Thursday, March 5, 2009

HORIZONS tribute - photos , artwork and video

Here it is at last, the grand tribute to Horizons that i've promised to you four months ago ! And this one is going to be a really big tribute to this Epcot beloved attraction, 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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we lost a great piece of Epcot when they replaced it. There are numerous rumors of why it was closed, the most persistent is that the building had significant structural problems and that saving it was no option. It's a pity we didn't get "Horizons Mark II"... Although I really like the replacement, Mission: Space, because of its daring new ride system.

The Horizons attraction was the thing that was closest to the original vision of Epcot. It also wasn't attached to any Disney franchise in particular (it was however heavily attached to GE ;).

Although it felt a bit dated at the end of its lifetime, the visuals were still quite breathtaking:

- Incredibly detailed and really futuristic looking scenes, it didn't look like a cheesy scifi, it would probably still work today with some minor (haircut) updates. ;)
- A great Omnimax experience, of course, this movie would really need an update, but back then it was really stunning, especially the CGI parts.
- Beautiful and very realistic underwater effects.
- The best "peppers ghost" effect I've ever seen. (The "hologram" happy-birthday scene).
- What other ride let's you choose your own ending? The ride featured a complex projection system so each vehicle could be served its own ending using then state-of-the-art video projectors, projecting a movie that moved along with your suspended omnimover vehicle. I would really love to see this technology being used with recent HD digital projection.

I really hope, some day somebody at Disney realizes that we really could use a new Horizons: a "Carousel of Progress" Mark III. Something free of the usual Disney merchandise, something that has its own, optimistic vision to tell and something Walt himself would have loved.