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Daffy Does Disney – Future World Highlights

Over the past few days Daffy Does Disney has covered some specific stuff in Epcot, including the new version of Soarin’, snacking around World Showcase, and the new Frozen Forever ride that has taken up residence in the Norway pavilion there. Today’s video will be a little more general, and mostly meandering around Future World and its secondary attractions and pleasures. This includes a short look at part of a presentation with dolphins in the Seas pavilion which I’d never seen before. Walt Disney World truly does support multiple visits while retaining a few cards up its sleeves if you leave yourself open to them.

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Posted on October 10, 2016, in Epcot, theme parks, travel, Trip Report, Walt Disney World and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I enjoyed a lot about this video. Just seeing footage of Epcot reminds me what I enjoy about the place. It’s the next best thing to being there. And an introduction to Beverly is always fun. I am once again impressed with some of the on-ride footage which is hard to get on a dark ride like Journey into Imagination.

    With all the kudos out of the way, I am going to mildly disagree with just about everything you said about Figment. 😉

    I do remember the original ride which was objectively a better attraction. It’s possible that colors my opinion of the current incarnation. I can’t rule that out completely. But I think even if I had never experienced the original version, I’d be underwhelmed by what currently resides in its place. It’s too short, banal and has nothing whatsoever to do with imagination. It’s like a preschooler’s introduction to the five senses except we don’t even get to experience all five of them. Even by the standards of a modest dark ride, I find it comes up short. It’s not an attraction I would choose to reride if it weren’t for having kids and the typically non-existent wait. As an Eric Idle fan, I mostly feel bad for him that the paycheck he cashed two decades ago won’t go away. Without Honey I Shrunk the Audience, the whole Institute concept is weakened.

    But that’s just my $.02. Mileage may vary.

    As for the idea that Figment was returned to prominence due to merchandise sales, I can’t completely rule that out either, but I have my doubts. The reason the ride was changed was that Kodak, the sponsor of the Imagination pavilion at the time, demanded it. They were sick of paying the maintenance costs on the original attraction. So to cut costs, a lot of the track was removed. Disney ended up spending a lot of money to create a version of the ride that would cost less to operate. But what they ended up with was a vastly inferior ride that cost them an arm and a leg.

    Before I continue, I want to point out that Figment still appeared in the second version of Journey Into YOUR Imagination. His role was greatly diminished, but he was in it. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt they stopped selling Figment merchandise. The Dreamfinder has been missing for decades, but Disney still sells merch with his likeness. I have my doubts that Figment merchandise was all that big of a thing prior to the current wave of Disney nostalgia. In the last few years, Disney has started selling all kinds of retro merch like the Orange Bird and all that. I think that stuff is bigger now than it was when those things were current.

    Going back to 1999, Micheal Eisner visited Disney World to experience the new “millennium attractions.” For the most part, he was pleased with what he saw. But his reaction to Imagination was infamous. He started cursing up a storm and demanded to know where all the money went. On the spot, he ordered Imagineers to go back to the drawing board and fix the ride. Before a single guest had experienced the second version of the ride, it was already slated for replacement.

    Once guests did get a chance to check out that version of the ride, they were very vocal about Figment’s diminished role. Even if the Imagineers hadn’t planned on returning him to the starring role, guests made it clear that should be a priority. I suspect it would have happened either way and merchandise may have been a factor in that decision. But I don’t think it was much more than a consideration.

    Now I’m going to watch the video again so I can pretend I’m there instead of at work.

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    • I will admit that the new version has grown on me with repeat rides. Nothing you say about its reductionist intellectual approach is wrong, but I do find myself enjoying the attraction a little more on each ride.

      Disney traditionalists will want to line up with tomatoes, but the advantage of modern technology has made the multiple verses to “One Little Spark” which are available here preferable to the very truncated recording of the original song which is widely available for purchase. As someone who has a Disney playlist on my iTunes account that is more than 12 hours long, I would say that one of my top wishes related to that would be for Disney to release full versions of both the original and current “One Little Spark” songs, including ALL verses. Unfortunately, most of the sound quality of what you can find on ride videos for the original incarnation is not great, so the song from this version which can be listened to on YouTube ends up being my preference.

      Sponsors have consistently been a double-edged sword in Disney World. Kodak not only insisted that the original Journey Into Imagination be downsized, but are also reportedly the reason Epcot never got a Mount Fuji coaster attraction in the Japan pavilion because they objected to one of their rivals in the film business, Fuji, having representation in the park where they were sponsoring a full pavilion. Because of GE’s sales concerns, though, we do have two different excellent Sherman Brothers songs from the Carousel of Progress.

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      • I’m getting the impression that you like the song more than the ride itself. The current version of Imagination isn’t an atrocity, I just can’t find any compelling reason to sit through it save for the fact that Epcot is light on rides and there is never a long line.

        In retrospect, I imagine Disney probably wishes they had let the Kodak sponsorship go. Epcot would be in a better place today if they had just let Kodak walk. And then Kodak went belly up anyway. Ooops.

