Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fixing Attractions- Epcot's Imagination Pavilion: Image Works

Time for another in our running series of "Fixing Attractions". This is when there is an attraction, be it a favorite character or a beloved childhood memory that's fallen in the wayside. Passed up for bigger and better things when it's really just the simple charm we all want back. These are solely my ideas, created within my own head and have nothing to do with the theme parks other then how I would fix them if someone let me in charge. I retain all rights to these ideas although your welcome to comment and repost them if you wish!  More ideas make attractions better, after all! 

EPCOT's Imagination! Pavilion
...and boy does it need some love! 
Image from the vaults of my personal photos
This post was originally going to be in two parts. Once focusing on the ride and one on the upstairs area. However I came to the realization that Imagination can't be fixed anymore, it can only be restored to it's original operating condition. Nothing myself or anyone else can come up with will ever hold a candle to the original attraction. So I give you my rant on the Imagination Pavilion's history (for anyone who doesn't already know it) and my own idea on how to fix the Imageworks!

  The Imagination Pavilion has been a childhood favorite of most of us who came from the 1980's. It had one simple but deep message that resonated in our collective brains, even today we can hear our long departed Dreamfinder whisper to us "Oh, the Dreamport is never far away when you use your imagination". 

Image from

The History. An Abridged Version: 
 Journey into Imagination opened March 5, 1983 featuring the Dreamfinder and his imaginative creation Figment, a small purple dragon. Featuring Disney's Omnimover as the ride vehicle, it twisted threw the bottom floor of the pavilion on a magical journey though the portions highlighted in the opening pre-show: Art, Literature, Preforming Arts and Science. All while singing a catchy little tune written by the Sherman Brothers, "One Little Spark". 

 ...everyone knows the words. Feel free to sing if the mood strikes you, I've been humming it the entire time I've been writing this!

  However, in 1998 something bad happened. Some pompous, self-important bigot decided that Journey into Imagination was dated! I know, Right?! If I ever find out WHO made that call and pushed it to that giant moron Eisner, I'll pass it along. We can have a massive hate-mail fueled party! 
  Anyway, in 1998 Journey into Imagination closed much to the total despair of millions. When it re-opened as "Journey into YOUR Imagination" in 1999 none of us knew what to do. This wasn't imagination, it was a stripped down and half-assed attempted at 'modernization' that left all of us speechless while raging inside. Disney had murdered the Dreamfinder and locked Figment away in a box someplace. 

YOU MURDERER! (I had a broken foot, don't ask)

  This 'new' (read: HORRIBLE) version of the attraction figured Eric Idle (okay, this part is acceptable) as Dr. Nigel Channing (the Murderer). Who so rudely states riders have no imagination (Oh come on, we grew up with Figment!) and sends us though his "Imagination Labs" featuring a play on the five senses: Sound, Illusion, Color, Gravity and Connections. 
  The "New and Improved" version featured nothing of the old attraction except the Omnimover cars. Figment and the Dreamfinder where gone. Our beautiful and beloved scenes where gone, replaced by a quasi-industrial feel. Even the original layout of the attraction was changed along with the paint job.

BEFORE (Imagine from Martin Smith)

AFTER (Image from

  Quickly after this version of the attraction opened, our collective rage boiled over and the hate-fuel had reached critical levels. We, the fans, let Disney know our displeasure. "Save Figment" became our by-line for millions of emails, phone calls and online websites. If we couldn't have both the Dreamfinder and Figment, we wanted our purple dragon back! 
  For once, Disney listened. Our anger burned so hot that in 2001 "Journey into YOUR Imagination" was closed and Figment was re-added into the attraction. In 2002 "Journey into YOUR Imagination.. with Figment" was opened. Score one for public opinion!

  Another huge problem with this new attraction was the simple fact when it closed in 1998 so did the Image Works! area. This was the upstairs area which featured a large play/creative zone for children and adults. It boasted several interactive attractions including the famous "Rainbow Tunnel".

Image from DisneyParksBlog

  Alright, if nothing I'm practical and I know we're never going to get the original attraction back. Our beloved memories and the videos documenting this attraction are all we have left. Let us savor them, knowing just how special and lucky we are to have experienced a dream come true.

 Imagination 1999 and 2002 - Ultimate Tribute from Martins Videos on Vimeo.

How to FIX it:
As stated above, I'm not going to focus this on the ride. Instead we're going to focus on the unused and neglected area that was the Image Works.  This area is huge, completely abandoned and used for storage at this point in time. If you do some Googling, you can find several dozen people who've been upstairs at Imagination to see what's left. It's a hard sight to see that this inspiring play area has gone to waste. 

