02 May 2018

A Dream Can Be

Epcot is a park that features some engineering marvels and fanciful nods to real world destinations that continue to astound guests even 35 years after their creation. Yet, after the current overhaul of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it is the park most in need of attention. Some attraction and shows have not aged as gracefully as others, and there are still gaps in offerings in some of the more prominent countries around World Showcase. The park suffers from being caught in the middle of longtime guests remembering what was and what might have been and the unrealistic expectations of what could be to come, leaving it in a space that is entirely unmanageable. Case in point, Journey Into Imagination With Figment.

This attraction, and its post-show area with interactive activities, gets dumped on with some regularity. The most common complaint is that the show doesn’t live up to the original attraction, Journey Into Imagination. The attraction’s length is shorter, the innate sense of whimsy has been lost, and Dr. Channing is no Dreamfinder are amongst the rationale given for why this attraction doesn’t measure up to its predecessor. While some of this criticism is reasonable, there are things that we have forgotten, or choose to ignore, as we get further and further away from the original attraction; such as the fact that Journey Into Imagination rarely had a line towards the end of its time.

To be fair, almost everyone agrees that the current version of the attraction is an upgrade from the short-lived Journey Into YOUR Imagination, but that was clearly a dark time for the Imagination Pavilion.

I’m not saying that Journey Into Imagination with Figment is the best attraction in Epcot, or even the best attraction in Future World West. What I am saying is that the attraction is better than we give it credit for. The attraction moved away from artistic forms and creative thinking and focuses more on three of our five senses and how each can be manipulated to create illusions and flights of fancy. It’s a more grounded, real world approach for a concept that is clearly filled with fanciful ideas. This isn’t bad, just different. The attraction has a lot of strikes against it, but what it does have going for it is Figment.

He is the soul of the Imagination Pavilion, just as he has always been. He is still the character children look to as ridiculous and does the things that they only wish they could do. Although, that said, I have seen a child lick their parent’s face once or twice, so maybe they’re a bit more like Figment than they think. He may not be creating paper animal cutouts or writing a mystery story, but he is challenging guests, particularly children, to bend their minds out of the rigidity and into a thought process that is more flexible. Plus, he utilizes gas passing as a form of humor, which most kids still seem to love.

Journey Into Imagination With Figment is the version of the attraction, and the variation of Figment, that an entire generation has grown up with. In fact, we have already had the current attraction for longer than the original was in place. That means when the pavilion goes through a revitalization process, there will be children and young adults who are sad to see it go. Just like the original, the present version doesn’t hold much of a line, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those who love the attraction.

For my part, I still miss the original Dream Machine and fantastic sets, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be elements I miss from Journey Into Imagination With Figment when it has been replaced. The butterfly illusion has been a part of the attraction since 1982, but I don’t foresee it making it through another reimagining. The nods to Medfield College, the home to many zany scientific film adventures, and the characters who called it home will also probably be replaced at some point.

When the day comes that the attraction is remodeled, I hope that the Imagineers remember that Figment is still the heart of this pavilion and, to some extent, Epcot itself. I also hope all of us remember just how much we loved the original experience and are able to understand the whirlwind of emotions those who do love the current attraction are feeling and lift them up. Every attraction is someone’s favorite, and while we may not all agree, there is a value in the affection each attraction has built up.

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