Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lost Horizons...

Lost Horizons was the title of Frank Capra's famous movie - you know, that movie where adventurers find Himalaya's legendary lost city of Shangri-La... But for us, Disney theme parks fans, our Lost Horizons is Epcot beloved and now unfortunately extinct attraction. So today, here is a grand tribute to the Horizons attraction who was one of my favorite. Lot of pictures, for the first time in big size, plenty of artwork, and great video of the whole ride at the end of the article, with the links to the previous Epcot original attractions artwork articles.

Horizons, designed by imagineer George Mc Ginnis and Collin Campbell opened on October 1, 1983 and was about the future!...and more specifically, Horizons was dedicated to "humanity's future" with this principle "If we can dream it, we can do it!".
Not only the building was huge, but the 14.45 minutes ride was one of the longest one ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering. Lot of audio-animatronics - 54, exactly , and 770 props all along the ride, not to mention the 12 film projectors, the two Omnisphere screenshow, and a huge capacity of 2784 guests per hour.Everything was great: the story line, the theming, the music, everything!

During 10 years - from 1983 to 1993 - the attraction sponsor was General Electric, as we can see on this picture of the entrance.

Right after the entrance, the Futureport announced the "destinations"

It's time to board in one of the Horizons vehicles

First, we had a look back to some of the great visionaries like Jules Verne, then to how the future was dreamed in the 30's.
Here is a picture of the model of that scene.

And here are pictures of the real thing.

The next scene was a vision of the future from the 50's.

After these opening scenes the Horizons vehicle moved to the Omnimax film sequence with images of the DNA chain, or the space shuttle lift off. The next scene was the 21st century Habitat sequence , also called the Nova City living room.

A huge backdrop painting was done for that scene, here is three close shots of this artwork.

The next scene brings the guests at Mesa Verde, a desert farm of the future...

And then to a submarine habitat...

But also inside a space colony and the "crystal lab"...

The Holographic "happy bithday" party line was the next scene, and the special effects were at that time really impressive.

The guests had then the possibility to "choose their tomorrow" with a choice of three destinations: Space , Desert, and Undersea. A screen came in front of the vehicle and a short movie was played. A good idea, but the image definition was not as good as it would be today.

Before we arrive to the videos below, i have more rare pictures for you. First, a model of the building.

Then some artwork for the "Main Shuttle port"

Here is a fantastic painting showing a city of the future.

But one of the biggest backdrop painting was the "Looking back at tomorrow". Here are some very rare photos showing the painter at work - Robert McCall, a famous artist who worked mostly for NASA - and details of the painting.

And now it's time for you to board inside a Horizon vehicle and enjoy this fantastic ride, thanks to this 3-part youtube videos from Century3Horizons, that i thank a lot, and congratulate for the high quality of the filming.

Just like everybody who did the ride at Epcot, you will love Horizons instantly, it was Imagineering at its best! And don't forget: If we can dream it, we can do it!

You can know more about Horizons, read the original script and listen the great music theme on the excellent Horizons web site HERE

I remember you that you can find the previous articles about Epcot's original attractions artwork: for Spaceship Earth HERE, for The Living Seas HERE, for Communicore HERE
, for The Land HERE, and for Journey into Imagination HERE. More coming next week about Universe of Energy!

Photos and artwork: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc

Youtube videos thanks to Century3Horizons


Matt Hunter Ross said...

I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but...

Thanks so much Alain! Another great post! I too wish Horizons was still around - I loved the whole concept. And imagine, it existed without any other Disney branding associated with it! It was really great.

Leonardo Coppola said...

*english below*

Alain, je lis vos messages depuis maintenant de nombreux mois, et je n'ai jamais pris le temps de laisser un commentaire, mais là, à quelques jours de Noël et surtout sur un sujet qui me tient tant à coeur, je me dois de laisser un commentaire !

Horizons est selon moi l'attraction qui symbolise au mieux les idées d'urbanisme qu'avait Walt Disney lorsqu'il a imaginé E.P.C.O.T., et pour l'étudiant en architecture que je suis, il s'agit d'une des attractions les plus iconiques d'Imagineering.

Je vous remercie donc d'y consacrer un article comme d'habitude aussi fourni, c'est pour moi un très beau cadeau de Noël avant l'heure de la part de Disney & more !

Meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année

Leonardo "horizons83" Coppola

Alain, I've been reading your articles for several months now, but I never took the time to leave a single comment. Now that we're only a few days from Christmas and talking about something that I really care about, I think it is time to leave a comment.

For me, Horizons is THE ride that best represent Walt Disney vision of tomorrow's urbanism when he imagined E.P.C.O.T. and as an architecture student, I think this is the most iconic show made by Imagineering.

So I'm thankful that you take so much care bringing all that content to us, that's a wonderful christmas present for me !

Best wishes for new year !

Leonardo "horizons83" Coppola

Martin Smith said...

A quick note; Bob McCalls big mural (as pictured) was "The Prologue and the Prmoise" which originally was shown at Horizons exit. GEs chairman decided he wanted more exposure for the company, so the glowing walled corridor with spinning GE plasma logo was added in its place.