Over the years, Disney’s Imagineers have spearheaded the creation of some of the most innovative and awe-inspiring experiences in theme park history, however, few are as notable and versatile as the Omnimover.
Created by Roger E. Broggie and Bert Brundage, the Omnimover was patented in 1968 and was first used to bring Disneyland’s Adventure Thru Inner Space attraction to life. Dubbed “The Omnimover” by Imagineer Bob Gurr, this innovative system features a chain of ride vehicles that travel at a consistent speed for the attraction’s entire duration. In the years that followed, the Omnimover’s capabilities would open up a whole new world of possibilities for both the Disney Parks and beyond.
The Omnimover’s creation was achieved with a specific goal in mind: to create an experience similar to that of watching a movie.
While slow-moving, train-like attractions had already established a presence within the global theme park space, Broggie and Brundage’s design took this concept and leveled it up, creating a system that allowed the ride vehicles to rotate and thereby shift the rider’s viewpoint to wherever was needed.
This ability to control the rider’s perspective came with some particularly interesting advantages. It allowed Imagineers to place the necessary production elements, such as lighting and mechanics, behind riders without the fear of disrupting the illusion of the story the attraction was presenting.
The ride’s constant motion also meant there was no need for stopping, even when loading. Guests board an Omnimover attraction via a moving walkway that moves at a similar speed to the ride vehicles, making for an almost effortless boarding and disembarkation process and cutting down the time spent waiting for the adventure to begin.
How has the Omnimover impacted theme parks?
Since its conception, the Omnimover has had a major influence on the theme park attractions we know and love. In today’s Disney parks, both Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Anaheim’s Haunted Mansion utilize the Omnimover ride system which transports guests on a slow-moving tour through Gracey Manor in ride vehicles known as ‘Doom Buggies.’
The Omnimover has also proved particularly popular within EPCOT over the years, as two now-defunct attractions, Horizons and World of Motion, previously utilized the ride system. As for where the Omnimover can be found within the park today, The Seas with Nemo and Friends still uses it to transport riders under the sea in their very own clam shell.
Further examples of where the Omnimover system can be found today are Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid in Walt Disney World and its sister attraction over in Disney’s California Adventure, as well as Magic Kingdom’s Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (otherwise known as Astro Blasters over on the West Coast.)
While most of these listed attractions use the Omnimover tech in a more traditional sense, both Walt Disney World and Disneyland’s Buzz Lightyear-themed attractions utilize the Omnimover in a slightly unique way by granting guests the opportunity to rotate the ride vehicle themselves as they aim for various blaster targets.
Variations within the Omnimover system are fairly common, with Journey Into Imagination serving as another example of this. The EPCOT attraction uses Omnimover-like tech, however, the ride breaks its constant motion for loading and unloading.
Given the similarities that can be noted between these attractions, one may assume that the People Mover also uses this ride system. The People Mover, while still a slow-moving attraction, does not operate in one long chain, does not turn, and is not capable of navigating inclines. While undoubtedly similar, these extra features are what differentiates the Omnimover from the People Mover and is, therefore, why the People Mover does not fall under the Omnimover category.
Similarly, another attraction that is often considered to be an Omnimover is EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth. While Spaceship Earth demonstrates a considerable number of Omnimover-like features, Gurr himself has previously dismissed claims that the ride uses the same tech, calling Spaceship Earth a “one-of-a-kind vehicle conveyor.”
So why is the Omnimover so important?