        I’m not anti-sponsorship. But Disney has made some poor decisions based on an over reliance on corporate money other than their own. I understand why it was done to build Epcot in the first place. But Disney shouldn’t be counting on other companies and countries to continue funding their theme parks. It’s nice when something lines up like TCM sponsoring The Great Movie Ride. (It figures that would be the sponsorship Disney would pull the plug on!) But at one point, Disney refused to build a Monsters Inc roller coaster in DHS (a park in desperate need of a family friendly ride) because they couldn’t find a sponsor for it. Who did they expect to sponsor a Monsters Inc ride? Pixar? You’re making enough money, Disney. Maintain your own parks!

        As for Imagination, I’m just ambivalent on it. I’m pretty “meh” on Future World as a whole. It’s a shell of its former self. Soarin’ and Test Track are fun, but like I said before they are two of the most over-rated rides on property. Imagination and Energy are in dire need of overhauls. Mission Space is a bit of a letdown. Spaceship Earth still hasn’t finished its last refurb. It just feels like Disney is treading water until DHS and DAK are done before they come up with a plan for Epcot. Then again, based on the Guardians rumor, I’m not sure I want to see them pull the trigger on their plans for Epcot.

        I drifted away from Imagination yet again. That’s probably the best statement I can make on my feelings towards the attraction.

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        • Yeah, I like the song a lot, especially when I get to hear multiple verses.
          The attraction is bright and cheery (and has that song), so I feel like even though it’s not as good as it could be, it still offers something to the park as a whole. If they expanded it a little, updated a few of the effects, and made Figment a little more helpful rather than obnoxious they might have a real winner. But Disney is almost certainly not going to put any money into perfecting an existing attraction, a fact that makes me think they will go on letting the new Soarin’ ride be technologically unsound and visually off for about 1/3 of the audience.

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        • The rumor is that there are long term plans for the Imagination pavilion, but nothing is certain. My best guess is that it will continue as is (bright, cheery and harmless) until plans for Epcot gain traction. I think Future World is almost as badly in need of an update as DHS, but the park as a whole coasts by on the popularity of the F&W Festival. As long as that keeps drawing crowds willing to shell out foe overpriced snacks and drinks, Disney doesn’t have a lot of incentive to invest in the park. At least not yet.

          The current state of Soarin’ is just another example of how little effort the current administration makes. Something like that would have been unacceptable under Eisner who, for all his flaws, actually loved the parks and sampled the attractions. I’m willing to bet Bob Iger has never soared over California or around the world.

          I’m going to stop ranting until someone winds me up again.

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  2. If you are curious, this is the ill-fated Journey into YOUR Imagination:

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    • While Figment does make a couple of appearances here, you almost get the feeling that he was shoehorned in at the last minute, because he only moves or talks in the queue on the way in and on the way out after the ride is over. Otherwise, there’s just one stagnant dot-to-dot image of him in the middle of the ride. There’s really no reason for him to be there and the attraction seems to know it.

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      • Disney has a tradition of honoring previous attractions when they replace one. I suspect the Figment cameos were part of that. Maybe the merch guys asked for those if indeed there was a concern about selling Figment T-shirts in 1999. Journey into YOUR Imagination is what happens when the primary motivation for a refurb is to save money. I think everyone can agree the latest version is a step up from that disaster.

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      • I have been looking into the whole merchandise angle. I don’t know the significance of this nugget of trivia, but I find it interesting. Originally, the pavilion included a Kodak camera shop nearby the theater. That was where all the Figment merch was sold. The camera shop closed with no replacement in 1999. When Journey into YOUR Imagination opened, it did not include a shop of any kind. The current shop opened in 2001 one year prior to the current version of the ride.

        I think you can look at the timing of that and draw different conclusions. In 1999, they cut off merch sales entirely. Surely, they must have known what the sales were like before shutting down the shop, right? But then bringing back the Figment merch (and not the camera store) was enough of a priority that it opened an entire year before the refurbed attraction.

        While I don’t think merch was the primary motivation for the refurb, I think it was pretty obviously a consideration. Lord knows they sell a lot of the stuff.

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        • That is interesting. The version of the story I was relying on expressed that it was a matter of this rather large company failing to have appropriate communication between departments and that maybe this was a lesson to them that they should talk to merchandising before they shrink the presence of a character that much.

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        • I think that’s a lesson they have learned pretty well. The entire Fantasyland project was built around the fact that the County Bounty was one of the top stores in the Magic Kingdom and thus had to be preserved. I don’t know if the store continues to be one of the top sellers post NFL, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that had changed. In my experience, we always bought something there because the store housed the Mickey and princess M&Gs. That is no longer the case. So while the store remains, the circumstances have changed. Kind of like how moving Dumbo to a less central location reduced demand to ride it.

          If anything, I think merch is on their minds too much these days. One of the things I found funny about the Fantasyland concept art was the prominence of a Beast plush and how happy everyone appeared to be with their purchase. I feel like this picture really says something about the current Disney mindset.

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  3. Here’s the original attraction for comparison:

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