Imagination!

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Imagination!
Imaginationpavilion.jpg
The exterior of the Imagination! pavilion.
Epcot
Land Future World
Theme Imagination
Opening date October 1, 1982
Number of Attractions 3
Formally Known As Journey Into Imagination (1983-1999)
Sponsored by Kodak (1982-2010)
Logo Imaginationlogo.png

Imagination! is a pavilion in Epcot. The pavilion was known as the Journey Into Imagination pavilion from 1983-1999.

Pavilion History

Development and Construction

When original designs for EPCOT Center were being drawn up, an Imagination pavilion was nowhere to be found. In fact, the Imagination pavilion was the last pavilion designed for Future World [1]. The structure that would eventually become the Imagination pavilion took inspiration from an idea that Tony Baxter had for the Mineral and Ecology pavilion that was originally planned for EPCOT Center but never constructed [2]. Imagineer Tony Baxter had worked on early plans for that pavilion, however after it was decided that the pavilion should go in a different direction (due to the fact that Kraft had assumed sponsorship) he turned his attention to the Kodak pavilion [3]. Although Kodak had originally signed on as an EPCOT Center sponsor in 1977 [1], the company did not have a firm idea of what they wanted their pavilion to focus on [3] . According to Tony Baxter:

“They wanted something that would be very imaginative.” So we said: “How about doing a pavilion on imagination"[3]

With a theme now in place, Tony Baxter and his Imagineers began fine tuning their plans for the pavilion. Baxter had initially impressed representatives from Kodak with his models for Captain Marvel and his pet dragon. These characters had initially been designed for an expansion of Disneyland called Discovery Bay [2]. Although the expansion was never constructed, Baxter continued to rework the characters for his other projects. In fact, Captain Marvel was going to be renamed Landkeepr and used in Tony Baxter's early version of the land pavilion [2]. With his attention now focused on Imagination, Baxter (as well as Steve Kirk and X Atencio) was able to rework Captain Marvel and his dragon into Dreamfinder and Figment, the stars of the Journey Into Imagination pavilion [3].

Concept art for the Journey Into Imagination pavilion

Construction on the Journey Into Imagination pavilion began in July 1981, only 15 months before the park was set to open [1]. When completed, the pavilion would feature the dark ride attraction that was also titled Journey into Imagination, the Magic Eye Theater which showed the film Magic Journeys, and the interactive ImageWorks area on the pavilion’s second floor.

Although the Journey Into Imagination pavilion was completed in Epcot Center’s opening day, inside the pavilion only Magic Journeys was open to guests. Five days later on October 6, 1982 the ImageWorks area opened to guests[3]. Lastly, on March 5, 1983 the Journey Into Imagination attraction finally opened to guests. Although the attraction had been more or less ready to go since the pavilion opened, Disney executives felt that Imagineers needed more time to work the kinks out. According to Tony Baxter:

“The show was ready to go, everything was running, and they made the call that the show was not perfected enough to guarantee the reliability they wanted,” [4]

It was not until the attraction opened that the pavilion was officially named Journey Into Imagination [1].

History Since Opening

The Journey Into Imagination pavilion remained essentially the same until 1986, when Magic Journeys closed [5]. The attraction (which was eventually moved to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom) was replaced with a new 3D show Captain EO [5]. Captain EO was created in partnership with Lucasfilms and stared pop icon Michael Jackson as the title character, a space captain charged with saving the universe. The new show featured technologically not present in its predecessor, including in-theater special effects such as laser and smoke to go along with traditional 3D effects [6].

Dreamfinder and Figment in the ImageWorks's Rainbow Tunnel

Captain EO ran in the Journey Into Imagination pavilion for eight years, before it was finally replaced with a new show in 1994. Replacing Captain EO, was a new 3D show- Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. A spin off of the popular Honey, I Shrunk the Kids film series, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience once again used 4D effects including water and small fans to immerse guests in the film [7]. Due to the fact that new film took place in the fictional Imagination Institute (where Professor Wayne Szalinski was receiving the inventor of the Year award), the Magic Eye Theater was renamed the “Imagination Institute” at this time [8].

