Nowadays it looks old, underwhelming, and just barely maintained. The current ride is about sensory experience in a very limited and uncreative way--a cynical exercise in dark-ride design, and, basically, a far cry from anything truly imaginative…
So here are my thoughts, both about what I’d like to see in a new Journey into Imagination, and about how it might be feasibly accomplished:
Disney needs a new sponsor, someone big. This has to be a major player who can project optimism about the idea of creativity itself. This is kind of a no-brainer. It's just a question of whether Apple would say yes. With the Steve Jobs/Pixar ties, it makes a ton of sense. Apple could once again set up the kind of awesome technology "play-station" that Kodak was able to do in the '80s. Really highlight cutting-edge stuff. But, it has to stay abstract and creatively-focused enough to keep people's creative juices flowing. (What about a huge floor canvas where you can "paint" virtually like Jackson Pollack, with extremely realistic drips and plops that you can also smear and blend? Definitely revive the walk-through rainbow tunnel, except make it high res OLED and multitouch, highly interactive, with color "tug-of-war” or catch games? And how about something where you stick your hands into gloves and they use haptic feedback to make it seem like you are modeling a real piece of clay, when in fact you are creating a 3D computer model?) I think Apple's desire to be at the crossroads of technology and the liberal arts makes them the ideal choice, and it also is good PR for them at a time when they need it.
Ironically, I think that the subject of imagination, which was originally a strange fit in Future World, makes a lot of sense as a truly forward-thinking topic in an increasingly idea-driven world. Get the redesign right, in other words, and you go far towards bringing EPCOT closer in line with its original mission.
For the ride, here’s what you keep:
-THE DREAMFINDER—Figment--the hot-air balloon thing. These are essential.
-The Sherman Brothers Song.
-Some kind of cool photo op (that was the first one I had ever seen in a ride!), maybe a 3D photo?
-Art direction by Tony Baxter (he designed the original, and he understands what was lost in the remodels)
-The original story line about the different uses of imagination (creativity, science, storytelling, etc)
What should be new?
Almost everything else. Creative tools have come a long way. Let's highlight the most cutting edge stuff. It needs a creative ride motion system, and I think this would be a great place to bring the Huny Hunt and Waterworks ride system from Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea to the Florida parks. (I've never been, but I've seen footage… it's a trackless system that is computer controlled. The cars are basically free to move around in space, but sometimes stay on a virtual "track" and sometimes behave more freely). I imagine an almost overwhelmingly detailed environment, including a large room or two where your focus is brought into certain aspects of the imaginative spirit by the "random" motion of your ride vehicle. Visually, I think you can play up the Steampunk vibe of Dreamfinder's balloon, with some incredibly detailed set pieces (think Journey to the Center of the Earth), and contrast that with extremely colorful and cutting edge 4G projections, perhaps glasses-free 3D. I like the idea of a "blank canvas" room (like the old "white room" with only white objects, except as the imagination starts to "create" the objects become intensely colored. Over at DCA, World of Color is such a similar abstract concept to the original Journey into Imagination (trying to get down to the very building blocks of Disney creativity). Why not pay homage to Disney’s World of Color by having a room of those LED-lit water canons? (and while you’re at it, stick them out front too…)
Finally, Music. Yes, the Sherman Bros. song is perfect as is. However, it needs updating. And They Might Be Giants is the group to do it. They already have a relationship with Disney. They have a love for retro theme-park kitsch (check out their remake of the Disney Electrical Parade soundtrack). And they would be able to generate the variety of musical styles needed to sustain the various rooms of the dark ride.
So, these are my 23 cents. It will be expensive, but worth it.
Oh, and for Captain EO? I don’t know, a Lady GaGa remake?...
I'd like the original Imagination ride back, and a Phineas and Ferb show in Captaion EO.
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort