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Epcot's The Seas With Nemo & Friends Part 2

My previous blog discussed the history of the Living Seas pavilion. With waning attendance and no sponsor, the Imagineers had to be creative and transform the area to something today's adults and children would enjoy!

The movie “Finding Nemo” opened in May 2003 and was an instant success. Sensing that the characters from this film could breathe new life into The Living Seas and appeal to children, Disney started re-theming the pavilion in December of the same year. The exterior came first with the addition of a sculpture featuring Dory, Marlin, Nemo, Gill and others. This photo op was an immediate hit and drew large crowds.


Nemo Sculpture


“Turtle Talk with Crush” opened on November 16, 2004. Using state-of-the-art computer graphics, “real time” animation was achieved that allowed Crush to carry on live conversations with theater guests via a “window” into the tank and a hydrophone. The show was given virtually no publicity, but within weeks of opening, “Turtle Talk with Crush” was so successful that the Imagineers knew they needed to increase capacity. Eventually, the show was moved to a larger venue. The original screen can still be seen if you know where to look. Each show is approximately 15 minutes in length.


Turtle Talk with Crush Sign

Turtle Talk with Crush


In August of 2005, The Living Seas closed for more extensive renovations. When it reopened in November the pavilion had been renamed “The Seas with Nemo & Friends.” Over the next several years, a number a changes would take place to re-imagine the pavilion. On the exterior, the sunburst was replaced with sea creatures from the Finding Nemo movie. But the real crowd pleaser was the addition of three seagulls who periodically squawk “Mine. Mine. Mine.”


New Exterior

Mine. Mine. Mine.


Inside, most of the old scientific displays were replaced with Nemo-themed exhibits and aquariums. In the new aquariums guests could find more colorful and interesting fish than those found in the main tank -- which can be rather lackluster. And to complete the theming, clownfish (Nemo) and the regal blue tangs (Dory) were included.


New Aquariums

New Aquariums


However, the Imagineers didn’t want to completely abandon the educational aspects of the pavilion so they created inviting displays that provided fun facts about the Nemo gang and the seas in general.


Informational Signs

Informational Signs


A kid’s play area was also added. “Bruce’s Sub House” features a lot of great photo ops and some fun and educational games.


Bruce’s Sub House

Bruce’s Sub House

Bruce’s Sub House


But the biggest change to the pavilion was the addition of a new ride. The ride, like the pavilion, is named “The Seas with Nemo & Friends.” In the queue, all of the historic sea diving apparatus was replaced with beach scenes.


Queue Beach Scene

Queue Beach Scene


The old Seacab track was lengthened by 280 feet (using the space from one of the old pre-show theaters and the hydrolators) and new sets were built. Now guests ride in “Clamobiles” and travel through Nemo’s undersea world.


Clamobiles


The voyage begins in the coral reefs with Marlin looking for his son Nemo who has become lost again. Mr. Ray and Dory also join in the search. Along the way we encounter jellyfish, anglerfish, and the sharks Chum and Bruce. Next we join Crush and Squirt in the EAC (East Australian Current) for a rollicking ride. The journey ends with guests peering into the pavilion’s main tank and seeing the entire gang swimming with the real fish. The song, “In the Big Blue World” is from the “Finding Nemo – The Musical” shown in the Animal Kingdom.


Coral Reef

Marlin and Dory Looking for Nemo

Jellyfish

Anglerfish

Bruce and Nemo

Crush in the EAC

In the Big Blue World


In theory, everyone must enter this pavilion by riding “The Seas with Nemo & Friends.” But in reality, there is nothing to stop you from entering through the exit. But since the line for the ride is rarely more than 10 minutes, I can’t see a reason to do this.


Exit Doors


The last aspect of this pavilion is the “Coral Reef” restaurant. I’ve often wondered why the Imagineers virtually hid this eatery from the guests. If you didn’t know it was here, you’d never stumble across it. I’ve never been able to find a definitive reason why this restaurant was separated from the rest of the pavilion, but I have heard a couple of theories. First, United Technologies thought a restaurant would interfere with the educational nature of their pavilion. I’ve also heard that the Imagineers didn’t think it would fit with the theming of Sea Base Alpha. After all, fine dining establishments aren’t usually standard issue in underwater science labs.


