One little spark of inspiration

As I mentioned in my last post, a lot has changed at EPCOT since the first time I visited there back in 1994. I was very young at the time, and I don’t remember the trip very well, but there are certain aspects that I do recall. One thing I remember is my obsession with the little purple Figment.

Journey into Imagination, the old incarnation, was an amazing celebration of imagination and creativity in just about every subject. It’s actually beautiful. I suggest, if you never got the opportunity to witness this attraction before its relatively abrupt closure and rehab that began in 1998, you watch a video of the old ride. You will not regret it. Just keep in mind that it is NOT short, but you will be in awe. TRUST ME.

You can actually find it here, broken into 3 parts:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nhEEBPnuro

Part2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9E4yNg_eFI&feature=relmfu

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpSpNCg0MV8&feature=channel&list=UL

Now, my question, and the question of many others, is: Why in the world would you close such a thing?

There are many different speculations as to why this happened. Maybe Michael Eisner didn’t like it, especially Dreamfinder, our lovable host. Maybe there were some mechanical concerns. Maybe Eisner wanted to update this with the rest of Future World, since it was becoming slightly out-of-date. Whatever the case, it did shut down, to the dismay of many, and transformed into Journey into YOUR Imagination, which barely included Figment at all. People sent angry letters and hated the changed, so, quickly, the Imagineers re-rehabed the ride, which re-opened in 2002 as Journey into Imagination, and Figment was reinstituted into the current incarnation of the attraction. But it still hasn’t appeased fans, and many are insulted by the current ride. It’s not terribly intelligent, when the older ride was smart without going over children’s heads while also keeping them involved. The newer version is vague and just plain silly, without a whole lot of redeeming qualities and catering to remarkably short attention spans. So why did it change? And why can’t we change it back?

I agree that it would be impossible and even ridiculous to reinstall the attraction piece-by-piece. This is technically not a good idea as the physical logistics alone would be a nightmare. As I understand it, the crowds were slowly dwindling anyway, and many of the props are probably destroyed, lost, or used at other places. So maybe the attraction should be updated. According to many fans, there is no doubt about it. And I whole-heartedly agree.

What can we change? I love Eric Idle, but I don’t feel his character as Dr. Nigel Channing is really working for the attraction. It’s cute, but unnecessary. BRING BACK THE DREAMFINDER! And of course keep Figment, but bring him back to the curious child, not the naughty little gremlin he’s become. Like I said, cute, but unnecessary. And really not that endearing.

I also believe that the length of the ride should be closer to the length it used to be. I feel like, at this point, you just about hop on the ride and then you need to hop off. It’s much too short to say anything worthwhile.

But I do believe that the attraction would have to be different. It needs to have a feeling that it belongs in the 21st century, but it also needs to feel timeless. Right now, it just feels like it’s trying to focus on the present. It should focus on the past, present, and future. And no skunk gags. Please. We’re more intelligent than that, adults and children alike. Let’s focus on wonder and awe, not cheap gags to catch people’s attention. And not just a vague subject of “imagination” or one type of creativity, but, like the old attraction, visit the various types of imagination, like science, literature, music, etc., so people have a better understanding of imagination. Imagination really is everywhere.

Now, one solution I’ve heard really makes some sense to me. Apple and Disney have a close friendship. Maybe Apple could add a little something to this sad attraction and pavilion. Even if they didn’t come up with the overall concept, they could definitely add some technology to make the ride more up-to-date. It seems like everything Apple comes up with is gold. Mostly the same case with Disney. So why not use the best combination to make the best attractions? Journey into Imagination has a great concept to it, and all the pieces are there from the first incarnation. I’m sure the partnering of Disney and Apple could fix this attraction to bring it back to glory. And a sponsorship from Apple would probably also boost the visitors to the ride. And how about we up the ante and have Apple sponsor all of Future World to really bring it into the future? They seem to know the future better than anyone else.

No matter what happens, I would hate to see the pavilion close, like poor Wonders of Life. I don’t think I ever even made it to that pavilion. The upstairs of Imagination! with interactive activities and glowing, colorful blocks that you step on were quite fun, and you couldn’t run out of things to do, so that should also be reworked and reopened. Imageworks is a current busy nightmare, too small to accomplish much and nothing that is really interesting. Disney, please don’t try to cheap your way out of this one again. We all know that you have the money to spend. Let’s fix a horrible mistake by making a comeback, just like The Enchanted Tiki Room in Magic Kingdom. No matter what the end product would be, let a little spark of inspiration guide the Imagineers to a bigger and better Journey into Imagination.

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