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Today in Disney History: Journey Into Imagination Opens at Epcot

posted on March 5th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Today in Disney history is a biggie for fans of early Epcot history. On March 5, 1983, the original Journey Into Imagination attraction debuted in FutureWorld at Epcot, introducing guests to Dreamfinder, Figment and a lovely little song titled “One Little Spark.”

“Today

The original attraction’s storyline began with Dreamfinder gathering up materials to inspire new ideas. With the help of his imagination he creates a companion named Figment, who is described as having: “Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow. Horns of a steer – but a loveable fellow. From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment and there, voila, you’ve got a Figment – a Figment of imagination!” From here, Dreamfinder took Figment – and us guests – along on an exploration of the Dreamport, the place where the duo used their imaginations to try out new ideas in the arts, literature, technology and more.

“Today

The attraction’s Image Works post-show offered guests a chance to experiment with creativity hands-on in different activity stations, including Magic Palette (digital drawing), Lightwriter (laser writing/drawing technology), Bubble Music (image projection combined with sound), and other interactive fun. One of my personal favorites was the Rainbow Corridor/Sensor Maze, pictured above, which assigned a color to each person who entered and followed the person throughout.

The attraction later became Journey Into Your Imagination in 1999, and the current version, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, debuted in 2002.

What are your favorite memories of Figment? Share your birthday wishes the “Comments” section below.

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Filed: Disney History, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

55 Comments 11 Replies

1

Stephen on March 5th, 2013 at 9:18 am

I really miss the original version of Journey Into Imagination and also Dreamfinder and Figgie strolling around signing autographs and posing for pictures. Is there any chance that WDW might “retro” the attraction back to the original version maybe for the 35th anniversary of Epcot? Please!!!!!!!!! That would definitely give us something to look forward to. Thanks!!

2

Bob on March 5th, 2013 at 9:22 am

The original Journey Into Imagination was my favorite attraction at Epcot as a child. I absolutely loved Figment and Dreamfinder. Thank you for sharing these great photos, Jenn! :-D I’m going to keep “One Little Spark” on repeat this morning in honor of this special occasion. Oh, how I miss Dreamfinder…. :-(
Bob from NC

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 5th, 2013 at 9:26 am

:) I love that song, and the fact that the Sherman Brothers wrote it makes it even cooler. Dreamfinder sounds so happy in it, too.

3

Bob on March 5th, 2013 at 9:31 am

I do, too! It’s one of my favorite Sherman Brothers tunes. I have it on loop right now. What a great day! :-D If I could only be in Walt Disney World celebrating. Sigh….
Bob from NC

4

Diane on March 5th, 2013 at 9:32 am

Love this post, I remember these pics, It’s one of my fav. Thanks for sharing Jenn :-)

Diane

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 5th, 2013 at 9:37 am

Thank you! I loved seeing all of these old shots…happy you enjoyed them, too!

5

Mitch on March 5th, 2013 at 9:38 am

Having Dreamfinder and Figment back doing meet and greets for a few days would sure be my idea of a good Limited Time Magic

6

Tara on March 5th, 2013 at 9:59 am

This was one my favorite rides as a kid too! The photos of the dreamfinder’s flying contraption and the light tunnel bring back two of my favorite memories of what I loved about it- and of course Figment! :)

7

Craig from FL on March 5th, 2013 at 9:59 am

This was always one of my favorite attractions! Definitely one of Disney’s best:)

8

Brian on March 5th, 2013 at 10:09 am

A very nice way to honor Robert Sherman on the first anniversary of his passing…bravo.

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 5th, 2013 at 10:24 am

Thank you. I love that the Sherman Brothers penned this tune. Makes it so special.

9

Allison from TX on March 5th, 2013 at 10:33 am

This was one of my favorites as a kid!!!!

10

Stephen from OH on March 5th, 2013 at 10:35 am

Thanks, Jennifer. What a great post. I really miss Dreamfinder. I showed a video of the original to my kids and they were blown away. A classic!

