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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Horizons at Epcot



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

HORIZONS AT EPCOT

By Jim Korkis

Horizons was an omnimover dark ride in the Future World section of Epcot that focused on the future, and specifically how families might live in the 21st Century on desert farms, in outer space, and under the sea, and how advances in technology could make all that possible.

(C) Disney

It opened in October 1983, temporarily closed in 1994 after General Electric dropped its sponsorship of the attraction, briefly reopened periodically and permanently closed in January 1999. It was replaced by Mission: SPACE.

Mission: SPACE includes tributes to the Horizons attraction that preceded it, including the center of the gravity wheel in the queue having the attraction logo, and a stylized version appearing on the front of the checkout counter in the Cargo Bay gift shop at the exit to the attraction.

The official description for Horizons included that it was “dedicated to humanity’s future. It is a careful synthesis of all the wonders within Epcot, and applies the elements of communication, energy, transportation, creativity, and technology to a better life-style for the family of the future.”

Because of the sponsorship of GE and its emphasis on families, it was generally considered a spiritual sequel to the Carousel of Progress attraction. Horizons featured all the key elements associated with the original Epcot: communication, community interaction, energy, transportation, anatomy, physiology, and imagination, along with man’s relationship to the sea, land, air, and space.

The attraction was developed by Imagineer George McGinnis, who at one point considered calling it New Horizons. That became the name of the attraction’s theme song written by George Wilkins. The message of the pavilion that “If you can dream it, then you can do it” is often falsely attributed to Walt Disney.

Imagineering Show Writer Tom Fitzgerald said, “I am very familiar with that line because I wrote it!  It was written specifically for the Horizons attraction at Epcot and used in numerous ways, from dialogue in the ride to graphics.”

At the exit of the attraction was a large wall painting done by famed space artist Bob McCall entitled “The Prologue and the Promise”. It was a gorgeous image of a family standing on a mountaintop facing a bright future with famous monuments of the past and future. It was later covered up and replaced.

The attraction began with a look back at how the future was perceived and transitioned into modern technologies that might be used in the world of tomorrow. The main portion of the ride focused on life in the future in different habitats.

The end of the ride allowed guests to select one of three different routes to return to FuturePort: from the space station Brava Centauri, the desert farm of Mesa Verde or the Sea Castle research base.

These thirty-one second video sequences featured a video fly-through of elaborate scale models. The model for the desert route was 32 by 75 feet long. All the models were filmed at a hangar at the Burbank airport. It took a year to build and shoot the three segments.

Orange Fragrance Scent R-2534, dispersed by air cannon during the attraction, was produced by Felton International Inc. in Los Angeles, California, and is still available. Many of the props from the attraction were sent to Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland Paris (Solo Sub and hovercraft). Others were auctioned off to private collectors.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Disney Never Lands, and about planned but unbuilt concepts, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

 

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