Monday, December 20, 2010

E82 - Holidays Around the World

During this Glorious Time of Year, Epcot puts its best foot forward with Epcot - Holidays Around the World. While the Magic Kingdom shall always be home to over-the-top secular celebrations of the season, Epcot has a much greater mission to fulfill. During these special 35 (or so) Days at the end of the year Epcot reaches its full potential by proudly celebrating the “reason for the season.” But more than that, Epcot’s “Circle of Nations” truly does the miraculous by bring together many people of many faiths in an air of acceptance, inclusiveness and cooperation. It is also during this time that Epcot’s Ultimate Vision of instilling “a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world” comes to fruition. In spite of all the EPCOT City could have given us, it would still just be a city. EPCOT’s ultimate realization as park is able to do what no city could ever hope to accomplish – providing millions of people with an example of a unified world.
As both a Thank You for your support during this first year of E82 and in Celebration of the Season, I present one of my most beloved and popular compilations; the simply titled “Epcot - Holidays Around the World Album.”
Representing the best of live entertainment since the program’s creation in 1994, this holiday compilation features a sampling of works by Cast in Bronze, and The Voices of Liberty, with highlights from the Candlelight Processional, a special tribute to the Lights of Winter, and finally culminating with Peace on Earth from Holiday IllumiNations.

-The Program-
1. Messiah Majesty
2. Carol of the Bells
3. God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen
4. We Three Kings
5. O Little Town of Bethlehem
6. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
7. C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S.
8. Gesu Bambino
9. Winter Wonderland
10. Mary’s Boy Child
11. Candlelight Overture
12. Shout for Joy!
13. Il est Né
14. Rejoice with Exceeding Great Joy
15. Stille Nacht
16. The Wonderful World of Christmas
17. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
18. Lights of Winter Medley – A JLH Tribute
19. (Let there be) Peace on Earth (featuring Walter Cronkite)

Download the Album

16x9 - Epcot Holidays

Wide Screen

4x3 - Epcot Holidays

Full Screen

Friday, December 10, 2010

Symphony for Programs

E82’s TRON: Legacy Soundtrack Review
Earlier this year, as the excitement and anticipation was building toward TRON: Legacy’s release, a question was posed: Will “TRON: Legacy” be the “2001” for this generation?
While not having seen the film, it’s quite easy to see the comparison in many moments of the score. Additionally, the Daft Punk Soundtrack references several Sci-fi Scores and Classical music pieces. It’s almost unbelievable that two electronic artists could have developed such an amazing amount of scope a depth in such a singular work.

In preparation for the film I, like many TRONophiles, began listening to a lot of Daft Punk. To be completely honest, there‘s only a few songs that I love listening too. (Mostly from the Discovery album) It should also come as no surprise that they are the ones that were most influenced by the original TRON film. The group’s Aerodynamic, Digital Love, Voyager, and Veridis Quo (Which translated literally means “Very Disco”) are very much from the TRON Universe. In the case of Digital Love, the song is bookended by an effect that sounds as if it was taken directly from Wendy Carlos’ original TRON score.
The thing that is the most impressive about Daft Punk is their ability to take noise (or industrial grind) and create new and interesting musical compositions. In listening to their music my reactions often remind me of the reactions of audiences to Stravinsky’s music a century ago. In both cases, the music is at first strange and seemingly “incorrect.” However, upon second and third exposure the startling nature of songs like Aerodynamic are revealed to be both edgy and beautiful.

Soundscape of “The Grid”

As difficult as it is to describe the power, heart, and emotion that this score possesses, I will nevertheless attempt to do my best to describe my impressions of TRON: Legacy as a strictly musical work. Every track of this seminal work is worth review, but in the interest of time I’ll be focusing on those of historical reference or classical interest…

--Overture – Adagio for Tron--
I must say, (having not seen the film) I sincerely hope that the Overture is also accurately represented in the film itself. This film is so epic both in reach and in tone that allowing one to be enveloped into the “World of TRON” sonically before the film would be an extremely effective and nostalgic device.
This particular piece is has a lot of reference 2001’s “Overture: Atmospheres” and has similar strains with the initial build-up to “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” The piece ends with an exclusively orchestral version of the TRON Main Theme. Another strong comparison can be made between the "Gayaneh Ballet Suite" and the beautifully melancholy strains of “Adagio for Tron.” The sadness of this track is so descriptive that even without seeing the film it basically gives the story away.

--Arena - Rinzler - The Game has Changed - Round One - Disc Wars--
A deadly undercurrent of progressive beats and low tempos which inspires both excitement and fear, all of these tracks carry a similarly dark a foreboding tone. Ironically, (and impressively) these action pieces seem to have no “Mickey-Mousing.” Warning: Although fun, these tracks can cause a small amount of recklessness if listened to while driving!

--Recognizer - Arrival – The Grid--
Once a bright environment for programs to interact, CLU has turned turn the TRON System into an almost post-apocalyptic dystopia with massive totalitarian overtones. This aspect of Legacy’s storyline practically screams for Vangelis-style interpretation. In the case of Recognizer the visuals for this scene are almost identical to those found in the Ridley Scott film. Arrival itself sounds as if it was lifted from the Vangelis score itself.

--The Son of Flynn– Armory - Nocturne - Solar Sailer - Sea of Simulation--
There is so much that is visual about this soundtrack, these tracks are appropriately electronic and somber. A particular fan favorite, Solar Sailer, is one the most beautiful and majestic tracks on the album. It’s really the emotional core of TRON Legacy. This should come as no surprise as this was one of the first two demo tracks Daft Punk composed for the film over two years ago. Director, Joe Kosinski said in an interview that the original version of Solar Sailer was changed during production but later reverted to an arrangement closer to the initial version.

--Fall – Rectifier – C.L.U.- Encom Parts I & II – Reflections –-
All of these tracks feature CLU’s theme. Epic is such a small word for this. In particular, C.L.U. is truly the hidden gem of this score. It has trace elements found in the best of Wagner’s Sagas with influences that range from Kismet to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. (All of which, are a couple centuries removed!) It’s powerful and percussive beats in combination with scope-expanding strings and finally the crescendo inducing Industrial Grind that is Daft Punk! The electronic elements of this piece always manage to sneak-up and surprise me. The piece is actually my favorite from the score!

--End of Line – Derezzed - TRON Legacy(End Titles) – Castor--
These are classic Daft Punk! With most of these tracks occurring within the End of Line club, they are catchy and bound to have you hitting repeat after most of them. Personally I can’t wait for our French Robots to release TRON’s “Club” Album!

--Outlands Parts I & II, Father and Son, Finale--
The dynamic between Kelvin, CLU, and Sam reminds me of nothing less than the classic story of God, Lucifer and Jesus. Kelvin creates CLU in his own image and endows him with incredible power and abilities. CLU (like the MCP before him), believes himself to be better than his creator and becomes the ruler of the air. Sam, the actual son of God (no wait, I mean Flynn) comes to the digital world to restore sovereignty and overtake the distorted and arrogant CLU. This is probably a little more than you’d expect soundtrack review to be but I always go deeper. And, to be quite honest this kind of allegory is expected considering the writers, Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz have spent the last several years “re-interpreting the Bible” and setting it on a tropical “Island.”
These themes are what sets TRON Legacy apart from its predecessor. Steven Lisberger’s original film introduced the world (although unknowingly) to the concepts that would eventually change the life of almost every person on this planet. These themes and the film that they’re created for give those concepts meaning and perspective in our ever changing world.