11

Bethany from OK on March 5th, 2013 at 10:38 am

Thanks for sharing the photos! I loved that rainbow tunnel too when I was little! I didn’t even realize I was assigned a color, I just thought it was beautiful to walk through. =) I’m sure many of those hands-on activities were difficult to keep working with all the thousands of visitors, but they were so fun. I vote for digging up the rainbow tunnel! ;)

12

Thomas from IN on March 5th, 2013 at 10:40 am

Excellent tribute. A lot of fans would love to see Dreamfinder return as part of a revitalized Journey into Imagination pavilion!

13

Thomas on March 5th, 2013 at 10:41 am

This was truly and ingenious and very original ride. It is still one of my favorites! However, I remember riding the ride on opening day and going through the interactive exhibits on the second floor under the pyramids. It seemed there was a slight hiccough with the walkway and the ride vehicles at first.

14

Lauren from NJ on March 5th, 2013 at 10:43 am

The best birthday gift Figment could receive would be a new ride with Dreamfinder!

15

Catherine from MI on March 5th, 2013 at 10:48 am

In November 1986, my brother had been diagnosed with the severe version of muscle cancer. He was granted a Wish to go to “meet Mickey Mouse” by MAW of Michigan in January 1987. Our first visit, however, was to EPCOT Center.

When we went on the trip, Erik had stopped eating, talking, laughing, and otherwise responding to life. :( He was that sick and that depressed. But, when Erik saw Figment pop out of the Dream Machine, he started to laugh.

The next day, he asked for eggs at the hotel! Something about Figment “sparked” Erik that day and from there on, he started to get better and better!

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 5th, 2013 at 11:45 am

Thanks for sharing your story, Catherine. It’s always wonderful to hear how our characters can touch people – especially a person who is facing something difficult or scary. Best wishes to you.

16

Craig on March 5th, 2013 at 10:50 am

I’ll add my support similar to Stephen above — it would be great if the original attraction including the Dreamfinder could be restored or rebuilt.

17

Ben on March 5th, 2013 at 10:50 am

Aw this looks so much better than the current Figment attraction.

18

Jay on March 5th, 2013 at 10:53 am

I have such fond memories of visiting the park as a kid and meeting Dreamfinder, being chosen for the School of Drama and playing in the ImageWorks, and getting my hat stolen by Figment. I’m glad “One Little Spark” and Figment are still part of the attraction, but I do wish kids today could experience it the way I did back then!

19

Glenn on March 5th, 2013 at 11:00 am

It would be great if Dreamfinder and the original attraction (both the ride and the upstairs exhibits) were re-installed. The original was a timeless classic that brought joy and wonder to anyone who experienced it. I would love to be able to share that same experience with my children.

20

Kathy on March 5th, 2013 at 11:25 am

I agree with Glen. The attraction was at it’s best in the original form. Sometimes things are just perfect the way they are and tweaking them doesn’t make them better. Please bring back the Original Journey Into Imagination and Dreamfinder!!!!!

21

Bobby on March 5th, 2013 at 11:29 am

This attraction needs to come back. Journey Into Imagination would have been (and already was) considered as classic and great as Haunted Mansion or Pirates had it not been altered in 1998. Disney, please take a look at photos of the lines that used to be out the door to ride this attraction and visit the Image Works! EPCOT needs a CLASSIC ORIGINAL attraction. Please bring back the original Journey Into Imagination! Just upgrade some of the tech, similar to Disneyland’s recent upgrades to classic attractions.

22

Erica on March 5th, 2013 at 11:32 am

Great post, Jen. :) Figment and Dreamfinder stole my heart as a child, and its been theirs ever since. My only wish is to one day see them together again.

Today is especially appropriate to celebrate “One Little Spark” as it is the one year anniversary of the passing of Robert Sherman, another spark of inspiration in my life. We will never forget you, Bob!

“Imagination is something that belongs to everyone!”

23

Elizabeth from MD on March 5th, 2013 at 11:34 am

I really miss Team Dreamfinder & Figment. The original attraction was wonderful for all ages, and it hasn’t been the same since!

24

Shannon on March 5th, 2013 at 11:36 am

Thank you so much for the post. This is my most favorite attraction at WDW. I just love Figment and I really miss the original version. I would love to have it come back! Thanks for the memories and now I have the song stuck in head for the day :)

25

William on March 5th, 2013 at 11:38 am

The rainbow tunnel! I remember running through it several times… I loved that it wasn’t just a ride but had so many things to do. Time & enough space to run around & play.

