Remembering the Magic: Imagination! Pavilionby Jonathan Heigl, contributing writer
The Imagination Pavilion has been around since Epcot opened in 1982. The attractions inside, however, have gone through some changes. Hopefully you will get "one little spark of inspiration" as we take a look back and remember the magic of the pavilion.
The pavilion was originally named the "Journey Into Imagination Pavilion" (sponsored by Kodak from opening until 2010). The pavilion originally held only the Magic Journeys 3D show when it first opened, until March 5, 1983, when Journey Into Imagination (the ride) and ImageWorks opened. With the reimagination of Journey Into Imagination (the ride), the pavilion was renamed Imagination Pavilion.
Magic Journeys (October 1, 1982 – February 9, 1986)
A 3D film shown in the Magic Eye theater (on the left side of the pavilion), Magic Journeys was about a child exploring his imagination. While the film plays, the theme song, "Magic Journeys," written by the Sherman Brothers, plays. The film is a bit difficult to explain, so I will try to provide a general overview.
The film starts off with a small group of kids running through a field. A few of them were shown laying on the ground looking up at the sky and discussing different objects seen in the shape of the clouds. One of the next scenes showed kids flying a kite on a beach. The kite then transformed into the shape of a bird, then a fish (with the scene changing to underwater), then a school of fish, then back to a flock of birds, then a Pegasus, a horse, and then a merry-go-round throughout the show. Throughout the film, it was like the main object or focus of the scene would turn into something else. Near the end, childrens toys begin to grow to full size and become a circus.
Magic Journeys would close on February 9, 1986 to make way for a future video starring a big-time star (more on that later)...
Journey Into Imagination (March 5, 1983 – October 10, 1998)
Opening a few months after the opening of Epcot (and in turn, the pavilion), Journey Into Imagination was a light-hearted, 11-minute ride that focused on imagination. The main characters were Dreamfinder and Figment. Dreamfinder was a man who wore a purplish-blue suit, had a long beard, and wore a top hat. Figment was the imaginary dragon-like creature, who Dreamfinder created as a figment of his imagination.
The ride begins with the riders going through a dark section of the track and then eventually coming up to a screen which shows an animated sky with clouds. Across this sky a strange blimp looking vehicle comes across and the voice/whistling of Dreamfinder can be heard. Meanwhile, the background music for the ride's song is playing ("One Little Spark"). Riders proceeded around the corner, where they would see Dreamfinder on his Dream Mobile (the same machine that flew across the sky). He introduces himself and tells how he uses his vehicle to collect things that can be used in imagination to create things.
During this scene, he creates the figment of his imagination, which he calls Figment. Figment comes out of the hatch near the back end of the Dream Mobile. Dreamfinder tells Figment that new friends have joined (the riders) and Figment asks if they can imagine, too, to which Dreamfinder answers "Of course!" Over the course of this scene, they discuss what they can use for imagination (lightning and other things). Figment gets so excited and carried away with the ideas, that the Idea Bag on the Dream Mobile becomes full. Dreamfinder tells Figment that they have to store the ideas with all of the others in the Dream Port. At this point, the riders begin to move forward on the track towards the Dream Port.
Upon entering the Dream Port's Storage Room, riders get a glimpse of all sorts of props that are stored as ideas, including boxed applause, a plasma ball, lightning in a tube, etc. After leaving this room, there are several scenes that represent parts of art, literature, performing arts, and science.
The beginning of the art scene starts out with Dreamfinder also dressed as an artist who appears to have painted a scene on the wall. Traveling further into the scene, the scenery (trees, horse carousel, plants, and so on) are all white. There are different colored lights shining on part of the different props, as if to show that they had been painted that color. Just a bit further ahead, more of the scenery is colored, and on the left of the riders, Figment is dressed as an artist.
The next scene shows Dreamfinder at an organ where the keys are letters. This is the literature scene. This room has a bit of a spooky story theme to it, where the music changes to more of a spooky sound, the room gets darker, lightning bolts show on a screen, and in the projection of the full moon, various animal shadows appear, such as a black cat and a bat. As Dreamfinder plays the letter organ, various word projections appear on the ceiling overhead. Projections of different spiralled fireworks also show. Near the end of the scene, Figment is scene making shadow puppets on the wall. Right after him is a dark area where lit up eyes stare at you all around you and a reference to Edgar Allen Poe's "Raven" is shown, with the large shadow of a squawking crow and on the wall was a quote from the famous poem.