Geospheric Perspectives
It’s only fitting (and appropriate) that TRON and EPCOT should be linked together. TRON Legacy is no exception. If you read the credits you’ll find that Bruce Broughton provided consultation and none other than “Reflections of Earth” composer Gavin Greenaway conducted the orchestra!
On a personal note, the entire musical journey of TRON Legacy was a very emotional one for me. Not since the Millennium Celebration Album have I been so completely obsessed with a musical work. And, not since EPCOT Center’s original 1982 Entrance Plaza have I heard such a perfect marriage of the electronic and classical. As a person who always has one foot firmly planted in the past and the other stretching far into the future, this music seems almost tailor-made for my DNA, and specifically timed to provoke the maximum emotional effect.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Blog has Changed

As you’ve already noticed ENCOM has replaced my logo of E82 with one that looks remarkably like their own. As part of change, ENCOM has asked me to give more attention for the companies that made EPCOT Center possible in the first place. One of the first of these is a commissioned desktop that displays all major sponsors of the original EPCOT Center. Inspired by “Bokeh” style photography, this image takes the technique a step further by both sharpening and defusing the logos simultaneously in the same image. In addition, this will be just the first step for an upcoming series of articles profile various companies and their relationship and influence on Epcot and ultimately the Walt Disney Company itself.

16x9 - Sponsors of Tomorrow

Wide Screen

4x3 - Sponsors of Tomorrow

Full Screen

Editor's Note: I seriously don’t know how much more control I can give to this “game company.” I think it might be time to change things from "Inside the System". – Stay Tuned for further developments

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Music of "The Grid"

When George Lucas released Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1997, hardcore fans and media networks quickly exclaimed that a 30-year-wait was at last over. This kind of overstatement not only borders on the absurd, but also renders the speaker completely inept. However, the story of TRON: Legacy’s journey to the screen is indeed one of the longest and mostly widely publicized in the history of motion pictures.
In 2002, Walt Disney Home Entertainment decided to lavishly celebrate the 20th anniversary TRON’s release with a Two-Disc Collector’s Edition of the film. At the beginning of this DVD was an advertisement for a new TRON game then titled “TRON Killer App.” In addition, the feature-length documentary about the film ended with concept art and discussion about the possibilities of a “new TRON for the 21st century.” With a next generation video game already in development, it appeared that the world was finally ready for the vision that Steven Lisberger put forth in a film that was literally decades before its time.
The release of Monolith Games “TRON 2.0” expanded the TRON Universe by extrapolating the ENCOM System into present day by following the journey of “Jet” Son of Alan Bradley and Lora Baines into the Computer. Stylistically and Musically, TRON 2.0 is a very close adaption of the world created for the original film. Many concepts from the film are perfected and brought forward. There are some truly beautiful environments, as well as some very well written music most of which was directly inspired by Wendy Carlos’ highly experimental score.
With less than a week before the official release of Daft Punk’s incredible score for TRON: Legacy, I thought that E82 should take some time to reflect on the evolution of TRON’s musical landscape. When the game came out, it had NO official score release, it had NO promotional Disc, in fact very little was talked about or even discussed in regards to this truly beautiful electronic work.
And Now E82 is Proud to Present
Here is the FIRST and ONLY Full Soundtrack of TRON 2.0

Tron 2.0 - Cover

Re-Making the Score
After years of collecting music the “doesn’t technically exist,” NO was not a word I would accept in relation to this new work from the World of TRON! Not long after giving-up my search, I decided to make the soundtrack myself! I began unpacking the game’s “.rez files” and quickly discovered that reassembling the score would be no easy feat. Each theme had to be remixed piece-by-piece from 8 second long “riff tracks.” Literally hundreds of cuts! Then came the truly hard part assembly and editing.
Most Film Soundtracks if taken cue-by-cue are largely unlistenable. As a result, producers will often combine pieces to form larger compositions resulting in a structure that is pleasing to the ear. After playing the game several times and taking notes of all levels, scenes and plot-points, I began building the soundtrack to resemble that of a traditional soundtrack. Finally, artwork created for the game was adapted and modified to create a believable approximation of an Official Soundtrack. What you’ll hear are the results…

Tron 2.0 - Inside

Download The Soundtrack

WARNING: This album WILL leave you wanting a lot more!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Very Special Announcement

Stay Tuned for
from JLH Ominmedia

Only at E82 - The Epcot Legacy!


You've Never Heard It like this Before!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Complete Captain EO

Today, I’ll wrap-up my coverage of all things Captain EO with the release of “Captain EO: The Complete Experience.” Sure, there are many versions of this show across the Digital Frontier (1), and I should know. I’ve downloaded just about all of them! What you’ll hear with this EP Album is the very best of all resources collected over the past 10 Years. However, this is not meant to be a literal walk-thru of the attraction as I always adopt the Thornton Philosophy (2) of creating “Listen Experiences.” So you won’t be hearing any announcements, or the “making of” video that accompanies the current presentations. (3) What you will be hearing is the a fully Re-Mastered queue mix, a Newly Restored version of the much sought after Theater Load-In Music, and Ultimately the best version of the literal soundtrack from the film. I think some of you will be quite pleased with the way James Horner’s score shines through this particular mix. In addition I’ve been able to fix the awkward way in which the soundtrack ends with a small piece of the exit music.
As Bonus Features, I’ve included the Epic Records (4) Version of “We Are Here Change to World” released 2004, 18 years after its creation! The Full Version of “Another Part of Me” – Exit Music. Finally, the unusual, unreleased, and unexpectedly good orchestral Version of “Change the World” produced for the much talked about and unrealized Tomorrow 2055 Concept from 1996.

Captain EO - EP Cover

1.Overture (9:10)
2.The Cosmos (4:04)
3.Captain EO (18:41)

4.We Are Here to Change the World (2:53)
5.Another Part of Me – Instrumental (3:46)
6.Change the World – Tomorrowland 2055 (3:13)

Download The Album

In order to ensure proper playback, please turn-on your media device’s cross-fade feature and set to 3 seconds.

Past Musical Releases from "E82 - The Epcot Legacy"

The Future World Soundtrack Series – Journey Into Imagination

Foot Notes:
(1)My new Sponsor appears to already be making demands that their terminology be mixed into the content of all posts from E82. Hence “Digital Frontier” instead of something more relatable like “the Internet”:-/
(2)A reference to the great Walt Disney Records Restoration Producer: Randy Thornton.
(3)Stay Tuned E82 for commentary on the dangers of recycling historical material in “living” attractions.
(4)Epic Records: The official Label for all of Michael Jackson’s Music.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor...!

After lengthy and comprehensive negotiations, ENCOM International, "the World’s #1 Software Provider" has agreed to sponsor E82 – The Epcot Legacy! As part of this partnership, E82 will provide additional coverage of all products and services. Encom executives have assured me that the core focus and vision of E82 will not in any way be altered or changed because of the sponsorship.

I for one am excited about the many possibilities that this partnership can provide. The History of Encom and the History of Epcot have always been intertwined since the construction of the park. Founded in 1972, Encom Computers, provided many of the computer systems and controller units for many EPCOT Center attractions. Most notability, ENCOM provided many Computer Generated Effects for the Climax of Universe of Energy - and ENCOM also developed a demonstration of its famous digitizing effect that was later used at part of World of Motion’s SpeedRoom Finale.

IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE, expect to see a lot more coming from Encom International & E82 – The Epcot Legacy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anonymous Benefactor

Earlier this week, I received an email from a company expressing interest in sponsoring the E82 Project for unspecified length of time. The Project has always been transparent in its developments so I’m sharing the information as it becomes available. This maybe the start of something special for E82...

Mr. Harris,

Over the past several months we have been watching your progress of your blog. Although we believe that the overall quantity of your work is less than satisfactory, we have been impressed with what little product we’ve seen. Your personal style and reinterpretation early
1980s icons are of particular interest to our company.

We are currently gearing-up for a major product release and would appreciate any assistance you could provide our marketing and design teams. In turn, we are prepared to engage in limited sponsorship of your blog.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience, with a response. If you express interest our legal teams will contact you with the specific terms of our sponsorship.

Thank You for
Markus Grenwald
V.P. of Marketing

Dumont Holdings Inc.