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 5th, 2013 at 11:41 am

Loved the rainbow tunnel. So happy I could find a photo of it to share.

26

Timothy on March 5th, 2013 at 11:42 am

Tony Baxter made some comments right before he retired about Journey Into Imagination that I believe echo the fans comments we see here. I do wish the original or something on a least the caliber of the original would come to replace the current JII. How I miss that “one little spark”!

27

Sarah on March 5th, 2013 at 11:51 am

The original Journey Into Imagination was my favorite attraction growing up. The ride paired with the interactive activities was truly fun and a great spark for a child’s imagination. I know it has been said many times, but I would love to see the attraction and pavilion restored to it’s original glory. Happy birthday Figment!

28

todd on March 5th, 2013 at 12:03 pm

What about the jumping water tubes out front, or, gulp, Magic Journeys?

I can’t imagine that Disney ever did anything as weird and fun as Magic Journeys. That song (and the witch!) haunt my mind . . .

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 5th, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Loved the jumping water! I didn’t forget about these things, just wanted to focus on Figment/Dreamfinder and the actual Imagination attraction in this post. :)

29

Laurie on March 5th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

This was my favorite attraction growing up. I slept with a Figment stuffed animal every night (he still sits on my bedside table now). When they first “revamped” the ride I was extremely upset. I was asked to do a survey right after getting off the ride and did not feel bad one bit at telling them how I felt. A week or 2 later I got a call from Disney about the survey, I got a letter in the mail with a autographed figment picture. Disney seemed very upset that I was upset.

When I went back on the ride the way it is now for the first time I enjoyed it, not as much as the old, but I have to admit that the last scene with ALL the Figments had me in tears.
I can’t express what he means to me. :)

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 5th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I have an original Figment plush right here on my desk at work that my mom bought me in the 80s – love him!

30

Debra on March 5th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I would love to see Dream Finder and Figment out for meet and greets! They were the heart of the Imagination pavilion :)

31

Kimberly on March 5th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I love Figment & The Dreamfinder! “One Little Spark” is one of my favorite Sherman Brothers songs. I would love to see the original attraction return someday!

32

Lauryn on March 5th, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Figment has been my favorite character of disney for all 30 years. His message of imagination has inspired my career as an artist and art teacher. He is now the mascot in my art classrooms, so even my students have never had the pleasure of visiting disney know that he is the figment of their imaginations!

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 6th, 2013 at 8:51 am

That’s a very cool story – thanks for sharing!

33

Dena on March 5th, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I still remember my first trip to Disney in 96. The magic palette was one of my favorite things, and Figment was my favorite ride, it was the only thing I wanted to ride! I do wish they’d bring it back in original form, but one of the best things for me about the newer version was when I was pregnant with my daughter. Any time my husband and I would go to Epcot and ride Figment (I now live in Florida and we’re Annual Passholders), she would kick and squirm- especially when “One Little Spark” would play, and she loves it just as much now that she’s 18 months. Even though its not the same and I do prefer Mr Dreamfinder, it does makes me smile that one of my favorites as a child is one of the first rides she ever showed interest in.

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 6th, 2013 at 9:00 am

What a cool memory!

34

Michelle on March 5th, 2013 at 5:49 pm

The original Journey Into Imagination was top of our list as a family, starting with our first visit in 1989. It was so much about possibility and creative freedom. My parents loved letting us play/learn in ImageWorks, and we would pass the hours driving back to Minnesota singing the song. Watching the jumping water became a vacation tradition. Seeing the bearded Dreamfinder and his flying machine I thought the Imagination Pavilion must be where Santa lived the rest of the year. The first time we rode the refurbished attraction my mom marched over to Guest Relations, the only time I’ve seen her do something like that, to complain. No other pavilion has so perfectly captured my family; my brother’s passion for music, my sister’s love of art, and my career in theatre. Not only was it the only thing my brother was interested in at Disney, it inspired my career so I could live everyday using my imagination.

