The Wonders of Life pavilion was a major part of Future World at Epcot for many years. It opened on October 19, 1989, and was located between Mission: Space and Universe of Energy. The building was filled with unique attractions that were dedicated to health and the human body.
The concept for the pavilion was included in the original plans for Epcot. However, Disney needed corporate sponsors to cover the cost of the pavilion. Eventually, MetLife signed on as a sponsor and construction finally began. *
In its prime, Wonders of Life was home to various attractions and restaurants. The interactive experiences, all about health and wellness, were both educational and fun for guests of all ages.
Cranium Command was one of the first two attractions to open in Wonders of Life. The comedic show explained the importance of the human brain.
First, guests moved into a bright room for the preshow. The animated video was hosted by General Knowledge. He briefed the “Cranium Commando” troops on their mission: piloting human brains and keeping their humans out of trouble.
Next, guests entered a 200-seat theater that was designed to look like the inside of a human head. The star of the show was an audio-animatronic character named Buzzy. His mission was to pilot a 12-year-old boy with the help of other characters including:
- Logical Left Brain
- Wacky Right Brain
- Hungry Stomach
- Panicky Bladder (also known as Elimination)
- The Adrenal Gland (prone to overreacting)
- The Heart’s Right and Left Ventricles
- A monotone audio-animatronic Hypothalamus robot that regulated autonomic bodily functions
Buzzy piloted through a typical day in the 12-year-old’s life. During each event of the day, the body’s organs consulted and often argued with Buzzy on how to handle each situation.
Body Wars was the other original attraction in the pavilion, along with Cranium Command. The motion simulator ride took guests through a study led by the Miniaturized Exploration Technologies.
While waiting in line to board the ride, guests learned all about the fictional MET company from various signs and posters on the walls. Television monitors played a video of the Mission Commander explaining the mission that was about to begin. Dr. Cynthia Lair was studying white blood cells by getting miniaturized and going inside the finger of a volunteer with a splinter. Riders were tasked with the job of getting her safely back out after she completed her research.
Next, guests boarded the Body Probe vehicle and the mission began. Captain Braddock led the ride into the miniaturization room to start the journey. However, what seemed like a simple task got way more complicated and riders faced several challenges along the way.
After tons of turbulence, the ride eventually came to a successful end. Mission Commander congratulated the crew for completing “The most spectacular mission the place has ever seen.”
Frontiers in Medicine
The Frontiers in Medicine exhibit was more educational than recreational. It showcased research and success in modern medicine. Small televisions played short videos about advancements in surgery, aging, cancer, and other illnesses. The goal of the exhibit was to explain the benefits of medicine. *
At Coach’s Corner, you could get tips from the pros during interactive video training sessions. As you tested your skills in various sports like tennis, baseball, and golf, a professional player offered tips and suggestions to help your performance. *
Goofy About Health
This eight-minute show was a multimedia experience made up of clips of Goofy from various cartoons over the years. In the show, Goofy is stressed and sick due to his unhealthy lifestyle and bad habits. After being diagnosed by a doctor singing the “Unhealthy Living Blues,” Goofy makes several healthy changes in his life such as quitting smoking and taking up sports. The whole story was told with an all-new soundtrack and recycled animation. The film strips spanned over 28 years, so Goofy’s appearance varied greatly throughout the show. Goofy About Health was one of the less popular attractions in Wonders of Life, so there was rarely ever a line to get into the theater.
Sensory Funhouse was an interactive playground that explored sensory abilities with a variety of small attractions related to the five senses. Every attraction was a hands-on test of each sense, including: *
- The Perplexion Pipes: Trick your sense of hot and cold by holding pipes of various temps with different hands then holding a normal pipe with both hands which felt hot and cold at the same time
- Optical Illusions: a tower with multiple spinning and moving visual effects
- Audio Antics: head into a soundbooth and put on headphones to listen to sound illusions
- Reading Brail: try to learn how to read braille
- Touchy Subjects: touch unknown objects that you cant see to guess what they are
- Crooked Room: An Ames room style attraction with a distorted perspective
The Making of Me
The Making of Me was a film about conception starring Martin Short. The comedian explains how we are born by telling the story of how his parents met, got marries, and had a child. Making of Me also featured some educational elements such as an animated explanation of the fertilization process. The 16-minute movie eventually closed in 2007, along with the rest of the pavilion’s attractions.
At Wonder Cycles, guests would hop on to a stationary bike with a television screen attached for a virtual ride through a course of your choice. Riders could take a short tour of Disneyland in California, Microworld Bigtown U.S.A., or the 100th Anniversary Rose Parade in Pasadena. The faster they pedaled, the faster the video would play. Guests were also able to track how far they traveled and how fast they pedaled during the ride.
Other features of the Wonders of Life pavilion included live improv comedy from the AnaComical Players, a shop called Well & Goods Limited, and a counter service restaurant. Pure and Simple served healthy offerings such as sandwiches, frozen yogurt, waffles, and fruit shakes. *
MetLife ended their sponsorship with Wonders of Life in 2001, which is what began the pavilion’s slow decline. It started operating seasonally, only open on busier park days, and eventually closed altogether.*
Wonders of Life closed for good on January 1, 2007. Since then, it has been utilized as a seasonal events space called Festival Center. In 2021, it will become the home of an all-new play pavilion.
Want more Vintage Disney? Check out these long lost Magic Kingdom attractions! To see what’s left of the Wonders of Life/Festival Center pavilion, grab discount Disney tickets from Tickets2You and make your way to Epcot today!