More to Follow Soon!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Return of the Captain

Inspired by the final logo seen in the film, this 4th Desktop in the E82 Project is a tribute to the return of the 1980s classic. Its vivid colors and high-gloss treatments are evocative of early computer animation as well as the heavily special effects driven work of ILM during the height of the “Optical Effects Era”.

Fun Fact: The ending logo for the film was the most expensive effects shot and was also the last effect completed for the movie. It's also the only Computer Generated Image in the film.

4x3 - Captain EO

Full Screen

16x9 - Captain EO

Wide Screen

Display Instructions: Select the proper screen ratio (Full or Wide Screen) enlarge to original size and apply as Desktop Background, then “Fit to Screen.”
Finally all Desktops are designed to fill the screen so please display with an Auto-Hide Taskbar.

Monday, October 25, 2010

GATHER, STORE, RE-COMBINE A History of Imagination (Part 2)

Disneyland’s entirely new land, Discovery Bay, is put back on the shelves to inspire many great achievements of Imagineering for the next two decades. One of these was a “Gallery of Illusions” featuring Professor Marvel and is dragon breeding experiments. The Professor and one of his baby dragons eventually became the Dreamfinder and Figment. At the Same time, genius Imagineer Tony Baxter creates yet another failed concept for EPCOT Center’s “The Land” pavilion based on ecology and featuring glass crystal architecture that would itself be recycled into the glass pyramids of Journey Into Imagination the pavilion destined to become the Fantasyland of EPCOT Center. The Pavilion contains three major attractions, The Journey Into Imagination ride, the Image Works interactive exhibit and a really tripped-out 3-D movie featuring a new and sophisticated technique for creating 3-D films. The process is awesome, the music is great, and the film no one cares to watch twice.

Imagination History 10 - The Image Works

The Image Works…Very Well.
Scientists, Artists, Authors, and Imagineers get the future wrong all the time. We don’t have time machines, I can’t make a down payment on a flying car, its 2010 and there’s no Discovery mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and I’ve been waiting for a Maglev to Mesa Verde for quite some time now. What it is amazing is when they get it right!
Here’s once again is the original description…

Described by Richard R. Beard
The Ride is so delightful and engaging that, when it ends, we are left with a compelling urge to create something. This reaction is spontaneous, but it is naturally provided for by the canny show planners. Immediately ahead is a magic hall called Image Works, where we may try our hand at a wondrous array of creative tools of the future, inspired by our Journey into Imagination.

Imagination History 11 - The Image Works

The Warm and welcoming atmosphere is designed to overcome any hesitation caused by the sight of all that electronic wizardry. And, of course, once you dive in, you’ll be hooked. Just grab, for example, a “paintbrush” in one of the consoles of the Magic Palette and let fly on your individual screen. Paint anything you like, in “colors” you’ve never seen before. There’s a pot of rainbow colors, another of Cheshire Cat tails. One “ink” gives the impression of Cubism, another of circular candy strips. The harder you press, the thicker the line, and if you slip up, dip your brush into “ease”, which will wipe it out, and start all over.
Have you ever had a secret yen to conduct and orchestra? Move over to the Electronic Philharmonic, take your place on your own private podium, and face the music. With a wave of your hand, you can control the volume of the strings section, the brasses, the woodwinds, the percussion-and watch magical notes flow from the instruments.
Leaving your symphony-hopefully not unfinished-you wander about like a child in an enchanted toyshop.

Imagination History 12 - The Image Works

Choose the elements to create a gargantuan image in a kaleidoscope: with a turn of knob, change the pattern, pick out a swirl of color for a liquid effect.
When you press the keys of a beautiful Bubble Organ, they not only bubble, they also bring forth brightly colored spheres that you can combine and overlap and mix and meld on a screen.
Play with the deliciously prickly Pin Screens, then take your turn at the Light Writer, where you, too, can create your own laser show. On the of four great plexiglass “planets,” you control the swirling, spiral laser patterns, selection size, speed and shape.
Now on to the Sensor Maze, subtitled “It Knows You’re There,” which provides an artistic funhouse experience. A tunnel of neon rings assigns you a personal color, which escorts you through the giant tube to the Vibrating Mirror. Made of Mylar, the crinkling, flexible mirror, lit be a strobe, shows you coming and going in an unending pattern of zany distorts. Among other oddities of the maze is the Lumia, a voice activated light show in a giant sphere that responds to the pitch and modulation of your voice, and Stepping Tones, where your tread triggers not only color and light effects but weird and wonderful sound effect as well: a jungle squawk her, a chord there, beeps or growls or spooky night wails.
The centerpiece of the Image Works is probably Dreamfinder’s School of Drama in the middle of the hall. It’s divided into three “theaters,” each one of which puts you and your friends on center stage in a variety of situations. Using the blue-screen technique, the apparatus projects your image onto pre-filmed background settings. While you act out and appropriate scene, spectators react to your performance.
The Time Machine places you in various time warps-perhaps in a cave, threatened by ferocious prehistoric beasts, or in Elizabethan England, or in the Wild West, or on a spaceship under attack by alien creatures. Sneak Preview stars you in trailers for current television shows. Stunt Show superimposes you image on scenes of dire peril: on a fraying rope bridge teetering precariously between two Himalayan peaks; on the wing of a biplane about to execute an unscheduled barrel roll.
The Image Works is spectacularly successful in its goal-giving you a chance to express yourself in ways you’d never thought possible. You may become so absorbed in its myriad pleasures that, were not for the promise of still another presentation around the corner, you would find it difficult to leave.

Imagination History 13 - The Image Works

The Importance of Flow
Transitions are a hallmark of Imagineering design. In many cases, these are ether found inside a single attraction or themed environments. Very rarely does this type relationship occur between attractions. Whereas, one experience naturally leads to another and to my knowledge this has only occurred in twice in the history of theme park design. (1) Journey Into Imagination (the Pavilion) is one of these examples. The original concept was basically Ride, Play, & Watch: RIDE the Attraction, PLAY in the Image Works and finally WATCH an Imaginative 3-D movie in the Magic Eye Theater.

Looking back at the Image Works, the exhibits are amazingly forward thinking, in many ways The Image Works was over 25 years ahead of its time. (28 years to be exact.) Most of its well remembered attractions have evolved into practical applications for creative expression and entertainment.

The following is a list accurate predictions made by Image Works exhibits.
Light Writer
There are well over 200 products on the market specializing in at-home laser light shows, ranging in price from over $800 to less than $25.
Stepping Tones
Although very few of us have musical carpets, a sophisticated version Dance Dance Revolution can’t be too far in the future.
Electronic Philharmonic
With Xbox 360’s “Kinect,” Gesture driven games are about to become a reality. I’m sure than with its debut this Christmas conducting your favorite Music and Films Scores can’t be far behind. (It’s like Guitar Hero for air conductors).
Magic Palette
This was the most popular of all Image Works exhibits, and it’s not hard to see why. With Imaging software like Adobe’s Photoshop (and Illustrator which is the most accurate comparison) and a touch screen or a tablet we can live the EPCOT Center Future! (2)

Imagination History 14 - The Image Works

In the 17 years of its existence, the original Image Works would change time and time again as the popularity of exhibits fluctuated based on guest reaction, technological advances and durability. For a complete visual history of the Image Works, I highly recommend viewing the following documentary produced by noted videographer Martin Smith…

Imagination 82 - The Original Imageworks from Martins Videos on Vimeo.

Image Works was well loved by all EPCOT Center Fans. We all had our favorite games up there. I myself recall having a particular fondness for the Electronic Philharmonic, (so much so, that I just plain ignored all other activities and always when straight there). In the years that followed its closing, Image Works would become a source of intrigue. This is because of what this extinct attraction failed to do: …disappear!
But that’s a story for another time.


