Journey Into Imagination with Figment
Journey Into Imagination With Figment is an attraction located in the Imagination! pavilion within Epcot. If you are looking for the attraction that was housed in the pavilion from 1983 until 1999 see: Journey Into Imagination.
- 1 Attraction History
- 2 Attraction Plot
- 3 Cast
- 4 Fun Facts and Trivia
- 5 References
The Original Journey Into Imagination Attraction (1983-1998)
What would one day be known as Journey Into Imagination, began as an idea from Imagineer Tony Baxter. Baxter was tasked with working on an attraction for EPCOT Center's Kodak Pavilion, with the only request being that they wanted something that would be "very imaginative". Based on this request, Tony came up with the idea of a Dream Catcher (as it is unofficially called); a machine which traveled through space collecting sparks of imagination.
Piloting the Dream Catcher, would be Dreamfinder, a whimsical inventor who collected and reused imagination. The Dreamfinder character actually began as the host of an unbuilt attraction called the Gallery of Illusion. This attraction was to be built in the never constructed Discovery Bay expansion of Disneyland, and it was to be hosted by an investor named Professor Marvel. In one of the scenes in this attraction, Professor Marvel showed how he domesticated dragons, even holding a baby one. When work began on Journey Into Imagination, Captain Marvel became the inspiration for Dreamfinder, with Joe Rhode serving as the model for the character.
The second character created for the Journey Into Imagination attraction, was a purple, childlike dragon named Figment. Figment’s creation began when Tony Baxter was watching an episode of Magnum P.I. In the episode, Magnum had hidden a goat in Higgins’ yard, and the goad had predictably torn up the vegetation. When Higgins suggested that a goat was ruining his yard, Magnum replied that it was all just a figment of his imagination. Higgins’ response that “Figments don’t eat grass!” gave Baxter the inspiration for his new character, named Figment. Tony would later explain that Figment was a character that everyone knows about and has never been visualized.
Taking some inspiration from the Gallery of Illusion attraction, Figment was initially sketched by Disney artist Steve Kirk who turned in a rough drawing of the character. Imagineer X Atencio then slightly altered the drawing to, "make the character lovable, in a way that kids could relate to". With their two main characters designed, Imagineers set about finding voices for the duo. Although finding a voice for Dreamfinder was relatively simple (with actor Chuck McCann filling the role) finding a voice for Figment proved to be much more difficult. Disney had men, women, boys and girls all audition for the role, but no voice was deemed suitable. Eventually, they found Figment's voice in veteran voice actor Billy Barty, who was deemed perfect for the role. When talking about the role of Figment, Tony Baxter said:
"The story needed to describe the complex process in an engaging, interactive way without seeming like a lecture. A persona was needed to give the process personality, but having a human character seemed too selective. A friendly imaginary being that could delight in the wonders of imagination would be more inclusive."
— Tony Baxter
With their characters in place, it took Disney nearly six months to come up with an idea for the Journey Into Imagination attraction. To help them with their understanding of imagination, Disney brought in various scientist and artists. Eventually they came to the conclusion that while everybody’s imagination was different, how people get their imagination is the same. Thus they decided to focus on how we gather, store and recombine ideas.
Despite originally scheduled as an opening day attraction, Journey Into Imagination opened on March 5, 1983, five months after EPCOT Center’s opening day. Although the rest of the pavilion opened with the rest of EPCOT Center, technical issues with Journey Into Imagination’s turntable, loading and unloading mechanisms caused the attraction to be delayed. According to Tony Baxter however, the attraction was up an running, yet Disney executives did not think would be reliable and thus it was delayed. After opening, Journey Into Imagination remained essentially the same until 1998, when it was closed for refurbishment.
Journey Into Your Imagination (1999-2001)
With the new millennium approaching, it was decided that Journey Into Imagination needed to be updated. While the attraction remained popular, it had seen a recent decline in attendance and was beginning to look dated. Because of this, Kodak's renewal of their sponsorship of the Journey Into Imagination Pavilion necessitated that the attraction be updated before 2000 (when Epcot was planning on having its big millennium celebration). After a series of rejected ideas (including an attraction based on the 1997 movie Flubber, and another attraction that would have guests entering the mind of a celebrity),Walt Disney Imagineering pitched an idea for "must see" attraction that would use special effects, to challenge and confuse guest’s senses. After hearing the pitch, one executive said:
“If you were in that room hearing the pitch you would have been blown away. You'll be in this dark room and not be able to tell up from down. You will be surrounded by sound and not know the direction. It was all amazing, sounded state of the art and more importantly guaranteed to give the guests a terrific experience."
