• Friday, October 15, 2021
Vintage Disney: 4 Innovative Attractions from the Early Days of Epcot

Vintage Disney: 4 Innovative Attractions from the Early Days of Epcot

Since Walt Disney’s original idea of EPCOT, one of the major themes of the park was innovation. In keeping with that theme, a lot of the attractions focus on progress and what the future will look like. As technology advances, things change and formerly cutting-edge ideas become old news and need to be replaced. Here are a few of the early innovative attractions that became outdated and have been removed over the years.

World of Motion

World of Motion was an opening day attraction sponsored by General Motors. The company originally signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with Epcot. It was an effort to compete with Ford, who had sponsored a Disney attraction at the World Fair in 1964.

Six-person omnimover vehicles took guests on a journey through time. The ride offered a humorous history lesson on transportation and how it advanced over the years. The attraction’s timeline began at the invention of the wheel. It ended with a look into what the future of transportation might be.

Riders traveled through a series of scenes created with audio-animatronic characters and projection effects. They each depicted major milestones in the evolution of transportation including:

  • Caveman displaying the first-ever transportation method, foot power
  • Boats depicting early over-water transportation
  • The invention of the wheel
  • A “Used Chariot Dealership” and the Trojan Horse
  • The “Age of Flight” featuring Da Vinci’s failed flying attempts and a man in a hot air balloon over London
  • The evolution of steam travel
  • The world’s first traffic jam
  • The evolution of cars and airplanes

The trip down memory lane ended with omnimover vehicles racing through speed tunnels. They led into CenterCore, the amazing city of the future. When the ride ended, guests exited their vehicles and headed into the TransCenter. The Innoventions-style area featured educational attractions, interactive exhibits, and prototype car displays that showed off General Motors’ latest ideas.

The second World of Motion sponsorship ended in 1992. Because of a slump in business, General Motors decided to sign one-year deals until both GM and Disney executives became interested in a new cars-only attraction idea. World of Motion closed for good in 1996 in order to make way for Test Track.


Horizons was another omnimover attraction in Future World. The dark ride that acted as a sort of sequel to Magic Kingdom’s Carousel of Progress. When Horizons was in operation, it was the only attraction that showcased all of the core elements of Future World:

  • Communication
  • Community Interaction
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Humankind’s Relationship to Sea, Land, Air, and Space

The ride’s omnimover system took riders through several scenes starting with a “look back at tomorrow”. The following scenes revisited how people in previous eras imagined the future. Next, scenes depicted modern technologies and how they continue progressing the world forward. The rest of the journey showed what futuristic life might look like in cities, deserts, space, and under the sea. At this point, riders got to choose which path to take back to the future port:

  • The Space Station Brava Centauri
  • The Desert Farm Mesa Verde
  • The Sea Castle Research Base

Based on the path they chose, riders would finish with a special 30-second video. Each individual car would see a simulation of flying over their chosen scene. Horizons closed in 1994 when General Motors’ sponsorship ended. It only closed for a short time before reopening in 1995. World of Motion and Universe of Energy closed around the same time, so Horizons acted as a placeholder until new attractions opened in Future World. Horizons closed for good in 1999 and eventually became MISSION: Space.

Magic Journeys

Magic Journeys was an opening day attraction at the Journey Into Imagination pavilion. The 3D film, created specifically for Disney parks, has been featured at four different parks over the years. The show provided a look at the world through the eyes of a child, with several different imaginative scenes.

First, children ran through a meadow looking at the clouds. When one blew on a dandelion, the seeds turned into stars and then the sun as they flew away. Then as the kids flew a kite on the beach, it transformed several times. It became a bird, a fish, a school of fish, bird wings, a pegasus, a horse, and finally a merry-go-round. When the kids got on the spinning merry-go-round, it moved around the moon. The moon shapeshifted into objects like a witch, a mask, and a cat. A boy reached for the cat and it became the Sphinx. Then, it transformed into a lion jumping through a circus hoop surrounded by trapeze artists, acrobats, and clowns.

The magical show ran at Epcot until 1986, when before it closed to make way for Captain EO.

Laserphonic Fantasy

At first, Epcot had two very simple nighttime shows called Carnival de Lumiere and A New World Fantasy. On June 9, 1984, Epcot debuted Laserphonic Fantasy at the World Showplace Lagoon. It was the park’s first evening spectacular using similar technology to Disney’s current after dark entertainment. Several buoys on the water that set off impressive fireworks. This was the first show to use non-continuous lines in a laser animation during a scene called “The Skater”. Laserphonic Fantasy was also the first show to use a water droplet projection screen to display laser graphics, depicting various snapshots from around Epcot. The show’s soundtrack featured heavily synthesized renditions of international music including a funky version of the 1812 Overture. IllumiNations took over the evening entertainment slot from Laserphonic Fantasy in 1996.

For more Epcot info, check out these planned attractions that never quite made it to the park!

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