The scene following was the performing arts scene. High on the wall to the right is a marquee with flashing lights. Below that are various posters that say applause, dance, and other performing arts terms. Slightly ahead and on the left, Figment stands on a chest with costumes strewn about. He has on a tuxedo coat and a white shirt. He is standing in front of a mirror that has big clear light bulbs surrounding it. On the screen ahead, various music notes are laser projected onto it, but Dreamfinder is standing off to the side waving his hands as if to show he is conducting an orchestra. After that, Figment is shown in a space suit pointing to the next scene.
Next up is the science scene. On the left was a big lit up Earth globe. On the screens ahead, there is a time lapse video that shows the formation of crystals and another shows the germination of seeds, and then the process reversing. Dreamfinder is standing and manipulating the things happening on the monitors. Near the end of the scene, an animated figment is shown on a screen, flying around, spinning upside down, and appearing to attach himself to the screen.
The last scene shows Figment in a large room.Video screens surround him and film is shown of him being many different things in his imagination: what appears to be a lollipop maker, a weight lifter, a snowy mountain climber, dancer with a top hat and cane, a superhero, captain of a ship, a pirate, and a cowboy. Upon exiting the final scene, Dreamfinder is off to the side and on a screen, pictures of the riders are shown. At this point, after moving just a little further ahead, riders disembark off of the ride vehicle.
ImageWorks (October 1, 1982 – October 10, 1998)
Part of the post-show for the ride was the ImageWorks area. This area was in the upper part of the pavilion and featured many hands on activities, as well as allowing for guests to view outside from the glass pyramids that were atop the pavilion. The activities in the area were:
- Bubble Music – guests could press a button to make a bubble that would make music
- Dreamfinder's School of Drama – guests could act out a scene on a small stage. Afterwards, guests watched their performance back with added video effects.
- Electronic Philharmonic – this was a digital "orchestra" that was sensitive to light. Guests could move their hands in the light to dictate the tempo and volume for the instruments.
- Figment's Coloring Book – this was an electronic book with electronic pens to color with.
- Giant Kaleidoscopes – huests would spin various dials to create different patterns.
- Image Warp – this was a funhouse style mirror room where the mirrors would show guests in distorted shapes and sizes.
- Light Writers – huests could use lasers to draw various different patterns or shapes.
- Lumia – a large ball would spin different lights and colors in response to sound.
- Magic Palettes – this was a free-style type electronic coloring book with electronic pens.
- Making Faces – huests would take a picture of their faces and then add various effects to them.
- Pin Screens – this was like those popular children's toys where there are a bunch of pins that you can put your hand under and they take the shape of your hand...but this was much bigger than the typical toy!
- Sensor Maze – sometimes also referred to as the Rainbow corridor, the neon lights that circled around the walkway would change colors as guests walked through. This was perhaps one of the most remembered and recognized activities.
- Stepping Tones – colored pads on the floor that would make sounds when stepped on.
Note: There were some other activities before or after some of the ones listed above. I've only listed the more well known ones or ones based on longevity.
Captain EO (September 12, 1986 – July 6, 1994)
In 1986, the show that was previously in the Magic Eye Theater, Magic Journeys, would close, with plans to reopen later in the year as a totally new experience. This new experience would be called Captain EO and would star Michael Jackson. The 3D film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and executive produced by George Lucas, featured Captain EO as the captain of an interplanetary space ship and crew. Their mission was to deliver "the gift" to the Supreme Leader (Anjelica Houston) of a planet that was once very nice, but had since turned into a dark planet made of all sharp metal. Of course, shortly after the beginning of the film, a conflict occurs, and the ship ends up landing on this planet. After another few short minutes, conflict on the planet occurs when the crew is captured and taken to the Supreme Leader. While in her palace, the action of the film takes place, as well as the performances.
[Spoiler alert: Captain EO eventually uses his powers to restore the original beauty to the planet, as well as to the Supreme Leader and her guards.]
One of the differences between this show and most current 3D theaters is that the Magic Eye theater used lasers and other effects, such as a moving floor (bouncing and shaking), as well as 3D effects.
Captain EO would close in 1994 to make way for another 3D film.
