20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opened at the Magic Kingdom on October 14, 1971, two weeks after the park opened, despite the best efforts of the crews who built it. The attraction featured 12 individually driven 38-person submarines and a nearly 12 million gallon tank. Most of the attraction took place in a large backstage warehouse that featured animatronic mermaids, giant squids and the Lost City of Atlantis. To the disappointment of many, the ride shut down in September 1994.
After being shutdown, and the subs being removed, the lagoon remained a fixture of Fantasyland for years. For awhile it’s queue held a character meet and greet. In 1996, neighboring land was turned into Ariel’s Grotto, a meet and greet location. A temporary waterfall was put in, emptying into the lagoon where a statue of Ariel’s father, King Triton, stood. Soon after, though Ariel’s Grotto still remained, the lagoon was demolished, filled in and became the future home of Pooh’s Playful Spot.
In 2012 as part of the festivities celebrating the opening of “New Fantasyland,” a special ceremony was held in which water from the lagoon was poured into the new waters of the land. Click here for a video of this event.
The below photos were all that remained of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea subs, when they were submerged off of Castaway Cay for Disney Cruise guests. In one photo you’ll see the subs parked at a dock awaiting… something. Eventually, one of the subs was sunk in Castaway Cay for scuba divers to explore. Thank you Eric for these wonderful (and eerie) shots!