rotated in dry dock for repairs or maintenance. Of course preventative maintenance was a part of this and hence the reason for a few extra in case of any unforeseen problem or malfunction so that the ride could be kept fully operational.

    It was never my intention to imply that any of the cast members of the ride were in any way displeased with it. A great deal of the information I put together for the article and more afterwards has come from cast members including sub operators and every single one of them loved the ride and was deeply sadden by its demolition. The operations staff I referred to was the general maintenance crew at Disney who were unhappy with the continual and specialized repairs and upkeep this ride required. This information came from both cast members of the ride and maintenance workers themselves.

    The Nautilus submarine on display at Tokyo Disney was specifically constructed for that park. While it is designed in the same style as the one Harper Goth did for the Disney film, it is larger than the ride subs and is actually only the top half of the vessel. This attraction is a "walk through" of the Nautilus but the portion of the exterior sub is separate from the actual interiors which are underground.

    It is my understanding that the Skyway ride was closed after a park visitor jumped from one of the cars and was killed. Disney executives felt it was too much of a liability to keep the ride in operation after that. From what I was told and based on the opinions of long time park visitors, the 20K ride was one of the most popular attractions in the park from the day it opened. Since every rides had different load and run times, it difficult to determine exactly how popular any one was in comparison to another but 20K was one of the six original 'E' ticket rides.

    I believe you are absolutely correct about the ride "losing" because of the expense to repair it and the park not being a "museum". Since my article was published, I have been contacted by other cast members from the ride (some of whom are still employed at Disney) and they have essentially collaborated everything I wrote. I have also received additional information regarding the ride and it's destruction that further leads me to believe it was singled out unfairly. What invoked my ire most was the dishonest manner in which Disney disposed of the ride. Had they been honest with the public and announced it's closing in advance that would be fine but it deserved a far better send off than it received. If Walt Disney were still alive today, I believe the park would be operating much more like a museum and would be better for it.

    Again, thank you for your thoughts and for the great experience if you were ever the operator on one of the subs when I was on the ride. If you have any further questions or would like to share any other information or experiences please feel free to contact me directly.

    - ED -


    Hi Nolan,
    Larry ("Troy" character) here from RISK. Thanks for the great review...I forwarded it to Dave DeBorde...he will be pleased. I am glad you liked it. Dave will be at the Tampa Bay Film Review on June 9th with his third project, Potluck. Hope you will be there.

    My improv troupe is performing in Clearwater on May 25th at 8pm at The Junction. More info can be found on our website at www.tampabait.com. We would love to have you and yours in the audience that night.

    Thanks again for your support of the arts.

    Larry Bukovey

    Larry, thanks for writing and glad to help out. Keep up the great work! --Nolan


    My God has Brother ED Tucker outdone himself again.

    Simply put, his latest article, "The Man Who Hated Laughter" was SUPERB!

    Also, thanks for conveying my very best wishes to Terence on his birthday!

    William Moriaty
    "La Floridiana"

    To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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