Yesterworld: The Troubled History of Journey Into YOUR Imagination

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[INTRO Sound Effects]
 >>Defunctland: Previously on Defunctland,
I explored how Tony Baxter took an idea from his never built Disneyland expansion, brought
it to Florida, and turned it into one of the most beloved dark rides of all time. Word in the creation of and relive the magic
behind Journey into Imagination in Part 1 of this two part crossover between Defunctland
and YesterWorld. [INTRO Sound Effects]>>Mark from Yesterworld: The story continues
here, after the attraction was suddenly closed on October 10th, 1998. And we’re now going to explore what led
to journey into imagination’s closure, and it’s controversial alterations to not just
the attraction but the pavilion itself, as well as the ultimate fate of figment and
the dream finder, and what traces of the beloved attraction still exist today. [intro]>>Mark from Yesterworld: To fully understand
why Journey Into Imagination was closed and how it’s replacements came to be, you have
to go back 5 years to 1993, when Horizons lost General Electric as a sponsor, as without a sponsorship and Disney in the
middle of it’s euro disney financial troubles and cost cutting initiatives set in place
by Michael Eisner and Paul Presslar, By 1998, Horizons was hanging on by a thread,
after having initially been closed in 1995 only to reopen the following year, and kept as a placeholder for the temporary
closure of Universe of Energy and the construction of test track. And would be the first example just how reliant
attractions and pavilions were on Epcot’s sponsorship model, in which mega corporations would use this
integration to promote their brand or products, and in turn, have incentive to put up the
cash to keep their investments up to date. The same was true, if not even more, for the
Kodak sponsored Journey into Imagination [Clip: “Inside the glass pyramids of Journey
into Imagination await some of the most exciting experiences in all of Epcot center.”] While still one of Epcot’s most popular
attractions and pavillions, Disney had been pestering Kodak for years to put up the funds
for an update or major refurbishment, but with the rise of digital media and photography,
the once dominant film imaging company was struggling financially, and had resisted further
investing into the pavilion. However, with Epcot’s upcoming Millennial
Celebration as an attempt to breath some new life into the theme park, which even Disney
executives admitted had become woefully outdated, Disney finally put their foot down and invoked
Kodak’s contractual obligation to avoid being replaced. [Movie clip: “You will do as we say.”] [“No.”] [“You have a contract!.”] Despite being one of their biggest sponsors,
Kodak was in no financial position to properly fund the refurbishment, but with their rival
Fujifilm having lobbied for years to become a major sponsor in Disney’s theme parks, so much so it’s rumored Kodak was behind
the cancellation of the Japan Pavillion’s Mount Fuji coaster, Kodak agreed but with
one catch: they could only offer a fraction of the requested funds. And pressed for time and resources, Disney
agreed to Kodak’s terms, and the ride was closed in late 1998 to begin work on a new
attraction to replace Journey into imagination, And despite rumors of being based on Flubber
or an adventure through the mind of a child, it would instead be inspired by the neighboring
Honey I shrunk the Audience [Clip: “This year, Epcot is also the exhilarating
center of the Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration.”] [Clip: “Epcot and the new millennium already
embodies all of our ideas and dreams for tomorrow.”] On October 1st 1999, despite being omitted
from vacation planning videos, the attraction debuted as Journey Into YOUR imagination. And even before setting foot on the ride itself,
it was clear this was not the refresh or refurbishment many had hoped for, as the once stunning atrium of beautiful murals
inspired by imagination had been replaced with a new queue involving the premise of
an open house at the imagination institute, an extension of the plot within the neighboring
Honey I shrunk the audience. [Clip: “Ladies and gentleman, the chairman
of the imagination institute, Dr. Nigel Channing.”] In this new version of Journey into imagination,
Ericl Idle reprises his role as Dr. Nigel Channing, and in addition to a series of painfully unfunny
video segments about the various experiment labs you’ll be touring, he tells you of
the imagination institutes newest invention. [Clip: “It’s the imagination scanner,
developed right here at the Imagination Institute. You’ll be scanned twice, at the start of
