Done under my model railroad table...
Here's how it works: (Graphics created in Google SketchUp)
You can see where the operator sits, where the guests view , and where all the scenes are.
Another view, with the viewing area on the left and the scenes on the right.
How the scenes are laid out.
Everything is laid out very much like a stage show with backdrops, legs, etc. The “dock wall” is basically a backdrop that raises and lowers in front of the portholes. The “south seas lagoon scenes” are on a segmented belt (called “belt 1” in the diagram) very similar to the “carousels” you might find at an airport. These belts travel in front of the portholes around the main turqoise backdrop and back to the starting point on the right side of the portholes. The Atlanis, volcanos, and sea serpent scenes are also on a smaller, belt (Known as "Belt 2" in the diagram). This one travels along the inside of the longer “south seas lagoon belt”. The polar icecaps, like the dock wall, is a prop that lowers into the viewing area when the ride is at that point. The rest of the scenes, the graveyard of lost ships, deep sea angler fish, and the giant squid; are all painted flats that travel along a network of suspended “wire tracks” that span the entire length of the table. Lastly to create that underwater look, thin plexiglass boxes with fish tank air stones, filled with water, are between the porthole windows and the scenes that give that water look and of course, bubbles. This is very similar to the effect Tokyo Disney Seas has in their 20,000 leagues under the sea ride.
An actual picture of the "backstage" area, from the operators perspective:
The scenes themselves are mainly made out of paper mache. The seaweed is all done out of rosemary bush clippings. Just about all the sea life is sculpted out of clay, but some had to be flats because of the tight clearances. The belts are made from card stock segments jointed with masking tape.