With the opening of EPCOT Center, Walt Disney Productions had, in one stroke, reached its greatest achievement and it worst nightmare. The public, and most importantly Wall Street had looked at the opening of the park as the completion of Walt’s Final Dream. Special emphasis should be placed on the word Final. The basic line of thinking is that with Walt’s last assignment “from the grave” fulfilled Walt Disney Productions had reached an end pass. Although in 1982 there were several pavilions left to complete (Imagination included), and Tokyo Disneyland still under construction, most outsiders (and some insiders) looked upon Disney as quickly reaching creative bankruptcy.
In 1984, this ideology came to fruition when the entire company was to be dissolved. Roy E. Disney, not one to allow this to occur, left the Company to begin searching for new leadership. He found it in a seemingly creative executive from Paramount Studios and an unsold Vice President of Warner Brothers. Michael Eisner and Frank Wells took the reins of company and quickly decided to diversify the company in both assets and development.

Imagination History 15 - Captain EO

Among those Eisner sought out were individuals that had similar interests in family entertainment from across the spectrum. To this end, Michael and Frank began courting the biggest names in Hollywood and with one attraction got them all! In Randy Bright’s (3) Disneyland: The Inside Story Randy tells the story far better than I can…

Just before the Christmas holidays in 1984, WDI’s Bongirno and Dick Nunis were discussing a call they had received from new Disney president Frank Wells. “What would your designers want to do if they could develop an attraction with Michael Jackson?” Wells has asked. Bongirno got an immediate response from his staff. Disney had developed the most sophisticated 3-D camera system in the world, a 70-millimeter system that had been used to create a stunning film for EPOCT Center ion Walt Disney World. Starring Michael Jackson in a 70-millimeter, 3-D rock adventure at Disneyland seemed to be perfect casting.
Shorty after the holidays, WDI received its first visit from one of the Park’s biggest fans. Accompanied by Jeffery Katzenburg, the head of Walt Disney Pictures, Michael Jackson met with the WDI design Staff and listened to the 3_D film proposal. “I think it’s a really great idea,” he observed, “but I’d like to do it with George and Steven.” Everyone around the table recognized the Hollywood shorthand for George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Lucas had already been working with WDI on several ideas that might bright his Star Wars mythology to Tomorrowland. The timing seemed opportune.

Imagination History 16 - Captain EO

WDI designer Rick Rothschild headed up a concept team that sketched out three different screen scenarios for Jackson and Lucas to consider at the next meeting. They both picked the same story-Jackson would play space pilot named Captain EO, whose mission was to bring music and dance to a distant planet to break the spell of a wicked queen.
Produced by Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the production brought together an impressive array of creative talent from around the entertainment industry. Yet the show would not be limited to the screen. “While the film was being produced on one side of town, “says WDI’s Rick Rothschild, “we had to create a theater that was so laden with special effects that the audience would feel that they had been drawn right into the movie.”

Imagination History 17 - Captain EO

Rothschild’s team created smoke effects that would roll into the theater when Jackson’s spaceship crashed. They built a fiber optic star field that enhanced and extended the film’s own galaxy beyond the screen’s dimensions. The installed laser units behind the screen that would fire over the audience’s heads during the show, “Rothschild said. “But producing the effects on the film nearly drove us crazy.”
The project nearly drove everybody else crazy too. Schedules slipped, budgets drained, marketing plans changed, and frustrations flourished. In other words, it was just like any other Disneyland project.
The opening night of “Captain EO,” however, was quite unlike any other in the long and storied past of Disneyland. It set off a party that kept the Park open for sixty straight hours- a genuine Hollywood-style premiere, which through the Eisner/Katzenburg film connections, brought out more entertainment celebrities than any other time since the park’s grand opening more than three decades earlier.

Imagination History 18 - Captain EO

Walt Disney, Michael Jackson, and Healthy Obsession
Anyone reading this is either inspired, entertained, obsessed or all of the above by the unique brand of artistry that Walt Disney created or cultivated. Michael Jackson is no exception. Like many of us, it starts with a unique set of circumstances. In many cases, our love for Disney begins with a need for escapism. For his entire life, Michael felt a tremendous burden of his Orpheus-ness beginning with his oppressive father. Born in 1958, by the time Michael was “of age” (typically 3 to 9 years old) he was watching re-releases of the biggest classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1967), Pinocchio (1962) and most importantly Peter Pan (1969). It is this film/character Michael would most identify with for the rest of his life. (4) (5)
Later on in life, (as it does for a lot of us) entertainment transforms into collection and research. Michael went so far as to call Biographer, Bob Thomas (6) to ask as many questions as possible about Walt Disney the man himself. With the help of Thomas, Michael when even further by tracking down a very elderly Hazel George (7) and asking her questions about her old boss. Michael’s Collection of Disney memorabilia is legendary and could fully be an exhibit in its own right.
The first time Michael worked for
the Studio was as host for Disneyland’s 25th Anniversary TV Special. Before and after working on Captain EO, Michael was a regular visitor to all Disney theme parks, and in the late ninety’s was often taking up residence in the Disneyland Paris Hotel. Although he never wrote a book on the subject, Michael Jackson would surely be greatly respected by Disney Academics everywhere
Imagination History 19 - Captain EO

Although Captain EO held its World Premiere at Disneyland, like many big budget films and plays it made its debut “out-of-town” and six days before at EPCOT Center. The park hours were extended to 10:00pm that Friday and Saturday to accommodate the “Captain EO Blast-Off party” where special bands, singers and dancers performed in front of the Journey into Imagination all afternoon. The festivities were capped by a specially produced laser show at the end of both nights. (OS 9/14/86)

The Other Michael Jackson 3D Films
When Michael Eisner charged Rick Rothschild and his team with creating the appropriate vehicle for a Michael Jackson 3D film several concepts were tired. One such concept had Michael performing a “Thriller” Style dance with the Pirates of the Caribbean. (8) The film for Captain EO is really a mix between the two remaining concepts. The first was for a Pan-like character that defeated an Ice Queen with power of music and dance, and a space opera originally titled “Intergalactic Music Man.” (9)

Ultimately, Michael Eisner’s concept worked out very well for both Disneyland and especially EPCOT Center. Up until 1986, EPCOT Center, although beautiful and futuristic, was severely lacking in energy and youthful enthusiasm. (10) Captain EO provided both and was a welcome addition to the list of EPCOT offerings. This is also the first time that the Eisner publicity machine was used to its maximum ability. As part of the media campaign, the new Disney Channel broadcasted a 45 minute special on “The Making of Captain EO” hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. The show itself was nothing short of spectacular and the sheer number of in-theater effects really did elevate the status of this film to a true Attraction.

Imagination History 20 - Captain EO

IN OUR FINAL CHAPTER, we’ll explore the evolution of the Imagination Institute and speculate about future journeys.

In Case You missed it...

Gather, Store, Re-Combine: A History of Imagination (Part 1)

Foot Notes
(1) The two occurrences have been in attractions created for the original EPCOT Center. And, this concept applies to all of the original Disney-MGM Studios. In that, one first experiences the history of Hollywood (The Great Movie Ride and Superstar Television,) then moves to the back of park for The Making Of and processes surrounding modern screen productions.
(2) On a personal note, my research and graphic design combined to enlighten me as to the prophetic wonders of the original Image Works. Many a time I’m working on a vector logo (or a Figment:) and thinking about how the Magic Palette is so closely related to my calling and the careers of many others.
(3) Randy Bright was quite literally the heart and soul of EPCOT Center, much more on this later on in E82. For my fellow “LOSTies” out there Randy is “Jacob” in the E82 Project.
(4) Interestingly enough Peter Pan’s first re-release was in Michael’s birth year 1958.
(5) Whenever anyone writes anything about Michael Jackson and Disney you have to mention the appropriately named Neverland Ranch. There’s your quota!
(6) Bob Thomas wrote the “Walt Disney: An American Original” Originally released in 1976 it was the definitive biography on Walt for 30 years until the release of “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination” by Neal Gabler in 2006.
(7) Hazel George was the studio nurse and Walt’s closest confidante. At the end of every work day she would treat Walt’s old polo injury by giving him a diathermy treatment or a massage. During this time he would discuss many of the events of the day. She would later become one of Thomas’ primary resources in writing his Biography.
(8) Ironically Michael did end-up doing “Thriller” in the Haunted Mansion for his unrealized “This Is It” Concert.
(9) For a more complete telling of this story please visit Jim Hill Media.
(10) 1986 was a very important year for EPCOT Center. Not only did Captain EO open, but Spaceship Earth was changed to include a more cohesive and uplifting ending with “Tomorrow’s Child” and new narration by Walter Cronkite. Lastly, four years after opening Future World was finally completed with the opening of The Living Seas.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Re-Written History

Greetings Everyone,

And Happy Columbus Day! (Seriously, who creates these holidays?) Anyway, on this "Day of Discovery" I challenge you to re-read
A History of Imagination. It's now 50% larger with new features including...

