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Journey Into Imagination
A Guest Favorite
Although the Kodak-sponsored pavilion opened on October 1, 1982 with Magic Journeys, the Journey Into Imagination ride didn't open until March 5, 1983. Once guests entered the building, they were greeted by a picture of Figment welcoming them to the pavilion, as well as a series of murals.
Visitors boarded vehicles and met up with a character called Dreamfinder on a unique ride system where the cars traveled along with Dreamfinder's flying machine on a carousel/turntable system. Removable walls traveling on the turntable would isolate several ride vehicles at a time so the guests couldn't see that the carousel had more than one flying machine. Once the walls were in place, guests would watch Dreamfinder as he created Figment the dragon.
The walls then retracted and guests traveled along with Dreamfinder (voiced by Ron Schneider) as he takes Figment (voiced by Billy Barty) to the Dreamport, where the imagination is put to use in such areas as the visual arts, storytelling, and science. At one point in the ride, the guests are photographed and the picture is shown at the end of the ride. This attraction also included a special scented portion during "the white room" sequence.
According to "The E Ticket" (Winter, 1995) the inspiration for Figment came from an episode of Magnum P.I! Imagineeer Tony Baxter relates: "I remember the day that Figment came into being. I was watching a Magnum P.I. show on television and Higgins' garden was all torn up because Magnum had hidden a goat in the yard. When Higgens said that something was destroying his garden, Magnum said, "Oh Higgins, it's just a Figment of your imagination." Higgens looked at him and said, "Figments don't eat grass!" And right then I thought about this character that everyone knows about and has never been visualized, so I came into work the next day and said, "I've got the star of our show!"
Former cast member Marcus Wright has this to say about the original ride: "I worked at the original Journey Into Imagination and remembered fondly the original ride. The reason that the ride was postponed for six months was that they couldn't get the thing running! The opening turntable scene was a technical nightmare and caused many breakdowns during the entire time it was in operation. That part of the track is now a part of the guest queue for the new ride. You'll notice an odd turn in the queue where the Imagineers decided it would be less time consuming and more cost effective NOT to take out the turntable's massive axle and just build around it!"
(Thanks to Brotherdave for this photo.)
Journey Into Imagination Ride Script
The very popular One Little Spark song that was featured in the ride was written by the Sherman Brothers.
(The ride vehicles enter on to the turntable/carousel platform. An animated projection of Dreamfinder's flying machine is shown. He can be heard humming and whistling.)
Dreamfinder: (Laughing, then singing) Imagination, Imagination. A dream can be a dream come true. With just that spark, in me and you.
Dreamfinder: (Singing) One little spark of inspiration, is at the heart of all creation. Right at the start, of everything that's new, one little spark, lights up for you. (Speaks) Oh! Hello there! So glad you could come along. I am the Dreamfinder. (laughs) Musical notes! What delightful melodies those will make! I love these flights of fancy. Searching the universe for sounds, colors, ideas, anything that sparks the imagination! A sunbeam! That's a good one. (laughs) Everything I collect can inspire amazing and marvelous new ideas. And you never know what kind of figment you make come up with. Here's my favorite! (Singing) Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, but a lovable fellow. From head to tail, he's royal purple pigment, and there, viola! You've got a figment! A Figment of imagination.
Figment: (Laughing) Dreamfinder! I'm just right!
Dreamfinder: Ah, ah, ah, not quite.
Dreamfinder: I'll throw in a dash of childish delight. (Figment laughs). Look Figment, some new friends have joined us.
Figment: Can they imagine too?
Dreamfinder: Of course! Imagination is something that belongs to all of us.
Figment: You mean, everyone can think up new things?
Dreamfinder: That's right Figment. And every sparking idea can lead to even more. (sings) So many times, we're stumbling in the dark and then eureka! (sound of thunder) What a spark!
Figment: Hhhhow are we going to use lightening?
Dreamfinder: Hmmm. We can combine it with ghostly shivers on a stormy night, and turn them into a tale of fright!
Figment: Oh look! Look! A rainbow! I'll use that to paint with.
Dreamfinder: Now you've got it.
Figment: Wow, wow, wow! Numbers, letters, papers for writing. Costumes, makeup, stages for lighting. Teardrops, laughter!
Dreamfinder: What about science?
Figment: Science! We'll need: electron beams and crystal prisms, gyroscopes and magnetisms. (sound of idea bag).
Dreamfinder: Hold on, Figment.
Dreamfinder: The idea bag is full.
Figment: It is? Let's start making new things!
Dreamfinder: Now wait! First we must store these ideas with the others in the Dream Port.
Figment: Are we almost there?
Dreamfinder: Oh, the Dream Port is never far away when you use your imagination.
Figment: Come on everybody, let's go!
Dreamfinder: (Singing) We all have sparks, imaginations.
Dreamfinder: That's how our minds, create creations. Right at the start of every that's new, one little spark, lights up for you.
Figment: Oh boy!
Figment and Dreamfinder: (singing) Imagination, imagination. A dream, can be, a dream come true. With just that spark, in me and you!
(After depositing the bag at the Dreamport, the ride vehicles entered a room where everything was white, including a carousel with several animals. Figment was dressed as an artist and in the process of giving the room color with a rainbow coming out of his paint pot. Dreamfinder had a giant brush that he used to 'paint' on a giant mural.)