your journey, and then again after you’ve completed a series of perceptual exercises.”] If it hadn’t already, by the time you reached
the new loading platform, the horror of these new changes finally sets in, as the once magnificent and iconic turntable
showscene introducing The DreamFinder and Figment, had been replaced by what lay before
you: the loading platform itself. [Movie clip: “How? When?”] Evidently, with Kodak putting up only a fraction
of the funds to renovate the attraction, it was decided to quite literally cut the attraction
in half by roughly 35-40%, altering what was once a 12 minute experience into about 5. But believe it or not, that’s far from the
most controversial change to the ride. As while Dreamfinder and Figment had been
Icons of the attraction and considered the unofficial mascots of Epcot, every single dream finder animatronic had
been removed, and this new version contained not a single appearance or reference to his
existence, with every single figment animatronic also
being removed, who was virtually erased from the attraction, with the character only appearing
in the queue and a brief cameo on the ride, as a “figment” of Nigel Channing’s imagination. And to add insult to injury, the catchy and
memorable tune “One Little Spark” was non existent, leaving virtually nothing of
the cherished elements of the original. [Movie clip: “Nooooooo!”] As far as this new experience itself, Shortly
after boarding the attraction, you arrive at the imagination scanner, only to find out
that you have none. [Clip: “Well as you can see there’s not
much going on upstairs imagination wise. That’s just perfect for our experiment.”] After being backhandedly insulted, what follows
is a mostly uninspired and lackluster experience void of any of the magic and wonder of the
original and with the exception of a single genuinely impressive illusion, the ride is a stream of stagnant show scenes
and cheap visual and audio gags as you travel room to room. And while on paper these concepts might have
seemed like a golden idea, without the budget to fully realize them, Journey Into YOUR Imagination
felt more like an above average carnival ride. [Music playing] Approaching the end of the journey, you were
retested with the imagination scanner, and wouldn’t you know it, the results are off
the charts. [Clip: “Fantastic! Look what your imaginations have created.”] And if fans of the original attraction hadn’t
already felt their heart shatter to pieces, the voice of an all too familiar character
was sure to do the trick. [Clip: “You’re quite clever, all of you.”] [“What a brilliant burst of creativity.”] But the pain isn’t over, as upon exiting
the attraction, you get to see just what took the place of the gutted portions of the ride:
the new image works “what if” labs. Even worse, as many of the experiences were
less than innovative, you might have been tempted to go upstairs to the original Image
Works, only to find the elevator behind a wall, the stairway roped off, and both escalators
caged up. As allegedly, when a Disney attraction closes
for a period of 6 months or more, OSHA inspects and reevaluates whether it meets current safety
standards. In the case of the original Image Works, it
did not. So without additional funds from Kodak to
bring the original Image Works up to code, it was simply abandoned. It should come as no surprise that these changes
and new incarnation was less than well received, with both Kodak and Michael Eisner criticizing
the new incarnation. But despite these complaints, the attraction
remained, but around a year and a half later in mid 2001, Epcot lost it’s 3rd sponsor
in less than a decade, and with Kodak still being unhappy with the
results of their investment, and guests considering Epcot’s worst attraction, It was decided to try to restore the ride
back to some of it’s former glory, only this time Disney would foot the bill themselves
and imagineers were given a modest makeover budget. However, as the events of 11th had caused
tourism to plummet, the budget was cut to an estimated 8 million dollars, the equivalent
of remodeling a 2,000 square foot home for just $400. Regardless, on October 8th of 2001, just 2
years after opening, the imagination pavilions main attraction was again closed. And just 6 Months later, the ride reopened
as Journey Into Imagination with Figment. [Clip: “You can go anywhere you can imagine
on Journey into YOUR Imagination with a friend named Figment.”] Upon entering the retitled attraction, while
the queue featured a few new alterations, the biggest differences can be found immediately
after setting off and approaching where the imagination scanner had previously insulted
