Thursday, June 07, 2007

On a Semi-Related Note

Okay, related only in that Patrick is the real Disney fanatic of the family....

I used to love the submarines. I have very visceral sensory memories of running my hands along the metal railing in the queue line, along with the distinctive smell of chlorine and metal. I remember what it was like to descend those spiral stairs into the submarine, which was always this big pit of darkness if you rode in the day and your eyes weren't dark-adapted. I remember the metal smell (different in some indescribable way from the metal queue rails) in the submarine itself, and the way my chin never quite reached the porthole in a comfortable way to see out. I remember the brush of air (which, of course, also smelled a bit metallic) on my face from the little a/c vent in each porthole (this was one reason it was a good daytime attraction).

I remember the voiceover saying, "Dive! Dive! Dive!" I remember hitting the bubbles that I saw in the lagoon suddenly making you feel like you really were diving deep between the ocean. I remember the narration speaking of undersea volcanoes and the voice saying, "Ease her back up to 80 fathoms."

My memories of Disneyland in the late 80s and early 90s are very much like that -- fragmentary and eclectic. Partly I think that was because it was before we had annual passes and only went once or twice a year. There are some snatches of words ("To go, press your foot down on the pedal. To stop, take your foot off the pedal. For your own safety, and the safety of other drivers, please do not bump the car in front of you or stop your car in the middle of the track" is courtesy of God-knows-how-many-hours of standing in line for Autopia with Patrick), some of sights (the atom mobiles going into the giant telescope and looking at the models coming out small and even though I knew they were models, it never stopped me from feeling shrunken myself) -- though not a lot of those, surprisingly -- and even some smells (Autopia exhaust, for one thing, but also the strange air conditioning smell in the Tron room on the PeopleMover) and touches (the handrail of the stairs up to the rockets under my mittens; it was always the last thing we did and was often cold).

Many of those attractions are still there: Autopia (though in a new spot), Pirates, Haunted House, Patrick's beloved monorail.

But many are gone, too (and many of those, victims of a several attempts at updating Tomorrowland): America Sings, Adventure Through Inner Space (what I called the Shrinking Machine), the Circle Vision movies, the Skyway (a.k.a. the Sky Ride, where I unknowingly saw the first person I'd ever met who had cerebral palsy, my beloved People Mover, the Motor Boat cruise.

For years, the sub lagoon sat there empty, waiting for something to be done with it. To my admittedly nostalgic eyes, it looked lonely -- as lonely as the empty People Mover track still waiting for its guests to return.

Will the rethemed Finding Nemo subs be as edutaining as its namesake was?

To be honest, I don't care. I was there a few weeks ago taking pictures, and managed to catch a shot with a submarine gliding around the lagoon and a monorail heading into Tomorrowland on top of it.

And for a moment, even with the seagulls from Finding Nemo hollering "Mine! Mine! Mine!" at me, I was transported back in time.

In a few months, the monorails will be receiving their new bodies; rumors are they will look more like the classic monorails.

But for that instant, I was 12 or 13 years old, watching the monorail bring people in from the Disneyland Hotel (which used to be across the street, not across Downtown Disney).

The first Annual Pass preview day was today, and of course one of the lucky folks to win posted a video of the ride. I've clicked on it twice and can't bring myself to watch least the first time, I want to try to immerse myeslf in that magic again, and really believe that I'm diving...diving...diving.

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