The new attraction was eventually given the blessing of both Kodak and Disney, and Journey Into Imagination was closed on October 10, 1998. Taking its inspiration from the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience attraction, it was decided that the new Journey Into Imagination would become a part of the fiction Imagination Institute (which the entire pavilion would now be themed as). Renamed Journey Into “Your” Imagination, the new attraction took guests on a tour of the Imagination Institute, where they learned the “effects of sound, color, illusion, dimension and gravity on people's ‘imagination generator.’” Dr. Nigel Channing (Eric Idle), who had appeared in Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, was tapped as the host of new attraction. Imagineer Orrin Shively (who had previously produced Test Track) produced Journey Into “Your” Imagination, and gave the show a minimal plot in order to allow guests to explore their own imagination.
Journey Into Your Imagination was constructed in exactly one year, making it one of the fasted built, modern attractions, in Walt Disney World. During the construction, the attraction’s track length was shortened by 40% and the turntable (which had been a source of maintenance issues since the attraction opened) was removed. Also removed from the attraction, were popular characters Dreamfinder and Figment (although Figment made a few cameos in the new attraction). The entire Imagination! Pavilion (as it was now called) was dedicated on September 29, 1998, with Journey Into “Your” Imagination opening on October 1.
Following its reopening, Journey Into Your Imagination was bombarded by guest complaints. The attraction was described as cheap, boring, and condescending. Many fans further decided to boycott the attraction (and even Kodak) in order to show their displeasure. Besides angering fans, Journey Into Your Imagination also angered Kodak, who felt they did not get an attraction that was worth their investment. Due to the pressure asserted by fans, Kodak, and even Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Journey Into Your Imagination was closed for another refurbishment on October 8, 2001.
Journey Into Imagination with Figment (2001-Present)
Following the failure of Journey Into Your Imagination, it was decided that once again the attraction needed to be significantly changed. This time however, the budget for the refurbishment was extremely limited. Sponsor Kodak was unwilling to put more money into the attraction, and the tourism industry as a whole had been devastated by the attacks on September 11, 2001. Working with these constraints, Imagineering was given a budget of less than 8 million dollars, and tasked with turning Journey Into Your Imagination into a respectable attraction. Based on guest feedback, Imagineering knew that the needed to reinstate Figment back into the attraction. To do this, Figment Audio Animatronics which had been stored in various offices on Disney property, were recollected and returned to the attraction. Furthermore, many of the show scenes were reshot, so that Dr. Nigel Channing now interacted with Figment.
Besides just adding the purple dragon back into the attraction, Disney also changed the tone of the ride significantly. Instead of being a scientific tour, the new version of Journey Into Imagination was a comical journey through the Institute’s Sense Labs. Dr. Nigel Channing still ran the tour, but he was now interrupted by a significantly more troublesome Figment, who argued with the Dr. about the value of Imagination. Although the attraction track remained essentially the same, the show scenes were all significantly changed. More importantly perhaps, the ride vehicles now came to a stop in most of the different rooms, allowing Imagineers to focus guest’s attention on a specific scene, and create a more linear story. Also of note, Disney added the song One Little Spark back into the attraction, albeit with mostly new lyrics. The Sherman Brothers were once again hired to write the lyrics, with the song being performed by Dr. Nigel Channing and Figment. Journey Into Your Imagination reopened as Journey Into Imagination With Figment on June 2, 2002, a mere 236 days after it closed.
All three versions of Journey Into Imagination have been dark rides which focused on human imagination.
Journey Into Imagination (1983-1999)
Main Article: Journey Into Imagination.
The original Journey Into Imagination attraction, was a dark ride hosted by the Dreamfinder and his creation Figment. On the attraction guests would explore various aspects of imagination. Scenes on Journey Into Imagination included, the Dreamport, an art scene, a nightmare scene, a theater scene and a finale. The ride ran from 1983-1998. For a more detailed plot summary visit the Journey Into Imagination page.
Journey Into 'Your' Imagination (1999-2001)
Journey Into Your Imagination’s plot began in the queue, where guests could see signs for the Imagination Institute. A directory showed that the institute was made up of six different departments: color, dimensions, gravity, illusions, sound, and the ImageWorks. Dr. Nigel Channing then appeared on the monitors in the queue, to inform guests that besides just touring the lab, they would also be test subjects for the new Imagination Scanner experiment. This video was one of the few places in the attraction where guests could still see Figment.
