Saturday, July 30, 2011

Attractions - The Art of Plussing (Journey into Imagination)

Several weeks ago, DLuminations began a series of posts focusing on the "plussing" of attractions. In the first post, we took a look at the Enchanted Tiki Room and posed the question as to whether the "plussing" of this attraction was a positive, or a negative. This week, we continue the examination of attractions that have been "plussed", and once again pose the question for you to ponder and answer. This week's attraction of choice - Journey into Imagination.Journey into Imagination is another fan favorite gone astray. This attraction opened in 1983, a year after EPCOT's opening. I remember seeing Figment everywhere and also remember thinking that Disney must be positioning him as the main character of EPCOT. Figment would be the image associated with the brand that was Disney's EPCOT. The character who embodied that spark of imagination that fueled exploratory learning. But, then again, I was only 10, so what did I know?In 1998, Disney decided to retire the Dreamfinder, and gave the job to Dr. Nigel Channing (introduced previously in the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience attraction.) I can imagine how that meeting went down. Eisner and other Disney executives called the Dreamfinder in for a meeting. The Dreamfinder entered the room and noticed Dr. Nigel Channing sitting at the table with them already. Dr. Channing, it seemed, had formulated a different idea of how the attraction should move forward into the next millennium. Suddenly, the Dreamfinder found himself ousted from the attraction that he helped found. In short, it was a Disney version of what happened to Steve Jobs in 1984.

Nevertheless, this change called for a major overhaul of the storyline. It was also at this time that ImageWorks was closed in the upstairs portion of the pavilion.

Once reopened, the attraction was titled, simply, Imagination. Unfortunately, fans were upset (irate maybe a better assessment) to find the Dreamfinder gone and that Figment had been reduced to a very small role. It seemed that this change caused nothing more than one little spark of exacerbation! (I know, but I couldn't resist!)

Finally, in 2001, Disney decided to refurbish the attraction once more and brought Figment back as the star and central character. Though this has appeased many fans, it seems that there are many who will remain discontent until the Dreamfinder returns to his original job. Who knows, the re-emergence of the Dreamfinder may be like Steve Jobs returning to Apple, setting the ship straight again. Once more igniting the creative spark of imagination of all who pass through it's doors in order to produce a long-lasting, and highly desirable product. Though one drawback to that would be an attraction with an actual line or a wait once more.

Until then, maybe we can look forward to the Sequel to Roger Rabbit entitled "Who Framed the Dreamfinder?" It could show in the theater once occupied by Captain EO, or Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. But alas, we must be satisfied with the subtle reference to the Dreamfinder's contributions to EPCOT's early years by seeing the name "Dean Finder" on a door in the Imagination Institute.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Do you think this attraction was "plussed" or "subtracted"? Would you change it back to the original version? Would you bring the Dreamfinder back?

Don't remember the original? Watch these two videos to compare:

Journey into Imagination (1983 - 1998):

Journey into Imagination (2001 - present):


  1. Never saw the original version... too bad!

  2. This is great and thanks for including the videos!! That is awesome and sad that I never saw the original. I would have loved to met Dreamfinder... Great article guys!

  3. Thanks for the kind words John. We would like to see the Dreamfinder return in some capacity; maybe greeting guests, or even conducting an imagination workshop in the space once occupied by ImageWorks.

    Think of the attraction being the thing that sparks your imagination, then you meet the Dreamfinder who tells you how to one day become an Imagineer! Possibly turning ImageWorks not only into a meet and greet, but into a recruitment center and advertisement for Imagineering.

    It all ties together.

  4. Comprehensive blog! I just started going to WDW in the final years of the original Imagination ride. I was never too brokenhearted about the Dreamfinder (I hardly knew him!) but when they first took out Figment, I was mortified. Happy when they rectified it but it makes me very sad when I go over to that attraction and there is literally not a person in line, or to be seen at all. I think that's a sure sign that something needs to change. I'd love to see a mix of this ride and the older one, and of course, the DF. He's been around since the beginning to be dropped all of a sudden doesn't make such sense. I know some people have said that the current ride is sort of insulting, basically telling guests they don't have an imagination in the land of imagination... I never really saw it that way, but I do know that it's been around a few years too many and some attention needs to be paid to that area. Imagination is ENDLESS. Why oh why is that corner of Epcot so boring? Except for Figment, of course.

    Thanks again for writing! Really enjoyed this! - Stelle

  5. Stelle & Chelle, I think you are onto something. Imagination is at the heart of Disney. It's one major component in Pixie Dust itself. And, when located in a park that openend as a center for imaginative, experiential and exploratory learning, to have a pavilion with Imagination anywhere in the title, yet to be so unimaginative - it seems horribly wrong.

    It's so rare, comparatively, that Disney makes a misstep, yet this is still an attraction in which the Imagineers can't seem to show any real imagination.

    We look forward to future changes and a potential rebirth of what very well could be the greatest EPCOT pavilion. Just look at what Soarin' did for The Land! Such a spark of imagination could bring excitement back.

    Until then, it may only be a "figment" of our imaginations.