Disney fans who suffer from submechanophobia are at a bit of a disadvantage, as the Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line experiences can be very different. That’s due in part to certain elements used by Imagineers at Disney World, Disneyland, and as part of the Disney Cruise Line experience–elements that can create a feeling of uneasiness for some and sheer panic for others.
Very Well Mind describes submechanophobia as “the fear of partially or fully submerged man-made objects.” The phobia includes several subtypes and can be related to a myriad of basic fears, such as the fear of bodies of water, the deep ocean, germs, hazards, ships, or animals.
The fear induced by the idea or the image of objects submerged underwater can range from mild to panic-inducing and completely debilitating. And if you love Disney theme parks and Disney cruises, think of this post as a public service announcement–and perhaps the best “Know Before You Go” info every shared on a Disney fansite.
The Jungle Cruise Attraction
Disney’s Jungle Cruise attraction opened at Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort on July 17, 1955, and October 1, 1971, respectively. The “world-famous” attraction was one on which Walt Disney and his Imagineers worked with painstaking detail, and for nearly 70 years, it’s been a somewhat legendary guest-favorite ride–one without thrills and chills that still draws in guests again and again. Many Parks fans even admit that the Jungle Cruise is an attraction they’re sure to experience every single time they visit the parks.
But for some guests, that experience is the stuff of nightmares.
The ride draws some of its inspiration from the 1951 film, The African Queen and was designed to give guests the feeling of traversing all of the major rivers of the world in one journey. As guests, accompanied by an always-punny skipper, sail along the Mekong River, the African Congo, and the mighty Nile River, they are introduced to animals native to those regions of the world.
The Jungle Cruise ride is one of Disney’s classic attractions, and overall, it’s a delightful experience–and a nice bit of a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy parks. But for guests with a fear of submerged objects, the experience can induce night terrors. That’s because the ride features more than 130 animals–most of them animatronic.
Some are fully submerged in the murky brownish-green water before jutting out of their watery hiding spots toward unsuspecting guests, while others are only partially submerged in the river.
Both can spell trouble for guests with submechanophobia, as even only partially submerged objects can evoke feelings of angst and fear.
Submarine Voyage at Disneyland
In 1959, Disneyland Park in California welcomed guests to experience a brand-new experience called Submarine Voyage. The ride took some of its inspiration from Jules Verne’s novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which served as the inspiration for Disney’s 1954 film by the same name.
Situated in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, the ride allowed guests to board a submarine-type ride vehicle equipped with windows that allowed them to see an entire storyline playing out before them underwater. Though the vehicle was never fully submerged, the premise of the attraction was that guests were passengers aboard the sub, piloted by Captain Nemo.
Throughout the journey, guests could see animatronic sea creatures and mermaids, as well as live fish and other elements. Just as everything seemed peaceful and calm, the captain was alerted to imminent danger, and the call was heard to “Dive! Dive!” The thrill of the non-thrill ride was only heightened by the appearance of huge tentacles from a giant squid.
The entire experience took place underwater, and every element in the ride was 100% submerged in water.
Today, the attraction is called the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, has a completely updated look and features characters from PIXAR’s Finding Nemo (2002), and includes mostly projections of the characters, much like the ones used in The Seas With Nemo and Friends attraction at EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney World’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Attraction
Taking inspiration from the Submarine Voyage attraction at Disneyland Resort in California, as well as the success of Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Imagineers developed an attraction of the same name as the film for the Walt Disney World Resort–one in which Jules Verne would likely have taken pride.
The attraction was similar to the Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland Park in California, but the addition of certain elements made the experience a bit more intense.
The experience featured a giant squid, as well as a massive sea serpent with a Nautilus submarine entangled in its tentacles. And, like its predecessor at Disneyland, 100% of the ride elements were submerged in water.
Take a virtual ride aboard the Nautilus here.
Disney’s Castaway Cay Snorkeling Lagoon
In 1989, Premier Cruise Lines partnered with Disney to create the first-ever Disney-themed cruise, which offered passengers a unique experience. They could meet Disney characters and visit a small island called Treasure Cay. The Cruise Line was met with challenges when it was discovered that the bay near Treasure Cay was too shallow for cruise ships to navigate to the island.
Developers were forced to construct a canal, but only Premier Cruise Line’s smallest ship could traverse the canal. As demand grew, it was far less difficult for ships to take passengers to Nassau, Bahamas, than to Treasure Cay, and the island was ultimately abandoned. Premier Cruise Lines eventually went bankrupt and sold its fleet, except for one ship–the Ocean Dream–which was abandoned for more than a year on the east coast of Thailand until it sank in February 2016.
Disney ended its partnership with the then-defunct Premier Cruise Lines and set about the work of developing its own line. Disney was offered the chance to purchase Treasure Cay, but the company declined the offer, opting instead to develop Disney’s newly purchased island, Castaway Cay.
On July 30, 1998, Disney Cruise Line became fully operational with the maiden voyage of the first member of its fleet, the Disney Magic. Throughout Disney Cruise Line’s history, Castaway Cay has been part of the majority of Disney’s cruise itineraries. Once they arrive at Castaway Cay, guests can choose from a buffet of activities as they soak up the sun and enjoy the ocean breeze. Visitors can rent bikes and see the island, hang out at one of several water play and beach areas–some for kids and some for adults only.
But one of the most interesting offerings at Disney’s Castaway Cay, located in the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, is the Snorkeling Lagoon. Here, guests are treated to a magical treasure hunt for Disney-themed objects, and while such an experience might sound like a magical way to spend a day in the Bahamas for most guests, those who suffer from submechanophobia are often very uncomfortable–if not overtaken by anxiety–at the visage of the Disney-themed objects found in the lagoon, as each one of them is completely submerged underwater.
Several feet below the ocean’s surface, snorkelers can find all sorts of “treasure.” Under the shallow waves that wash up on the shores of Disney’s Castaway Cay, guests can come face to face with the True Original, Mickey Mouse himself.
Not too far away, Minnie Mouse sits pretty atop a stone pedestal, and Prince Eric from Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989) takes a royal stance several feet from there.
Further away, a huge anchor is buried in the ocean bed sediment, and a sunken fishing boat lies on the seafloor, awaiting her crew to navigate her out of her misfortune.
A statue of Daisy Duck looks up at snorkelers as she reclines backward against the salty water.
PIXAR is represented in the experience as well, as the door to Boo’s room seen in the 2001 animated comedy, Monsters, Inc., is resting on the seafloor as well.
Guests will also find one of the original Nautilus submarines from Disney World’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. When the experience closed at Disney World, many of the submarine ride vehicles were abandoned in storage. But one of them was shipped to Castaway Cay and became part of the Snorkeling Lagoon experience.
And though each of these might sound like a whimsical, magical find in the water, for guests with submechanophobia, the mere thought of such imagery can be completely unnerving. For them, the experience at Snorkeling Lagoon at Castaway Cay can be far more anxiety-inducing than other attractions, as guests don’t merely watch or see submerged objects through a window or from a boat.
Rather, they interact with the submerged objects from a first-person perspective, and for many with such a phobia, the experience can be completely debilitating.