T-shirt shop
Email Dave

After the shutdown

Grrr, If only I'd known they were going to shut it down in 1994 I'd fully have dropped everything and gone again. They should really announce things like that on national televison. For the full story of the shutdown of the ride go to the history page.

Just before the shutdown the 20Kers had a feeling something was up so took this final group shot.
(From the collection of Bill Schmidt, who's in there somewhere.)

After the shutdown the subs sat in the lagoon for a while. Isn't the stillness of the water eerie? I look at this picture and I just want to yell, "Hey! You've still got the water and the tracks and the submarines and all the anamatronics! Just bring back the sailors and turn it back on!"

These pictures were taken from the Skyway shortly after the shutdown.

Imagine diving off into there. (Don't do it.)

This pictures made me wish I'd gone to sneak into Disney World at night and swim into the cave and see the giant squid still sleeping there. Although if I had it would probably have scared me so bad I'd panic and drown.

Satellite shot of the abandoned lagoon.

Meanwhile the subs went to the disney Bone Yard. All I can say is, what an incredible waste of submarines.

You know what they should have done? They should have taken them all to the coast, pointed them due East, and just turned them on full speed. The crews would have stood at attention on the shore as a 21 gun salute went off and the subs dissapeared into the sunset (er, sunrise).

A 2002 Satellite shot of the Bone Yard, note that two subs are missing; more on that to follow.

On the right there you see some of the icebergs from the caverns.

(Thank to Jeff Lange DVD for his sweet shot and many others in this gallery. Thanks to Nick Petronella for hunting them down!)

Cooool. I'm gonna cry.

They cut all their points off! How could they!?
Just kidding, the subs never had long points like the Nautilus in the film. Disney was afraid someone would get skewered?

Now this is bizarre, I also found these photos where one of the subs is painted red...

The site I found these on said the subs were being re-painted red as part of a rehabilitation of the ride, but William Babington wrote in to let me know that actually the red color refurbishment was done for color contrasting reasons as this was the sub that went to be sunk in the snorkeling lagoon of Disney's Caribbean resort island, Castaway Cay. Yes! At one point you could have gone dive on the Nautilus on the last day of any Disney cruise! Anyway, once they sunk it the contrast became just hues of blue, just like the film. Who would have thought?

Now look at this crazy photo Rich Allsmiller sent to Will! I can only assume these subs are parked here while awaiting placement. The red one went out into the lagoon and supposedly the green one was half buried in the sand somewhere so kids can play on it.

But then, what's this? A sub a low tide?

Here is is! The sub in the ocean! No idea what the netting over it is for.

Here's Tony Crane's spine tingling report of swimming near this sub:
"The sub at Castaway Cay is completely submerged… With the top of the sub probably 6 feet under. It DOES have a rope line around it… But it lets you get fairly close, and if you wanted to it’d be quite easy to get right up on it. What kept me personally from doing this was the 4 foot long barracuda sitting right on top of it. Honestly. That thing was freaking me out. But the sub looked at home there… Fish swimming by it, completely underwater, in the ocean, not on a track… And let me tell you, when you’re floating along it, the thing is HUGE…It’s almost eerie floating above something that big. I probably spent 30 minutes just staring at it, knowing there was a chance I wouldn’t see it again. They have a HUGE roped off area to snorkel in… I mean literally acres big… And the sub is located WAY out in a back corner of this area. Basically, if you’re out where the sub is at, you’re there for a reason. And there I was, the only person out around the sub at the time. In fact, to be honest, it was a LOT of work to get back to shore afterward, I was exausted. The other thing I would mention is that my cruise was the first ship back to Castaway Cay after the center of the hurricane (Irene, I think) bowled directly over it last Sept… We didn’t even know if we were going to go to the island because they didn’t know it’s condition when the cruise started. But all the plants were dead from seawater, all the buildings showed some sign of wear from the storm… But there the sub was, out in the extremely clear blue water, no worries at all. It weathered the storm perfectly. About the only weird thing was that a good portion of it was covered in what looked almost like cargo netting? Don’t know what that was about. Possibly to give ocean life a better foothold to grow upon?"

Later reports say both Castaway Cay subs have dissapeared, perhaps removed by disney, perahps the victims of a hurricane, perhaps simply crumbled away, but who can say? I wish I'd made it down there!