your creativity. [Clip: “Hello! On your tour you’ll see how the five human
senses can help capture your imagination.”] [“Oh oh! Can I go to?”] [“Absolutely not. Uh, this is one of our discoveries, the Figment
of imagination.”] [“Yeah, I know all about the senses!”] Right off the bat, the re-inclusion of Figment
and the theme One Little Spark, was a welcome improvement. However the rest of the ride was hit or miss,
as while it did feature new shows cenes, many elements of Journey Into YOUR imagination
still remained and were simply retrofitted within the plot of exploring the human senses, of which only 3 the 5 are actually part of
the ride, more than likely due to the budget constraints. But perhaps the biggest change and only real
highlight of this reworked attraction, would be it’s grand finale, in which a room full of figments sang one
little spark with it’s original lyrics, several of which paid homage to the original
figment animatronics and puppets used in the finale. [Singing: “Imagination!”] While many agreeed this version was a slight
improvement, it was a far cry from recapturing the magic and wonder of the original, with some criticizing Figment’s new portrayal
as a nuesence and a manace, compared to his childlike innocence of the original. However, it was only meant to be a temporary
solution that would be ultimately be rectified with project Gemini: a proposed 350-500$ million dollar overhaul
of Epcot’s future world that would’ve included drastic aesthetic changes as well
as new attractions and experiences.] Unfortunately, while then president Jay Rasulo
loved the proposition, CEO Michael Eisner would only approve parts of the overall project, such as an initially planned alternate version
of Soarin’ over California, and a little mermaid attraction that evolved into Nemo
and friends. Ultimately, leaving Journey Into Imagination
on the sidelines, as a shadow of it’s former self. In 2010, Kodak ended it’s sponsorship with
the imagination pavilion and it’s attractions, leaving many to wonder whether it would meet
the same fate as The wonders of life pavilion, Ellen’s energy adventure, and horizons,
all of which fell into disrepair and limped along for years without a sponsor until their
eventual closure or replacement. However presently, for better or worse, this
has not proved to be the case. And when looking back at the original journey
into imagination, as far as what happened to the iconic ride elements, most if not all of the figment animatronics
were thankfully spared, and are either in Disney storage or in the possession of collectors. With some having been put on display over
the years since the attractions closure. Even the puppets used in the ride’s film
finale surfaced in an online auction in 2008 when being sold on an online auction. Though their condition was less than ideal. And while more than likely not an original,
in the queue of Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout, Figment can be spotted in a frosted
cage as one of the Collectors items. Less is known about the fate of the Dreamfinder’s
animatronics. Though in Disneyland’s Paris’s Phantom
Manor, you can find an animatronic, which used the same mold as the Dreamfinder. However, a large portion of his floating vehicle,
the Dreamcatcher, can be found in Epcot’s Disney Gear Shop, with it’s various extensions
also becoming prized possessions of collectors. Even traces of Journey into Imagaination’s
original structure can be found if you know where to look, including the escalators used
to enter and exit the original Image Works. Which up until 2016, was used primarily for
conventions and company meetings before being converted into a Disney Vacation Club Lounge,
retaining much of it’s original structure. And for a short time, members could get a
glimpse into the abandoned sections which have remained for the past two decades. But was quickly covered up by the end of the
year. [Clip: “Epcot is reassurance that we are
part of something great. If we can dream it, we can do it.”] Today, while the character of Figment is more
popular than ever, the future of Journey into Imagination with Figment is uncertain. But as it’s clear big changes are coming
to Epcot in the following years, woman yet see an attraction worthy of replacing the
original Journey into Imagination. So what about you? What do you think could replace Journey into
Imagination with Figment? And if you haven’t already, make sure to
check out Part 1 Defunctland. As always, thank you all so much for watching,
and I’ll see you next time. Yesterworld Entertainment Kevin Perjurer Defunctland https://youtu.be/GZ92iTDfWr4

 

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