  • The Beginnings of Dreamfinder
  • The Birth of Figment
  • Musicology of Imagination
  • An indepth and still concise lession in Disney and 3D Films
  • The Creation of Magic Journeys with the Sherman Brothers.
  • and many more historical insights into this most whimsical of all Future World pavilions.

Imagination History 00 - Title

Sidenote: Okay, I know that was a horrible segue up there, but I'm writing this on-the-fly and at 2am it sounded cool to me:)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Things to Come (part one)


I’m one of “those people” that loves getting surprises, but not at much as I love giving them. Most of the direction I have for this project has been intentionally shrouded in mystery. But after much thought on the issue I’ve determined that it’s time to go back to the future by abandoning the Eisner-like secrecy in favor of the time honored Walt Disney practice of letting people know what’s going on behind the scenes…

I would first like to thank those 15 or so followers that still regularly checked the site in the hopes that an update would occur ahead of schedule. And even in my absence I’ve received both interest and support for The Project. As a Thank You I’d like to give you all a preview of the many upcoming features of E82...

  • Starting next week we’ll recap the History of Imagination Part 1 with new material that was left out of the original post.
  • Then we will dive into the History of Imagination Part 2 covering the remarkably forward-thinking Image Works and the pivotal production of Captain EO.
  • Speaking of Captain EO, thanks to some newly discovered material, plans are currently in the works for an “EP” mini-Album featuring fresher mixes and newly restored soundtrack elements.
  • And just in time for the Holiday Season a new section will be added to accommodate special events that really have nothing to do with Epcot tentatively titled the “E82 Annex” (if anyone has a one or two word suggestion I’d love to hear it.)
  • In November, we’ll complete our Journey through Imagination History with Part 3 (This is probably the most complicated and sensitive part of any history I will write.)
  • And Starting 11/17/10, be prepared to go in an entirely different direction with and E82 “Cross-Over Event” which is probably the Worse Kept Secret since DVC :)
One of the things you’re not seeing on this is the artwork being developed for E82. Well, it’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s a whole another thing to SHOW IT!

In Just a Few Days, Join Us for Limited Preview of ALL Artwork Currently In Production for “The Legacy of Tomorrow!”

Friday, October 1, 2010

E @ 28

Greetings Fellow Futurists,
Epcot is 28 Years Old Today! So it seems only fitting that the next “season” of The E82 Project should begin again today. (1) In addition, it’s also Friday so why not start things off with a Figment’s Fun Fact...

Figment's Fun Facts 02

No other project in the history of Walt Disney Productions received so much world-wide attention as Walt’s last dream, one reason is its’ astronomical budget. (2) To put this into perspective, if adjusted for inflation EPCOT Center would cost between $2.67 Billion (3) to $5.26 Billion (4) in 2010 dollars.

Figment’s Fun Fact Follow-up
There was quite a response to the first of Figment’s Fun Facts. After more research I discovered that there were a lot more than 200 Special Effects at the opening of EPCOT Center; 274 to be exact. More than five times the number in the Magic Kingdom!

Side Notes
(1)Yes, I’m treating the blog like a TV series. Although considering my history, the first few months seem more like a mid-season replacement that took-off. But this whole analogy is silly enough to begin with
(2)A budget that, might I add, was created during the largest energy crisis in US history.
(3)Based on Consumer Price Index
(4)Based on Relative Share of GDP

Thursday, August 26, 2010

E82 Is Moving!

Ok, well not exactly. The website will stay in the same place, however in a few days I’ll be moving from the southwest to the southeast of Disney Property. I’ll actually be 10 minutes (or exactly 5 miles) from the Gate of Epcot! I’ve been packing for the last several weeks, and I’ll soon be going off-online. This is also the reason why both the quality and quantity of my posts have been somewhat lacking lately. As a result, E82 will be taking an unscheduled break and return to faster-than-normal postings October 1st. AND THEN be prepared for a blitzkrieg of new Desktops, Artwork, History and of course Music!

See You All In less than 35 days!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Constructing the Future

Although you may not notice it, things have been very busy for the E82 Project in the past month. Currently I’ve been very busy working on the next installment of The History of Imagination, Perfecting some desktop wallpapers to come, developing artwork for "An E82 Special Event" this Winter, as well as planning E82’s second year of discoveries. So while I’m busy “Constructing the Future” of E82 I thought this would be a perfect time to begin a new series based the final Construction of the Park itself.
30 days before opening of the “Newest Wonder of the World,” The EPCOT Center News Briefs provided daily progress reports for the many facets in bringing 21st century to life in 1982. (1) The following is the first in the series…

EPCOT Center News Brief (9-1-82)


This flyer briefly (no pun intended) touches on one of the most impressive and underappreciated accomplishments of the EPCOT Center Project: the Concrete Pour. As was said in David Koenig’s Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World; the job was so massive that it was split between several contractors. All of them having to re-adapt to working around other disciplines simultaneous finishing their own works. So as not to be disturbed (or be disturbed by others) most of the work was done at night. “To accommodate around-the-clock construction in areas where electricity had yet to be installed, Disney bought in a hook-and-ladder fire truck to shine enough light to allow more than 100 concrete finishers to keep working. Disney chefs also showed up in the middle of the night to grill hamburgers for the graveyard shift laborers. To maximize every second, The Disney World weather station sent weather reports of the EPCOT jobsite every ten minutes. Construction workers then had advance notice to protect their freshly poured concrete from an approaching thunderstorm.” In order to accommodate the complex construction sites of Future World, World Showcase was completed first, and then zigzag out as other areas became available.
The Color of the pavement was one of many decisions made personally by John Hench. In his book,
Designing Disney John described Pink as a very optimistic color. This, in addition other qualities including its neutral reflectiveness and contemporary feel, lead to his decision to make pink the overriding color for the pathways of tomorrow.

Foot Note
1. As part of a Cast Celebration, these flyers were reprinted daily as a countdown to the October 1st Anniversary of Epcot’s 25th year in 2007. I was working at Epcot at the time and these flyers although simple, were one of the coolest aspects of the celebration. I was always excited to come to work and read what interesting things happened on that same day 25 years ago.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Commerce in the 21st Century

A FEW YEARS AGO when E82 wasn’t even named yet, one aspect of this Project was always going to be collectable merchandise. As a graphic designer, I’ve always enjoyed seeing my designs exist beyond the computer screen and this Café-Press-World of easy customization has made such niche markets possible. The Centorium store was created to celebrate the World of E82 by providing followers and myself a marketplace for products that pay tribute to the Epcot that Was, Is and What Could Be. My decision to open a store on was not done lightly, as I had been warned about such nasty and frightening things like copyright infringement, and licensing. However, after researching the site numerous times I noticed a few contradictory business practices. Zazzle has an official Walt Disney Company store, yet a simple search reveals over 200 products relating to Epcot all of which are not official products. So, through deductive reasoning I thought that ether it was completely legal to post products or The Company simply did not care about Epcot Products. Either way Zazzle did allow me to post products for sale, or so I thought.
Last week, as I was trying to buy one of my own products my order was cancelled for “Content” concerns. I’m usually very English about these things. (I don’t complain, I just don’t come back.) but in this case the E82 Poster is so (legally) abstract that I had to find out what the problem was. Several emails later I discovered that ANYTHING can be posted for sale and only when someone purchases an item is it reviewed. (1)
As a result, the Centorium is (once again) closed. My only true concern is that some of you may have received similar emails in attempting to purchase my products. (By the Way, did ANYONE every try to buy something?) THE GOOD NEWS is that several designs are now free to be posted on my Flickr account. This also allows me to explain some of the finer details of some works without appearing too commercial. Works like this…

E82 SSE Dawn Poster

The Original Poster launching The E82 Project on January 11th 2010 Features an accurate Credit Roll containing many of the individuals involved with the creation of EPCOT Center. If the park was a motion picture it would look like this (sans the final credit:).

