The crabs on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in the Tomorrowland area of Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, were recently sent for a rebuild cycle, in which they were inspected to ensure that they are physically and operationally in good shape – and this included an assessment of the bushings on their moving appendages.
Crabs play a small but memorable part of the 2003 Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo – which is the basis for the theme park submarine ride that takes you on a journey in an actual underwater environment, which includes animated projections and realistic-looking sea creatures, as one clownfish seeks his son (Nemo).
The crabs have to deal with the stressors of the physical environment including swimming-pool-quality water.
“We have dozens of figures that operate underwater in this fashion and routinely come into our overhaul shop every 6 months to a year for refurbishment,” explains Animation Service Manager, Mike Morrison.
“The chemically treated water typically causes aggressive corrosion in materials that would normally be suitable for use on land,” he says.
Disneyland’s solution was to use corrosion-resistant, no-swell Vesconite Hilube, a polymer that does not require any lubrication.
“As much of our animated figure structures are fabricated from stainless steel, we have found Vesconite Hilube to perform better than metal materials in the underwater environment,” says Morrison.
“Hilube is well-suited to our chemically-treated water at Nemo. Unlike other materials, Hilube will not absorb or swell whilst in water.”
The crabs that came in for service stand adjacent to each other and move towards and away from each other to create visual interest for theme park visitors.
Bushings on the engineering mechanisms are essential to propel the crabs forward and backward.
Morrison reports that the bushings typically last three rebuild cycles and that, each time the bushing is examined, it is rotated 120 degrees in order to distribute wear evenly on the bushings.
Having completed three cycles, the crabs’ bushings were replaced so as to further intrigue Disneyland visitors with their antics.
Morrison informs that other exhibit sea creatures with moving appendages also have Vesconite Hilube bushings, including the lobsters, turtles, scuba divers and others.