So when the time came to build a mermaid lagoon to drive submarines into, you can bet that Uncle Walt made damn sure that they were the most mermaid-y-acting mermaids money could buy, up to and including their willingness to damn near shear their faces off.
In 1959, Disneyland opened Submarine Voyage, a ride which allowed visitors to experience what it was like to ride in a submarine and journey through the briny depths of the oceans, including seeing sea monsters and mermaids. Of course, we don’t mean real mermaids, because as you know, Disney wouldn’t go into genetic engineering until they created Justin Timberlake in the ’90s. We’re talking about starfish-bra-wearing, fake-tail-clad women who made an easy $45 a week by swimming in the waters of the ride and sunning themselves on a rock, to the delight of onlookers. As it happens, however, the ride’s submarines used real propellers for authenticity, and so the mermaids would frequently have to worry about being sucked into and vaporized by the blasted thing.
Santa Monica PressOn the upside, if the propeller chopped off their legs, they could probably charge extra for the added authenticity.
Being half-naked women having fun in the sun, the mermaids would also have to contend with lecherous dudes jumping the fence and swimming out to them, presumably in the hope of fertilizing their eggs. That is, when they weren’t showering the mermaids in dollars bills and rolls of quarters like dancers at the world’s happiest/weirdest strip joint. The problems with male guests, as well as the general dangers of asking people to swim in a dirty pool of flotsam, jetsam, and razor blades, eventually convinced Disney to call quits on this one and stick to cartoon merfolk.