1. This does clear up a mystery: that to spite my “Kick Ass Original Merchandise Designs” (Thank You, Mesa Verde Times) NO ONE has ever bought any of my products.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Art of Imagination

You may have noticed that one thing I have not included in Part 1 of “A History of Imagination” is the more iconic artwork displayed in many a pre-opening publication. Showcasing artwork created to illustrate the abstract concepts displayed in the original version of this signature attraction, this 3rd in desktop The E82 Project also contains the playful and mischievous first sketches of the impish baby dragon that would eventually become Figment. The background is inspired by the triangular panels of the pavilion’s glass pyramids.

4x3 - Imagination Art

Full Screen

16x9 - Imagination Art
Wide Screen

Display Instructions: Select the proper screen ratio (Full or Wide Screen) enlarge to original size and apply as Desktop Background, then “Fit to Screen.”
Finally all Desktops are designed to fill the screen so please display with an Auto-Hide Taskbar.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 234th Anniversary of Golden Dreams

July 4th

"TOMORROW will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life… What I will say now is just what most of us are probably thinking every day. I thank GOD and AMERICA for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of Tolerance, Democracy and Freedom."
-Walt Disney

“America, spread your golden wings
Sail on freedom's wind, across the sky.”


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GATHER, STORE, RE-COMBINE A History of Imagination (Part 1)

When you’re a creative entity like WED Enterprises, (now Walt Disney Imagineering), your instantly described as one the most imaginative organizations on the planet. The Walt Disney coined word “Imagineer” has Imagination in it! So to begin a history of an attraction called “Journey into Imagination” one feels like the man painting a picture of a man painting a picture. The history behind this expansive pavilion is, in many ways, describing the process for which the attraction created. A dramatization of imagination for imagination’s sake. (If you’re getting dizzy from all these circular sentences, so am I. Before we both get sick from this process of infinite regression I should stop somewhere and start our story.)
Tony Baxter, fresh-off of his first thrill attraction, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, quickly began exploring several new concepts. One such concept would eventually become the most successful “unused” project in the history of Walt Disney Imagineering. Discovery Bay was described (by Tony himself) as “a once only place in time.” Situated on the northern-most banks of the Rivers of America it was to be the kind of place in which Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells would cross-paths, and probably even call home, Discovery Bay would contain several attractions themed to technological flights of fantasy of the 19th century. The list of attractions contained in the new land were, a flight simulator on the Hyperion airship from Island of the Top of the World, an underwater restaurant where one could dine in the Nautilus while Captain Nemo plays his pipe organ, an elaborate- and thrilling – Spark Gap Electric Loop Coaster, and a carousel theater audio-animatronics tour de force “Gallery of Illusions” in which an eccentric professor shows off his latest discoveries and inventions. Unfortunately, the film Island on Top of the World, which had served as the inspiration for the land’s centerpiece attraction, the Hyperion flight simulator, “tanked” at the box office. This coupled with the extravagant plans and budget projected for this new land, all but conspired to bring about the downfall of this radical new concept. But truly great ideas never die at Imagineering, and Discovery Bay would resurface time and time again in new and unexpected ways.

Imagination History 01

A Successful Failure
Much of Discovery Bay’s “success” is attributed to the many ways it was recycled over the next two decades. The failure of this new land eventually “sparked” into the Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot, the entirely new concept for then EuroDisney’s Tomorrowland renamed Discoveryland, and certain elements certainly would apply to the design of Port Discovery for Tokyo DisneySea.

Imagination History 02 - Discovery Bay

After working on a rejected approach for The Land Pavilion at EPCOT Center, Tony quickly turned his attentions to the Kodak pavilion next door. Kodak had only one request for their Future World exhibition, “They wanted something that would be very imaginative.” So we said: “How about doing a pavilion on imagination,” Tony recalls. Beginning to develop the ideas of such a vague notion as imagination was no easy task.
“It was a fun time, and a real challenge, because we had to figure out what Imagination is. It took us six months to come up with a simple thing: “You gather, you store, and you re-combine.” […] Whether you are a writer, or a scientist, or an artist, or a teacher, or someone making a cake, it is the same thing: “gather, store, and re-combine.”
The visual metaphor Tony used to convey this principle to the audience was an inspired invention known (unofficially) as a Dreamcatcher. “Essentially, the Dreamcatcher is a giant vacuum cleaner floating through space” said Steve Kirk, art director for Journey into Imagination. The Dreamcatcher flies through space collecting sparks and storing them in its idea bag, and some of those sparks are re-combined to create something new, in the case of our story; a literal figment of imagination.

Imagination History 03

In order to introduce Dreamfinder, Figment, and the Dreamcatcher, Tony and his team developed the use of a turntable in which the vehicles would lock into one of five identical scenes, and then unlock (like the chains in a cogwheel) to go around the rest of ride positioned around the turntable.

Imagination History 04

This “stationary” scene was a master stroke of genius that has not been repeated to this day. What is even more impressive is that this level of sophistication was achieved by a relative novice. Tony Baxter had only one completed project, Big Thunder Mountain, before Imagination and this fact is a testament to the genius of his team, and the engineers involved with this project. The rest of the Ride featured an exploration into the more creative endeavors of imagination: the [Visual] Arts, Literature, Performing Arts, Science and Technology, and finally Image Technology.

A Turntable of Controversy
Over the years many rumors have surfaced in regards to Imagination’s turntable. It is this historian’s educated opinion that most if not all of these are completely fabricated. One such rumor is that the reason for its removal was due to its in-operation on a daily basis. The original Journey into Imagination ran successfully for a period of 15 years (from 1983-1998). One wild rumor speculates that the turntable was slowly screwing itself into the ground. This would require a large amount of industrial mining equipment to be installed on the bottom of the turntable. In addition, the grinding would have cause major damage to the concrete foundations that could not be corrected in the amount of time taken for the conversion between the original and second versions of the ride.

Dreamfinder and Figment Sketch (Nebula effect)

The Beginnings of Dreamfinder
As part of the original plans for Discovery Bay the “Gallery of Illusions” was to be hosted by inventor/discoverer Professor Marvel, a “Santa Claus-type, who is wise and older and knows all great things-a great thinker” as Tony described. In one pivotal scene, the professor demonstrates his domestication of dragons. Toward the end, he’s seen holding a newborn green baby dragon. This image would later serve as the inspiration for the Professor’s sidekick.

The Birth of Figment
“I was watching Magnum PI […] on TV. He was in the garden and the butler, Higgins, had all these plants and they were all uprooted. It was a mess. Magnum had been hiding a goat out there and the goat had eaten the plants. Higgins said, ‘Magnum! Magnum! Come out here! Look at this! Something has been eating all the plants in the garden.’ And Magnum says, ‘Oh, it’s just a figment of your imagination.’ And Higgins said, ‘Figments don’t eat grass!’
I thought, ‘There is this name, the word ‘figment’ that in English means a sprightly little character. But no one has ever visualized it, no one had ever drawn what a figment is. So, here is a great word that already has a great meaning to people, but no one has ever seen what one looks like.’ So we had the name that was just waiting for us to design the shape for it.” – Tony Baxter
And thus, Figment was born, this slightly crazy, child-like baby dragon with a one-second attention span was first illustrated by Andy Gaskill, and the rest is history.

