Vintage Photos of Walt Disney World Capture Its Special, Early Magic

  1. 2 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage

    From 1971 to 1994, Magic Kingdom played host to an attraction called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in Tomorrowland. The Submarine Voyage made its first debut in Disneyland in 1959, with its first audience being President Richard Nixon, Walt Disney himself, Mrs. Disney, and a wave of U.S. Navy soldiers.

    The attraction encapsulated the vibrancy of sea life by taking passengers on an underwater voyage in makeshift submarine vehicles. These vessels weighed around forty tons, though they did not function as actual boats. Instead, passengers were led into their individual seats in a room that sat below water level. It was decorated with metal paneling, rivets, and bolts with a portal hole for each guest. The warped perspective gave the illusion of an underwater journey to discover the sea’s greatest treasures. 


    The story begins when Captain Nemo narrates the passenger's journey as they descend into the underwater plains around Vulcania. Passengers could see eels, turtles, and tropical fish among the unique deepwater fish that lay in the Abyss. The passengers undergo many trials and tribulations throughout this adventure. A storm would take them into the Graveyard of Lost Ships before their Nautilus would lead them to the Polar Ice Caps in the North Pole. After dodging numerous icebergs, passengers then found themselves in the lost city of Atlantis, which was laden with mermaids, treasure, and a giant squid. The catalyst happens when the submarine must escape from the tentacles of the squid. Once clear of the cave, passengers were safely transported back to Disney’s tropical lagoon.  

    The ride was expensive to maintain and closed without notice in 1994. It was eventually replaced by Ariel’s Grotto in 1997. Some of the ships can now be seen in the snorkeling lagoon at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island.