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Behind the Scenes Gallery

Endless thanks to 20Kers Bert "Bass" O'Connor, Mike Buchanan, Mike Lee of Widen Your World, and all the other 20Kers who chipped in for these priceless behind the scenes 20K ride materials! For more info and the stories behind these images be sure to go read some 20Ker interviews.

The original controls in the Nautilus' sail. Everything works!

Bert's drawing of the controls made back when he was learning. Now you have everything you need to go out and pilot one of these babies!

Original helm prototype modeled by imagineer Bob Gurr, the man who oversaw the assembly of the 20K subs.
Thanks Bob! It's a real shame this got scrapped, it would have looked so cool.

"George McGinnis designed a great looking control station to be visible to guests looking into the conning tower. The idea was that the subs would appear to be steered by the helmsman twirling the classic wheel mounted to a brass binnacle complete with fancy Jules Verne levers and such. After the prototype set up was partially built, George was ordered to stop any further "themed" design and let the electrical department just put in some modern switches instead. I felt kind of sad about this and kept the parts in my office for years. So these pieces never got launched but do survive today." —Bob Gurr, 71 year old 20K helmsman.

These are the blueprints for the 20K ride subs! Thanks to Fred Kuentz who bought them off ebay and Will Babington who arranged for the images to be displayed here.

This cutaway view is rad!

"Just a Shell - 20K hull construction at Morgan Yacht Company in Clearwater Florida prior to being moved to Tampa Shipyard for final assembly." —Bob Gurr, Imagineer

"Ready to Roll - First 20K completed Submarine loaded on trailer carrier for delivery to Walt Disney World from Tampa Shipyard in August 1971. Jack Gladish, MAPO Plastics Manufacturing Manager, is holding a 20K Sub scale model." —Bob Gurr, Imagineer

"Sub Christening - Jack Gladish, MAPO Plastics Manufacturing Manager (right) and I (Bob Gurr, left) are about to whack the Sub prow with empty whiskey bottles just after the First 20K completed Submarine was loaded on a trailer carrier for delivery to Walt Disney World from Tampa Shipyard in August 1971." —Bob Gurr, Imagineer

"Cranes - I think this photo is of the delivery of the last subs delivered in 1971. Note that there are features on the lower bow hull not on sub #1, and that a heat exchanger appears on the lower side aft of amidship." —Bob Gurr, Imagineer

How wonderful is this? BEEP BEEP!

This looks to be the lagoon under construction.

Applying gold to the statue in Atlantis. How shiney it was!
Is that Disney himself??

The Graveyard of Lost Ships before the water was filled in!

The best picture we will ever see of the Giant Squid Attack!! Amazing!! The proportions on that thing are absolutely insane when you think about it. Going by the size of that Nautilus, its eye has about a 10 foot diameter! I love it!

Bert actually swam down into Atlantis and recovered this original resin coin! Do you know how much this thing would be worth on ebay!?
It's quite impressive that the ride designers put even this much detail into such a small thing as the coins.

This is another coin that Bert retrieved from Atlantis. It's actually a zinc Mardi Gras coin from "The Court of Two Sisters Restaurant". I guess in later years Disney just bought these by the bucket full and dumped them into Atlantis now and again to spruce it up.

This is the kind of plastic seaweed that was used in the ride; it was replaced on a regular basis when they drained the tank for cleaning.

The lagoon drained for cleaning. The harsh Florida sun and chlorine in the water would completely eat off the paint and it had to be redone every few years. Bert once walked the whole track while it was drained. All the animatronics were being repainted and touched up by hand. Bert has seen things you and I can only dream of.

The sign that would go up during a cleaning.
(Thanks to
Jeff Lange DVD this shot and the next two. And to Nick Petronella for hunting them down!)

Here we see Fred Divel and Imagineer Tony Baxter (Yes the Tony Baxter that the helmsman in the ride narration is named after) during a ride cleaning. Fred's description he sent along with this photo is delightful:
"I was a W.E.D. project installation coordinator (PICO) for 20k, an RO, a Tomorrowland supervisor, a 20 foreman and headed up the first rehab of the attraction. WDW was not yet unionized and the ROs got to dress in maintenance whites, ride around in aluminum skiffs with high pressure fire hoses blasting the fresh-water algae muck from the "volcanic" walls of the sub lagoon. We were quite a show to the hot and sticky guests who watched our antics from the rim as we splashed about in the cool, clear lagoon (until it was about two feet deep and the consistency of a spinach smoothy) falling in, and generally acting like a bunch of otters in a Sea World trained animal show. I have pictures of us, although most of the time we were wet and the white uniforms became transparent —too transparent. This picture is of Tony Baxter and I discussing the rehab. I'm the one in white. I think he was telling me I shouldn't go about decorating the lagoon with flowers spelling out my name everywhere. Kim Irvine's mom, Lee, was our leader in "seascaping" the newly cleaned lagoon and she was forever having to oversee that the ROs weren't spelling out personal messages in seaweed. What a great time."

Look how colorful it is afterwards!
(This fantastic rehab photo is from the collection of Robert Boyd.)

Brooke sent in this shot of the drained lagoon she found in her grandparent's photo album.

Here she's highlighted some of the animatronics for us. Well spotted Brooke!

Here we have a series of 12 great photos from the rehab of 1980.
(Thanks to Robert Fleming of
DisneyPix.com for these great shots!)

