The Mouse Knows Best Podcast

Friday, October 20, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: Horizons

Next door to the Universe of Energy pavilion once stood the Horizons pavilion. Horizon 1 is now departing.

Disney Parks Blog


Horizons was a pavilion that was centered around the family and combined all the pavilions of Epcot into one.  It explored energy, transportation, communication, imagination, land, and sea as they related to the future of families.  It opened exactly one year after the rest of Epcot on October 1, 1983.  It was sponsored by General Electric from 1983 to 1993.

Disney Parks Blog

Looking Back

Upon entering the angular building on the east side of Future World, guests were first introduced to arguably the most misattributed quote ever.  It was in the queue for the attraction that guests heard the song “New Horizons,” in which we get the line, “If we can dream it, then we can do it.”  

Disney Parks Blog
Along the queue were boarding signs for FuturePort, a futuristic airport where guests boarded the attraction.  

Extinct Disney
The omnimover vehicles were suspended from a track above and could hold three to four guests.  It was narrated by a futuristic family.

Disney Parks Blog
First up was the “Looking Back at Tomorrow” section of the attraction. During this section, we see how people of the past - such as Jules Verne and Albert Robida - thought the future would look like in their time.  It was here where the song “It’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” would play, leaving some to believe that Horizons was a sequel to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.  While Carousel of Progress showed you the past, Horizons showed you the future of progress, and since Tom Fitzgerald visited the 1964 World’s Fair where Carousel of Progress debuted and was an integral part of the story of Horizons, it’s not as far fetched an idea as it may originally seem.

Disney Parks Blog
After the Looking Back at Tomorrow section came the OmniSphere section.  The attraction vehicles would move past two round Omni-Max screens that measured eight stories high and wide.  Back in the early 1980s, this was amazing technology as the screen seemed to go on forever.  As guests passed by the screens, it would seem like they were literally in the screen with the images.  It’s like Soarin’ Version 1.

Disney Parks Blog
Next up was Nova Cite, where we got to see the inside of a futuristic home of the Mother and Father narrator.  The scene showed the parents talking to their daughter via hologram as well as plants being grown using hydroponics.  

Disney Parks Blog
After exiting Nova Cite, guest came to the desert Mesa Verde where oranges are growing.  Similar to Soarin’, the smell of oranges filled the air.  We see the narrator’s family and her daughter talking to her boyfriend on the TV.

Disney Parks Blog
After leaving the dessert, we’ve arrived at the Sea Castle Resort, a floating city.  It’s here we find the boyfriend standing beside his personal submarine.  Guest dive into the sea to see the underwater part of the floating city.  After reaching the ocean bottom, guests headed up to space.

Disney Parks Blog
From the sea to the sky, we’ve now arrived in space.  Here we see astronauts working on satellites and a space station known as Brava Centauri.  A zero-gravity exercise center and a crystal harvesting room are just some of the many futuristic ideas of living in space from Horizons.

Disney Parks Blog
Similar to the current travel back to Earth of Spaceship Earth, at the end of Horizons, guests got to choose their own path back to the FuturePort.  They could chose between land, sea, or sky.  There were lighted buttons in each vehicle in which guests would make their selection.  Once selected, a screen appeared, making the vehicle look and feel more like a simulator.  Each selection was thirty seconds long.  Upon exiting the attraction,  guests got to hear the classic “New Horizons” once more.

Disney Parks Blog
In 1993, Horizons lost its sponsor, General Electric, and spent the next six years in operational limbo.  It closed in December of 1994 but reopened in December 1995 due to the fact that Universe of Energy and World of Motion were both closed for refurbishment.  Horizons officially met its fate in January 1999 when it was closed and demolished to make way for a new pavilion.  Mission: SPACE opened in October 2003.

Theme Park University

Looking Forward

As this pavilion has met its untimely demise, I don’t guess there is really anything to look forward from the pavilion itself.  However, as I've said before in this series, I would love for the original ideas and themes from this attraction to make their way back into the park.  Maybe we can incorporate them (and the song) into an updated version of Spaceship Earth.  Horizons truly represented Epcot.

As Walt Disney never said, if we can dream it, we can do it.  May that be the motto of everyone forevermore thanks to Horizons.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: Universe of Energy

Back across CommuniCore on the eastern side of Epcot, we arrive at the Universe of Energy.


