When they want to get away from it all, not many people think about doing so seven miles below the ocean’s surface, getting harassed by a giant squid. Dr. James “Randy” Moran happens to be the exception to that rule.
Dr. Moran, a Colleyville, Texas-based dentist, is an admitted lifelong Disney fanatic—fanatical to the degree that he and his wife have filled a room in their house with nothing but Disney collectibles. But that’s not the most impressive thing about the Morans’ fascination with Walt, Mickey and company.
A few years ago, Dr. Moran hired a team of premier artists to design and build what is arguably one of the most unusual man caves ever created to suit a fellow’s seafaring whimsy. In the process, he was introduced to former Disney Imagineer, Mike Dillon, who made his dreams come to life.
When he was a kid, Moran and his family toured the famed Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif., where something caught his then 13-year-old eye. “They had this really impressive home movie theater, and it planted the seed that one day I might like to have one of my own,” Moran says. “Fast-forward to around 2001—I started getting serious about it. One of my favorite movies is the Jules Verne classic, ‘Twenty thousand Leagues Under the Sea,’ from 1954. We decided that we wanted a themed theater, and I thought, why not try to go with the interior of the Nautilus submarine?” Why not, indeed?
Moran didn’t skimp on details. He interviewed no fewer than 10 home theater companies before settling on Audio By Design, owned by Paul Bohnsack. Through Bohnsack, Moran located a like-minded architect and fellow “Twenty Thousand Leagues” movie-lover Michael Malone.
Malone, in turn, introduced Moran to Mike Dillon, whose company, Dillon Works creates a wide array of fabulously imaginative creations of all kinds. Dillon worked directly for Disney on the Tokyo Disney Seas theme park outside Japan’s capital city. “Mike Dillon and his people were very gung-ho about our project,” Moran says. (As if to prove that point, Dillon Works’ trademarked company motto is “We Kick Ass.”)
A long year in the making, Moran’s man cave results are nothing short of spectacular. Today, if you’re lucky enough to be invited to their home for cocktails and a movie, the Morans will escort you into a darkened, soundproofed 850-square-foot chamber where you’ll be transported into an authentic replica of the Nautilus’ viewing deck. Thus ensconced, you can nestle into one of 11 plush recliners, munch on popcorn and fantasize about floating miles below the ocean's surface, in the surreal, sea-born kingdom of Verne’s staunchly British Captain Nemo and heroic Ned Land. It has to be a heady experience. Moran sums it up rather matter-of-factly: “It’s just a good, high sanctuary for me. I can go in there, close the doors, read books and do whatever. It’s just like being under the sea in a submarine.”
Moran’s advice for man-cave-oriented, home theater- planners? “Go with someone—an artisan—who you know is capable of making your wildest dream come true.”