Steampunk Dreams and Purple Dragons (Part 2)

Imagination Pavilion

(If you haven’t read part 1 of this article, you can do so RIGHT HERE!)

In 1994, an attraction came to the Imagination Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot park that would cause the entire pavilion to change. Honey, I Shrunk The Audience replaced the former Michael Jackson 3D film in the Magic Eye Theater, and with that came ideas to renovate the Journey Into Imagination attraction and it’s corresponding ImageWorks playground.

Ideas flew due to Kodak’s sponsorship expiring before the end of the millennium. Fujifilm, Kodak’s largest rival, wanted to take over many of the park’s attractions including the Imagination pavilion. Fujifilm threw out the idea of turning the pavilion into a roller coaster and ditching the “Imagination” theme. Kodak countered with an approach Disney eventually went with. Keeping the “Imagination” in the Imagination pavilion but adding more of a scientific approach to the attraction and linking it to the Honey, I Shrunk The Audience show. Eric Idle, who plays a key role in the 3D film, was asked to come back and play the role of a narrator for a refurbished version of Journey called “Journey into YOUR Imagination.” The attraction went down for refurbishment in October 1998 and reopened as the new scientific version in October 1999, just one year later.

Eric Idle as Nigel Channing

In Journey Into YOUR Imagination, guests are sent through several different labs, after Eric Idle’s character, Dr. Nigel Channing, proves that the guests don’t have any imagination. He fills them with different ideas as they move through each laboratory room. Sound, illusion, color, connections, and gravity are the labs each guest travels through before being met by a scanner to show that they are then full of imagination by the attractions end. As for the Dreamfinder, he was cast away from the attraction as well as his steampunk settings. The more scientific approach is met with Figment, however, and he can be seen in cameo rolls in the queue area, in a set of constellations, and can be heard at the attractions end, being shooed away by Dr. Channing.

The previous version of the Journey attraction was one of the most advanced dark ride attractions at Walt Disney World and it cost the company quite a bit to run the attraction. They were banking on the renovations, which cheapened expenses and shortened the length of the attraciton, would still inspire guests to jump aboard the omnimover, but the reopened ride was met with lackluster fanfare. What was missing from the newly re-dubbed journey Into YOUR Imagination attraction? Everything fans of the original loved. The quirky settings were gone and had made way for white lab rooms, the catchy Sherman Brothers theme song, “One Little Spark,” was nowhere to be heard, and the lovable characters of Dreamfinder and Figment were replaced with a narrator the is only heard and never seen. Some would contest that there was a very big lack of imagination put into the new version.

The ImageWorks was also changed drastically. Once taking up a large area of the second floor, the ImageWorks was renamed the What If Labs and was based on the 1st floor. The What If Labs was much smaller in scope and size, keeping guests moving onward from the attraction instead of pulling them in to stay longer. The second floor was partially dismantled and never reopened to the public.


Luckily, Disney listened to their guests and decided to once again close down the attraction for a refurbishment in October 2001, only three years after reopening. The attraction reopened as Journey Into Imagination With Figment in June 2002 with Figment returning in a much more prominent role. The song “One Little Spark” returns as well, this time with Dr. Channing singing it instead of the Dreamfinder. (Dreamfinder is still not part of the attraction and may never be again.) The comedic team of Dr. Channing and Figment lends itself much better to the attraction. The labs that guests travel through are somehow overrun by Figment despite Dr. Channing’s efforts to keep him away.

Unfortunately, not everything could be saved. Unlike the much better version of Journey Into Imagination, the What If Labs stayed the same and the second floor of the once great ImageWorks playground was not renovated. The area still sits dormant. That doesn’t mean that it will sit dormant forever. As time passes, and the space isn’t used, it is possible that new refurbishments will come to the Imagination Pavilion. Who knows what we will get next! Anything is possible of you use your imagination!

What are your thoughts on the current Imagination Pavilion? What changes would you make if you could? Do you think we will get another refurbishment sooner than later? Leave your thoughts and thanks for reading

Josh Taylor


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Posted on March 13, 2013, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This morning I was just thinking they should rip everything out of Innoventions or Wonder of Life and replace it with a giant SteamPunk workshop.

    My only trip to Disney as a kid was to EPCOT in 1984 and Imagination was one of the things I always remembered. I didn’t get to go again until 1999 and was really let down by the new version. I’d say it definitely would have been dated by that point and needed renovations, but it lost it’s spark (ha ha) along the way. Even the newer version with Figment back I don’t like; find it annoying. The song is still one I most associate with being at WDW though.

    My favorite part of the pavilion now is the outside. I love that it retained the crystals and water themed design from the original ecology concept. Maybe they need to do a 180 and go back to that idea? It would fit well right next to The Land.

  1. Pingback: Steampunk Dreams and Purple Dragons (Part 1) | Modern Mouse Radio

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