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Journey into the Past: 15 Lost Rides and Attractions of Epcot

Journey into Imagination

Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center opened in 1982, and was billed as the first phase of the realisation of Walt Disney's dream of building a experimental city in which residents would test out the technologies of the future. Of course, it turned to be nothing of the sort. Instead, it was one of the most unique theme parks ever built - a sort of permanent world's fair, celebrating the potential of innovative technologies and disparate cultures.

Of course, in a theme park that is meant to represent the future, it is inevitable that some rides will become dated. Over the three decades that Epcot (as it is now known) has operated, a host of rides and shows have come and gone. Some have been stripped out and replaced altogether, while others live on in new guises.

Let's take a look back at 15 long-lost Epcot attractions!

15. El Rio del Tiempo

El Rio del Tiempo

Image © Disney

Opened in: 1982
Closed in: 2007
Replaced by: Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros

"The River of Time" was the headline ride in the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase. Similar in style to It's a Small World at the Magic Kingdom, it featured scenes populated by doll-sied audio-animatronic figures, which took guests on a tour through Mexico. It is still in place, albeit in its new form as the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.

14. Magic Journeys

Magic Journeys
Image © Disney

Opened in: 1982
Closed in: 1984
Replaced by: Captain EO

Magic Journeys was an opening day attraction at EPCOT Center, and was situated in the Journey Into Imagination Pavilion. It also ran at Disneyland for two years from 1984, before being removed from both parks to make room for Michael Jackson's Captain EO. That wasn't the end, though - it made a comeback in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland Theater in December 1987, where it continued to play until December 1993.

The film offered a look at the world through the eyes of a child, following children as they flew a kite, rode on a carousel and visited the circus. The catchy pre-show song, Makin' Memories, is probably still stuck in the heads of many 1980s Disney guests.

13. CommuniCore

Communicore

Image: Ray or Jane Schumin, Wikipedia

Opened in: 1982
Closed in: 1994
Replaced by: Innoventions

The opening of EPCOT Center coincided with the start of the computer era. Appropriately, almost everything in the park was controlled by EPCOT Computer Central - and Disney opted not to hide this away from guests. Instead, it installed a tour through the center, with the aim of educating the public about the wonders of computers.

The original version, the Astuter Computer Revenue, proved to be spectacularly unpopular. It was torn out almost immediately and replaced by Backstage Magic. CommuniCore itself remained in place until 1994, when it was replaced by Innoventions.

12. Horizons

Horizons
Image: Wikipedia

Opened in: 1983
Closed in: 1999
Replaced by: Mission: Space

Opened a year after the rest of EPCOT Center, Horizons was an Omnimover dark ride. Guests were whisked past scenes showing visions of the future, in what was essentially a sequel to the Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom. It included scenes focused on commnications, energy, transportation, physiology and man's relationship with the environment.

Horizons operated until January 1999, when it was closed to make room for Mission: Space.

11. Millennium Village

Millennium Village

Opened in: 1999
Closed in: 2001

To celebrate the new millennium, Disney installed the Millennium Village at Epcot. The 60,000 square foot pavilion operated from October 1, 1999 to January 1, 2001, and featured a host of countries that are not represented in the existing World Showcase. It is still utilized during the annual Epcot Food and Wine Festival, but is now known as "World Showplace".

10. Wonders of China

China Pavilion
Image: Benjamin D. Esham, Wikipedia

Opened in: 1982
Closed in: 2003
Replaced by: Reflections of China

The China Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase hosted a Circle-Vision 360 show when it opened, dubbed Wonder of China. This showcased various Chinese landmarks, as well as the country's people and culture. It ran from October 1982 to March 2003, when it was replaced by Reflections of China.

Filming the movie was not trivial. 40 laborers had to carry a 300-pound camera to the top of Huangshan mountain for one sequence.

9. Kitchen Kabaret

Kitchen Kabaret

Opened in: 1982
Closed in: 1994
Replaced by: Food Rocks

Kitchen Kabaret has to be one of the most unusual Disney attractions of all time. It was essentially a Vaudeville-style show featuring singing food items, and was designed to teach kids about the four food groups. It operated in the Land Pavilion for 12 years before being replaced by the similar Food Rocks, which itself closed for good in 2004.

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There are 19 comments.

What about that building that is between Epcot and the World Showcase? I think the only part that is regularly used there are the restrooms. Will that space ever be turned into anything?

That building is used during the Food and Wine Festival. They serve different beers in there.

I miss all the stuff from the 80s! And maybe Journey Into Inagination would be more popular if they brought back the original version.

Figment is my favorite. Absolutely. I have a Figment collection, and I had him on my 30th birthday cake; I used to literally dream about that ride several times a month when I was young.

I also have all of the Epcot original theme music memorized.

Protesters made an impact and saw to it that whatever replaced the original JII ride would include Figment exactly as we've always known him!

