Sea Serpents: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Serpent

20,000 Leagues Serpent, © 2015 Liz Vitale

Sometimes I don’t know whether to file sea serpents under “dragons” or “monsters”. Today it will be “monsters”.
This image, bright and colorful as it seems, was actually drawn from various photos I have seen around the web of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at Walt Disney World after it had been closed down, drained, and the diorama figures were left to rot. So although for the first time ever I can get a great look at the serpent other than peering through a porthole into the murky depths for the quick glance you always got when riding the attraction, the circumstances are…very sad for me.

I LOVED this ride as a child and couldn’t wait for the sea serpent part. I loved the menacing giant squids and circling sharks, too,but the gigantic, goofy serpent was the icing on the cake. Look how enormous and powerful-looking his body is, leading down to this little tiny pinhead at the end. And those wacky arms….how would this guy function if he were real?
I left out the mermaids who always had a collar and chains on him because 1) they weren’t in the images I found and 2) I wasn’t really interested in drawing them in the first place. At last he is free!

Yes, by modern standards, the technology of 20K was primitive and the animation herky-jerky. Still,the excitement of the ride’s surprises and the chance to ride a submarine gave 20K a uniqueness not found on other attractions. You were under water! You had James Mason-like narration and orders being given to the crew! Since the lines were so long for 20K when I was a kid,my grandparents rarely let me go on it more than once, especially since that would be using up another “E” ticket out of our books. Yes, back when I rode it, you still needed paper ride tickets!

As much as I miss the ride, I understand its huge operating costs, lack of handicapped accessibility, and need of frequent maintenance contributed to its demise. But the beautifully made creatures that populated the “deep waters” still live on in my mind. I had never noticed until now that the serpent’s attractive markings look like…..submarine portholes. 🙂


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