35

Charles on March 5th, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Big thanks to Tony Baxter for all of his work, including his masterpiece Journey Into Imagination! He is deeply missed (has been missed for the last decade). We love you, Tony! Baxter’s Army!!!

36

Maureen on March 5th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

We “met” figment on our honeymoon in April of 1983. He counted my freckles!! I loved him and had a figment watch – wish I could find another – my favorite “person”!!

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 6th, 2013 at 9:00 am

Very cool!

37

Brock from MA on March 5th, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Figment & the Dreamfinder are my absolute favorite Disney characters and have been since I was 6-years-old back in 1986 when I saw them for the first time! Being a spoiled child, my mother bought me a ton of Disney souvenirs during my first trip, all except what I really wanted: a Figment plush!

I didn’t return to Walt Disney World again until 13 years later when I was 19. I saved up my money and as a reward for having spent my first year in college and worked a year at my first job I took my mother back to WDW. I remember walking into Epcot for the first time and I was immediately a 6-year-old, again. I was a little confused and kept thinking Figment was in Spaceship Earth and as I ran to the very long line, I couldn’t wait to see Figment! Very quickly, I realized that I had read the park map wrong and I went running to the Imagination pavilion. There, I saw an even larger line – for Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. Then, very quickly I spied the open door for the original Journey into Imagination and I sprinted inside. As soon as I crossed the threshold and I saw the old mural in the queue line, I started getting all choked up. I was bouncing off the walls to get aboard the attraction. I spent the entire ride in virtual shock trying, and failing, not to be visibly emotional. It was a surreal experience and one I repeated immediately. Later that night, I ran back to the gift shop to buy as many Figment souvenirs as I could afford, and believe me I nearly wore out my credit card, and yes I did buy my Figment plush after all of those years! My only regret is that I didn’t get my photo taken with the Dreamfinder holding Figment that year, as I had left my camera back at the hotel on that final day of vacation, but I did get a handshake that morning.

Today, I’m a little older and with a little better job so now my house is packed with reminders of Figment as I’ve tried to make up for lost time both souvenirs & WDW trips.

During one more recent trip, I had a similar emotional experience with Figment once again when I got a photo with Figment at his former meet & greet. Yeah, I was in my late-20s but once again I immediately became a very emotional 6-year-old and didn’t care who saw me have my very special moment. Just this past Thanksgiving, I was sailing aboard a Disney Cruise departing from Port Canaveral, Florida & I HAD to make a pilgrimage to Epcot, even if just for 1 day, to see Figment! I often try to visit WDW for my birthdays and it’s become a tradition of mine to visit the Journey into Imagination with Figment over, and over, and over again at night before it closes.

We all have our favorite Disney characters and while Mickey Mouse is certainly a very close second my has been and always will be Figment. I love the current attraction but I’ll always be in love with the original version. Every Disney trip is special but the memories of those first two visits where I saw Figment & Dreamfinder are perhaps my most cherished. I’m just very thankful that I can still say hello to Figment every time I make a visit to Epcot!

Happy birthday Figment & the Dreamfinder!!!

38

Chris on March 5th, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I loved this ride when I went the summer of 1987. Even better was sharing the new ride with my daughter in 2010. She loves Figment as much as I did and do. When I asked my brother and sister what to bring them back from our trip in 2010 they both said,”Figment!” Needless to say, we all love Figment and sing the song regularly.

39

Andrea from BC on March 5th, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Definitely miss Dreamfinder and the original Figment. I’ve got great memories of them. Hearing “One Little Spark” always brings a smile to my face!

40

PAT from TX on March 5th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Okay, this blog entry has me crying (and I don’t cry easily). But it’s just like what happened when Dreamfinder and Figment appeared unannounced at Destination D. The rendition of “One Little Spark” they performed with Richard Sherman was just incredible.

I miss all the EPCOT Center music, by the way, not just “i-MA-gi-NA-tion.”

But Ron Schneider had an excellent post on the subject of bringing back the original attraction. We’ll have to hope that Future World can be reinvented for (forgive me) tomorrow’s child. And for that child to be reminiscing 30 years from now about how entertained/inspired s/he was by Future World.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t miss the way it used to be. Thanks and Happy Anniversary to Tony Baxter, Ron Schneider, Steve Taylor and everyone else involved with “Journey into Imagination.”