I've been not only disappointed but outraged by attractions which have replaced classic ones in EPCOT over the years that are moving the park in a direction that could not be more inaccurate! It made no sense whatsoever first of all to replace El Rio del Tiempo: The River of Time with the Three Caballeros when that ride could have been built separately in the Magic Kingdom when the entire complex already has more than enough room to double in size. El Rio del Tiempo was one of my earliest lessons on what Mexico consists of (now and in the past) and Mexican citizens base their heritage on their country itself, not on a US children's movie from the 1940's even though it's set in Mexico. The Living Seas replacement was even more appalling! That attraction was beyond extraordinary with a recreated ocean complete with aquatic life, plants, coral reefs, rocks, sand, sea shells and everything else the world under the ocean consists of (with even the chance for certified guests to scuba dive!). There was even an elevator ride down through the water and a moving vehicle ride (similar to what you ride in through Spaceship Earth) at the lowest point which was designed to be reminiscent of the ocean floor through the underwater scenes. Other than that it featured a museum with ocean-related exhibits and a seafood restaurant called the Coral Reef Restaurant which included thick-glassed windows looking out into the underwater realm that was the centerpiece of The Living Seas as seen better from down below the building (which I mentioned before). I can't imagine why they'd replace this with some weak ride based on Finding Nemo! Believe it or not I liked that movie as did so many children who saw it however the ride inspired by it belongs in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom as does the Gran Fiesta Tour, not EPCOT Center! The ride Finding Nemo being established at all is one thing but as far as it replacing The Living Seas is unimaginable and I just felt like fainting upon learning this for the first time years ago! I've never been able to fully determine why the entire WDW complex has taken such a turn for the worst in the last decade but now is the time to put an end to this and replace attractions that are now out of place! It's important to stimulate small children but the exact same goes for everyone above that age range as Walt himself strongly believed. Attractions which are meant to appeal to either everyone or higher generations only must not be neglected and not be done away with to make way for kiddie ones and I don't know how or why Disney World continuously does this and gets away with it. So stop disrespecting Walt Disney, stop disrespecting the Disney legacy/empire, stop disrespecting the diversity of life, stop disrespecting the real world and start doing all this by getting Gran Fiesta Tour and Finding Nemo out of EPCOT (and putting what was originally there and rightfully still should be there back in those same places) and into their more appropriate settings NOW!

Amen, Kenneth.

Early days of 1990's Deaf Americans who visited Walt Disney World ... they total access for Deaf People who need of Closed Caption with special devices read messages. While film many location as Movie Theater. For , dark Rides ,etc ... And sometimes special request alive show with professional Interpreters .... Speaking of other non Disney parks don't provide that time, it was blessing for ex CEO of Disney..... Who still supportive deaf camp near Aspen, Colorado !!!

I agree with you 100%!

Right on Kenneth... Epcot WAS set up to describe cultures & movie-based rides should be in Fantasyland. Soon as I learned of Maelstrom, I thought of the Disney legacy and how ALL the WDW creative staff would hate the trend in recent decades

So totally agree. They are truly tarnishing Walt Disney's vision for the park and his ideals.

So totally agree. They are truly tarnishing Walt Disney's vision for the park and his ideals.

There are definitely some of these attractions I miss more than others. The top of my list for most missed is Journey To Imagination with Figment, ImageWorks, The Wonders of Life Pavilion, Food Rocks and Kitchen Kaberet. I remember reading all of the information on Maelstrom when it first opened and remembered being really excited to ride it. It looked like it would be really thrilling, with the backwards drop, and I had in my mind an attraction on the scale of Splash Mountain. We rode it within the 1st year it was open, and I was SO disappointed. I am hoping that having the "Frozen" theme will add to the attraction. To answer a previously asked question about the Odyssey Building (the one that sits at the beginning of the World Showcase between Test Track and Mexico... it was never an attraction... it was a cafeteria style restaurant. For years it was used to train Food Service workers and for conventions. Over the past year, they have been incorporating it into the Festivals. It is serving as the Craft Beer pavilion this year at the Food and Wine Festival. It was really nice to go in and have a a beer or 2 and relax in the air condition.

There are definitely some of these attractions I miss more than others. The top of my list for most missed is Journey To Imagination with Figment, ImageWorks, The Wonders of Life Pavilion, Food Rocks and Kitchen Kaberet. I remember reading all of the information on Maelstrom when it first opened and remembered being really excited to ride it. It looked like it would be really thrilling, with the backwards drop, and I had in my mind an attraction on the scale of Splash Mountain. We rode it within the 1st year it was open, and I was SO disappointed. I am hoping that having the "Frozen" theme will add to the attraction. To answer a previously asked question about the Odyssey Building (the one that sits at the beginning of the World Showcase between Test Track and Mexico... it was never an attraction... it was a cafeteria style restaurant. For years it was used to train Food Service workers and for conventions. Over the past year, they have been incorporating it into the Festivals. It is serving as the Craft Beer pavilion this year at the Food and Wine Festival. It was really nice to go in and have a a beer or 2 and relax in the air condition.

I was very sad when I saw the changes made to Figment. And very sad when they closed Maelstrom but I did see here that the article states Frozen was not set in Norway but the movie was set in Norway.

I really miss Body Wars & Cranium Command
The new figment is OK......but I miss the Original

Really miss The Adventurer's Club.....will never be the same

I miss the body wars in the journey to life pavilion. I loved the simulator ride.

Am I the only one that misses World of Motion. Sure, Test Track is a great replacement, but World of Motion was like Spaceship Earth but with cars. It was awesome! :)

Thank you so much for this article. It brought back so many memories of my first visit to EPCOT. I was barely 5 when I was there for the millennium celebration. I went to Youtube to look up the Millennium Village and from there to look up the Tapestry of Nations parade, which brought back a very strong memory of those giant puppets bending down and scaring the daylights out of me. I remember Spaceship Earth being different too. Anybody remember who narrated Space Earth in 2000?

In more recent years, I did the College Program in 2014 and I worked in EPCOT. During one of my closing assignments (or a few of them) my fellow co-workers and I would wander into several buildings and explore and on of them was Imagination. We went up to where the ImageWorks was at and while it was a neat experience, I now looks like something out of Five Nights at Freddy's. They go up there for maintenance work so it always looked a little different every time. I hope they do something with it cause that whole paint area and rainbow tunnel is still up.

I think Walter Cronkite was the original narrator of Spaceship Earth.

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