Behind the renovation of the Les Mystères du NautilusPublished: July 1, 2023 / Last Updated: July 1, 2023 / By: Arvid Bux
Explorers are about to embark on new adventures again now that The Nautilus reopens on July 1. The InsidEars team sat down with Louise Doré, show producer, and Daniel Joseph, principal illusion integrator, for a dive into the works that happened behind the oculus.
Since its debut in 1872 in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, the Nautilus has captured the imagination of readers across the world. Walt Disney was one of them, so in 1954, he decided to adapt this epic adventure for the big screen, thus popularizing the iconic design of his artist, Harper Goff. Docked here at Discoveryland, Les Mystères du Nautilus is a unique opportunity for everyone curious about underwater exploration to see first-hand the marvelous innovative spirit of Captain Nemo and his crew to achieve this very same dream.
As the iconic vessel is almost ready to welcome explorers to embark on new adventures, we sat down with Louise Doré, show producer, and Daniel Joseph, principal illusion integrator, for a dive into the works that happened behind the oculus.
What it was like to work on the Nautilus?
Daniel: As a kid, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was one of my favorite movies. At the time, the former Submarine Voyage attraction at Walt Disney World was always something I looked forward to. And when I visited Disneyland Paris for the first time, I was really excited because the first attraction I wanted to see was Les Mystères du Nautilus. It’s so unique to the resort, and it lived up to the expectation.
Louise: Everybody knows the story of Captain Nemo, even though I must admit that when the project started, I hadn’t seen the Disney adaptation! Of course, now I have, and even though it’s still very based on the classic Disney movie, today we’ve introduced a new story celebrating the wonders of marine life in our oceans.
What was your role on this project?
Daniel: Within the Illusion Development Group here at Imagineering, my role starts with thinking about how we can make something as magical and realistic as possible without actually doing that. And so, for the Nautilus, we discussed the show and how to ‘plus’ the Grand Salon Scene with new technology and techniques that weren’t available when the attraction first opened 30 years ago. We brainstormed and came up with a technique that has a 3D look, inspired by one of our oldest tricks at the company: the multiplane camera. We did some tests and mock-ups and proved out that when we look through the oculus, we could achieve the illusion of a very deep, mysterious, and distant underwater vista.
Louise: As show producer, my role was to support this new project with all the different teams. We started almost two years ago now, first by searching reference footage of underwater wonders. On the technical side, we changed the show control and the lighting to LED technology, as well as upgraded all the special effects. There was also a complete refurbishment of all our props and accessories throughout the attraction by our Disneyland Paris Central Shop teams. For example, the organ was entirely refurbished based on the real prop from the movie. There was also a great deal of work done on the iris itself to ensure fast and fluid opening and closing to match our new show.
What will guests be able to enjoy on board?
Louise: Our guests are going to experience the wonders of the oceans while learning some fun facts about the marine world. To deliver that message, we recorded a new soundtrack specially orchestrated for the attraction as well as a new narration written by our show writers. It was an exciting project for me, I learned a lot, and I hope that our guests will find the attraction equally wonderful!
Daniel: We wanted to tell a conservation story that would be more relevant today to our guests, and so now as Louise mentioned, new encounters are happening in the Grand Salon. The cool thing was that with that project, we worked with our animal program at EPCOT — marine biologists and animal keepers. all kinds of talented and amazing people we have within the Walt Disney Company who work every day with marine life. Having these scientific resources helped give a sense of realism to the Nautilus attraction that wasn’t possible before. I’m hoping the new show will live up to the classic and guests will continue to fall in love with this attraction.