Epcot’s The Seas With Nemo and Friends is a split decision. There’s so much about it to like, yet it lacks completeness, that we have to give it a Hit and a Miss.
On the hit side of things, WDI has done an amazing (no–really–an AMAZING) job in the queue area. Entering the building (after being greeted by the noisy gulls from Finding Nemo!) you find yourself in a cool, tranquil beach setting. Before you know it, you’re underwater. The ripples of waves play on the ceiling above you, and the rails that keep guests in line look and feel like they were just pulled out of a shipwreck (with a little cleaning up before installation).
It is at this point, however, that the show begins to go downhill a bit. If you think back to the original EPCOT Center that opened in 1982, everything in Future World seemed to inspire wonder and curiosity. The Living Seas (which opened a few years later) fit that mold. Guests learned about the unexplored world in our oceans. Even today, in 2010, we know more about outer space than we do about our own oceans. As visitors, we were able to tour Seabase Alpha. After a quick hydrolator ride down to the visitors level, we were able to marvel at the life contained in the huge aquarium. We saw research with dolphins and manatees. We watched divers in the tank feed its inhabitants and then tell us about the experience.
Today, we have a Fantasyland dark ride. (Don’t get me wrong–the Fantasyland dark rides like Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventure are great attractions. But they belong in the world of fantasy.) Rather than learning about the seas, we are treated to the retelling of the Finding Nemo story. There is no question that the story-telling technique and technology are top notch. The problem is, we’re not learning anything along the way. Epcot’s pavilions should entertain and teach, not simply entertain.
After riding in our clam shell vehicle, we end up in the remnants of Seabase Alpha. The place looks tired, and it feels incomplete, like parts are unused. Fortunately, we do have Turtle Talk With Crush to entertain–and to teach. Overall, however, the perceptive guest is left with the impression that the show isn’t quite ready for an audience yet.