After entering their ride vehicles, guests moved forward and stopped in front of a large mirror. Here the Imagination Scanner would scan them, to determine what they were imagining. Dr. Nigel Channing would then inform guests that there was, "Not much going on" in their imagination (with the scanner showing cobwebs and even a “vacancy” sign), which was perfect for the experiment. The tour of the labs then began in the Sound Room, where guests were challenged to "see what you hear". The room was almost completely dark, but inside guests could hear various noises such as: a baby crying, a trumpet, a toilet flushing and finally, a train roaring by. As guests transitioned into the Illusion Lab, Nigel informed them that “"When the laws of physics and common sense are shattered, imagination takes over". In the Illusion Lab, guests could see a looking glass illusion that seemed to magnifying a room, as well as and a cinder block breaking through a glass table (that actually had no glass). Continuing on, riders based by giant cage which appeared to be empty, after further inspection however, guests could see a camouflaged giant butterfly. Another illusion in the lab was a fish that seemed to by swimming out of water, although this was obviously not actually the case.
After exiting the Illusion Lab, guests entered the Color of Sound room. Here, large screens showed how imagination relates colors to sound. For example, when the screen was red, guests would hear something cooking, when it was green they could hear rainforest sounds, and finally a metallic color allowed guests to hear a space ship blasting off. After leaving the Color of Sound guests would enter the Connection Room, where they were surrounded by stars, which when connected properly, could create images of animals. The final room in the tour was the Gravity Lab, where everything that was supposed to be down was up. In this room, guests could look on the ceiling to see upside down rooms, including a bathroom and a kitchen. There were also mirrors located here, which showed guests upside down.
After completing their tour, guests were once again scanned by the Imagination Scanner. This time however, their imagination was so strong that they broke the machine. After the machine had malfunctioned, the lights would go out in the room, and projections of all the objects that guests were imagining could be seen above. Dr. Nigel Channing would then invite guests to visit the ImageWorks, concluding the attraction.
Journey Into Imagination With Figment (2002-Present)
Like Journey Into Your Imagination, Journey Into Imagination With Figment begins with guests entering the Imagination Institute. Here, guests see a directory of the six departments of the institute: smell, sight, sound, taste, touch and the ImageWorks. In the Institute's lobby Weebo the yellow robot from the 1997 movie Flubber can be found. As guests meander through the queue, they can see portraits of the Inventor of the Year award winners including: Dr. Nigel Channing, Wayne Szalinski (from the Honey, I Shrunk series) and Professor Philip Brainard (from the movie Flubber).Continuing through the queue, guests pass by the labs of the three scientists, before eventually reaching their ride vehicles. After boarding, Dr. Nigel Channing introduces himself, and welcomes guests to the institute. He informs them that they will be taking a moving, open house tour, which will show how the five senses affect imagination. Figment then appears, and tells the doctor that he wants to go on the tour too. Although the doctor introduces the purple dragon as one of the Institute’s discoveries, he tells Figment that he cannot go on the tour. When Dr. Channing tells him he doesn't want him out of his sight however, Figment disappears and guests begin their tour.
The first room that the ride vehicles enter is the sound lab. The professor begins his demonstration by playing a series of tones, which shows how people hear out of either their left or right ear. As the test is going on, all of the sudden, guests here a phone ringing. As Figment appears holding a phone, he explains that you do not need to hear with your ears, but with your imagination. Dr. Nigel Channing then declares that he has completely lost his train of thought. With is queue, Figment replies “no you haven’t, its right here”, as guests hear a train go roaring by. Figment then begins to sing a new verse to the song "One Little Spark"
"For every sound
Your ears are hearing
A thousand thoughts
Can start appearing
And each of us imagines different things
From just a sound
Your mind has wings"
After exiting the sound lab, guests enter the sight lab. Here Dr. Nigel Channing alerts guest’s attention to a large eye chart in the room. While guests are told to read the charts third line, they can see the silhouette of Figment creeping across the screen. Soon, Figment gets rid of all the other letters, and spells out his name. He then explains that “"Sure You Can see with your eyes, but imagine what you can see if you use your imagination”, before singing another new verse of "One Little Spark" as guests continue their tour of the Institute.