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (November 21, 1994 –May 9, 2010)
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was another 3D film, based off of the movie franchise Honey, I Shrunk the Kids that replaced Captain EO in the Magic Eye Theater. This 13-minute film was not a continuation of the series, but rather a sort of spinoff. It was about The Imagination Institute award ceremony, in which Professor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) was due to receive the Inventor of the Year award. After a series of mishaps, the audience (attraction guests) "get shrunken" and then experience effects based on the actions on the screen during the film; the floor moves (when Adam Szalinski, the youngest son, picks up the theater and moves it, air shoots at the guests to simulate mice, a snake comes out (3D effect) to try and eat the audience, even mist gets sprayed at the audience). Eventually, everything gets fixed and returns to normal.
Journey Into Your Imagination (October 1, 1999 – October 8, 2001)
Journey Into Imagination and ImageWorks both closed on October 10, 1998. About a year later, a second version of the Imagination ride opened; this time, as a 5-minute ride called "Journey Into YOUR Imagination." It was at this time that the pavilion was renamed to the Imagination! Pavilion.
With the disappearance of Dreamfinder and Figment, this version of the ride was not very well-received. The theme of the ride changed to a tour through the Imagination Institute, and guests would be the subjects of the Imagination Scanner, a new invention. The main character was now Dr. Nigel Channing (played by Eric Idle), who was the chairman of the Imagination Institute (and was also part of the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience attraction).
The ride began with the riders going through the Imagination Scanner. This was just a dark room where a purplish pink neon light would outline a mirror, a light would shine on the riders, and the scanner would measure the amount of imagination the riders had. Each time, there would be no imagination found.
After the scan, riders are sent to the Sound room. The room is totally dark and the riders are told to see what they hear. The room is fairly silent, when in the distance, a train starts to approach. The train keeps getting louder and louder, as if it is approaching, until it appears (by sound) to go right over top of the riders.
In the second room, riders were shown a couple illusions. The first, was a large butterfly swinging on a bar in a cage that would appear to materialize as it swung by the riders. A little further ahead, a (projected) fish appeared to swim in and out of the tank.
In the third room, The Color of Sound, there are different sound effects played and screens changed color to match, such as monkeys and other jungle sounds (with two large screens projecting a green color) and a rocket blastoff sound (where the screens turned a bluish color with sections of them changing orange).
In the fourth room, Making Connections, the room is full of stars. Riders are told to stare at them long enough, and they will begin to make connections (constellations appear). Fish, lobster, monkey flying a kite, and other things are lit up in the stars to simulate making the connection.
Finally, in the Gravity room, everything is upside down. RIders go through a house that is upside down, from the garage, to the living room, kitchen, etc. At the end of the room, the riders are sent through the scanner again, but this time, the results are off the chart. The machine "explodes" and riders see a bit of a light show of sorts (different figures and shapes are projected).
ImageWorks – The What-If Labs (1999 – Present)
After the refurbishment of the ride, guests were invited to the new ImageWorks section called The What-If Labs. This was the refurbished area of the previous ImageWorks area, but only took up a portion of the area downstairs, with the upstairs area being closed for general use. There were only a few activities:
- Create A Figment – added in 2002, but these were touchscreens where guests could create their own version of Figment and send it to people via email.
- Figment's Melody Maker – also added in 2002, guests would control Figment as he played "One Little Spark" on an instrument. The pitch of the melody would change based on the height on the screen Figment was.
- Stepping Tones – very similar to the original, but picture panels created the sound instead of colored panels.
Journey Into Imagination with Figment (June 2, 2002 – Present)
As previously mentioned, guests did not like Journey Into YOUR Imagination and were very upset that Dreamfinder and Figment were not featured. Attendance quickly fell on the ride and the complaints were heard. After a short time, Journey Into YOUR Imagination was closed on October 8, 2001, to allow for a reimagine of the ride to help satisfy guests, while still maintaining relevance to the theme of the pavilion (Imagination Institute).
The solution was Journey Into Imagination with Figment. Most of the ride was rethemed, the script was redone, and Figment once again played a major role in the ride. However, much to the dismay of many guests (and still to this day), Dreamfinder did not make his return. In this version, Dr. Nigel Channing is trying to give the riders a tour of the Imagination Institute during an Open House event, but mischievous Figment keeps interfering with the tour in each of the rooms. The original theme song, "One Little Spark" also returned, however, this time it was re-written to make sense for each of the new rooms, with Figment doing most of the singing until the end, when Dr. Nigel Channing eventually joins in.
