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The Seas with Nemo and Friends
This attraction opened in January 1986 (more than 3 years after E.P.C.O.T. Center opened) as The Living Seas, but the pavilion had always been part of E.P.C.O.T.'s plans. It was the largest man-made underwater environment in the world at its completion, holding 5.7 million gallons of water, but was surpassed by Georgia Aquarium in 2005. The pavilion's concept was to take visitors under the ocean to 'Sea Base Alpha'.
Visitors would watch a short movie about how the oceans were formed entitled The Sea, and then take an elevator ride to the ocean floor on a Hydrolator (in reality, guests only moved down approximately two inches). Guests would then ride the Caribbean Coral Reef Ride in a "seacab" along an underwater tunnel through the aquarium. From there guests would ride around 'Sea Base Alpha' getting an up-close view of the marine life. They would then disembark into the main exhibit area where they could interact with various multimedia displays and view aquarium exhibits. Exhibits included the large tanks with Dolphins and Sea turtles, as well as smaller tanks with smaller fish.
The Living Seas pavilion was sponsored by United Technolgies from the time it opened until 1998. Beginning in 1999 the pavilion slowly changed. All sponsorship references were removed. On of the pre-show theaters, where guests watched the film The Sea, was removed and turned into a walk way--allowing guests to by-pass the pre-show if desired. In October 2001, the Coral Reef 'Seacabs' closed down. The queue of the Seacab ride was left intact and the Seacabs were still visible to guests through the ocean tank windows. Reasons for their closure are not entirely known. After they closed, guests leaving the Hydrolators walked along a corridor to Sea Base Alpha. Now, guests had the option of viewing the preshow or going directly to the Hydrolators and simply walking to Sea Base Alpha.
In 2003, with the success of the film Finding Nemo, Disney began to change the Living Seas in to a Nemo themed pavilion. The first, very successful attraction, Turtle Talk with Crush, opened in 2004, and was even moved to a larger space a few years later. Turtle Talk with Crush was only the beginning of changes to The Living Seas. On August 21, 2005, The Living Seas closed for its transformation into The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Parts of the pavilion reopened in late November 2005. Outside the pavilion, the facade and mural were changed and depictions of sea life seen in Finding Nemo were added. The exit Hydrolators had been removed, and were replaced with glass doors that served as an exit and temporary entrance. Sea Base Alpha had been re-themed to Finding Nemo and the entire original preshow area was in the process of being rebuilt. Decor and signage was replaced and scientific displays were replaced by ones themed to Finding Nemo. Turtle Talk with Crush remained as popular as it was prior to the transformation.
Throughout 2006, construction walls hid the preshow area which was undergoing reconstruction. With the former Sea Base Alpha open, work progressed on the new queue areas and the Seacabs were being rebuilt as a new "Clamobile" attraction. The remaining Living Seas preshow theater, entrance Hydrolators, holding areas, and Seacabs queue were all completely removed and replaced by a new themed queue area which took the place of the former Hydrolator story.
On October 10, 2006, the construction walls in front of the entrance to The Living Seas, now The Seas with Nemo & Friends, were removed. The pavilion's 2nd new attraction opened; titled The Seas with Nemo & Friends. To create the new Nemo ride Hydrolator Three and Theater 1 were replaced by a number of new dark ride sets. The former Seacabs ride was lengthened by 280 feet (85 m), but the final section still took place inside the tank. A new projection technology was added to the tank and the new show scenes. The existing Seacabs were exchanged for new "Clamobiles". The Seas with Nemo & Friends was rededicated on January 24, 2007.
The Seas offers 3 backstage tour experiences. There's DiveQuest, where certified SCUBA divers have the ability to experience a 40-minute underwater tour of the Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium. The entire experience lasts about three hours, and includes a guided underwater tour, a "free-play" time, and a backstage tour of the aquarium's inner works. Guests also have the ability to purchase a video or photos of the dive. For those not SCUBA certified there is the Epcot Seas Aqua Tour where guests can swim in the aquarium with the assistance of a SAS (SCUBA Assisted Snorkel) System. And then there is the Dolphins in Depth experience where guests go on a tour mostly concentrated on the dolphins in The Seas aquarium. Guests can interact with the dolphins in waist deep water.
The Seas is also home to the Coral Reef Restaurant: a table service restaurant where guest view the Coral Reef Aquarium through large windows, from their dining table. And the pavilion has a backstage VIP room that is used for private events, such as weddings and conventions. The room is long and curved with wood paneled walls. One side has floor-to-ceiling windows into the aquarium. The room has an special acrylic glass see-through piano.
Pics: Upper Left--Entrance to Turtle Talk with Crush, Upper Right--Inside of The Seas pavilion, Middle Left--Nemo ride 'Clamobiles', Middle Left--Coral reef set with dark cavern where ride guests will see Finding Nemo characters, Bottom--Coral Reef Restaurant.
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