The pavilion itself started its design phase a full year later than its Future World Neighbors. However, it was still slated to be one of the opening day pavilions of the park. While the Pavilion opened, with the rest of the park on October 1st, 1982, (ok, only the Image Works was open and five days later Magic Journeys) the centerpiece attraction was “ready to go, everything was running and they made the call that the show was not perfected enough to guarantee the reliability they wanted,” Baxter said. However, considering that EPCOT Center’s opening day was (in this writer’s opinion) worst than Disneyland’s “Black Sunday,” Imagination was probably just as ready on opening day as the rest of the park. 1 Conversely, considering the unreliability of all the attractions during those first few months upper management was probably wary to add more fuel to the fire that was opening day.
With the extra time, Journey into Imagination opened on March 5th 1983. Although not without its’ own set of unique problems, most operational issues stemmed from the loading and unloading belts. Loading was performed on a stylistically beautiful but problematic curved belt. Unloading was difficult at best. Due to irregular intervals, the vehicles and the belt could not synchronize properly. Eventually, Unload was performed without a moving belt.
From the first day it opened, the Journey into Imagination was one of the most popular attractions in the park. Excluding the morning rush at Spaceship Earth, Imagination had the longest wait time of any attraction in the park. Forty-Five minute wait times were common, and the extended queue was always kept up. Ironically, the popularity of the pavilion was entirely unexpected or planned for. As David Koenig put it…
“Disney executives had always acted embarrassed about having an EPCOT pavilion devoted to a lightweight, non-scientific topic like imagination and starring a cartoon dragon. So, in publicity for Future World, Disney had always touted pavilions on ‘energy, transportation, communication and other topics for tomorrow.’ Imagination, the park’s surprise sensation, was always ‘other topics’.”

Described by Richard R. Beard

Scene 1 – Flight into Imagination

We get off to a flying start as we speed through the universe; that is what we think is happening. In our seven-passenger vehicle, we are actually moving in a large circle, with our Audio –Animatronics host Dreamfinder flying along with us in his own dream-gathering vehicle. This thirty-two-foot contraption is a wacky conglomeration of a bagpipe and blimp, furnished with oar, propellers, pulleys, and dials, a Rube Goldberg type of contrivance.
Drifting past Dreamfinder’s vehicle as it flies through the universe are animated “glows” representing ideas and inspirations. As our idea-gathering expedition begins, these glows are sucked up into the machine, which sends out puffs of smoke, jiggles, bangs, and bleeps as it stores the precious stuff of dreams. We are collecting these materials to take home where they will be recombined to make new things- inventions, stories, songs, pictures, all the cunning contrivances of the imagination.
Our host Dreamfinder, a professorial type who helpfully explains and interprets what happens on the ride, seems pleased to see us and welcomes us (“So glad you could come [along]”), then turns to more pressing matters.
Notes are gathered from the air; sounds, shapes, and colors are sucked in. A combination of “horns of a steer, royal purple pigment, and a dash of childish delight” conjures up Figment, a little dragon. Figment is a spontaneous creature, full of energy and childlike wonderment. He is an ever-receptive sponge, soaking up everything he sees around him. Having never been told by an adult that he is incapable of doing this or that, he thinks he can do anything-and he is not far wrong.
“Can I image, too?” ask Figment. Can h! A passing rainbow is vacuumed up, and is transformed into a paint set for the dragon.
Ghostly shivers, goblins, and witches are ingest, to feed the darker side of the imagination, and then, in turn, the symbols of science and mathematics-prisms and gyroscopes, numbers and letters-until at last a bell signals that the idea bag is full, at least for this excursion. However, Dreamfinder assures Figment that we’ll never run out (“One new idea always leads to another”) as we cruise into the Dreamport.

Imagination History 05

Scene 2 – The Dreamport

In a vast, busy storeroom-representing the brain-the booty of our expedition is being unloaded into appropriate containers: jar, drawer, cartons, a boiler-cumowashing machine called the Imaginometer.
The storeroom may strike us as being disordered-in the science are, the helium holder is floating away, and lead burst the bottom of a metal container-but there is an appropriate place for everything. Deep thoughts, for instance are stored in a diving bell.
Lightning bolts crackle in the nature section, while the “winter days” crate chatters with cold and morning mist wafts from an atomizer. Sound effects are stored in a filing cabinet whose drawers pop open to emit an assortment of uncanny creaks, chirps, groans, and buzzes. Theatrical material is stored in a big trunk equipped with applauding hands; musical notes hum and twitter in an oversized birdcage.
From the Dreamport, our ride takes us into a series of spaces where the elements that were gathered and stored are recombined, each area featuring a new twist on a familiar theme-the very essence of imagination.

Scene 3 – The Arts

In the realm of “Art,” Dreamfinder is painting and opalescent mural with a optic-fiber brush; farther on, a fantastically shaped, pure white forest-garden takes color under shifting caressing lights, while mirrors reflect and distort the other-worldly mindscape.

Imagination History 06

Scene 4 – Literature

In “Literature,” the Dreamfinder plays the console of a giant typewriter from whose volcanic top letters explode, the drift down as words into a book. Words like “tumble” of course tumble, and trembling words tremble, and once in a while a word like “genie” or “fairy” escapes and floats off to wherever genies and fairies go.

Scene 5 – The Performing Arts

On one side of the “Performing Arts” are the accouterments of stagecraft: we hear applause, laughter, music and see the glare of klieg lights. On the other side are backstage tools: costumes, scenery, [and] makeup.
Figment is still trying on costumes as the two side merge to perform what might be described as the dance of the laser beams, which flows from ballet to cancan, from precision high kicks to acrobatics.
We crash through the star-studded dressing room doors and, in the twinkling of an eye, the stars turn to mathematical symbols in a clever bridge to the last area, that of “Science.”
Scene 6 – Science and Technology
In the center of a rotunda Dreamfinder stands at a console, manipulating and bank of screens designed to show how the arts of science and technology have given us the tools to explore realms we cannot see with the naked eye. Covering biology, botany, minerals, space, and man, Dreamfinder’s many-splendored machine has the ability to see far (the heavens) and near (microscopic organisms), to speed up (the growing process of a plant) or slow down (the movement of human muscles).
Figment, eternal imp, get caught in the machinery and is stretched, compressed, slowed down, and speeded up, recovering just in time to tar in the ride’s grand finale, arrived at down a spiral of motion-picture film.

Scene 7 – Image Technology

In a gentle reminder that with a little imagination we can all be what we want to be, Figment poised in the center on a film reel, does his last little dance. Around him, filmed images of our indefatigable little guide, variously garbed as an astronaut, and athlete, and actor, a scientist, join him in synchronous song and dance

Imagination History 07

The Musicology of Imagination
In the case of “One Little Spark” and the musical themes created for the ride, this is probably the first used of multiple compositions within an Omnimover style attraction. Unlike many of its predecessor attractions (it’s a small world, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Haunted Mansion) the Journey Into Imagination does not used the “Small World Technique” (my term) of one minute looping of a singular theme in multiple variations. Instead, it employs the first ever use of an innovative technique of transitional sound effects from scene to scene. In Journey, it’s important to note where music is NOT. There is no melodic score in the Dreamport, neither in most of Literature, nor in Image Technology. The result of this ever changing soundscape, is that the attraction’s narrative is allowed to function on its own terms, instead of anchoring it to its ride system. This in-turn makes the Journey (musically speaking) a much more interesting and cinematic attraction. It also enables the attraction to reach a musical climax like few Omnimovers have achieved before or since.