Coral Reef Entrance


The Coral Reef Restaurant is beautifully designed. From the moment you enter its lobby, you know you’re in for a treat. A number of colorfully-lit glass sculptures line the walls, hang from the ceiling, and create a check-in desk. The lobby also acts as a buffer between the sunny outdoors and the darkened interior.


Coral Reef Entrance

Coral Reef Lobby


When you enter the restaurant, you are immediately struck by the four, eight-foot high windows that line one wall and offer views into the aquarium. Each window is framed by tan-colored sand and pebble panels. These panels help offset the dark blues that cover the ceiling and walls. The restaurant is terraced with mosaic encrusted half-walls separating each level. The chairs are made of light colored woods. The table tops are framed with this same wood and have a metal insert with a swirl design etched into them. The carpet has shades of blue and purple and looks like the ocean surf.


Coral Reef Restaurant

Coral Reef Restaurant


The best seats in the house are those that sit directly next to the aquarium windows. When you check in, don’t hesitate to ask for one of these special tables. You will be told if one is available, or given an estimate of how long a wait it will be until one opens up.

To see what other Allears readers think of the Coral Reef Restaurant, check out our Rate & Review page by clicking here.


Is “The Seas with Nemo & Friends” worth seeing? Absolutely! Granted, it’s not as exciting as Soarin’ or as thrill-packed as Test Track or Mission: Space. But it is interesting and can be educational if you take the time to read some of the plaques and signs. In addition, it’s probably the most kid-friendly pavilion at Epcot. When I visited last week I spent over two hours here. Granted, I was doing research and filming for this blog. But if you plan on seeing “Turtle Talk with Crush,” the Lock-Out Chamber demonstration, and the dolphin training, you can easily spend an entire hour here. In fact, to show you snippets of everything offered in this pavilion, my video is 15 minutes long. But trust me; the time will fly by when watching it because there is a lot of cool stuff to be experienced here.



That’s it for The Living Seas/The Seas With Nemo & Friends. I hope you plan to visit soon.



The previous post in this blog was Epcot's The Seas With Nemo & Friends Part 1.

The next post in this blog is Animation Academy at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Comments (20)

Ron Stalsberg Jr:

Thanks for another great blog Jack. I was so glad when they updated the Living Seas with the Nemo characters. This area had needed updating for many years. Turtle Talk with Crush and The Seas With Nemo & Friends are so great. When we brought our Grandson in January He loved both of these. You always need to try and improve when they make these changes and here I think they did. I always wondered why they did not build this so it was part of the whole Living seas area. We ate here last year and really enjoyed our meals.

Wendy Crober:

Hi Jack,

That was a wonderful blog...especially watching the video with the music.

We always spend time in this pavilion because it's a calm respite after being in the Land! No seriously we do love the aquarium, Turtle Talk with Crush and my 8 year old loves the Nemo ride.

Thanks for all the beautiful pics and the video - it was a little bit of Disney to start my day...-6 here right now!

Would you recommend eating at Coral Reef at least once? My husband is dying to try it but we have some non-seafood lovers in our group so we've avoided it so far. It looks like the atmosphere alone would make it worth while to try.

Thanks,
Wendy

Jack's Answer: I have had mixed experiences at the Coral Reef. Sometimes it's excellent, sometimes just so-so. However, I think everyone should try it at least once. It is a beautiful restaurant.

Josh:

hey jack
we always stop in to see nemo whenever we visit and always visit turtle talk. it is great because it is never the same show twice so you never know what is going to happen. as for the coral reef resturant i have eatin there once and would try it again. can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

cathy m.:

Hi Jack,
When we visited this fun attraction in Dec it was early morning so it was not crowded yet so we finally had a chance to read all of the information.

Turtle Talk is a favorite of mine. I love to hear Crush talk to the little ones eventhough I don't have a young child anymore it's the kindergarten teacher in me.
I also love to hear little voices saying "Look,it's Nemo!" when they see a clown fish.

