Congratulations to SpaceX for a second successful flight of Falcon 1 into orbit! Note the "Columbiad" cannon on Space Mountain. Jules Verne foresaw it all!
The "Mysteries of the Nautilus" is unique to Euro-Disney. California Disneyland put the sets of 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA on display until the 1960's. Under the guidance of Hollywood propmaster (and LEAGUES fan) Tom Scherman, Disney's Nautilus has been rebuilt in the lagoon alongside Space Mountain. With a plot that is actually better than the novel, the 1956 movie is a true classic.
We descend "underwater" to explore the interior, including Nemo's cabin. Captain Nemo, being an independent explorer, relied on neither Paris nor Greenwich for longitude. As in the movie, distances on the chart are measured from his base at Vulcania.
Verne described the Nautilus as spindle-shaped. Originally Walt Disney wanted a streamlined hull, like modern subs. Production Designer Peter Ellenshaw added the barbed fins and Victorian detailing that filmgoers fell in love with. In Verne's novel the salon, dining room and library were separate compartments. The movie combined them into one big set. An animatronic giant squid lurks outside the viewports, occasionally approaching the ship.
Verne wrote that Nautilus used electric motors, but was unclear about the source of electricity. In 1956 the US Navy had built a real Nautilus, and Disney made the movie sub atomic-powered.
Verne dreamed about a limitless source of energy. As late as 1909 if someone had lectured about the future of energy they would have talked about coal and oil. Though the world had not yet taken notice, in 1905 a scientist had written E=mc^2. By 1945 humans had built both nuclear reactors and an atomic bomb. In 1954 the real Nautilus was launched.
If someone in 2009 lectures about the future they may talk about solar, power satellites, and the always-distant possibility of controlled fusion. Already we know of far greater sources. Nuclear fusion turns only 0.7% of its fuel into energy. Matter falling into a Black Hole can turn almost 50% into energy. Instead of scarce Helium-3 the fuel could be anything, even old issues of National Geographic. The food that a single Frenchwoman eats, about 1 ton per year, could provide all the electricity needs of Europe! All we need is to capture a single microscopic Black Hole. That could be nearer than we think.
The access point for the nuclear reactor is visible between the aft personnel hatch and the skiff. As we wait in line for Space Mountain, Verne's Nautilus provides wonder and much food for thought. NEXT: Death by asteroid?