Attraction Spotlight – Journey Into Imagination With Figment

This attraction, nestled in the Imagination! Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World, has went thru many changes over the years. It features one of the best characters Disney has ever created and he’s never had his own T.V. show or movie. Though he has starred in recent years in his own comic book. Meet Figment, the small purple dragon intended to be the physical embodiment of the imagination. He’s the mascot for the pavilion and star of the attraction, Journey into Imagination. The attraction is a constant moving dark ride, that’s actually on it’s third iteration with rumors abounding of it getting a major refurb or re-do once again in the near future. While Figment has maintained massive popularity since the attraction originally opened on March 5, 1983, the attraction itself has had it share of ups and downs. Besides Figment, the other star of the original incarnation of the attraction has stayed incredibly popular. His name is Dreamfinder, and though he is not part of the current version, he has a vast following of loyal fans. He appeared in the recent comic book series with Figment, and is set to return for the next series coming soon from Marvel. There’s been several calls from fans over the years to bring him back to the attraction, but the last time he was seen was at a D23 event a few years ago.

But for now, let’s go back a few years and talk about the attractions beginnings. The early years going from The opening in 1983 till October 10, 1998, was simply labeled Jourrney Into Imagination and is by far the most popular version of the attraction. Using a constant moving modified omniviewer guests took to the clouds pulling up to Dreamfinder in his Dream Mobile who was collecting dreams and ideas to create all sorts of new things. Shortly after he creates Figment with what he’s collected and then once the bag containing all the dreams and ideas is full, he declares it’s time to go empty them into the Dreamport. You then move away from the Dream Mobile and head to the Storage room seeing all kinds of sights there as well as continuing on to rooms devoted to Art, Literature, The Performing Arts and Sciences. Heading towards the end Dreamfinder tells the guests that imagination is the key to unlocking the hidden wonders of the world. You were left with a scene showing figment in several different roles. Your photo was taken and you were sent on to the attaached ImagiWorks. The whole ride lasted 11 minutes

Once it re-opened October 1, 1999, the attraction was renamed Journey Into YOUR Imagination. Hosted by Dr. Nigel Channing and sporting a new theme based on the 3-D Movie Honey, I Shrunk The Audience, Guests were touring the Imagination Institute and set to be test subject of the new imagination scanner. Dreamfinder was gone completely and Figment was reduced to a few cameos. This is one of the rare occassions Disney completely blew it on an attraction. Don’t get me wrong, in general the idea they went with was fairly sound, however, after so many years, guests wanted and expected Figment to be a major part of the attraction, and many weren’t happy to find he’d been all but removed. After all, Figment would venture into Epcot to interactive with guests along. As far as the people were concerned this was his attraction. The fact Dreamfinder was gone as well certainly didn’t help matters. The attraction was closed for another major refurb just over two years later on October 8, 2001.

Anyway, in this version, guests start off being scanned by the imagination scanner which declared they had no imagination at all. So Dr. Channing sends gues thru the institute labs of Sound, Illusion, Color, Gravity, and Connections. Each providing interesting effects to stimulate the imagination. Guests were then taken back thru the scanner and declared to have an overflowing imagination. The machine “exploded” showing guests a lightshow and you were then directed to a revamped ImagiWorks. The ride took 5 minutes to go thru.

This leads us to the current incarnation, dubbed Journey Into Imagination With Figment, which started when the attraction re-opened on June 2, 2002. The original song, “Just One Spark,” was restored and Figment was prominently added to every scene. Disney heard guests loud and clear, everyone’s favorite purple dragon was back. Unforetunately, the current version, while enjoyable, has nothing on the original. The original was just more impressive. Anyway, the current version maintained the Imagination Institute, and the labs you go thru are based on the five senses. Dr. Nigel Channing is back to show guests an open house of the institute. As you go thru the queue, you’ll see props and references to a few Disney movies, like Flubber. You’ll also see reference on a door to Dean Finder, who sadly does not appear.

The story goes you arrive at the open house and Dr. Channing has his ideas on how it should go when Figment shows up and tosses that largely out the window as they argue the importance of imagination. Sorry Doc, Figment does throw a better party.

Starting off going into the Sound Lab, Figment pops up with a phone and interupts the experiment with the train sound from the previous rendition. Moving on to the Vision Lab, Guests are shown an eye chart, which Figment appears and knocks the letters off while kicking off a sing along to “Just One Spark.” The butterfly from the previous version was reused here, but made to vanish instead of appear. Moving right along, guests enter the Smell Lab, where Figment turns it into a slot machine the rolls “skunks” which prompt the machine to unleash the smell onto guests. Fear not, it’s actually just the smell of burnt coffee. At this point, Dr. Channing stops the tour before you enter the Touch and Tast Labs, thinking the whole thing basically a disaster. This bothers Figment not at all, he precedes to take guests to his own Open House, which he literally turns upside down. Dr. Channing eventually learns from Figment that imagination should be set free and joins him in singing. Guests finish off the ride seeing several Figments in different situations and exit out to ImagiWorks. The whole ride takes 6 minutes.

The pavilion itself was sponsered by Kodak for nearly 28 years, ending in August 2010. This has led to much speculation about the pavilion and left it somewhat in limbo. Disney typically relies on sponsors at Epcot especially to help with cost to maintain and renovate attractions. And actually, there is like nearly a whole floor of this pavilion that is no longer used just sitting there. Hopefully, someone will come to sponsor it again, as it would be a shame to see it go the path of the Wonders Of Life Pavillion that slowly died away, now only used during the festivals.

While it is on the FastPass+ selection list, I wouldn’t bother using a FastPass+ on it, the ride moves along quickly and rarely has a major line, so you’re better off saving it for something like Test Track. That said, I usually ride it every trip at least once, because I love Figment.

Stats:

  • Duration: 6 Minutes
  • Riders per Vehicle: 7
  • Type: Omnimover, Dark Ride
  • Thrill: All Ages

Fun Facts:

  • The song called “Just One Spark,” all used in the current version, was written by Disney Legends the Sherman Brothers. They wrote music for Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Aristicats, The Jungle Book, and more.
  • Dean Finder on one of the doors is a hat tip to Dreamfinder from the original version.
  • You’ll see many name and prop references to a variety of Disney Scientist movies in the Queue.
  • Figment used to come out into Epcot to interact with guests and do Meet and Greets along.

While it’s not a big thrills attraction like Soarin’ or Test Track, I’d recommend riding it once if for no other reason than to be introduced to Figment. He truly is one of the best characters Disney has ever come up with. The ride itself is also a nice quick spot to sit down for a few minutes in the air conditioning while taking a fun little trek into the imagination.

 

Patrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

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