The ride begins with the riders being taken into a room with 5 smaller screens on the right side (the car turns to face the screens). At first, the screens show an image (or logo) of each of the five sense labs. Once in place, riders are welcomed to the open house by Dr. Channing, who is then interrupted by Figment, who then starts the tour after a minute or so of talking.
The first room is the Sound Lab. This is the same room as the previous ride, but this time it has some lighting. Figment pops up in the room and the sound of the train is still played, but this time, it is the "train of thought."
In the second room, the Sight Lab, there is a big screen that shows a projection of an Eye Chart. As Dr. Channing asks the riders to start reading the lines of the chart, a shadow of Figment tip-toes by the letters on the chart. Figment (in full color projection) then flies in front of the chart and knocks all the letters down. He then starts throwing out the letters onto the screen that spell "Figment." He then begins to sing the next verse of the updated "One Little Spark" theme song, and as he sings the verse, the words appear on the screen in a sing-along fashion.
The third room is the Smell Lab. In this scene, there is a big cannister looking prop. There are screens in the center of it that show various things. Figment is shown on the screen and then triplicates himself (there are three sections of the screen). A slot machine type spinning of the three sections occurs and they all stop on Figment dressed as a skunk. At this time, the skunk scent fills the room.
After leaving this room, Dr. Channing decides to end the Open House tour. The ride vehicles pull to a garage area and the Taste and Touch Labs sign is printed over a closed entryway. Figment is to the right of the closed doors on what looks like a loading dock. As Dr. Channing says that he hesitates to send us through the rest of the Open House, Figment says that we can go to his house instead. At this point, the ride vehicles start moving "towards Figment's house."
Figment's house is totally upside down (like the previous ride version). Only black lights are on, so everything is painted in black light responsive paint. Riders are taken through the different rooms of his house.
At the end of this scene, there are signs that say "Figment's way to the Institute" and riders are sent back there. At this point, Dr. Channing says, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!." The riders enter what appears to be a computer room or something. Dr. Channing comes on the screens and tells everyone that imagination works the best when it is set free. Figment says imagination is a blast, and a loud noise occurs and the screens go to the floor. Behind the screens, there is a colorful scene with many Figments in all different scenarios (hanging from a cloud, scaling a mountain, riding a plane made out of film strips, and riding a magic carpet). At the exit, there is a dark room with stars in the ceiling. A black light responsive Figment is standing on top of a planet with rings and there is a moon with Dr. Channing's face projected onto the cratered surface. His face is swinging left to right on the screen as he is singing the chorus of the song. THe riders progress just a bit further in the room to the exit doors.
Captain EO Tribute (July 2, 2010 –Present)
After Michael Jackson's death, many fans asked that Captain EO be brought back. The timing appeared right (for the show to return), as Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was getting stale. On May 9, 2010, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was closed to make way for the return of Captain EO. The film remained the same, with only a few of the original effects not returning (since the things that made these effects had been removed in the conversion to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience), with the title being changed to Captain EO Tribute to distinguish this from the original run.
My verdict – revert, update, leave alone, or re-imagine?
My verdict on this is for the pavilion as a whole. While I may be in the minority (judging by the lack of people riding), I enjoy Journey Into Imagination with Figment. I am also a huge fan of the Captain EO film. However, Captain EO is definitely dated and needs to be replaced. Journey into Imagination with Figment does not draw a lot of crowds (at least when I visit), so I think that also needs to be replaced. ImageWorks is a shell of its former self. Therefore, my overall opinion is that the whole pavilion needs to be re-imagined. There are many ways this can be done. They can leave the Magic Eye Theater and put another film of something in there, or they can repurpose it as part of the larger pavilion and create a whole new ride that would utilize the entire pavilion. They could create a new Imagination ride with the return of the Dreamfinder (and Figment), or they could go down an entirely new path altogether. While I do appreciate and enjoy both Captain EO and Journey Into Imagination with Figment, I think Epcot needs to have some state of the art, fun, entertaining, and somewhat educational rides all across Future World to help bring the crowds to other pavilions instead of people heading straight for Soarin' or Test Track all the time.
What are your ideas? What do you think of the current or past attractions in this pavilion? Share some of your memories, thoughts, or comments in the discussion board or comments section below! Thanks for reading!