The Magic Eye Theater

3-D film is nothing new to Walt Disney Productions. In 1953, long before Disneyland opened, Disney had produced the first animated films in 3D, “Adventures in Music: Melody” and “Working for Peanuts”. Both films would later be shown at the Mickey Mouse Club theater as part of “The Mouseketeer 3D Jamboree” opened in 1956. Unfortunately, this is where films in the third dimension would stop until 25 years later with opening of EPCOT Center.
Magic Journeys, is arguably the most usual and certainly one of the most forgotten films in theme park history. In fact, very little is known about the film today. Only the title song has survived in the public consciousness. Directed by Oscar® winning director Murray Lerner, the film is an exploration of the free-flowing imaginations of children. The following is the longest description/review of the film (by Karen Cure, 1983) that has survived…
“Beginning with a handful of children racing across a meadow and gazing at clouds, it also brings a frothy pink-and-white cluster of spring blossoms right to the tip of your nose. The sense of proximity is so realistic that more than one visitor reaches out to touch them. Dandelion spores float through the air, turn into stars, and are then transformed into a sun whose rays become water right before your eyes. In another scene, a child’s kite changes from bird to fish to a whole school of fish, to a flock of birds, bird wings, the flying horse Pegasus, a real horse, and then a spirited steed on a merry-go-round. The brass harness ring of the carousel horse floats out to the audience, tempting all to try and catch it. Then the ring itself turns into a moon, then bats, then frightening witches and their masks and finally the Sphinx.”
Noted “bloggist” and Imagineering Analysis, FoxxFur in an article describing the adult nature of the fairytales depicted in Fantasyland (Magic Journeys’ final venue) had this humorous remark…
“Accounting for Snow White, Mr. Toad’s pin up girl and hellish ending, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’s terrifying giant squid, and nudity on Peter Pan mermaids, Fantasyland 1971 offered the highest number of attractions inappropriate for children than anywhere else on property! (If you want to go for the hat trick you have to jump ahead to 1987 when Magic Journeys played in the Mickey Mouse Revue theatre where the number of inappropriate attractions jumps from four to five because, as we know, Magic Journeys isn’t appropriate for anyone.)”

Despite its treatment of the subject matter, Magic Journeys demonstrates several technological advances in cinematography. The film’s opening and closing titles were the first to used computer generated images in 3-D. In order to receive greater clarity of the image, the film was also shot at a high 36 frames-a-second (rather than the standard 24). Most importantly, the film was the first to use the Walt Disney Productions’ “Disney 3-D Camera Rig.”

Imagination History 08

Disney 3D 101

The key to three dimensional (3D) photography is the successful approximation of human stereoscopic sight. In order to correctly accomplish this, two cameras must be set 21/2 inches apart. In addition, when projected the images must be correctly separated so that only the right eye will see the right image and only the left eye will see the left image. The problem with two cameras shooting so close to each other is that the housing and mechanics of each individual camera are much too wide to shoot 21/2 inches apart. Ever since the 1950’s, camera engineers have been plagued with this very problem. During that time, 3D rigs were devised that were both elaborate and clumsy. All of them focused on not only approximating human sight, but the appearance of the eyes as well. All rigs featured cameras joined together (in some fashion) on a horizontal plane. Not only was this impractically complex, but made shooting any 3D film next to impossible.
In 1980 while the EPCOT Center project was well under way, Steve Hines of Kodak was lent-out to WED Enterprises R&D to design a new method of shooting 3D films. Steve’s requirements for the new rig were as follows…
1. To have a rigid, light-weight structure
2. To support one stationary 65mm Mitchell camera and one which would be movable.
3. To have the use of wide-angle lenses of less 50mm focal length.
4. To mount the beamsplitter rigidly so it would not twist or vibrate during shots.
5. To be able to easily adjust the convergence of the cameras’ axes from infinity to 4 feet.
6. To provide easy manual or motorized adjustment of the interocular spacing without altering the setting of the convergence.
7. To provide graduated readouts of the convergence and interocular settings measured from the position of the nodal points of the cameras’ lenses.
8. To human factor the design of the rig for easy access to all control and readouts, and radius all edges for comfortable handling by the camera crew.
9. To provide fast and east attachment and removal of both cameras to the rig and of the rig to the fluid head.
“It was an ingenious concept, a triangular framework with one camera pointing straight down into a 45 degree partially silvered mirror and the other shooting horizontally out through the mirror. This “vertical” arrangement gave a narrow frontal area and could use wider angle lenses than those possible with conventional horizontal two camera systems,” said Lerner.
The Disney 3D camera rig was an industry standard until after the turn of the century and the development of RealD first used in 2005 with the release of Chicken Little. In addition, some current 3D Camera’s still use the Disney Rig’s basic design.

Imagination History 09

The Musical Journey

Music is so important to just about everything, but its importance was never more so appreciated and understood by a man that ironically possessed no musical ability; Walt Disney. In Walt’s time, everything began with a song. It sets the mood and tone of any dramatic work and it can also help tell a story. (A Disney invention.) One of the reasons why Journey Into Imagination has such a hold on the its audience a decade after its closing, is the memorable music of Richard and Robert Sherman, better known as “The Sherman Brothers.” Whether it is the ubiquitously exuberant synthetic tones of “One Little Spark”, or the playfully melodic “Makin’ Memories”, to the beautifully mysterious and thought-provoking “Magic Journeys,” each song perfectly described the feeling of each attraction long after the attractions cease to exist. The creation of these three songs was described in the Brothers book “Walt’s Time – from before and Beyond”…
Our biggest creative challenge at Epcot took us on a Journey Into Imagination – the pavilion that celebrates dreams, ideas, creativity and of course, the imagination. By the time we were done, we had created three different theme songs for the ride and its accompanying shows.
“One Little Spark” is the main them performed by the pavilion’s hosts Figment and Dreamfinder. These two delightful characters are on a never-ending quest, searching the universe of the imagination for new thoughts and ideas to bring back to their “Dreamport.”
We were also asked to write a poetic song that would accompany and enhance their state-of-the-art 3-D film. We came up with the title Magic Journeys, descriptive of the boundless imagination of the human mind.
Fresh from his Academy Award winning documentary From Mao to Mozart, filmmaker Murray Lerner was assigned by [WED] to create the film. During Murray’s stay in Los Angeles, Disney put him and his family up at the Beverly Hills Hotel, just three houses away from Bob, and before long their kids became best friends.
“Magic Journeys” turned out to be one of the most imaginative songs we ever wrote – celebrating the idea of everyday sights and sounds with an almost mystic wonderment.
To create the feel of three dimensions musically, we wrote a theme for the lyric and an ever-weaving secondary them to be played simultaneously with it. Both themes would glide on a rather complex ever-changing harmonic bass line known as a “circle of 5ths.” But maybe that’s getting a little too technical…
We loved Magic Journeys, because its state-of-the–art technology was used to make the audience appreciate what might be considered a “mundane wonder” – dimensional sight. As an interesting footnote to history, the film marked the very first use of 3-D computer imaging, in a striking title sequence that in itself cost nearly half a million dollars!
The film giant Kodak, who sponsored the Imagination pavilion, wanted a song to entertain the guest as they waited to enter the Magic Eye Theater where Magic Journeys played. Kodak’s business is all about making memoires. And with that thought in place, our song was on its way.
“Makin’ Memories”…accompanied a slide show featuring images that ranged from the earliest black and white snapshots to the latest innovations in color photography.
Basically, our song was a subliminal commercial pitch for Kodak – no doubt the “softest sell” in the history of singing commercials!

On a personal note, I really can’t express just how the song Magic Journeys makes me feel. It’s beautiful, haunting, inspiring and so much more. What I can say is while Walt had “Feed the Birds,” Marty Skylar’s favorite Sherman Brothers tune of all time is Magic Journeys … and its mine too!

IN OUR NEXT INSTALLMENT, We'll go upstairs and discover the Image Works and take a Space Odyssey with a few Intergalactic Movie Men.

GATHER, STORE, RECOMBINE: A History of Imagination (Part 2)