Nemo & Friends SeaRider opened on May 12, 2017 in the building formerly inhabited by StormRider at Tokyo DisneySea. More than just a new attraction, this ride actually brought a whole new theme to the area of Port Discovery in DisneySea.
In this post, you can see 30 photos of the attraction and how it integrates into Port Discovery, along with 4K video of the ride from front-row-and-center in the motion simulator. As we compare the ride with its Florida cousin, The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, you can also see some additional photos of that attraction.
PHOTO TOUR OF NEMO & FRIENDS SEARIDER AT TOKYO DISNEYSEA
On park guide maps, when StormRider was still in operation, the theme of Port Discovery at Tokyo DisneySea was that of a “futuristic marina located across the horizons of time” where guests could “visit the Center for Weather Control.” After SeaRider opened, mention of the Center for Weather Control was removed, and signs in the port now describe its theme as follows:
"The futuristic seaport of Port Discovery is dedicated to the exploration of the Oceans to deepen Man’s understanding of Earth’s last great frontier."
The old StormRider building has now become the Marine Life Institute, complete with a new blue color scheme and an exterior mural depicting sea life.
Inside, guests are treated to a pre-show where a demonstration of the incredible shrinking chiziminium material occurs. When electricity is applied to this material, it shrinks the fish-shaped submarine SeaRider down to fish size, enabling it to blend in underwater with other effervescent, talking sea creatures.
Those sea creatures, of course, are led by the blue tang Dory and the clownfish Nemo and Marlin from the Pixar films Finding Dory and Finding Nemo. After the pre-show, guests are ushered into a theater where the ride simulates the POV of a fish swimming underwater.
Compared to Star Tours: The Adventures Continue or other motion simulators, this attraction does not jerk you around as much, as the “swimming” tends to involve gentler, more graceful movements … except perhaps when you are being chased by an octopus. Like Star Tours, however, there is more than one possible ride show, with different sequences having been created to give this attraction some re-rideability.
Co-developed by Pixar, Nemo & Friends SeaRider is a fun Fastpass attraction whose sheen of newness has not yet worn off. As such, its Fastpass machines have been known to command long lines in the morning, particularly if and when DisneySea’s most popular attraction, Toy Story Mania, is down for planned maintenance.
As a ride that is unique to this park, however, you may want to prioritize SeaRider and other exclusive attractions like Journey to the Center of the Earth over Toy Story Mania.
THE SEAS WITH NEMO & FRIENDS AT EPCOT
The entrance to the ride building for The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot is adorned with a long mural that is similar in pattern to the one on the SeaRider building. Inside Epcot’s ride, however, guests board clam shell vehicles, or “clamobiles,” which whisk them past a succession of video screens in the dark.
It’s like being enthroned on a moving walkway with a bunch of flat television panels for scenery. Saying this might incur the wrath of Epcot fans, but compared to other Walt Disney World dark rides with impressive animatronic figures, The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a bit of a bust.
Even the end part, where cartoon characters are projected into a real aquarium, just looks rather tacky (though who knows, young kids might get a kick out of seeing such a thing). The only cool animatronic is the seagulls perched on rocks outside the ride.
It’s all a bit underwhelming, frankly, in comparison to SeaRider. Maybe this is why the ride seems to inhabit such a quiet corner of Epcot, with it being an easy walk-on that requires no Fastpass.
Then again, these thoughts do come from someone who frequented the park during the bygone era when waves still crashed up against The Living Seas sign.
THE TOONIFICATION OF THE LIVING SEAS
Like SeaRider, The Seas with Nemo & Friends started out as an attraction with more of an original theme. That attraction was The Living Seas, which took guests inside “Sea Base Alpha” for a look at what was then the largest saltwater tank in the world (along with other educational exhibits). For those interested, The Epcot Manifesto has an interesting post about this classic iteration of the ride, which would, much like StormRider, eventually be toonified into a ride bearing the name “Nemo & Friends.” Regarding The Seas with Nemo & Friends, there’s one paragraph in that post that strikes particularly close to home:
THE WINNER: SEARIDER
In the final analysis, SeaRider wins the contest of rides simply because it feels like a grander execution of the Nemo & Friends concept. Again, it might chafe park traditionalists to hear this sentiment, but when done right, there’s nothing inherently wrong with toonifying a Disney park attraction. In the case of The Living Seas, what nettles is that the attraction appears to have received a cheaper, more slapdash makeover in order to convert it to something kids would recognize.
With StormRider, on the other hand, it feels like a little more care and good old fashioned imagineering went into the ride’s re-theming. Port Discovery’s other ride, the hovercraft lagoon Aquatopia, already played into the seaport motif even before Nemo & Friends invaded the port last year. SeaRider is not only a natural extension of its surrounding environment; it has actually re-contextualized that environment into something that almost matches the park’s overall theme better. This is, after all, Tokyo DisneySea.
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