In 1998, with Kodak's sponsorship ending shortly, Fujifilm approached Disney with an offer to sponsor the Journey Into Imagination Pavilion [9]. Their sponsorship would have included a complete restructuring of the pavilion, including getting rid of the Journey Into Imagination attraction. Although the attraction was popular, it cost a lot of money for Disney to maintain. Fujifilm told Disney that they would replace the attraction with an "E-Ticket" thrill ride, that would be just as popular as Journey Into Imagination, yet cheaper to maintain [10]. Kodak, not wanting to lose their sponsorship of the pavilion (especially not to rival Fujifilm) pitched their own idea to Disney [11]. They told Disney that they would make Journey Into Imagination more scientific, and use cheaper special effects. Although their proposal may not have seemed as glamorous as the FujiFilm proposal, Disney had concerns about turning the attraction into a thrill ride (as such a ride would still be costly to maintain). With this in mind, Disney accepted Kodak's proposal and Journey Into Imagination closed for renovations on October 10, 1998 [12].

When the Journey Into Imagination Pavilion reopened on October 1, 1999, its name was changed to the Imagination! pavilion [13]. Following the refurbishment, the pavilion featured a drastically different layout. For starters, the jumping fountains located outside of the pavilion were significantly reduced in size, in order to accommodate the addition of a new gift shop [14]. The color scheme and signage on the exterior of the pavilion were also changed dramatically, as they now reflected Kodak's company colors of red and orange[14]. Furthermore, the ImageWorks, which had originally been located on the second floor of the pavilion, was moved to the first floor and reduced in size[14]. At this time, the attraction was also renamed the “Kodak What If Labs". Although its basic premise remained essentially the same, many guests complained that the new What If Labs were simply one big advertisement for Kodak. After exiting the What if Labs, guests were funneled into the aforementioned new gift shop, where they could buy photos, Epcot souvenirs, and Journey Into Your Imagination merchandise[14].

While many things changed both outside and within the Imagination! Pavilion in 1999, there was no bigger change then the new Journey Into Imagination attraction. Now titled Journey Into Your Imagination, the attraction was rethemed as a tie-in to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. Taking place inside the Imagination Institute, Dr. Nigel Channing (Eric Idle) now gave guests a tour of the institute, using them as test subjects for a new invention, the Imagination Scanner. To the surprise of many guests, Dreamfinder was completely removed from the attraction and Figment (once the mascot of Epcot) was reduced to only a brief cameo[14].

The four attractions housed in the Magic Eye Theater, from left to right: Magic Journeys, Captain EO, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, Disney Pixar Short Film Festival

The new Journey Into Your Imagination attraction proved to be extremely unpopular with guests and many decided to boycott the attraction (as well as Kodak) to protest the changes. This campaign proved to be quite successful, as guest complaints (along with pressure from Kodak and Michael Eisner) led to the attraction getting another overhaul in 2001 [15]. Journey Into Your Imagination closed on October 8, 2001 [16], before reopening on June 2, 2002 as "Journey Into Imagination with Figment" [14] [17]. Following the refurbishment, the attraction still focused on Dr. Nigel Channing once again giving guest a tour of the Imagination Institute. Instead of testing out his Imagination Scanner however, Dr. Channing now explained how the five senses can trigger human imagination. Figment returned in this version of the attraction, disrupting the doctor’s tour, and showing guests his imagination. Although the focus of the attraction was changed, the basic premise and the track structure of the ride remained basically the same. Also of note, The Kodak What if Labs remained essentially the same, however Figment was added to many of the exhibits [14].

In December 2005, a new Figment meet and greet location called "Figment's Place" opened to guests [18]. The meet and greet was shortlived however and it closed in 2008 [19].

