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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: World of Motion 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.

WORLD OF MOTION AT EPCOT

By Jim Korkis

The World of Motion, sponsored by General Motors. was an opening day attraction in the Future World section of Epcot, and continued to operate until January 1996. It was replaced by Test Track, also sponsored by GM.

GM had signed a commitment to a transportation pavilion in 1977, making it the first official Epcot pavilion participant.

World of Motion, a dark ride omnimover vehicle attraction, was designed by Imagineer Mark David, with significant contributions from Disney Legends Marc Davis and later Ward Kimball in staging the various tableaus.

It was a whimsical look at the history of transportation, from caveman’s “foot power” to the first traffic jam (of a motor car smashing into a horse-drawn produce cart), to the modern day, with thirty-one amusing scenes featuring approximately 140 comically exaggerated audio-animatronics figures as well as projection effects.

(c) Disney

The exterior of the pavilion showed the blue Omnimover vehicles slowly spiraling clockwise from the ground floor up to the second level before entering a contoured hole in a red wall.

The narrator of the attraction was radio personality Gary Owens, who told guests, “General Motors now invites you to travel the open road – to discover that when it comes to transportation, it’s always fun to be free! Throughout the ages, we have searched for freedom to move from one place to another.”

The theme song, It’s Fun To Be Free, composed by Buddy Baker with lyrics by Xavier “X” Atencio was repeated during the experience in a variety of styles from ragtime, Dixieland jazz, Broadway show tune, symphonic, Copland-esque western, kazoo and more. The two song writers had previously collaborated on Grim Grinning Ghosts for the Haunted Mansion.

The journey on 1,730 feet of track ended after a trip through a “speed tunnel” at the sixty foot high CenterCore, a city of tomorrow in perpetual motion that included a Pepper’s Ghost illusion to put guests into futuristic bubble cars.

The narration intoned: “Yes, our world has indeed become a world of motion.  We have engineered marvels that take us swiftly over land and sea, through the air and into space itself.  And still bolder and better ideas are yet to come, ideas that will fulfill our age-old dream to be free; free in mind, free in spirit, free to follow the distant star of our ancestors to a brighter tomorrow.”*

Guests then disembarked into the Transcenter, designed by Bob Rogers and his BRC Imagination Arts studio, that featured several hands-on experiences that showcased what the engineers at GM were developing for future transportation.

A GM promotional brochure stated, “The GM Transcenter is an open invitation to visit a world rarely seen. The Trancenter showcases candid, behind the scenes views of what it takes to design, engineer, and manufacture cars and trucks with the highest order of quality and imagination.

“But satisfying today’s personal travel requirements is only part of the ongoing creative process.  Anticipating what lies ahead is another story that comes to life in the GM Transcenter.  Clearly, The Future of Transportation is Here…and on full display!”

Guests could design a car through computer modeling, view an animated film about different types of engines, visit a display of options for the interior of a future car, or be entertained by The Bird and the Robot show where an audio-animatronics toucan interacted with “Tiger,” an assembly-line robot arm.

While the attraction served approximately 20,000 guests a day who enjoyed the experience, GM wanted something more of a thrill attraction that focused solely on automobiles, which resulted in the development of Test Track in the same location.

*  *  *  *  *

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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