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The Imagination pavilion opened with E.P.C.O.T. Center in 1982, but with only one attraction--the 3-D movie Magic Journeys. The film had a pre-show titled Makin'Memories which was a slide show history of photography. A year after opening the pavilion's E-Ticket attraction Journey into Imagination began taking guests on a ride where they would discover--along with the character Dreamfinder--how using your senses and knowledge, and then rearranging them you can imagine anything; or as Imagineers put it, gathering, storing and recombing knowledge into new things. Dreamfinder used his imagination to create a creature named Figment--"two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, what lovable fellow, from head to tail he's royal purple pigment and there, wa-la, you have a Figment." The attraction's most unique feature was a turntable that allowed for a "stationary" scene on an Omnimover attraction. It was one of the most difficult parts of the attraction to develop and the first thing to go when the attraction was replaced. The vehicles would lock into place like cogs--on one of five identical scenes introducing Dreamfinder, imagination, and Figment--and then unlock to go onto the track containing the rest of the attraction.
Pics: Top--Journey into Imagination ride blue print, Bottom--Imagination Postcard.
The ride's post-show was the ImageWorks located on the second level of the pavilion under the glass roofs of the pyramids. In the ImagWorks guests explored activities that used color to spark imaginative play--the walk through Rainbow Corridor where the colors changed as guests walked through--a different color for each guest, colored floor pads that made music--known as Stepping Tones, giant Kaleidoscopes, and Vibrating Mirrors to name a few exhibits.
In 1986, the pavilion saw its first change; Magic Journeys was replaced by Captain EO, a more advanced 3-D film created by George Lucas and starring Michael Jackson as the title character. The next change came in 1994 when Captain EO was replaced by Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, starring Rick Moranis as Professor Wayne Szalinski and Eric Idle as the Imagination Institute chairman, Dr. Nigel Channing.
In 1997, Fujifilm, (Kodak's biggest rival at the time) came to Disney with an offer: make Journey into Imagination into a thrill ride that had nothing to do with imagination. Kodak's sponsorship contract was almost up, and Fujifilm knew that when the contract ran out, Disney would need someone to sponsor the building. Kodak, however, wished to stay with Disney and continue the contract. Kodak realized that in order to compete with Fujifilm, they too must come up with a new attraction to go into the building. Their proposal was to make Journey Into Imagination, already an E-Ticket attraction, into something more scientific. The ride would also be shorter and have cheaper special effects. At the time, Journey Into Imagination was the most expensive ride in Epcot to keep running, though it attracted more visitors per day than Epcot's flagship ride Spaceship Earth. The guests made it worthwhile for Disney to keep it running, but Disney still wasn't satisfied with it. It was the most technologically advanced dark ride in history. A roller coaster would mean much more money to build and keep running, and they feared it wouldn't be nearly as popular as Journey Into Imagination. Therefore, by the end of 1997, Disney accepted Kodak's idea.
In 1998, the original Journey Into Imagination ride went down for a rehab. During this rehab, the upstairs ImageWorks was closed and the building's white and blue painting exterior was replaced with different colors, navy blue being primary. The original glass sign was replaced by one made of wood and metal. The leap frog fountains were reduced in size to accommodate the new gift shop at the exit of the new Journey Into Imagination. Despite the fact that the pavilion already had a gift shop right next to the 3-D film playing at the time, Disney felt that this one would be more successful. The glass pyramids remained intact, although the upstairs ImageWorks was replaced by a downstairs ImageWorks.
The attraction opened in 1999, in time for the Millennium Celebration. Fans were upset that Dreamfinder, a popular character from the previous ride, was gone. Furthermore, Figment, another popular character, only made cameo appearances until his short dialogue at the end of the ride. They felt that Disney tried too hard to theme the attraction as The Imagination Institute as tie-in with Honey, I Shrunk The Audience abandoning popular elements of the original attractions. To many the downstairs Imageworks appeared to be little more than an advertisement for Kodak--not as imaginative or interactive as the old ImageWorks.
Fans of the original attraction took action and boycotted the new ride and Kodak products. This campaign proved to be successful, especially with additional pressure from Kodak. By the end of 2001, Disney closed the ride and modified the attraction, bringing Figment back into a more prominent role, although the Dreamfinder remained absent.
An interesting note: In the summer of 2006, the finale of a Kim Possible interactive activity was set up temporarily in the upstairs ImageWorks as a test, themed as Dr. Drakken's base, with a station in World Showcase loaning out "Kimunicators" for interactive activities.
In August of 2010, Eastman Kodak company ended its sponsorship of the pavilion after nearly 28 years. Also in 2010 Disney brought back the 3-D film Captain EO, in place of Honey I Shrunk the Audience, following the death of Michael Jackson. Currently the pavilion remains un-sponsored, but there are rumors that a new sponsor, Colorvision--a digital imagery, on ride pictures company--may begin sponsoring Imagination! Much of the Imageworks closed when Kodak drop their sponsorship. It seems that guests really loved the pavilion in its original 1983 form--with Dreamfinder in Journey into Imagination, with the upstairs Imageworks and its rainbow tunnel, and the extensive leap-frog fountains out front; but as Imagination! stands now it is very poorly attended, and the ImageWorks is not a very big draw; too bad.
Pics: Top Left--Imagination! Up-Falls, Top Right--Captian EO Entrance, 2nd Row Left--Journey into Imagination with Figment ride vehicles, 2nd Row Right--Figment's Finale, 3rd Row Left--ImageWorks Entrance, 3rd Row Right--ImageWorks Signage with Kodak sponsorship, Bottom Left--Stairs up to 2nd floor--former home of ImageWorks, Bottom Right--ImageWorks music game.