Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!

Posted:  Entertainment Parks

The 1,500-seat “Theater in the Wild,” located between Dinoland U.S.A. and Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, had gone unused for more than two years. After more than a 13-year run, Disney suspended “Finding Nemo: The Musical,” in 2020, which had taken place in the theater. Guests wondered if the show would ever return, but happily, Disney announced it would be coming back. 

Marlin, Dory, and Crush Puppets

The new version debuted in June of 2022 and is now called Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond. This underwater adventure is a reimagined telling of the show that preceded it. The new version runs 25 minutes, which is probably a lot better for the little Mouseketeers than the former version, which was 40 minutes long.

Nemo and Friends Puppets in the Dentist’s Water Tank

The musical show transports guests to an undersea world through awesome special effects, sound, and lighting. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond uses live performers and puppets, along with many fun songs. The main characters, such as Nemo, Dory, Marlin, and most of the Tank Fish from the Dentist’s office, are large puppets held and voiced by live actors.

Marlin and Dory Puppets

In addition to a new script, the show features beautiful new set pieces. It also boasts an amazing LED video wall that visually extends the undersea world created by the physical sets on stage – such as a 32-foot-long sunken submarine and a 15-foot-tall fish tank volcano. This Animal Kingdom show is very well done, full of live performers, large, beautiful animated backdrops, and special effects. Guests will experience innovative lighting, sound, and an array of colors, to create Nemo’s undersea environment. The total experience is very immersive and enjoyable. 

Sea Creatures Puppets and LED screen

Mr. Ray Puppet

In terms of music, fans of the original 2007 version of the show will be pleased. Most of the original songs are back. The puppets in Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond will not disappoint either. They were designed by the same designer who did the puppets for Disney’s The Lion King show on Broadway, Michael Curry.  

Gil narratting

The story of Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond was inspired by Finding Dory. The show features our friend Gil the fish and the rest of the Tank Gang talking about Nemo’s original adventures as they await their release from the Marine Life Institute. The story is relayed through a series of flashback moments, with Gil leading most of the narrated moments downstage in front of the curtain during scene changes. 

Gil, Peach, Bloat, and Deb

In addition to Gil, guests will see and hear Peach (the adorable starfish), Bloat (pufferfish), and Deb (black and white damselfish). These characters, as well as Marlin, Nemo, and Dory, are represented by live performers operating hand-held animated puppets. Some puppets are larger-than-life – such as Crush, the cool sea turtle who is nearly the size of a car. 

Squirt Puppet

Crush and Marlin Puppets

On the way, we see other favorites, such as Bruce the Shark, Squirt, and even that meanie, Darla. Along the journey, there is plenty of action, music, and fun for all ages. Through the narration, we follow along until Nemo is once again reunited with his dad Marlin, with the help of Dory and the other fish. The new structure lets them speed through the plot more quickly and skips over all the sadder moments, which had upset many younger viewers. 

Bruce and Shark Puppets

It’s a great break from the Florida sun (or cold on those rare chilly days) and is truly fun for the whole family. I hope you’ll give this production a try!

Fun Facts/Tips:

  • The Theater in the Wild is the largest theater in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • The song “Big Blue World” is the same song heard inside The Seas With Nemo and Friends in EPCOT.
  • Many characters are portrayed by live performers operating puppets, while other characters are represented with different puppetry styles.
  • When the performers come out at the end to take their bows, you may be able to spot an animated hermit crab that appears to walk onto the stage. If you look carefully, you can see that the cartoon crab bows along with the “real” cast! 

Cast Lined Up to Take a Bow

  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond incorporates several major songs written specifically for this attraction. This is the first time a non-musical movie was featured in a Disney park as a musical.
  • The show is best enjoyed from one of the upper rows in the theater. This will give you a clear view of the entire stage, which is quite wide.
  • Cast Members open the standby queue for the show about thirty minutes before showtime and then let guests enter the theater about fifteen minutes before showtime. 
  • Always double-check My Disney Experience or ask a Cast Member for show times. 
  • ‘Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!’ offers both Lightning Lane and Standby Lines. Unless it is a VERY busy week at Disney World, it is unnecessary to use Lightning Lane. The theater is huge; when I was there recently (midweek), all standby guests could get seats without any problem. 

Full Stage View




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