This is the cut off top of a sub that was in the shallow pool near the queue for the Disney MGM Studios Special Effects Tour for a while. It's actually just the fiberglass outer hull from the dorsal fin forward.

My god kids, what are you looking at that could possibly be more interesting that that sub over there??

Eventually the hull was removed from the queue area has been used for various special events and conventions since. Here it appears in a diorama at an Epcot pin trading event.

That replica 20K diving suit there used to be on display in the Living Seas in Epcot.

Between events the hull has been spotted on a trailer hanging out in various places around the park. Jennifer sent in this shot she took in January of 07 from the back window of her bedroom window in the Beach Club Villas. It appeared to be parked behind the Soarin' building in Epcot, awaiting its next event. Man, let's hijack that thing and drive off with it; would look so good in my yard!

Shortly after the shutdown Disney auctioned off most of the sub portholes on ebay.

Mounted porthole detail from an auction.

Years later we can see all the portholes gone as the subs rot away.

Years later, scrap dealer were given full access to the subs and stripped off everything that could conceivably be sold on ebay before the remaining subs were literally ground up and buried in the landfill. (How wrong is that! But there was also a rumor that one sub was sent to the Smithsonian Institution. Probably not true, but if it is, how great is that?) Apparently the remains had to be buried in sealed containers because the paint contained lead, and Disney even tried to recall some of the parts the scrap dealers had bought. So if you got a 20K part on ebay, don't lick it!

Inside not stripped bare.

Inside stripped bare.

What follows are numerous photos from 20K parts auctions over the years.

Rider seat.

Sub control panels. A later model than the one that appears on the Behind the Scenes page.

Note how on this even later edition contorl panel some of the sound controls have been removed. This is probably from when the audio was switched from 8-track to CD.

This is a later model audio control panel; probably controlled the CD audio that replaced the original 8-track.

Interior dome lights.

Top vent.

Some random panel. Now they're reaching bit—who would pay for this?
Okay, I would.

A windshield.

ED Tucker spotted this ring from a Nautilus windshield just propped up on the wall in a Disney employee-only store. How odd!

This box of replacement seaweed appeared on ebay in late 2003.

The seaweed box above was bought by Marc Best, who gave me a piece. I used it to decorate my bathroom. Thanks Marc!

In my bathroom you'll also find a seahorse tha was plucked from the doomed lagoon. Big thanks to the man on the inside who nabbed it for me.

We have here corroded Mardi Gras coins fished from the lagoon pre-demolition. (The small coins in front are various international coins with sealife on them.)

Here we have 20Ker Mike Buchanan's artifacts. Picked up during a cleaning when he was told they were just going to be thrown out! Presumably his seahorse is in much better shape than mine because it didn't bake in the sun for 10 years. The green bit on the right is a piece torn off the dock—Mike is a crazy fan like that! Go man!

This shark was hanging in Sherry's house! It was given to her by one of the divers who did the inital animatronics removal in 1994.

These photos are from the shark's listing on ebay, where the starting bid was set to $8500. Of course it didn't sell, but you can't blame her for trying.

Look at those buck teeth!

That goofy eye! Anatomically ridiculous and I love it.

These parts of one of the divers also showed up on ebay. Why someone would separate them from the diver they belonged to is beyond me.

The documentation that came with them shows how one of parts fit on the body. It would appear to be one of the Turtle Wranglin' divers.

See how is says 1971-1994? With this pin we see Disney's first admission that the ride was dead for good.

Much later Disney released this commemorative pin. In the bubble there are two thin cross-section slices of a 20K sub porthole. Whoop-dee-do. How lame.
What's crazy is that these actually go for almost $200 on ebay. Yeah right!

The pin art is nice though.

Will sent in these shots of this great 12" model of a 20K ride sub artist Randy Noble did for the 35th anniversary of WDW. A limited edition of 500, they were sold for $75 at the Art of Disney Store in Epcot.

It's a cold comfort, but thank you Disney, we appreciate it.

Okay, back to the story of the lagoon. For many years the lagoon was called "Ariel's Grotto" on the map; pretty sad attempt at a cover up if you ask me.

These images are from March of 2003.
(Thanks to my best bud Ben Coccio.)

Oh yes! A spouting statue of King Titan (or Tritan or Triton or whatever the hell his name is) is a much better use of the lagoon than The Best Ride of All Time! Stupid Disney.
Excuse my harshness, I'm a little bitter.)

