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Vintage Epcot: A Return to Seabase Alpha

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

I’m a huge fan of The Seas with Nemo & Friends attraction at Epcot where you can interact with the stars of the hit Disney•Pixar film, but there is one thing I miss about the original The Living Seas Pavilion – the hydrolater.

The Hydrolater, Part of the Original The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

Iconic to The Living Seas Pavilion, this 20 passenger capsule elevator took guests on a 30-second trip to the ocean floor where they experienced water rushing by as electronic indicators measured the progress of their decent while the floor beneath them was shaking.

The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

This 185,000 square-foot pavilion that opened in 1986 is home to a coral reef environment that holds 5.7 million gallons of seawater. When guests disembarked at Seabase Alpha (now known just as Seabase), they explored a model undersea research facility.

The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

The previous queue at The Living Seas had artifacts that had a more nautical feel than the beach queue guests encounter today.

The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

While saying “dude” as much as possible is today’s norm when leaving The Seas with Nemo & Friends attraction, I still like to yell out “the deluge” when it downpours here in Florida. Those two words are still memorable all these years later from the original The Living Seas preshow.

As the 30th anniversary of Epcot approaches, read more about the history of the park in the posts below:


  • It rained……..

    and rained……….

    ………and rained………


    *Insert Star Trek The Motion Picture Sound Effect Here*

    I really miss all the “old” Epcot stuff. But, thanks Nate! (Now, I will have the deluge stuck in my head all day…) 🙂

    • 🙂

  • Is audio or video of that Walter Cronkite narrated preshow available from Disney?

    • As far as I know it’s not available, but Hope Alexander-Willis was the narrator of the pre-show at The Living Seas. Walter Cronkite was a previous narrator of Spaceship Earth.

  • I always remembered…”Try to imagine…(with the sonar pings)” That pavilion alone made me want to be a marine biolgist. The Living Seas was EPCOT Center truly living up to its potential of educating and inspiring. As a high schooler I was blown away by every aspect of the pavilion and it inspired me to pursue my degree in Marine Biology at the University of Miami!

    • I love that the pavilion inspired your degree choice! Thanks for sharing.

  • My brother and I were just talking about these over the holiday weekend. Loved the shaking floor and water splashing up just outside the hydrolater doors. What great memories, thanks!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • I loved the theming of that entire pavilion!

    I believe that the narrator of the pre-show was Hope Alexander-Willis. Even though I’ve never met her, I bet I could pick her voice out of an audio lineup, haha!

    • Robert, you are right. She was the narrator of the pre-show. (I had my friends at the WDW Library & Research Center verify.)

  • The first time I rode in the Hydrolator (I was a teenager), I was convinced, for some reason, that the bottom was going to fall out and dump us into the water. As someone who is afraid of the water, I was petrified for the whole ride. I suspect that my fellow Hydrolator passengers probably thought I was insane!

  • Wow … I definitely miss The Living Seas! “The deluge!”. Thanks for sharing this post. These pictures bring back memories. Its a shame that the hydrolators could not remain in the current state of the Seas pavilion. I bet kids would love it now just as much as I loved it years ago.

  • I remember the hydrolator and the divers swimming in for the show. Another big one I haven’t seen yet is the video reservations system that you could use in Epcot to make meal reservations at any restaurant in the park.

  • I never got to see it. 🙁 I didn’t get to visit Epcot until 2009, and by that point, pretty much all the “1980’s version of the future” EPCOT was replaced with current Epcot. (Except for the signage around Spaceship Earth…which is still blissfully straight-up 1986. I grin every time I see it.)

    That says something, I think–if you can make a person who never even experienced an attraction first-hand wistful about how cool it was… 😀 (Of course, I also wish I could ride If You Had Wings and the swan boats!)

  • Thanks for posting. I really miss this pavilion in its original form. I also miss the Jeremy Irons narration/sound track from Spaceship Earth. Oh well, have to make room for innovation!

  • Hopefull, Epcot takes a cue from the past when it comes to adding things in the future.

  • The deluge is one of my favorite Epcot quotes!! All that’s missing is a picture from the character breakfast at Coral Reef with the one and only SCUBA Mickey Mouse! So glad I managed to get my picture with him. He IS a rarity, but still does exist!

    I am loving these retro-Epcot posts as its my favorite park. So glad I am taking off work October 1 for the 30th anniversary!

    Any way there can be an article on all the old Epcot entertainment…EpBots, Cirikli, Krystos, the Chinese dogs, Dreamfinder? Epcot is home to 95% of my childhood memories and I still have my Figment mug from back then. 🙂

  • Love that Living Seas icon in the first photo and that awesome Epcot font in the second.

    Fingers are crossed for a detailed look at Horizons before the 30th!

  • I’ve always felt that I am missing something when we visit The Seas. My first visit was in 2007 so I also missed the pre-Nemo version. Is there a large area of the pavilion that may have been open in the past but no longer is? The only other aquarium I have been in is the National Aquarium in Baltimore which seems to be so much larger to me and yet the information about The Seas says it is the largest one. Why can I spend a good chunk of a day in the National Aquarium but two hours in The Seas just about does it. What am I missing?

  • Wasn’t there two different video elements before entering the ride, the pre-show from United Tech, and the the film, The Seas, as part of the process to board the hydrolaters?

  • Thanks for posting this! What a blast from the past! I remember seeing The Living Seas for the first time at 11 years old. Couldn’t wait to get to it! Nemo is great, but I miss those Hydrolators!

  • I miss the hydrolators too! Thanks, these posts of Epcot’s past are great.

  • I too can’t resist saying The Deluge when I am there. I loved the opening film about how the seas were formed. I tried explaining it to my boyfriend when he went to Epcot for the first time a few years ago… That’s funny, I always thought it was Kathleen Turner narrating it 🙂

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