Seeing this seriously pisses me off. (Still from DarksideofDisney: Youtube)

So this is what needs fixed. Re-open and Re-use this area, Disney! You've got the money, the partnership and the ability to make the Image Works so much better then what we played with as kids. I'm here to explain it, lucky you!

Part One: Interactivity! 

Rainbow Tunnel STAYS! As it is, untouched and unaltered. Everyone loved it, leave it alone!
Image from

We all remember the "Dreamfinders School of Drama" where kids went up against a green-screen and got to act like we where in fantastic locations.  While that was all well and good for the time, we've got amazing new toys to play with now! 

Image from
Xbox Kinect for the Xbox 360. These are generally cheap and easy to get, Disney has already produced a 'interactive' game called "Disneyland" for the system. We know they can do it! Set up 15 or 20 some odd 70" television sets in an area of Image Works and connect them each to an Xbox 360 Kinect system. Build a 5 minute interactive  style "game" where you get to play with Figment! Perhaps you'd rather play with Mickey, Donald, Minnie or Stitch? Have those options also! You could play catch with Mickey, Give Stitch a good scratch or drive a crazy car with Donald! Only rather then using an avatar as the 'Disneyland' game does, use the system more along with Kinectamils where you interact with Figment or your character of choice without an Avatar! Kids will go wild and adults will go batshit over this. I'd spend HOURS playing this game! Also, sell an optional game for your at home system for around $20 but only with the Figment character as park exclusive merchandise. I'd call mail order today and buy that! 

Image from

Keeping with this idea of using modern technology, let's get some deals with Iwata from Nintendo going! Use the Wii system to replace "Figments Coloring Book" and keep it interactive! Figment can help you paint, he carries your brush across the screen as you try to paint a picture! For $5 you can even print your own creation! Remember, Disney likes to sell things too so adding in these little figures makes things more appealing! 

Image from

 Back to using Kinect systems, let's update the Making Faces area also! You step in front of a Kinect and you can change yourself! Using simple programs you could build something that can turn you into a Mickey Mouse or a Figment, Give yourself Wings or Horns. Perhaps even a Donald Duck bill, come on, we'd all stop to play with it and you know it.. even if it is a little campy!

Part 2: Playtime!

I don't give a damn what anyone says, the pintables STAY!

Now, onto updating the Electronic Philharmonic and integrating the Stepping Tones. 

Let's help these kids burn off some energy! Using the basis of the Stepping Tones, let's re-make the Electronic Philharmonic! Beam down a picture of a Flute, a Violin, a Tuba and a Trumpet onto the floor. Past each image you have 2-3 dozen light tiles which play a tone. Letting kids dash threw the lights triggers the tones which play one of several set sequences of music. Also keeping the old black-light props of instruments, that it featured originally, these would glow randomly when playing sounds. Thus giving kids the idea of music and creating it. 

Image from

If you'd like it on a smaller scale, minimize the same idea only make booths where a kid can bounce around for a few minutes on their own personal lights to create a tune. Make about 25 booths and allow the kids to simply be kids for a while, let them create and imagine! 

The Kaleidoscope should also be fixed with a more modern look into things. Since Imagination once focused on science as a partial theme, why don't we use that as an idea? Using touch screens with images of the planets of our solar system and perhaps other celestial images like nebula's and comets, let the kids pick an image. Then pick colors to change (like a palette effect) then that image is displayed in the original Kaleidoscope triangles but with the chosen image/color projected onto it! How cool and yet education would THAT be?! 

In the End..

Together, I think we can make this once amazing space come back to life. Bring back wonder and creativity to the Imagination Pavilion in at least one form and in a way even the Dreamfinder would approve of if he could speak to us now.  If you have other ideas or even something you'd like to see added in, please put it into the comments! This is just a working idea of my own and I'm more then happy to add good ideas into it. The idea bag isn't full and we haven't been to the dreamport in a while, Why not travel together?

Image from

Again, these are just a few of my own ideas. I hope you enjoyed them or perhaps they even inspired you with an idea of how to fix this area. Also know, I have zero affiliation with Disney because if I did you can surely bet I'd have been pushing for this already!


  1. Sadly, the only version of this I've ever experienced is the current version. (Well, current when Honey I Shrunk the Audience was still in it.) I've only heard of the glory in myths and legends. Would be great to experience that sometime!

  2. Hey Jake,
    Man, I'm sorry to hear that. You really did miss something special, it's hard to put into words since the original Imagination ended up meaning something different to everyone who rode it. Although Martin Smith did an excellent job documenting it, I will admit to having watched that at least a dozen times. Reliving the childhood and all that jazz.


  3. I did not get to see the first or second one. I saw honey i shrunk the kids and the new one. Wasn't a big fan.