In 2009, following the death of Michael Jackson, Disney mulled over the idea of bringing Captain EO back as a tribute to the late singer. Sure enough on July 2, 2010, Captain EO returned to the Imagination! Pavilion, replacing Honey, I Shrunk the Audience [20]. In August of 2010, Kodak ended its 28 year sponsorship of the pavilion and all references to the company were removed [21]. Following the end of Kodak's sponsorship, The What If Labs have returned to their original name ImageWorks. On March 25, 2012, ColerVision announced it would assume sponsorship the ImageWorks [22].

On March 26, 2015 Disney announced that Captain EO would be temporarily closing on April 10, 2015 [23]. Following the attractions closure, the Magic Eye Theater showed a sneak peak of the 2015 Disney movie "Tomorrowland". After the end of the preview period, on July 19, 2015 Captain EO returned to the Magic Eye Theater [24]. Finally, on December 6, 2015 Captain EO was permanently removed. Taking its place in the Magic Eye Theater is the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival [25]. The new attraction shows three Disney-Pixar short cartoons.

In January 2016 Disney announced that in the Spring 2016 a new Disney Vacation Club members-only club would be opening on the second floor of the Imagination! pavilion [26]. The lounge will be located in the former location of the upstairs ImageWorks [27].

On September 30, 2016, the Disney Visa Character Spot that was formally located in Innoventions was relocated to the former location of Figment's Place [28]

Attractions

Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival- This attraction allows guests to watch three Disney Pixar shorts including: "Get A Horse" "For The Birds" and "La Luna"

Journey Into Imagination With Figment- This dark ride lets guests take a tour of the Imagination Institute with Dr. Nigel Channing and Figment. Along the way guests learn how the five senses relate to imagination.

ImageWorks- After exiting Journey Into Imagination With Figment, guests enter the ImageWorks. Here, they can explore various interactive exhibits featuring Figment.

Former Attractions

Dr. Nigel Channing and Figment host Journey Into Imagination with Figment

Magic Journeys- This 3D attraction showed guests what the world looked like through the eyes of a child. The show was the first attraction to open in the Magic Eye Theater, where it ran from 1982 until 1986.

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience- This 4D show was based on the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids film series. While attending the Imagination Institute's awards ceremony, guests would accidentally be shrunk down to the size of an ant. Honey, I Shrunk the Audience replaced Magic Journeys in 1994 and ran until 2010.

Captain EO- This 4D attraction starred Michael Jackson as the heroic Captain EO. The film followed the adventures of EO and his rag tag team, as they tried to save the universe. Captain EO originally ran from 1986 until 1994. The show reopened in 2010 before permanently closing in December 2015.

Journey Into Imagination- The original Journey Into Imagination was a dark ride attraction that allowed guests to explorer their imagination with Dreamfinder and his creation, Figment. The attraction opened and 1983 and remained popular until it closed in 1998.

Journey Into Your Imagination- The short lived second version of Journey Into Imagination, this attraction allowed guests to tour the Imagination Institute with Dr. Nigel Channing. Along the way, guests tested out the institute's newest invention- the Imagination Scanner. Journey Into Your Imagination ran from 1999 until 2001.

Figment's Place- This character meet and greet location allowed guests to visit Figment inside his home. Figment's Place opened in December 2014 and closed for good in 2008.

Shopping

Imagination! Gift Shop- Located just outside of ImageWorks, this gift shop features Epcot and Figment merchandise.

Former Shopping

Kodak Cameras & Film shop- This shop sold Kodak products as well as Figment merchandise. The Kodak Cameras and Film Shop opened with the pavilion in 1982 and closed in 1998.