This real live diver (I swear) is actually repairing a turtle from the "Submarine Voyage" ride in California, but if hadn't just told that you you'd never have known; same damn turtle. I don't know how that guy didn't flip out, being in the tank with all those freaky animatronics. What if his co-workers forgot about him and shut down the park before he got out? What if he was stuck there all night?! God it's too scary to think about.

This is the area where the maintenance divers suited up. Those big pipes up top probably fed the waterfalls.

Page one of a survey checklist of all the motions for the animatronics. Sadly page two seems to have been lost forever.

This board was also used to keep track of what was or wasn't working on the ride. It's broken down by each motor driven motion.

This is under the lagoon!

Animatronic equipment directly under the lagoon for the turtle wranglin' scene. Most animatronic motions were actually driven by compressed air from below.

What is it? Why it's the 20,000 Leagues Console Interlock System of course! Here's where you could turn on/off the ride with the mere flick of a few switches.

Subs parked in the drydock out back. As only 9 subs were running through the ride at any given time, there were always subs parked out here.

The subs peacefully sit open in the morning. This photo is called, "The Calm Before the Storm".

Nice shot with the rear hatch open.

Only 20Kers (crew members) were allowed on this side of the dock!

This shot is from the outer, or spur dock.

These great shots were taken from the moutain behind the ride during a covert operation! Bert risked getting fired to shoot these never before seen angles!

Mike Buchanan took this shot of a sub through the jungle. See the eye?

A shot from the catwalks of the caverns!

The caverns had extensive wooden catwalks on both sides of the track and there were 5 emergency exits that guests could take in the event of an emergency. They were LOADED with spiders and cobwebs of monstrous proportions.

There's Mike Buchanan climbing up into the sail.

There's Mike Lee up there, taking his job very seriously.

This beautiful shot was taken from the sail of Mike Buchanan sub. Hot pursuit!

Docking as seen from the sail...

Good lord! The roper's gone crazy!

Tim "Flounder" Hollamby getting crazy in the queue. Notice Hitler getting impatient behind him—many famous people rode 20K!

Message in a bottle?

Eric (front right in black) and the boys goofing off in the break room.
Though professionals through and through, 20Kers were also dudes just like the rest of us! Screw you too guys!

Mike found this awesome aerial shot of the ride (looks like it was taken post shutdown), it gives you a good overview of the ride. The dry-dock is visible to the lower left of the lagoon, and notice how large the caverns warehouse is!

Bert sketched this simple map of the 20K ride for us.

The guide sheet listing all the locations and important phone numbers. I love how they describe #2 and #11.

A guide sheet with all the narrative spiels the 20Kers had to say. The advisories at the bottom are interesting too.
Unfortunately this sheet didn't prepare 20Kers for the inevitable encounter with the little kid who wanted to talk to Captain Nemo.

The 20Ker who was the "grouper" (organized guests to load the subs) would use this chart to help keep things straight. Don't worry, I can't make heads or tails of it either.

The 20Kers challenged the crew of the Jungle Cruise ride to a contest to see which could herd more people through their ride on a given day. The prize was the coveted Kissimmee Cup (a tin trophy) and a kegger thrown by the other ride's supervisor!
This is the original challenge letter. Them's fightn' words!

Here's the 20K ride tally sheet for the contest day. Of couse the 20Kers dominated.

This Kissimmee Cup victory certificate is signed by both Captain Nemo and Trader Sam! Do you have any idea how much this is worth!?

Bert doctored the Kissimmee certificate to make an Honorary 20K Helmsman certificate which he bestowed upon me. I could not have been more honored.
"That's Propwash to you matey!"

Here's the sweet metal buckle that 20Kers wore on their hats for a few years before Disney switched to cloth emblems because so many were disappearing. Bert lost track of his original and had to pay the big bucks to get this one on ebay.

Many of the ones on ebay are fakes. Authentic 20K hat badges are pewter (the one above only looks brassy because of the lighting) and have two screw posts coming out of the back. They were made from a mold that was spinning when the molten pewter was poured into it, which allowed for the nice curve that also makes them difficult replicate.

Here's a later cloth patch emblem and a metal original. The picture represents better the peweter color of an authentic 20K hat badge.

A later uniform with cloth hat emblem.

Bert bribed name tag guy to get one with his nickname on it. While on duty he kept getting told to take it off, but would switch back as soon as the supervisor was out of sight.
He picked up the nickname in the first place by pointing out that the giant sea bass were malfunctioning one too many times.

This brilliant card was created by Tim "Flounder" Hollamby. 914 was the code for a hot girl, 913 being the code for a girl who was too young to be of interest. A 20Ker pointed out to me they were all a bunch of perverts—by which I took him to mean that they were just like everybody else.

This is an original design that Bert drew up for the breast pocket of the Polo shirts that he and his fellow 20Kers made to wear when they were off duty in the park.
The graphic alludes to how claustrophobic guests would freak out in the subs and scream their heads off. The film "Alien" had just been released, but sadly no one seemed to get the reference.

The back art for the shirt that Bert drew for the 1979 crew shirt.

A colorized version Bert did in late 2003. Now available in the T-shirt shop!

A framed letter of appreciation that Bert sent to me, with an authentic pewter 20K hat badge. I had no idea it was coming and to this day am touched every time I read it. Thank you Bert! It's my honor and my pleasure.

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