Home » Vintage Disney: Remembering the ORIGINAL Journey into Imagination at Epcot

    Vintage Disney: Remembering the ORIGINAL Journey into Imagination at Epcot

    Journey into Imagination with Figment is one of the most widely-derided Disney attractions on Earth. But the original version of the attraction was much-loved…

    Disney was looking to create a new type of theme park with EPCOT Center – one focused on celebrating new technologies and world culture. For that reason, management opted to BAN Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck from the park. Without Mickey and friends, though, who were kids to connect with in the park? And – more importantly – what would be emblazoned on merchandise sold in the park’s shops?

    Journey into Imagination (1)

    Image © Disney

    The answer was to create a new, original character – one who would fit with the park’s theme. That character was Figment, the icon of the Imagination Pavilion. Together with Dreamfinder, Figment hosted the pavilion’s headline attraction: Journey into Imagination, which eventually opened five months after the rest of the pavilion (which was subsequently renamed as the Journey into Imagination Pavilion).

    Journey into Imagination (2)

    Image © Disney

    Journey into Imagination made use of Disney’s Omnimover ride system, as pioneered by the Haunted Mansion. The opening scenes introduced riders to the Dreamfinder, played by Chuck McCann, who explained that he used his vehicle to collect dreams and create new things. Figment was actually a “figment” of his imagination, in the form of a small purple dragon.

    Journey into Imagination layout

    Image: E82 – The Epcot Legacy (used with permission)

    The attraction then wound its way through several areas representing different areas of the human imagination, including art, literature, the performing arts and science. Finally, Dreamfinder explained that imagination is the key to unlocking the hidden wonders of the world, before riders were treated to a final scene featuring Figment taking on the roles of scientist, mountain climber, pirate, superhero, tap dancer, ship captain, cowboy and athlete.

    After disembarking, guests were sent through the post-show ImageWorks area. This hosted a variety of games and hands-on exhibits, such as Magic Palette (a digital drawing station), Lightwriter (using lasers to write and draw) and Bubble Music (a projection that moved in time with sounds). The most famous of these was the Rainbow Corridor, which assigned a color to each guest and followed them throughout.

    ImageWorks layout

    Image: E82 – The Epcot Legacy (used with permission)

    ImageWorks Rainbow Corridor

    Image © Disney

    The original version of Journey into Imagination operated until 1998, when it was overhauled to become Journey into YOUR Imagination. This version of the ride came in for stinging criticism, and only surived for two years before it was itself replaced. It was themed around 3-D movie Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, which was also hosted in the same pavilion, and saw guests passing through numerous areas of the fictitious Imagination Institute.

    Journey into Imagination with Figment

    Image © Disney

    Fans of the original ride were furious. What had happened to Dreamfinder and Figment, the icons of Epcot? They demanded the characters’ return, and Disney caved. In 2001, the ride was again closed, reopening the following year as Journey into Imagination with Figment, its current incarnation. Figment received a much larger role this time around, appearing in every single show scene. The famous theme tune of the original ride, One Little Spark was also back. But fans were just as critical of the new version – as can be seen in these reviews from TPT readers.

    What are your favourite memories of Journey into Imagination? Let us know in the comments below.