Universe of Energy

The angular building that houses the Universe of Energy pavilion is covered with 2,200 solar energy panels that helped power the ride vehicles inside the pavilion since opening day in 1982.  The pavilion was originally sponsored by Exxon and later by ExxonMobil from 1982-2004.


Looking Back

Since opening on October 1, 1982, the Universe of Energy has been home to two versions of the same attraction.  Both versions of Universe of Energy featured a preshow, theaters, and a Primeval World section.  Guests were transported from one area of the attraction to the other in a theater car.

Mouse Planet
The original preshow featured a large screen that creator Emile Radok described as a “kinetic mosaic.” According to Lost Epcot, “the screen was made up of 100 turning sections that almost resembled cubes. They were not technically cubes though because they had three sides: one black and two white for projection. The five projectors and the turning cubes were synced together to create a kaleidoscope-like show.”

Kungaloosh Radio
During the preshow, various forms of energy were displayed including nuclear, electrical, light, wind, water, and fossil fuels.  It was during this preshow that the song "Energy (You Make the World Go 'Round)" was played.

Dinosaur Toy Forum
At the conclusion of the preshow, guests were loaded into the theater cars before seeing a film on a 155-foot wide screen about the formation of fossil fuels.  This film served as the segway into the Primeval World section of the attraction.  The Primeval World was filled with audio-animatronic dinosaurs that took guests through the history of fossil fuels.

Disney Tourist Blog
After exiting the Primeval World, guests were taken to another theater where a film on present day energy sources was displayed on the large screen.  At the film's conclusion, guests were transported back to the first theater where mirrored walls created a wrap around effect for the final film, which was mostly computer generated.  The song “Universe of Energy” was played during this part of the attraction.

In September of 1996, the Universe of Energy received a redesign, although most of the original attraction was still incorporated into the new version.  The newly updated version was called Ellen’s Energy Adventure and starred Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Alex Trebek, and Jamie Lee Curtis.  Instead of the more educational approach of the original version, this version specialized in comedic relief.  

Oh My Disney
In this preshow, Ellen has a dream she is a contestant on Jeopardy along with her former college roommate, Dr. Judy Peterson, and Albert Einstein.  Unfortunately for Ellen, all the categories are about energy, of which she knows nothing about.  To the rescue during a commercial break is her neighbor, Bill Nye the Science Guy, who takes her on a whirlwind journey to learn all about the different forms of energy.

The game show is projected onto the large theater screens as guests load the theater cars.  The Primeval World section of the ride received minor updates for the new version, including the addition of an Ellen audio-animatronics.

Bleeding Cool
After leaving the Primeval World and heading to the second theater room, guests heard a prehistoric radio broadcast which featured the voices of Willard Scott and Chris Berman.  Following the broadcast was a twelve minute live-action film on three wrap around screens where Bill Nye gives Ellen on an in-depth look at energy resources.

Easy WDW
At the end of the attraction, back in the first theater, guests get to see Ellen use all her newly learned knowledge to defeat Judy and ultimately win by answering the final Jeopardy question correctly.

WDW Magic

Looking Forward

At the D23 Expo in July, it was announced that the Universe of Energy would be closing its doors to make way for a Guardians of the Galaxy themed attraction.  The Universe of Energy permanently closed on August 13, 2017.  Although I don’t exactly know how to feel about a possible roller coaster going into the Universe of Energy pavilion, I’m hoping that it as fun and as educational as its predecessors.

Theme Park University
Oh, and that Baby Groot is in it.

WDW Theme Parks
From the sea to the skies, there’s a force beyond our eyes at work at the Universe of Energy pavilion

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. .

Friday, October 6, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: Imagination

Across the western side of Epcot from The Living Seas is Imagination.

WDW Live


Originally sponsored by Kodak, this pavilion was exactly what its name said: a journey into imagination.

Matt Pasant/Flickr

Looking Back into Imagination

Opening in March of 1993, the original omnimover ride was titled Journey Into Imagination and was hosted by Dreamfinder and Figment.  It was during this attraction that the tune “One Little Spark” was played.  Written by the Sherman Brothers, the song has been a favorite of Epcot fans for 35 years.  On the attraction, guests would visit the Dreamport where all the ideas are stored.  Guests were also taken through different rooms that represented art, literature, performing arts, and science.