The drinking fountains reminded us of better days...

The cavern entrance had camo draped forlornly over it; its waterfall run dry....

The control room door was sealed forever... (or become a break room)

Strange, forboding crates sat on the loading dock...

Birds of prey feasted on french fry carcasses that lined the shores of the once pristine lagoon...

And what was once the waiting area for The Best Ride of All Time is was used as a meet-and-greet called the "Fantasyland Character Festival"... What!?

Oh and look! It's Ariel! La-de-da! You're not even a real mermaid so why don't you just get the heck out of here.
Someone should have told these kids all about the legendary 20K ride that existed right on the very hallowed ground they're standing on. And then they would have had to to show proper reverence.

Then in 2004 Triton dissapeared and things started to get really ugly.

A green wall went up around the lagoon.

Then the lagoon was mostly drained. Many thanks again the man on the inside (who wishes to remain anonymous) who sent in the amazing series of photos you're about to see!

A starfish bakes in the harsh Florida sun.

Those crates were empty!

Views from the rear mountain.

Apparently walking on the sub track was rather precarious. Our man went to great lenghts and faced great danger to bring these amazing shots to us. We owe him everything.

The entrance to the drydock.

The empty drydock.

What those fake rocks are doing out in the drydock I have no idea. Icebergs?

The polar ice caps that never melted.
Okay, here's where things get really amazing. Prepair to be blown away.

A viking ship frozen in a iceberg! I've got chills.

Can you really believe all this stuff was down there in the water rotting silently for 10 years?!
It's reported that this ship was saved from destruction by Disney employees.

The Graveyard of Lost Ships.

The sharks that used to swim above it were removed after the initial shutdown in 1994.

A mast fallen across the track. Look out!

The Lost City of Atlantis! Can you believe we're seeing this??

Do you see that tip of a tail on the left?

Here he comes!

My god! I mean can you really believe this??

And here's the twin on the other side of the track.

The treasure has certainly lost its luster over the years...

After all the stress those Tottering Columns caused all those thousands of people, they never frigging fell! Fall damn you!

Twin squids!! I'm gonna have a heart attack.

That eye is still horrifying.

The Nautili they used to grip appear to have fallen to pieces.

Fast forward a few months, the eyes have been saved for posterity.

A squid tentacle streched out on the catwalk.

Fast forward again—here's where things start to get really ugly; you may want to get the children out of the room.

Though this squid was clearly destroyed, the other one was rescued and is in the possession of a Disney Imagineer. Whew!

A Nautilus dome also saved for posterity. It's surprising how small all this was!

I tried to talk the guy who has the head into mounting it on his living room wall. How fantastic would that be?

Smashed. Just smashed to bits. Not a very fitting end if you ask me.

I'm trying not to cry. I'm trying to be strong.

Meanwhile things weren't any prettier on the outside.
(This image is a huge panorama, you may really want to click on it.)

The lagoon was drained completely.

The waiting area was taken apart.

And all the coral was demolished.

Look at them, the guests here have no idea of the great loss happening right on the other side of that wall.

They didn't get the water fountains yet!

At least the demolition crew knew what they were doing was historic enough to warrant a commemorative T-shirt.

After the demolition the lagoon was partially filled in with dirt and they began to plant trees.

And here in mid 2005 we have a 'Pooh's Playful Spot'.
(Thanks to Miss M. Turner for these photos.)

Game Over. End of story.

Have fun in your tree kid.

At least 20K was not completely forgotten though—the designers put a small, barely noticable knot above the door to Pooh's house...

It's the Nautilus!

On October 21st, 2006, I held a blast of a 20K party to celebrate this site's 'completion'. We watched the 20K movie with the rules being to drink whenever:

-The Nautilus rams a ship
-The First Mate says 'Aye-aye Captain!'
-The seal barks
-The Professor says Nemo is a genius
-Peter Lorrie says something sounds like a bad idea
-Kirk Douglas talks about escaping
-Kirk Douglas has to be restrained
-The melody from 'A Whale of a Tale' is heard (this one was a killer)

It was also a notable night in that we had no less than three 20kride.com t-shirts in the same room AND a mermaid — that's got to be a record! My friends are wonderfully supportive of my madness. (I'm the guy with the glasses if you're curious)

Photos Directory / Next Gallery