Image courtesy Ryan Cain of Intercot West
It's hard for me to believe, but today marks the ten year anniversary of the Atlantean Encounter flap between Park management and Imagineering. Rumors of the Submarine Voyage's demise had swirled for a while--and with good reason. Not only had the New Tomorrowland renovation ignored the subs, but Judson Green's mantra that an existing attraction had to shut down to balance out the cost of operating a new attraction (in this case, Innoventions) was still in play. The claim of a Disneyland spokeswoman in April that they had no plans "at this time" to remove the Submarine Voyage hardly seemed believable. But it was still shocking to find that, on the morning of May 15, 1998, WDI preemptively advertised the replacement for the subs!
something showed up in the lagoon. A new blue canvas tent covered part of the submarine storage area. Accompanying this was a large banner which proclaimed:
Atlantis ExpeditionWDI apparently put this up without informing Park management and by the middle of the day the promising banner had been removed. Though the banner came down, a new flag--an A crossed by a pitchfork against an aqua backdrop--appeared above the dock. The regulars on the alt.disney.disneyland newsgroup enjoyed the unfolding drama and two days after the banner's appearance, an Orange County Register article investigated the tension between Park management and WDI. My favorite part is that WDI apparently planned this for a time when Park people were otherwise preoccupied with the New Tomorrowland (about which I'll have more next week):
Imagineering Preparation Base
The sign went up Friday without the knowledge of most Disneyland officials, including the theme park's senior marketing team, which was closeted in meetings planning the opening of Disneyland's updated Tomorrowland next weekend.The most oft-repeated part of the story is Marty Sklar threatening to lay across Harbor Boulevard if they shut down the subs without a replacement. (Frankly, I'm surprised that nobody ever made such an image!) Despite the testing in the lagoon, this Atlantis idea never got anywhere and the tarp disappeared the first week in September:
The submarines themselves stuck around in public view for a few more years, before they disappeared into the catacombs:
For additional photos of the tent, check out pages 10, 11 and 12 of Intercot West's Submarine Voyage photo gallery. Judi Lane was also there that morning and posted photos of the tent with and without banner. The thumbnails in the archived version of her page are broken, but several of the full-size links still work.
My recounting of the above is based on the newspaper story, that Usenet thread linked to above, and my personal memory. Though I didn't make it to the Park until that afternoon (I might have actually gone to school that day), I did follow the proceedings. I had thought WDI put a poster for the coming attraction on display, but somewhere my memory got muddied. No poster heralded the Atlantean Encounter that morning. But there was a poster produced to sit outside the attraction once it closed. Park management, however, didn't look too kindly on that idea. The poster is presented below for perhaps its first public viewing. I really think the designer (Josh Shipley) did a good take on the classic poster; the vein is quite a bit different than the Finding Nemo version! And we all know the future's a scary place... This is one of but a handful of these posters produced and is one of my most prized Disneyland items. I'm not sure the other copies have even left WDI! HUGE thanks to my mom for finding and photographing this on short notice.
One of the people involved in this--publicity stunt? fun gag?--couldn't believe that I still remembered this, but I don't think I'm alone. Did any reader out there see the banner that morning? Or remember reading the story in the Register? Share your memories!