Disney Parks Blog
Journey Into Imagination was closed in October of 1998 to make way for a new attraction with a familiar name.  Journey Into Your Imagination opened in October 1999 and was hosted by Dr. Nigel Channing (Eric Idle).  Similar to the original attraction, Dr. Channing took guests on a tour of the Imagination Institute.  The rooms that guests would tour changed to sound, illusion, color, gravity, and connections.  

The Mickey Wiki
Much to the dismay of Figment fans, the lovable fellow with two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, and horns of a steer was reduced to a few cameos in the attraction.

In October of 2001, Journey Into Your Imagination closed once again to make way for new attraction with a still familiar name.  Journey Into Imagination with Figment opened in June 2002 with Figment returning as a host.  This go around, guest toured the Imagination Institute with Dr. Nigel Channing and Figment through the sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste labs.  

Disney Park History

Looking Back into ImageWorks

At the end of all three of the versions of Journey Into (Your) Imagination (with or without Figment), guests visited ImageWorks.  This area of the pavilion, located on the second floor, allowed guests to use their imaginations in what was described as “the creative playground of the future” in the original closing spiel of the attraction (without ‘your’ or ‘Figment’).  Some of the interactive areas of Image Works was Dreamfinder’s School of Drama where guests could step into different movie genres, all directed by the Dreamfinder and Stepping Tones, which allowed guests to create music by stepping on different colored panels.  

WDW Live
In 1999, ImageWorks went under reconstruction and was reincarnated on the first floor of the pavilion outside of the attraction exit.  It was renamed the Kodak “What If?” Labs until 2010 when Kodak dropped its sponsorship and the name went to ImageWorks - The “What If” Labs.  The updated ImageWorks is less hands on than the original, focusing instead on computer interactions.

Oh My Disney

Looking Back at the Magic Eye

The Magic Eye Theater was a 3-D theater located to the left of the entrance to Journey into whatever version of Imagination was going on at the time.  Since opening day, the theater has hosted three shows.

Walt's Dated World
The first show was titled Magic Journeys and explored a child’s imagination.  During the film, the child’s toys became a real life circus.  Magic Journeys featured a song by the same title that was written by the Sherman Brothers.  The Sherman Brothers also wrote the song in the pre-show to the film, titled “Makin’ Memories.”

Disney By Mark
The second film at the theater was Captain EO, which arrived in 1986.  It was a musical space fantasy involving aliens and starred Michael Jackson as the title character  (It is as 80s as that description sounds).  The film was produced by George Lucas and Rusty Lemorande and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.  Jackson wrote the two songs featured in the film - “We Are Here to Change the World” and “Another Part of Me.”

Oh, and did you know that "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" were used in the film?  You didn't?  Oh, well that’s what Jared, Joe, and Jenn said on The Mouse Know Best Podcast...  

The final film at the Magic Eye theater was Honey, I Shrunk the Audience in 1994.  This film was based off the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie franchise.  Guests entered the theatre for the Inventor of the Year award, which Professor Wayne Szalinski was to be presented.  Through a series of events, he accidentally uses his new invention to miniaturize the whole audience.

Morrison Hotel Gallery
After Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, it was decided that Captain EO would make a return to the Magic Eye Theater.  The tribute ran from 2010 to 2015, when it was replaced by the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival.

Laughing Place

Looking Forward with Imagination

The last time the Imagination Pavilion underwent a major renovation/update was in the early 2000s, and it's time to bring our imaginations into 2017.  There has been some speculation that an Inside Out themed attraction could find its home at the pavilion, and honestly, I think that would be a great idea.  It could keep the same structure as the current attraction while it educates and entertains.  Of course, I don’t want to see Figment ripped completely from the pavilion, so it would be cool if they went inside the brain of Figment to see his emotions.  I think this would satisfy old school Epcot lovers as well as the next generations of Epcot lovers. After all, Figment made an appearance in Inside Out.

Entertainment Weekly
I also think it’s time for a new show at the Magic Eye Theater.  The last thing Disney needs to do is turn this into a preview center for its upcoming movies.  They need to focus on recreating a Magic Journeys-esque film about Imagination.  After all, it’s what the pavilion is named for, so I think it’s time we use it and learn about it.

