13 September 2007

That infallible combination of man and machine

The omnimover is a Disney staple. Of course it is, it was created by Imagineers Roger Broggie and Burt Brundage, and it was given its name by Imagineer Bob Gurr. So it’s not surprising with you think of classic dark rides like the Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, Peter Pan’s Flight, and all the many incarnations of the Imagination dark rides, among many others they all run, of course, on an omnimover system.

The omnimover itself was created to give guests a more cinematic view of the attractions, rather than just a static view. Moreover, it gave the Imagineers the ability to control the guests’ sightlines, increasing their ability to use special effects and lighting that could not be seen my guests that allowed for a more immersive experience. The omnimover added the ability, through the use of two separate control systems, to move up and down as the vehicles move through a track and to pan and rotate left or right.

The perfect example of omnimover technology, especially for this series of articles, is the General Motors sponsored World of Motion. These cars had to rows of seats and moved through the history of transportation. From foot power, to the invention of the wheel, to far fetched images of tomorrow’s transportation, World of Motion covered everything.

To say this attraction had little bearing on my young life would be a drastic understatement. My father has sold tires his entire life. He’s so good at it that his business was bought out so that he would stop giving the larger companies a hard time in the area. Not to mention he knows this stuff better than any man I’ve ever met. To give you an idea of what he does, his company buys tires from Goodyear, Firestone, etc. and he sells them to places like Sears, Quick-Tire, and the local mom and pop tire stand down the road. So watching the wheels being sold, alongside the Trojan Horse, in World of Motion, made me feel like my dad was this really cool guy that everyone had to come to. And, whether or not people have to come to him, he was, and is a cool guy. World of Motion gave me more respect for my father, and as his oldest and only son, I’m sure he appreciated that.

The other scene that struck a cord with me was the Columbus scene with the sea serpent and the ships sailing off the edge of a map in the background. Since this attraction I have had a fascination with monsters and maps. I love collecting maps, and I love reading about monster, real or fictitious, my own creation or another author’s/moviemaker’s. So this may be the very point where I found both of these loves.

Now, there are plenty of other little gems in this attraction, from the Dixie scene, to the holdup, to the boys chipping ice off the back of a refrigerator truck, but these are the two that really spoke to me as a child. World of Motion was open when Epcot Center opened on October 1, 1982 (its 25th is coming up in less than a month, I hope to see you there) and closed on January 2, 1996 to make way for Test Track. World of Motion’s omnimover track was the perfect instrument for this attraction, a smooth ride for a look back at the turbulent history of get up and get going.

Oh, and the naming of the omnimover by Bob Gurr, he took it from the words OmniRange and PeopleMover.

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