One spark of light
Can light your fancy
Your mind sees more
Then what your eyes see
Your sense of sight
Can make your fancy fly
There's more to sight
Then meets the eye!
The next room in the tour is the smell lab. As guests enter the lab, Figment and Dr. Nigel Channing argue about whether imagination should be controlled or set free. After passing by a giant butterfly which seems to appear out of nowhere, Dr. Nigel Channing explains that senses (especially pleasant or familiar ones) can spark imagination. At this point, Figment takes control and sets off a slot machine that features different smells. The machine comes up with three skunks, leading guests to get sprayed by a skunk smell. As the ride vehicles are set in motion, guests pass by the other smell containers and Figment then begins to sing "One Little Spark" again.
One awful whiff
Can send you reeling
One lovely sniff
Can be appealing
Your mind defines
What enters through your nose
That's how you tell
A skunk is not a rose!
After the skunk catastrophic, Dr. Channing decides to skip the touch and taste labs. He also questions whether or not to end the tour altogether. Figment says that ending the tour of the Institute is a great idea, and that they should instead tour his house. Guests then move off the normal track, as they head towards Figment's house. As Nigel laments that everything has been turned upside down, Figment gets an idea. He decides that upside down sounds like a great idea, and decides to turn his house upside down. Before guests enter his house, they see all kinds of surreal signs pointing them in the right direction. Figment can be heard singing "One Little Spark" again.
"With just a spark,
I made my house
Imagination really comes around
Makes downside up
and upside down!
When guests finally reach Figments house everything is upside down, as advertised. The rooms are located on the ceiling, where guests can see his kitchen, living room and bathroom. Audio Animatronic Figments can be seen here, eating in front of the TV, in the bath, and looking into the refrigerator. As Figment and Dr. Channing argue over whether imagination should be controlled or set free, Figment explains that imagination is the brain’s open house. This convinces the Dr. that Figment had been right about imagination all along, and he declares that they need to go back to the Institute. As guests take Figment’s shortcut back to the Institute, Dr. Channing and Figment sing another verse of "One Little Spark".
"We all have sparks
That's how our minds
We set them free
And oh, what they can do
Our magic sparks
From me and you!"
Arriving back at the Imagination Institute, Dr. Nigel Channing informs guests that he has learned it's best to let imagination go free. Figment replies, "yeah imaginations a bang!" At this point, a loud popping sound is heard, and guests enter a room with many Audio Animatronic Figments celebrating, as they sing "One Little Spark". Inside the room, guests can see Figment flying by a rainbow and hitchhiking on a planet, among other things. Dr. Nigel's face can also be seen here, singing on the moon. After going through this scene, guests are invited to explore the ImageWorks to further their study of imagination. The final verses to "One Little Spark" which are played in this scene are:
A dream (A dream)
Can be (Can be)
A dream come true
With just that spark
From me and you
One little spark, of inspiration Imagination
Is at the heart, of all creation
Right at the start (The start) of everything that's new
One little spark, lights up for you!
Dave Goelz- Figment
Eric Idel- Dr. Nigel Channing
Fun Facts and Trivia
- When Figment returned to the attraction in 2002, many of the old Figment Audio Animatronics from the original Journey Into Imagination attraction were reused.
- When the attraction was changed to Journey Into Imagination With Figment, songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman were asked to write new verses to their song "One Little Spark".
- Figment used to appear around the pavilion as a meet and greet character, however he has not been seen since 2008.
- Three bubbles rising out of Figments bath, create a hidden Mickey.
- Many of the props from Journey Into Your Imagination were reused in Journey Into Imagination with Figment.
- After guests leave the Sound Room, the attraction vehicles pass by the Computer Room. Outside of the room is a college jacket with a "M" on it. This is a reference to Medfield College (see the final trivia fact), the setting of the 1969 Disney film The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
- Also outside of the Computer Room is a sign that reads "No Tennis Shoes Allowed". This is another reference to The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes.
- One of the doors found in the queue is marked Flubber Storage.
- A reference to Merlin Jones and his monkey from the 1964 film The Misadventures of Merlin Jones can be found in the queue.
- One of the doors in the queue reads Eugene Higgins, Dean of Medfield College. Medfield College was the setting of numerous Disney live action films including: "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961), "Son of Flubber" (1963), "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones" (1964), "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" (1969), "Now You See Him, Now You Don't" (1972), and "The Strongest Man in the World" (1975).