Walt Disney World
On that note, the ImageWorks area of the pavilion also needs an update.  Think of all the technology that has been invented since the early 2000s.  Much like Innoventions could be, this place could be an area where new ideas and inventions are on display for guests to interact with.  Maybe we can see the inside of a laptop or cell phone and try to build one ourselves virtually.  The possibilities are endless when we use our imaginations.

Rapunzel's Crafts
It only takes one little spark of inspiration to enhance this pavilion.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: The Living Seas

Heading left from The Land, we arrive at The Living Seas pavilion.  Welcome to Seabase Alpha.

Disney Avenue
The Living Seas

At 5,700,000 gallons, The Living Seas pavilion is home to the second largest saltwater tank in the world (behind only the Georgia Aquarium).

Laughing Place

Looking Back

The Living Seas pavilion opened in 1986, although it had been a planned pavilion since the beginning.  In the original pavilion, guests first saw a film - simply titled The Seas - which showed how the oceans were formed ("And they rained...and rained...and rained").  Guests would then board a Hydrolator, which would take them to Seabase Alpha and then ride omnimoving Seacabs through the coral reef.  Although the Hydrolators gave the impression that they were going down into the ocean, guests actually remained on the same level the entire time.  Once at Seabase Alpha, guests were able to explore exhibits with fish, dolphins, and manatees.

Disney Parks Blog
In 1998, the original sponsor of the pavilion, United Technologies, pulled it sponsorship.  Over the next six years, attendance began to decline.  The Seacabs were taken away in 2001, and guests were also given the option to skip the film.  It was during this time that The Living Seas received the nickname “The Dead Seas.”

Disney Parks Blog
Finally in December 2003, The Walt Disney Company began to re-theme the pavilion to be based off of the successful Pixar film Finding Nemo.  Over the new couple of years, Nemo and his gang made themselves at home in The Living Seas.  Turtle Talk with Crush was the first Nemo-themed attraction to open at the pavilion, and its surprise success made the pavilion a must-visit once again.

Walt Disney World
On August 21, 2005, the pavilion closed for a renovation when it transformed into The Seas with Nemo & Friends.  Parts of the pavilion reopened in November of the same year with noticeable changes to the facade of the building where depictions of Nemo and his friends could now be seen in the murals.  The exit Hydrolators had also been removed and Seabase Alpha was re-themed to Finding Nemo.

WDW Ride Guide
The Seas with Nemo & Friends was rededicated on January 24, 2007.  When the pavilion completely reopened, it featured a new Clamobile attraction that took guests on an omnimover style ride through the story of Finding Nemo.  Similar to its predecessor, the ride concluded inside the tank.  The different exhibits inside the pavilion were also re-themed to Nemo.  Outside the pavilion, three audio-animatronic seagulls were added, and the trio periodically flap their wings and say “Mine! Mine! Mine!” just like in the hit film.

WDW Info
The re-theming of The Living Seas pavilion to The Seas with Nemo & Friends marked the first time a Disney animated movie property had its own pavilion.  It was also only the second time an Epcot attraction featured characters from a movie, with Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable being the first.

Walt Disney World

Looking Forward

Like many of the opening day themes of the pavilions, The Living Seas entertained, informed, and inspiring as it taught guests about the ocean, the animals that live in them, and man's impact on them.  Now, I feel The Seas with Nemo & Friends is focused on only one thing: Nemo.  

Disney Parks Blog
I believe it’s time to get back to educating guests about the oceans and how we can help them.  In a world that is becoming increasingly smaller every day, we need to all know how to protect the natural world around us, and the oceans are no exception.  I would love to see a more dominate exhibit on recycling and how plastic and other items are detrimental to wildlife.  Disney already does such a great job with conservation that I think it’s time to bring that back to the pavilion.   

On a lighter note, I think it would be fun for them to re-theme the pavilion to be the Marine Life Institute.  It would not only incorporate the newest installment to the Nemo franchise with Finding Dory, but it would also give them a chance to bring more education into the pavilion. The dolphin research experience at the pavilion is so fun to watch for kids of all ages, and I believe more of that interaction will only increase guest attendance to the pavilion.

Raising Whasians
It’s a big blue world out there, and it’s time for us to learn all about it once again.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.