Thanks Jack for all of your hard work putting the video and blog together.

Have a happy day and there is sunshine here this am so I hope you are having the same.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! I love everything about The Seas with Nemo and Friends. I love the outside photo op and the Seagulls' cries of "Mine, Mine, Mine." We have collected a lot of memories there over the years.

I think the pavillion was very thought out and the attractions inside are top notch. Turtle Talk with Crush is a favorite. Someone in my family always seems to get picked to ask Crush a question. And, let me tell you, there have been some jiffies.
I love boarding my clamobile and watching the story of Nemo come to life in front of me.
I love all the exhibits, especially the manatees and dolphins. I also love hunting for the Hidden Mickey that moves constantly on the bottom of the aquariums floor.
Thanks again for another great one! :)

Anastasia:

Awesome review as usual, I really enjoyed part 1 yesterday, your description of the Living Seas even made it into my dreams! I dreamt that I was on the old ride and got on the hydrolator but when the doors opened I had been transported to an alien planet, or the future...I'm not sure which.

Thanks for writing these, I look forward to your blogs every week. :)

Susan Brotherton:

Thanks for the blog on one of our favorites! I visited the Living Seas years ago, and then skipped it as it seemed outdated. However, since having my daughter, we make sure to visit Nemo! She's 2 and has been to the World for both of her birthdays. On both trips, I think this was her favorite ride. It's a must-do for parents of young children! Bruce's sub shop can get a little crowded, though.

As for Turtle Talk with Crush, we skipped it a couple of years ago. Like you said, it got no publicity, and I just assumed it wasn't worth seeing (over all that Epcot has to offer). Last October, however, we were in Epcot for EMH and decided to give it a try, as I was pregnant, and we had a 2 year old with us, so thrill rides were out. Wow! My daughter loved seeing the "turdle" and talking to him. And my husband and I loved trying to figure out how the magic worked. It was such a funny show! And since it's ever-changing, we won't miss it in the future!

Thanks again for a great read!

Believe it or not, I only saw Turtle Talk with Crush for the first time a few weeks ago! I had seen snippets on TV here and there and it didn't really interest me. In fact, I saw the interactive Crush on the Dream first. When I finally did see Turtle Talk, it was hilarious! The responses the kids gave to Crush's questions, and his reaction to the answers was priceless! It's definitely an attraction I'll be more apt to visit now.

Eric Bouchet:

Wow Jack,
Thank you for another wonderful Blog. The Seas is one of our favorite places. We never ever ever miss going there. The video was awesome. My 5 year old sat here the whole time watching with me ooohhing and aahhhing and saying ooh ooh thats this and thats that. We will be down on May 5th. Cant wait!!!!!!

Mike Venere:

Always read these at work and cannot wait to go home and show our 3 year old. She loved this entire area (even when we dined at the Coral Reef). When we told her we were going back she spoke of the Nemo ride first.

Robert Dickinson:

Hey Jack,
Thanks again for another AWESOME Blog. The Seas with Nemo & Friends is an excellent example of a bang up job the Imagineers can do to breath new life into an old attraction while still keeping a classic alive. I for one Love educational attractions and its why EPCOT is one of my all time favorite parks. Unfortunately though, if the "education" is not presented in a fun and entertaining way it can come off boring and miss its mark. Disney has always been a master at making education fun and exciting. Main stream education could learn a lot from Disney's approach!
As for previous attendance issues in any of the larger pavilions (Land, Sea, Life) I feel one of the inherent problems with any of them is the problem of shear size. I believe people just get confused as to what all is in them and where the attractions are. And unfortunately many don't wish to slow down to explore. You don't have this problem in pavilions that hold a single attraction (Test Track, Mission Space). Perhaps a simple Directory podium at the entrance would help elevate this. I know Land now employs a Cast Member to help direct people but again people have to slow down to interact with them. Then again even with a Directory most would probably walk past without ever noticing it:)
The Sea with Nemo & Friends ride/attraction itself is outstanding!! I love how you start out in the Que on the beach and slowly descend underwater! I would also love to understand how they do the projections. Nemo and friends look like they are swimming alongside the real fish in various distances from the tank wall. Its the closest you can get from being 3D without having to wear glasses. Its amazing technology. In fact I feel it is better than 3D! Likewise Turtle Talk with Crush is equally amazing. I can think of 100 ways this sort of technology could be used in the "real" world, particularly Healthcare. In general I love what they have done with the Living Seas pavilion and wish all referbs could be done so well!! Just hope that Nautilus model has been put away for safe keeping. They could always send it over to my place to be taken great care of:) Well gotta run but thanks again Jack for another great Blog. Looking forward to the next!!

