5 Rides Tied to S.E.A.
Did you know that Disney is home to a secret society? No, I’m not talking about members of Club 33. I mean a group much more exclusive. This shadowy international organization lives on the outskirts of society, never clearly revealing who they are or what they want. And the frightening thought is that they’ve existed for centuries now. Is Disney in league with them? Well, the Most Magical Place on Earth has a few clear connections that may alarm you, and other Disney theme parks around the world do, too. Here are five Disney rides around the world that have been infiltrated by the enigmatic members of the Society of Adventurers and Explorers (S.E.A.).
5) Jungle Cruise – Disneyland
Before we discuss specific rides, I should explain what the Society of Explorers and Adventurers is. This group operates behind the scenes, often hiding just out of sight. Where you see a bookcase, they hide an entrance to one of their private meeting rooms. Why do they meet? Why, to share stories of their amazing adventures, of course. And possibly plans for global domination. That’s just speculation, though.
The members of the S.E.A. were (are?) among the elite on the planet. They’re scientists and explorers and researchers. They travel the world in search of new stories and rare discoveries. They’ve collated that data since the inception of the society, and that happened long before you knew. Well, that’s the fictional take on the story. The truth is slightly different.
In a way, the S.E.A. got its start with Jungle Cruise, an original Disneyland attraction. Originally planned as a travelogue type of serious boat adventure, cast members lobbied to emphasize the humor intrinsic in the animal statues. When park planners said yes to this plan, they unintentionally set in motion an unlikely series of events, ultimately leading to the creation of the S.E.A., largely in the 2000s.
Roughly two years ago, Disney officially connected the dots between Jungle Cruise and S.E.A., a previously unofficial union. They built Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen, a new companion restaurant to the attraction. In tandem, they officially introduced the S.E.A. as a part of Jungle Cruise canon. When you visit this restaurant, you can even eat in one of the secret S.E.A. dining rooms.
The newfound connection is the famous Schweitzer Falls from Jungle Cruise. As the joke goes, the namesake of this waterfall is Dr. Albert Falls. And he happens to be a legendary explorer…and a key member of the S.E.A. Due to the success of Jungle Cruise, cast members and park planners alike braced the concept of a secret cabal of adventurers, gradually tying them together via theming over a series of attractions at Disney theme parks across the world.
4) Mystic Manor — Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland is host to one of the international S.E.A. outposts. The connection is the oddly named Henry Mystic. The affable world traveler is a member of the S.E.A. During his time overseas, he discovered a loyal companion, a monkey named Albert.
The conceit of Mystic Manor is that ever-curious Albert accidentally stirs up trouble. He knows that his human, Mr. Mystic, is the curator of many powerful antiquities, most of which shouldn’t be touched. When a monkey jostles them, well, that’s not going to be great for anybody. The trackless ride is probably the most distinct version of the Haunted Mansion theme, although more cartoonish in style than most of the others.
Henry Mystic is the glue that holds the premise together. Only a member of the S.E.A. would be brave enough to adopt a pet monkey and give it free reign of a house full of powerful artifacts. The end result is predictable, but Disney’s recent S.E.A. attractions have all erred toward silly. The company wants guests to get into the backstory and do some googling while standing in line.
Should you take an interest in Henry Mystic, you’ll discover that he accumulated so many magical devices that he felt the need to share them. Unlike the other members of the secretive S.E.A., he wanted people to travel from all around to his secluded home in a rainforest. There, they could visit a museum full of 7,000 artifacts. Running such a large museum isn’t easy, and that’s why he enlisted his monkey and his grandchildren to oversee the cataloguing and storage of these items…with regrettable results.
3) Big Thunder Mountain — Magic Kingdom
The first confirmed American proof of the S.E.A. takes place at Walt Disney World. You may not know that each of the various iterations of Big Thunder Mountain has its own theme. At Magic Kingdom, Disney renovated the attraction slightly in 2012. In the process, they added an S.E.A.-based backstory to the ride.
During the line queue for Big Thunder Mountain, you’ll see a strange portrait of a man dressed in black. He clutches a can with a gold grip, signifying his wealth. You may think nothing of the picture, but the implication is critical to S.E.A. fans. The man is Barnabas T. Bullion, and his name once again suggests his story.
Bullion is the founder of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The gold on his cane reflects his nature. He’s a wildly successful gold miner who targets Big Thunder Mountain for his next dig. Alas, the mountain has a mind of its own and is stopping Bullion from getting what he wants.
By reading one letter in the line queue, you’ll learn the truth about Bullion. He’s a member of the S.E.A. who purchased a drill for this dig from fellow member, Jason Chandler, who is familiar to readers of the Disney Kingdoms series. Chandler actually goes so far as to recommend that Bullion abandon the site, which proves to be sound advice when mine carts begin to lose control…
2) Tower of Terror — Tokyo DisneySea
The history of the S.E.A. goes back much further than you might imagine. In fact, if you do some investigating at Tokyo DisneySea, you’ll discover adventurers dating back to the 1500s! One of the most famous ones at the park is from the 19th century.
Harrison Hightower III is one of the villainous members of the S.E.A., and he proves once and for all that these mysterious explorers are not to be trusted. Like Mr. Mystic, Hightower has collected loads of artifacts from the around the world. His purposes are more malevolent, though. Greedy beyond all reason, the man simply cannot refuse a chance to capture a powerful antiquity, and he’ll use any means at his disposal to do so.
Tower of Terror is the horrific output from Hightower’s most glaring mistake. He heard tales of a priceless heirloom known as the Shiriki Utundu. Unlike the wiser members of the S.E.A., Hightower ignored the rumors that the item was cursed, possessed by the spirit of an evil shaman. On an ill-fated New Year’s Eve, Hightower nonchalantly extinguished his cigar on the head of the Shiriki Utundu.
Moments later, strange green lightning struck the hotel as Hightower rode the elevator. All that was left of him afterward was his fez. The members of the S.E.A. are powerful, but the Shiriki Utundu doesn’t suffer fools.
1) Miss Adventure Falls – Typhoon Lagoon
The most recent proof of the existence of the S.E.A. also resides at Walt Disney World. It’s at the Typhoon Lagoon waterpark, where Captain Mary Oceaneer made her last stand. A fortune hunter by trade, Oceaneer sailed her vessel in search of the greatest treasures at sea. One day, she pushed her luck too far, choosing not to steer away from an oncoming storm.
Miss Adventurer Falls is the attraction that demonstrates the outcome of that shipwreck. Many of Oceaneer’s things litter the grounds of the line queue as well as the water ride. And the audio-animatronic is Duncan, the captain’s parrot. During Oceaneer’s travels as a member of the S.E.A., she acquired so many strange items that even Duncan the parrot has an impressive set of treasure on display.
Oceaneer is the most complete of the S.E.A. members to date. Her character debuted in the line queue for Mystic Manor. Disney later expanded her backstory through a series of portraits hosted on the Disney Magic, a cruise vessel. It too is part of the S.E.A. theming now. The captain even gets some references at Skipper Canteen, bringing her total number of S.E.A.-related appearances to four.
Given that Disney storytellers have only actively explored the S.E.A. universe during the last decade, Mary Oceaneer is likely the blueprint for the future of this themed concept. Each time Disney reveals a new attraction without an existing theme, there’s a decent chance that Imagineers will use the S.E.A. to tie it together. Yes, this secret society remained hidden for centuries, but Disney’s bringing them into the light of the 21st century, starting with these five attractions.
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! For a free quote on your next Disney vacation, fill out the form below!