Walt Disney World has released a preview of the reimagined musical, “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond!” This article covers the details, debut schedule, and what else you could expect from the replacement show, inspired by Find Doris.
This new or reimagined show will replace Finding Nemo – The Musical, which has been dark for over 2 years. Walt Disney World previously announced that a reimagined show would debut this year. However, it was incredibly light on details, and there wasn’t even a proposed timeline for when in 2022 it would debut.
In today’s preview, Walt Disney World revealed that Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond! will debut in the summer of 2022. Still no more specific date than that, leading us to believe it’s do not Memorial Day weekend like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The lack of a specific date suggests it’s likely later in June or July 2022.
Here’s what else Disney revealed: Entering the Theater in the Wild, we’ll find the group of fish from Dr. P. Sherman’s office at The world of Nemo, who crossed the ocean to the Marine Life Institute. The fish tell the story of Nemo in this fully updated 25-minute show, incorporating live performers and puppets. The revamped production also includes many beloved songs and numbers from the original Finding Nemo: The Musical, including “In the Big Blue World” and “Go With the Flow.”
In addition to a new storyline, Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond! will feature new stage sets and a new LED video wall designed to visually extend the world created by the physical sets on stage. These aren’t small sets, either – there’s a 32-foot-long sunken submarine and a fish tank volcano nearly 15 feet tall.
Working closely with Pixar Animation Studios, Disney Live Entertainment artists and designers have also developed a new aesthetic for Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! inspired by layered and cut-out paper sculptures. The resulting look is fresh and unique to the show, while staying true to the designs of the original film.
Watch the video below for an overview:
Walt Disney World previously revealed that “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond!” will take place in the timeline of Finding Doryand will feature a mix of music and familiar favorite characters from its predecessor, while adding new characters and songs from the second film.
With those details and the preview out of the way, let’s get to the comments…
The first thing that caught my eye was the 25 minute runtime, which is a cut from the original 40 minute runtime of Finding Nemo – The Musical. It’s going to be controversial, and I suspect Walt Disney World fans will have a mixed reaction to the change.
On the one hand, cutting 15 minutes is meaningful. A big part of the appeal of Finding Nemo – The Musical was that it was a lavish production that felt like something more than you’d get from a theme park. It was a great way to break up the day and get away from the heat of Animal Kingdom for a while.
On the other hand, 40 minutes was arguably too long for a theme park show, given the attention spans and logistics of kids. It was really difficult to plan around Finding Nemo – The Musical, and many guests skipped it due to the time involved. That was us – we loved the idea of Finding Nemo – The Musical much more than the production itself, which we rarely watched.
In theory, the reduced runtime should allow Walt Disney World to get an extra hour or two of Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond! in the daily schedule. If that’s what happens, I’ll consider that a net positive overall. If Disney just puts on a shorter show with this many performances, it will clearly only be a budget cut and not a positive bottom line overall. Reasonable minds may disagree with this assessment; it really depends on how you feel about the length of the previous musical.
My biggest concern is that Disney will also use these changes as an opportunity to reduce the number of artists. It was pretty much a given that the reimagined musical would use screens and other technology to “enhance” the production. The big question is whether it will be an addition or a substitute for live performers.
This question is completely valid. Festival of Fantasy and Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime, the two parades that have returned so far, have been significantly reduced. In fairness, Festival of Fantasy has seen some performers added to the mix since the return of distanceless character interactions, but there’s still a lot missing. The company tried to cut labor costs where it could, and it wouldn’t be surprising if “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond!” is another example.
As for what it might look like with “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond,” there’s actually a pretty comparable plan to Tokyo DisneySea, of all places. Although this park is generally considered the gold standard – the best Disney theme park in the world – it has seen entertainment cutbacks in recent years.
A particular example is illustrative here: the concert of King Triton at Mermaid Lagoon. This replaced “Under the Sea”, a somewhat similar musical that combined live performers, full-scale puppetry and Audio Animatronics. Although similar in spirit to its predecessor, King Triton’s Concert replaces some of the live performers with video screens and pre-recorded appearances by Ariel’s sisters.
Finding Nemo seems like the kind of movie and it’s the kind of musical that would prompt a similar approach, replacing live performers with screens.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue… and Beyond!” is a 1:1 replacement of “Finding Nemo – The Musical”, featuring a refresh, new music and returning favorites, as well as the exact same number of performers. I don’t want to be overly pessimistic or rule out the possibility that this is a quality successor – that’s exactly where my mind naturally gravitates given the ample past history. Hopefully those worries are wrong!
Ultimately, we’re happy to hear more about “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond!” even though his return is long overdue at this point. I’ll wait to see the show redesigned before making a final judgment, but I’m very curious about how the musical uses video screens and its reduced runtime.
If the screens are actually an improvement – and not an excuse to cut artists – it will be a win. If the shorter runtime means tighter production with more hours of performance per day – not a cost-saving measure – that will also be a win. I’m not necessarily optimistic about either being the case, but I’m not pessimistic either… more like the “wait and see” mode on this one. Anyway, I can’t wait to see “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue… and Beyond!” in the summer of 2022. Animal Kingdom definitely needs this musical comeback.
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What do you think of the Walt Disney World preview of “Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond!” fixed in the timeline of Finding Dory in the summer of 2022? Disappointed that more entertainment hasn’t already returned despite the crowds and prices? Do you agree or disagree with our fears about fewer performers? Any thoughts on the pros and cons of a shorter runtime? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!