For the longest time, Epcot's "The Living Seas" pavilion, which aimed to educate and entertain park guests regarding earth's ocean life, had grown increasingly stale and uninteresting. That changed back in 2004 when Disney World Imagineering stepped in and gave new life (and a new face) to the pavilion by revamping it using the characters from the hit Disney-Pixar animated film "Finding Nemo". The end result was the same building, with the same purpose, but with a new name, The Seas w/Nemo and Friends.
The pavilion itself is still located in the same place (next to The Land in Epcot's Future World) but may be a bit easier now for guests to spot, considering the outside now contains a small garden area with 8 large sculptures of characters from the movie, including Nemo, Gil, Dory, and Marlin. Then you have of the "mine mine mine" seagulls seated above and around the marker with the name of the attraction spelled out in bold orange. So on the outside, there's a bright, fresh, more appealing look to the pavilion itself that may entice park guests to stop in. After walking up to the building you'll notice the outside walls colorfully decorated with the "Finding Nemo" characters of Crush, Mr. Ray, and Bruce, then the doors part and in you go.
What about on the inside?
At the entrance to the queue, you'll notice there's a fresh take on it as well. As you walk through the winding queue to the loading platform for the ride, take note of the floor and surroundings as it feels like you're walking along a wooden plank path at the beach, or on a dock near the ocean. When you finally arrive to the loading platform, you'll come to the Omnimover ride system (constantly moving inter-connected ride cars where guests step on the moving walkway up to their ride car and enter) which for you is your own little "clam mobile". As the ride begins, you'll join Mr. Ray on a little field trip, Nemo gets himself misplaced again, and off you go in search of him through different scenes. The ride scenes are a combination of computer animation, projections, and a live aquarium filled with a number of interesting fish. At the end of the 4 minute-long ride, Nemo's reunited with his dad and group, they sing "Big Blue World" and you exit out into the rest of the pavilion itself.
On the whole, the ride itself is brief, and is merely "cute" at best. It's not particularly entertaining, educational, or even interesting, but "cute" and more for the little ones you'd no doubt be riding with.
When you exit the brief ride, you'll have your choice of a variety of areas to take in and explore. One particular area that's really right up a young child's alley is "Turtle Talk with Crush", which is an interactive show hosted by a live cast member who promptly calls for Crush to make his appearance, and as he does, he'll impress (or shock) your little ones by actually "seeing" them and even calling them out by their appearance "little dude in the red shell" (referring to a child in a red t-shirt). The attraction is basically a little one-on-many chat time, with even a drop-in by Dory (though she doesn't interact with the audience as Crush does).
Another area of interest is "Bruce's Shark World", which contains a variety of hands-on displays and activities for the kiddies, with the goal of teaching them accurately about sharks. One of the highlights is the photo op you or your child may have with Bruce, by crawling in behind him and having your head pop out through his mouth.
Take the escalator upstairs, and among the things you'll see there are tanks full of a variety of fascinating fish. Other tanks include a number of beautiful dolphins swimming and playing, and still another may harbor a manatee or two, with a nearby cast member eager and willing to answer questions or educate you on their care and nature. At times as you stroll around the top level and check out what there is to see in the various tanks, you'll catch divers (in full scuba gear) doing work in the tanks in and among the swimming inhabitants.....AND.....on some occasions, you may even get to see Mickey Mouse himself (also in full scuba gear) swimming in the large aquarium, even swimming up to the window to wave hello. We saw that on one of our last trips there, and the site of a scuba diving Mickey touching hands on the glass with the children made for some nice photos.
As you head downstairs and prepare to leave The Seas w/ Nemo and Friends, you will get to walk through a little gift shop where you can buy anything from little stuffed marine creatures to coffee mugs to candy, all in theme with Nemo and the undersea world.
Also of note, this particular pavilion also shares its building with one of the best restaurants in Walt Disney World, one that is a personal favorite of my wife and myself, and which is appropriately called "The Coral Reef", in keeping with the undersea theme. Aside from its great food, it also has a great atmosphere as well, as one whole wall of the restaurant interior is a shared glass with the enormous aquarium of the main pavilion. Every table is on its own tiered level and all of them face out towards the aquarium, so you and the kiddies can "ooh" and "ahh" as the sharks, rays, turtles, and other sea creatures constantly swim by. In addition, you may even have a scuba diving cast member or two swim up to the window for some silly fun.
* My Take
Personally, I think it was a good idea to revamp this particular pavilion, and also a good idea to do so in a "Finding Nemo" theme. Appearance-wise, the building itself (inside and out) is eye-catching and attractive, the initial walk-through queue has a great amount of seashore/ocean detail to it that adds a lot to the overall attraction. The main 4 minute ride in the "clam mobile", while cute, isn't anything to write home about, and aside from any kids you have with you liking it, it's more than likely going to bore you. I enjoyed walking around from exhibit to exhibit, but it doesn't take long to see the majority of what there is to see on the inside. Watching the dolphins, sharks, rays, and wide variety of fish is enjoyable, and can even provide something of a calming, relaxing effect as well. All in all, The Seas w/Nemo and Friends is a much better looking attraction than its predecessor. The only thing about it is that overall it's not an attraction that merits much time spent there, unless of course you're also dining at the great "Coral Reef" restaurant around the corner. I'd recommend it as an occasional kind of place to visit, but not one that has to be seen on every trip to Epcot.