Nuggets of Wisdom

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Journey into Imagination

When Epcot Center first opened in 1982, it did not fare very well. Aside from not having any Disney characters or thrill rides, the one thing the park sorely lacked was an attraction for little children—a major faux paus for any “family-friendly” theme park. Epcot eventually fixed this problem with the help from a spark of inspiration, which helped bring forth a new creation, and bring about a Journey into Imagination.

Journey into Imagination opened one year later in 1983. True to its name, the pavilion focused on the very concept at the heart of most technological and cultural progress—imagination!

From the moment you arrived at the pavilion, you could sense the whimsy that awaited you inside. The building itself is a triangular glass structure shaped almost like a prism. Outside were topiary sculptures of various whimsical shapes, a waterfall that flowed upside down, and a series of fountains where jets of water leapt from fountain to fountain like a frog jumping from lily pad to lily pad.

The main attraction itself awaited inside as a dark ride. Boarding their omnimover vehicles, guests would find themselves soaring through the clouds above where they would come across their host, a jovial chap named Dreamfinder, who rides around in his flying machine, collecting ideas and dreams from children around the world. Using the ideas that he’s collected, he creates a creature, a figment of his own imagination, a purple dragon named, well, Figment.

Dreamfinder and Figment then proceed to the Dream Port where they take the various ideas and dreams they have collected in order to transform them into art, literature, scientific discoveries, and other creative works of imagination.

After taking a journey through the Dream Port, guests then depart the ride where they are invited into Image Works in order to use the ideas that they themselves have collected within the ride and unleash their own spark of imagination through various interactive exhibits.

Words simply cannot describe the absolute wonder that was this ride. It's really one of those experiences where you had to be there for yourself. There is no other ride I know to compare with pure imagination, and riding it, you'll be free if you truly wish to be.

By far, the best part of the ride was the music. The theme for the ride was "One Little Spark", and as with "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow", it was composed and written by the legendary Sherman Brothers. Who else could encapsulate the very essence of imagination with a melody such as this:

The ride truly did push the boundaries of creativity and imagination itself in order to personify—well, creativity and imagination. The only way to convey what this ride is about is to show it.

Fortunately, while the ride has since long shut down, there is plenty of leaked full-ride footage floating about on the internet like the very dreams that Dreamfinder and Figment would collect.

So if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world. There's nothing to it:

Sadly, as I just mentioned, the ride was shut down in 1999. By then, I had ridden the ride at least twice during two previous trips At that time, it was one of my favorite rides in Epcot. Now, it is but a memory, a figment of my own imagination.

As for the ride that replaced it—well, as much as other people on the internet have lambasted the new ride, I can’t really hate it. Believe me, I miss the old ride so very, very much, and I consider the new ride to be a major downgrade, but I don’t exactly blame Disney World for trying to update it, even if they did end up fixing something that didn't need to be fixed.

If it's any consolation, both the Dreamfinder and Figment have found new life in a new comic book series. That has to be a plus.