Attraction of the week: Disneyland Paris' Les Mysteres du Nautilus

October 15, 2012, 3:05 PM · Our Attraction of the Week this week, Les Mysteres du Nautilus at Disneyland Paris, isn't the sort of attraction that's going to inspire anyone to book a special trip. Heck, you could enjoy a delightful visit to Disneyland Paris with ever experiencing this attraction. But I like Les Mysteres du Nautilus because it represents the type of experience theme parks need to feature to distinguish themselves from amusement parks that offer nothing more than a collection of shows and thrill rides.

Les Mysteres du Nautilus at Disneyland Paris

Les Mysteres du Nautilus is a walk-through attraction, a visit into Captain Nemo's Nautilus submarine from Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." You won't find much animation here, or any overt storytelling. With little wait anymore, even on busy summer days, you could breeze through this attraction in moments and wonder why the heck I'd ever write about it.

But that's not how to get the most from a walk-through. Consider this the setting for a story where you play the starring role. Most adults bring too much self-consciousness to allow them to treat a theme park attraction as a narrative playground. But if you can imagine yourself as part of the crew of the Nautilus, this walk through becomes as engaging and enjoyable an experience as anything else in the park.

For that to work, however, designers must create a physical space with enough detail to make you think you're part of the experience. Tokyo Disney's Fortress Explorations, Universal Orlando's Jurassic Park Discovery Center, and - my favorite - Disney's Tom Sawyer Island (especially the well-maintained one in Tokyo) all immerse you in "another" place, where you can set your imagination free to play.

Schematics of the Nautilus
The schematics of the Nautilus Photo submitted by Ty Wijnans

Captain's quarters
Captain's quarters in the Nautilus.

Plotting the Nautilus' course
Plotting the Nautilus' course, 20,000 leagues under the sea.

A map of Vulcania
A map of Vulcania (familiar to visitors of Tokyo DisneySea!)

Nautilus' map room
Detail in the Nautilus' map room.

Treasure ballast
One of the great details: the ship's ballast is treasure found in old wrecks just as Jules Verne described it. Photo submitted by Ty Wijnans

Captain Nemo's organ
Captain Nemo's organ

The octopus
An encounter with a giant octopus at the end of the exhibit.

I would have liked to see a few more interactive play opportunities on Paris' Nautilus. But there's enough visual detail here that I found myself lingering for far longer than than I'd planned. I don't expect Disney to ever build another 20K ride here in the United States. But how hard would it be to give us an immersive walk-through like Les Mysteres du Nautilus to enjoy?

Replies (8)

October 15, 2012 at 3:41 PM · I would love an exhibit like this at Disney World,in fact I wish there was another more up-dated movie of "20,000 Leagues.
October 15, 2012 at 5:18 PM · They said their will be several tributes to 20,000 leagues in the little mermaid queue, so i'm looking forward to spotting those because my fondest childhood memories is that ride at the magic kingdom.
October 15, 2012 at 6:01 PM · We get a Swiss Family Treehouse, they get a very cool looking Nautilus... where is the justice in that?
October 15, 2012 at 8:14 PM · Uh, they have a Swiss Family Treehouse in Paris, too... :^/
October 15, 2012 at 9:30 PM · One of the things that sets Disneyland Paris apart from the other Disney parks is the quantity and quality of their walkthrough attractions. While I didn't do this one on my visit this past summer (opting instead for a third ride on Space Mountain: Mission 2), I did both castle walkthroughs, the Swiss Family Treehouse, explored Adventure Island (more of a playground than a regular walkthrough...think Tom Sawyer's Island), and went through Alice's Curious Labyrinth. Even the worst of these attractions (the treehouse) was still an order of magnitude better than any walkthrough attraction at the Disneyland Resot in California. For most parks, going for just rides is fine, but at Disneyland Paris, you're missing something if you don't take the time to sample at least a few of their unique walkthrough attractions (and with the exception of Alice's Curious Labyrinth, I never saw a line for any of them).
October 16, 2012 at 3:21 AM · Sacrebleu!!!!
October 16, 2012 at 3:51 AM · I didn't care for the walk-through in DLP. I don't think it's that what seperates theme parks from amusement parks. It's the themeing that makes the difference and the rides that you won't find at any carneval.
These walk-through attractions are ok the first time but get boring soon. It would be a nice line to wait in for the real attraction.
I think the line for Harry Potter is a wonderfull walk-through attraction as is the line for the Tower of Terror. But at the end there needs to be a stunning ride.
It should not be like the Little Mermaid ride in Orlando. It's got a very nice exterieur and the line is ok but the ride is very mediocer.
October 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM · Haha, when it doubt James, I guess that's the best thing to say, haha!

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