“One little spark, of inspiration is at the heart, of all creation. Right at the start, of everything that’s new. One little spark, lights up for you.”
The Imagination pavilion contains one of the best examples of the “classic EPCOT center”, through the most whimsical, exciting and imaginative ride. As good as the current ride may be, it is extremely different from the original attraction. Let’s learn all about it!
EPCOT center opened a little over 30 years ago, on October 1, 1982. Sponsored by Kodak, the attraction Journey Into Imagination was not finished for opening day due to technical issues with the cars. Since the opening a little while after on March 5th 1983, it has had three different incarnations. Journey Into Imagination (1983-1998), Journey into Your Imagination (1999-2001), and Journey Into Imagination with Figment (2002-present).
The two characters of the original ride were The Dreamfinder, a red-bearded man in a blue suit and top hat, and a purple dragon named Figment. Many concepts for JII actually came from the scrapped Discovery Bay idea for Disneyland. Including things like the Dreamfinder who is based upon the character of Professor Marvel. Figment is a collection of many different animal parts such as the body of a Lizard and mouth of a Crocodile. The Dreamfinder describes him: “Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, but a lovable fellow. From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment, and there, voila, you’ve got a Figment.” Created just for the Epcot, Figment really became the mascot of the park. Why was that? Well the Imagineers believed that Mickey and the gang’s home was the Magic Kingdom. They were even walk around characters in the 80s-90s. Have you ever heard of Ron Schneider? He portrayed the Dreamfinder for many years. I definitely recommend checking out his book From Dreamer to Dreamfinder: A Life and Lessons Learned in 40 Years Behind a Name Tag and blog (links again in the homework.)
Created by Imagineers Tony Baxter and Steve Kirk, Tony actually got the idea for Figment while watching television. “I was watching Magnum PI […] on TV. He was in the garden and the butler, Higgins, had all these plants and they were all uprooted. It was a mess. Magnum had been hiding a goat out there and the goat had eaten the plants. Higgins said, ‘Magnum! Magnum! Come out here! Look at this! Something has been eating all the plants in the garden.’ And Magnum says, ‘Oh, it’s just a figment of your imagination.’ And Higgins said, ‘Figments don’t eat grass!’ I thought, ‘There is this name, the word ‘figment’ that in English means a sprightly little character. But no one has ever visualized it, no one had ever drawn what a figment is. So, here is a great word that already has a great meaning to people, but no one has ever seen what one looks like.’ So we had the name that was just waiting for us to design the shape for it.”
Did you know that Figment started out colored green and white? It was changed because they just so happened to be the colors of Kodak’s competitor Fuji film. That’s why he is the purple and orange we love today.
80 cars which then made up 20 trains went through the 10 show scenes in Journey Into Imagination. Though guests may have not noticed, the speed changed in one part from 1.3 to 3.0 feet per second. When you first boarded, there was a long train of cars, which then separated the cars in the 3rd scene, Flight into the imagination. In that particular part, guests’ cars sat on a huge revolving disk. Walls would come up between the 5 identical scenes. Afterwords, the walls would come back down, and the cars had to speed up to reconnect. The timing of this was one of the main reason why the attraction took longer to open.
There were 4 themed sections. Art: white and blank walls and sculptures with Figment and Dreamfinder painting. Literature: things like a giant typewriter with a volcano spitting out words. Performing Arts: A theater, Figment in dressing room, and a “laser ballet.” Science: A giant spaceship, crystals, biology, and technology. (Watch for them in the video below!)
While most people miss the classic attraction, there are still tributes in the parks today. The store Mousegears has an original Dreamcatcher machine mounted up on the wall and on a door in the Imagination Pavilion, there is a door name “Dean Finder.”
Ron Schneider’s book From Dreamer to Dreamfinder: A Life and Lessons Learned in 40 Years Behind a Name Tag
and blog Dreemfinder
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