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The attraction is well done. You don’t have to be a Nemo fan to be impressed by the scale and effects. It’s not fast-paced but, rather, leisurely in the way that Pirates of the Caribbean is.
The attraction’s capacity is only about 900 guests per hour, a shockingly small capacity for a headliner attraction. Further, owing to the low carrying capacity, the subs are not a good candidate for FastPass (all FastPasses would be gone before noon).
Though Finding Nemo isn’t as immensely popular as when it first opened, a sizable percentage of the guests on hand at park opening head straight for the subs—only if you are literally among the first 70 people to enter the park and arrive at the subs will you be rewarded with a short wait. But here’s the kicker: Adding the time it takes to reach the subs, wait to board, ride, and disembark, you will invest 35–70 minutes to ride Finding Nemo first thing in the morning, sacrificing in the process the most crowdfree touring period of the day for the other popular attractions. Loading is especially slow during early entry, as it often takes an hour before all the subs are brought into service.
We’ve determined that, taking the day as a whole, you make much better use of your time enjoying Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, and other popular attractions during the first hour the park is open and saving the subs for later, when a parade, fireworks show, or Fantasmic! has siphoned a large number of guests from the line. Incidentally, arriving 15 minutes before a parade or other presentation is not an arbitrary suggestion—during this time window, the Finding Nemo line (or lines at other popular attractions) will be its shortest. The last 30 minutes before park closing is another good time to get in line.
Claustrophobes may not be comfortable with the experience, even though the sub doesn’t actually submerge (we saw one 30-ish woman who started hyperventilating before the sub left the dock). Children may be scared of the same thing, or of the encounter with sharks (they keep their distance). The sharks here are a bit less menacing than in the movie too.
The bright-yellow subs use electric power to minimize noise and pollution. The subs fit 40 people. It’s not easy to get 40 aboard, however, because the seats are narrow and a few guests take up two. Ideally, large guests should aim to be in one of the four seats at the front or back, but this may be difficult to negotiate.
Wheelchair-bound guests or those who can’t get down the spiral staircase into the sub can view the experience from a special topside viewing room (seats about six able-bodied persons plus two wheelchairs). With the exception of one small animated effect, the visual is identical (perhaps faster), but despite a large monitor, the creatures appear smaller than when viewing them through a real porthole. The wait for the alternate viewing area is usually brief (ask a cast member how to bypass the standby line), and there are Mickeys hidden in the dive lockers inside.
A reader from Sydney, Australia, disagrees with our Finding Nemo rating, writing:
Finding Nemo was the most overrated ride. Perhaps it would rate high for those younger than 8 years old, but for our group it was one of the worst rides. It was boring, had rushing water, and moved slowly. What made it worse was that it had a high rating, and this raised expectations.
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