41

Paul on March 5th, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I was lucky enough to be visiting EPCOT with my older brother, who has passed now. It was one of the BEST trips either of us had together. My mom sent us down there as an early Christmas gift in December of 1982, and the Journey Into Imagination pavillion was in previews. I remember the wonder, both my brother and myself, had when we experienced this incredible attraction. I got the chance to work this same attraction and the rest of the pavillion when I worked at WDW in the late 90′s. It was so hard when the entire cast membership of the Imagination pavillion rode the ride for the final time. I hope that a re-imagining of this special place is being considered and returning it to its former glory.

42

Brittany on March 5th, 2013 at 10:52 pm

The original ride was (and still is) my absolute favorite Disney ride as well! I used to call it the Figment ride. I was so mad when they changed it in 1999. I would REALLY love to see Disney bring back the original, as well as reopen the rest of the original Image works. That was so much fun. I believe we have a picture of my sister and myself with the Dreamfinder and Figment. :)

43

Shawn on March 5th, 2013 at 11:07 pm

One of my fondest memories from my first trip to EPCOT was the Imagination attraction. Loved the ride, the light tunnel, and every other activity in that building! When my wife and I went to the park in 2009 I was so sad to see how much the attraction had changed.

Would love to see it back to its old glory as a place for imagination to thrive! And bring back Dreamfinder!

Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos!

44

Patricia from OH on March 6th, 2013 at 12:05 am

Seeing this today just made my day. Figment has always been my favorite character at Disney. I would also love to have this back to the original, but I will always have the memory of being up by the jumping fountains on our honeymoon. The door opened up there and out comes Dream Finder and Figment. I bet I had 10 minutes of one on one interaction before others noticed. This can never be replaced.

However a close second is from 7 years ago when I got to introduce my niece to Figment at the age of 5. She knew who he was and ran up to him and said “Aunt Tricia loves you more than Uncle Erik I think!” She had been afraid of characters to this point in the trip, and oh how she danced and played with Figment. I had not realized how much he is in my house until this point. I have to say if Disney was ever to take away Figment it would cause a large hole in my Heart.

45

Christina on March 6th, 2013 at 1:26 am

For years, I have been trying to figure out what became of the Polage by Austene Wood that is in the background of image 7 in this gallery. She is one of my parents’ favorite artists, and it was a special piece that existed in the original Journey. If anyone has any information on it, please let me know!

46

Paul from ON on March 6th, 2013 at 4:27 am

Hearing Richard Sherman sing “One Little Spark” during his concert on the Disney Dream last November has to be one of my all time favourite memories.

 

Jennifer Fickley-Baker on March 6th, 2013 at 9:10 am

That sounds VERY special, Paul. :)

47

Joyce on March 6th, 2013 at 7:24 am

Figment has been my favorite WDW character since he arrived at EPCOT. I took my children to visit him starting in 1983 and now go visit with my grandchildren. I could never understand why he just hid away at Journey into Imagination. I think he should be a movie star!

48

Edward from OH on March 6th, 2013 at 8:05 am

One of my all time favorites. When I wish upon a star I wish they would bring the original back so I could enjoy it one more (actually, many more) time.

49

Tena from NH on March 6th, 2013 at 9:21 am

Hello again,
Yes I would love Disney to bring back Dream Finder. We had so much fun and once when we were there Figment took my sons hat off and through it. Everyone laughed. It was just a magical time.
Regards,
Tena

50

Jimmy on March 6th, 2013 at 9:39 am

Thank you so much for posting this Jennifer! I absolutely love Figment and the original Journey Into Imagination. I had forgotten had much this attraction truly meant to me until reading your post this morning. It was hard to hold back tears in reading of the ride, Dreamfinder and Figment. He was my favorite character when I was younger and my Mom bought me a plush that I would sleep with every night. When we moved I lost my plush and a few years later my Mom passed away from Breast Cancer. On our upcoming trip in June I am going to have to buy another plush for me , my wife and our 11 year son so he can know the wonder of Figment! Thanks , again, Jennifer.

55 Comments