Dreamfinder: Mix red and gold, from autumn flowers, purple and blue, from twilight hours. Green summer hills, and rainbows play a part. A painter's brush, a work of art!
(Figment then shoved flowers into a pot to produce perfume that could then be smelled as the vehicles passed by.)
(Photo courtesy of Brotherdave)
(As the vehicles continued into the next room, thunder was then heard, followed by organ music. Dreamfinder played a giant organ surrounded by words while Figment had blocks that rotated to spell "bat" or "cat" while the appropriate shadow was projected behind him. He also tried to keep a giant book labeled "Monsters" shut.)
Dreamfinder: What chilling words? Like shriek or killer, can spark the mind to start a thriller? Add some more sparks like dagger, blood, and gory, and then, a mystery story.
(The next room shows Figment in a tuxedo backstage getting reading to go on stage.)
Dreamfinder: Some happy songs.
Figment: Some snappy dances.
Dreamfinder: Costumes and sets.
Figment: Spoofs and romances.
Dreamfinder and Figment: With laughs and tears, and footlights all aglow.
Dreamfinder: The sparks ignite.
Figment: A brand new show!
(This dialogue is then repeated again in a slightly faster tempo.)
Dreamfinder: (Echoes) What about science, science, science, science?
(As Figment tries to hitch a ride wearing an astronaut costume, the vehicles enter a room where film projections show images of the Earth and water droplets, among other things.)
Dreamfinder: Technology, like a new found potion. Allows us to marvel at mysteries of motion. Water dances where visions begin. Science reveals a life within. I'll wind this dial and time the escapes. Watch minerals change to crystal shapes. Let's look at nature at this speed. From germination, than back to seed. Skyrockets soar towards outer space. Imagine yourself in an infinite place.
Figment: Oh! There are so many places to dream about!
Dreamfinder: We can visit worlds that were, that could be. And those of fantasy. And reality.
Figment: I bet I can use Imagination to discover all kinds of new things!
Dreamfinder: Of course. It's your key to unlock the hidden wonders of our world.
(As the vehicles enter a new room, Dreamfinder aims a movie camera to take a picture of the passengers. The room shows a film of Figment as portrayed by a puppet doing such things as lifting weights, being a scientist and flying as a super hero. All of them are singing.)
Figments: Imagination. Imagination. A dream (a dream) can be (can be) a dream come true. With just one spark in me and you.
(The Figments on screen continue to sing the word "Imagination" as the main Figment figure continues.)
Figment: We all have sparks. Imagination. That's how our minds create creation. Oh they can make, our wildest dreams come true. Those little sparks in me and you.
All Figments: Imagination. Imagination. A dream (a dream) can be (can be) a dream come true. With just one spark in me and you. We all have sparks. Imaginations. That's how our minds create creations. So they can make our wildest dreams come true. Those little sparks (those little sparks) in me and you.
(The passengers then pass the picture that Dreamfinder snapped earlier of their ride vehicle right before the exit to the ride.)
If you were lucky, you could meet Dreamfinder and Figment in person, like in this picture that Brotherdave took!
If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!
In 1998, the ride closed for renovation and the pavilion was renamed simply "Imagination!" When the building reopened the Imagination Institute theme from Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was now the theme of the entire building. The Image Works was relocated to the ground floor and the old ride had been replaced by something called Journey into Your Imagination.
The premise of the ride was that guests were visiting the Imagination Institute's Open House. The queue had a 3-D picture of Dr. Nigel Channing (Eric Idle), the Chairman of the Imagination Institute. Figment would magically appear in the picture. Guests then walked past award-winning inventions from the Institute, including the robot from Flubber.
Instead of boarding the old ride's purple cars, guests would ride red cars past an "Imagination Scanner". The machine reveals that the riders have cobwebs and "vacancy" signs in their minds so the Institute embarks on a quest to help everyone develop their imaginations. The cars stop in darkness and it sounds like a train is about to crash into the cars (similar to the effect from Mr. Toad's Wild Ride). Guests then rode past some optical illusions and an upside-down room with water running in the toilet. Everyone is scanned at the end of the ride and it's reveled that their minds are now full of ideas. There were a few cameos by a computer-generated Figment and he also appeared in the ride as a star constellation.
If the mind scanner had really worked, it would have discovered that most guests absolutely hated the new ride and wanted the old one back. Guest Services got many complaints about the new ride and people sarcastically called it Journey Into Your (Lack of) Imagination.
Guest trying to imagine that they like the new ride.
Something familiar is now found at Mouse Gear.
The chances of Figment making a full return looked bleak. Disney sold part of the ride props on eBay and used one of Dreamfinder's flying machines as a prop in the Mouse Gear store. Then the ride closed in the winter of 2002 for renovation and reopened in June of 2002 as Journey Into Imagination with Figment. While Eric Idle and the Imagination Institute are still featured, Figment has been added to every scene and a new version of One Little Spark is sung. The Space Figment has been returned to the ride although his suit is now orange and purple. Dreamfinder is still MIA but one of the lab office doors is now labeled as belonging to "Dean Finder". While having Figment returned was a huge improvement, it still just wasn't the same. The ending in particular seemed to insult guests with the unspoken message "Here, you wanted Figment back so here's a whole room of him!"
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