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • Initially, there were concerns that Magic Journeys would not be ready for opening day. As a backup plan, Disney created the 70 second film "Dreamfinder Run" which would have been used to introduce clips of the unfinished Magic Journeys. Starring Ron Schneider and directed by Mike Jittlov, Dreamfinder Run was never shown to guests, as Magic Journeys opened on time [29].
  • Although Dreamfinder Run was never released, it can be seen in Martin's video about the original ImageWorks (http://vimeo.com/6976422).
  • In the early years of the pavilion, guests could see a Figment topiary in the Magic Garden (which was located just outside of the pavilion). Figment would spin on a turntable there [30], the topiary was removed in the mid 2000s.
  • From 1982 until 1998 Dreamfinder would walk around outside of the pavilion with Figment resting on his shoulder [30].
  • Following Figment's return to the attraction in 2002, a large walk around Figment could be found outside of the pavilion [31], however he stopped meeting guests in 2008 [32].
  • Mark Fuller, a Walt Disney Imagineer, was responsible for the design of the Imagination Fountains [33].
  • In the summer of 2006 the upstairs of the Imagination! Pavilion was used for the finale of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure [34], however at the time it was only being tested. When the World Showcase Adventure officially opened in 2009, the Imagination! Pavilion was not used.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=95
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Parish, Matt, Nate Parish, and Michael Crawford. "5:3 The Original Land Pavilion." Audio blog post. WedWay Radio. N.p., 20 May 2013. Web.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 http://www.epcotlegacy.com/historical-expositions/2010/6/30/gather-store-re-combine-a-history-of-imagination-part-1.html
  4. Realityland: true-life adventures at Walt Disney World. David Koenig - Bonaventure Press – 2007
  5. 5.0 5.1 https://www.mouseplanet.com/11109/The_Vacation_Kingdom_of_the_World_Its_a_3D_World_After_All
  6. http://www.epcotlegacy.com/historical-expositions/2010/10/25/gather-store-re-combine-a-history-of-imagination-part-2.html
  7. Epcot Encyclopedia
  8. http://www.epcotlegacy.com/historical-expositions/2011/3/28/gather-store-re-combine-a-history-of-imagination-part-3.html
  9. http://www.disneyparkhistory.com/imagination.html
  10. http://www.wdwradio.com/2006/06/world-history-the-imagination-pavilion/
  11. http://futureprobe.blogspot.com/2008/10/journey-into-imagination-remembered.html
  12. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/journey-into-imagination/news/10oct1998-journey-into-imagination-closed-for-major-refurbishment.htm
  13. https://www.mouseplanet.com/10792/Remembering_the_Magic_Imagination_Pavilion
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=135
  15. http://www.epcotlegacy.com/historical-expositions/2011/3/28/gather-store-re-combine-a-history-of-imagination-part-3.html
  16. http://www.epcotlegacy.com/historical-expositions/2011/6/13/gather-store-re-combine-a-history-of-imagination-part-4.html
  17. http://www.disney-pal.com/Epcot/journey_into_imagination.htm
  18. http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/figment-opens-his-home.47987/
  19. http://new.disneyecho.emuck.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?s=5eab6455796e4c9fb8e0ac0c9f977088;act=ST;f=77;t=11065
  20. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2010/04/captain-eo-returning-to-walt-disney-world-resort/
  21. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-09-10/news/os-disney-world-kodak-sponsorship-20100909_1_kodak-products-epcot-attraction-theme-parks
  22. http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/rumor-new-imagination-sponsor-colorvision.834775/page-3
  23. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2015/03/exclusive-sneak-peek-of-disneys-tomorrowland-coming-to-disney-parks-inapril/
  24. http://blogs.disney.com/insider/2015/07/24/he-is-here-to-change-the-world-again-captain-eo-returns-to-epcot/
  25. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2015/11/disney-pixar-short-film-festival-to-debut-at-epcots-magic-eye-theater/
  26. https://disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com/25th-anniversary/epcot-members-lounge/
  27. http://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2016/01/11/disney-woos-dvc-members-much-to-the-dismay-of-annual-pass-holders
  28. http://wdwnt.com/blog/2016/09/breaking-disney-visa-character-spot-replacing-figments-place-epcot/
  29. https://www.mouseplanet.com/8217/More_Disney_Films_Youll_Probably_Never_See
  30. 30.0 30.1 http://www.lostepcot.com/imagination.html
  31. http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/figment-meet-and-greet-gone.289178/
  32. http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/figment-meet-and-greet-gone.289178/
  33. http://www.intercot.com/EDC/Imagination/index.html
  34. http://www.mousellaneous.org/epcot/fw/imagination.html