Elizabeth Goodman:

I really enjoyed both parts of this blog. Great memories of The Living Seas original and then the transformation to the Seas with Nemo and Friends. Although we don't watch Turtle talk with Crush every visit, it is a must sea for those with little ones or for those who don't who just want a good laugh. We had a great time with it. My special needs daughter loves the Nemo ride and the down time that comes with it. Thanks for sharing the video. I always enjoy reading all of your blogs. The history and time you put into them is just amazing. Thanks again.

J.L.:

Thank you for your article.

I imagine I'm the minority, but I really prefer the old version of The Living Seas to this Nemo version. I prefer Epcot the way it used to be before the characters took over each pavillion.

Let's not even get started on the Grande Fiesta Tour...

I am glad they removed the hydrolators, though.

Katie Caruso:

Hi Jack!
I look forward to your blogs every week! We spent a lot of time at The Seas before we had kids, and now that I have a 2 year old who loves Nemo, when were were at EPCOT in october, I think we rode the"Clammobile" 8 times!!! The Coral Reef is one of my favorite places to eat in the world, and it keeps a 2 year old entertained because of the aquarium viewing!! Thanks for another great blog!!
Katie Caruso
Pittsburgh, PA

julie:

Hi Jack, what an awesome blog. I remember the original version well and totally love the update. I've been there loads of times and never even noticed the kids play area!! I'll be there in sept with my camera..........

Dennis:

We love The Living Seas. The best thing about it is that they have Clams that we can whel our daughters wheelchair right on to.

Eileen Miller:

Another great blog, Jack! The Seas is one of my family's favorite things to do in Epcot, and may have contributed to my 15-yr old son's desire to be a marine biologist. We were fortunate a few years back to be invited by a cast member to view the aquarium from above - an awesome experience! And Turtle Talk with Crush is a must-see for us. My parents came with us a couple of years ago, and one of my best Disney memories is looking over at them during the show, with their jaws dropped and huge grins on both their faces. Priceless. We experienced the Hydrolators on our first Epcot visit in 2004, and were disappointed as they were cool, and it felt like we were building up to something bigger, and then - nothing. We don't miss those. We start our next vacation on the 15th, and can't wait!

Melesia Love:

Thanks for posting the pictures of the original attraction. I have pictures of the nautilus model from our 1997 trip but couldn't remember where they came from. Now I can fix that scrapbook!

Lilu:

Oh, wow, we were planning to skip this since we were bored silly with the Nemo attraction at Disneyland (two adults, no kids, smooshed into a submarine? It was nice to sit in the cool area for a while-after 45 minutes in line with no shade). This looks pretty nice and we enjoy aquariums. Coral Reef has always been somewhere I've wanted to eat, but being a vegetarian it looks difficult. I know about calling ahead, but they're already so busy. I really don't want to bug them. =)

Thanks for changing our mind with this article. This and the article from a bit ago on Ohana are helping us change a lot of stuff with our visit right now. Mind you, we won't be going for another year yet (still in Japan =/) but it's totally awesome to read this stuff and find out so much before.

Heather Macdonald:

Another great blog Jack! I remember the Seas as it was and I miss it! I love the new ride and concept, but I miss a lot of the things you used to be able to see in Sea Base Alpha. Thanks for your blog--I really look forward to it!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 29, 2011 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Epcot's The Seas With Nemo & Friends Part 1.

The next post in this blog is Animation Academy at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


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