35 To Epcot 35: Day 13- Wonders of Life

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Epcot Center 35th Anniversary on October 1, 2017

The Wonders of Life Pavilion opened on October 19, 1989.  Dedicated to heath and fitness, this pavilion was originally conceptualized with the rest of Epcot, but no sponsor could be found.  Eventually, MetLife agreed to sponsor and the pavilion was built.  Known for it’s dome shape and double helix, it had two main attractions, Cranium Command and Body Wars.

Cranium Command

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Cranium Command was a comedic look at how the human brain works.

Guests entered a waiting area with a countdown clock that indicated time till the next show.

Then guests were led into a room where General Knowledge would brief the audience, his Cranium Commandos, on how to pilot the human brain to avoid problems.  He talked about how there were different types of brains by showing photos of Albert Einstein, and Ernest P Worrell (I miss Ernest.)

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During this show guests are introduced to a blundering soldier, Buzzy.  Buzzy’s mission is to pilot the mind of a twelve year old boy.

After this introduction guests are moved into the 200 seat theater where the actual show takes place.   The set itself looks like a human head with eye shaped screens.   A now animatronic Buzzy is in a seat that moves around during the show.  Here we meet the rest of the cast:  The right brain, left brain, hungry stomach, panic prone bladder, adrenal gland, right and left ventricles of the heart, and the hypothalamus.

Together they take guests on a wacky ride of missteps and the ups and downs of a twelve year old’s life.  The different characters have to learn to work together to keep their boy going.  It’s a lot like Inside Out, which is why a lot of people have made the comparisons and wondered why Disney didn’t simply re-theme the attraction for Inside Out.

Body Wars

(photo Yesterland)

Body Wars was the first “thrill ride” at Epcot.  It used motion simulator technology, like what they use in rides like Star Tours.

(You can see from the Yesterland photos that the boarding area and ride vehicle are very similar to Star Tours)

Guests would go through a queuing area where they became “observation team members.”  The back story for this ride is that a doctor, Dr. Cynthia Lair, volunteered to be miniaturized to locate and observe a splinter.  The “observation team members” would board a vehicle called Bravo 229, piloted by Captain Braddock.  They and the vehicle would be shrunk down so they could retrieve Dr. Lair and bring her out of the body.

The screen would show Bravo 229 being miniaturized by a ‘particle reducer.”  Then the vehicle is sent into the patients skin.  White blood cells move past on their way to fight the splinter and the captain follows them.

After arriving at the splinter and meeting Dr. Lair, she is accidentally sucked into a capillary.  The captain takes the ship on a bumpy ride into a vein and past the heart into the right ventricle and then to the lungs where the doctor is being attacked by a white blood cell.  Captain Braddock fires the lasers to free her and she rejoins the ship.  But, there’s a problem, rescuing the doctor has depleted the vehicle’s power.  Dr. Lair suggests using the electricity in the brain to recharge the ship.  The captain then sets guests on another bumpy ride passing the left atrium and entering an artery to take the Bravo to the brain.  A neuron recharges the ship and guest are taken out of the body and de-miniaturized back to their normal size.

I remember this ride was incredibly popular.  People would wait at rope drop and dash over to it, much like you see them do today with Test Track, Soarin, and Frozen Ever After.

The Making of Me

(photo Yesterland)

This was a 16 minute film about conception hosted by Martin Short (who also narrates O Canada in the World Showcase.)  Considered a bit risque for Disney, there were warning signs put up for parents to understand what to expect and decide if they should allow their children to see it.

Other smaller attraction included:

Frontiers of Medicine– Small televisions with information about medicines and the brain.

Coaches Corner- A professional baseball player would give tips as you practiced swinging a bat.

Goofy and Health– A show about healthy living hosted by Goofy.  They used clips from his famous cartoons.

(photo Walt Dated World)

Fitness Fairgrounds – Guests could test their athletic skills

Sensory Fun house– A playground created to test guests sensory levels

Wonder Cycles –  Stationary bicycles with televisions. The faster riders pedaled, the faster the video played. Guests could choose to take virtual tours of:

  • 100th Anniversary Rose Parade Pasadena, California
  • Disneyland
  • Take a Little Ride: Microworld Bigtown, U.S.A.

(photo Epcot Manifesto)

Food

Pure and Simple

This featured various snack type items for guests to purchase.

(photo Walt Dated World)

The Conclusion of Wonders of Life

Metlife sponsored the attraction until 2001.  When they pulled out the pavilion started to decline.  Then in January 2004 it became a seasonal attraction, only opening when capacity was higher.  Then on January 1, 2007 the pavilion closed permanently.

Int 2007 temporary walls were put up inside to block off the attractions and they used it to host the Food and Wine Festival.  All signage for Wonders of Life was removed, as well as it’s double helix.  Then the Body Wars sign was taken down and painted over in 2008 and by 2009  most of the exhibits were removed.  In 2012 Body Wars was mostly torn down, with only a small part remaining and then in 2014 everything but the queue was removed.  Cranium Command has had it’s queuing area, pre-show and post-show areas removed, but the main theater with the animatronics is still there.  The Making of Me theater is now used for events pertaining to the Festival Center.

Today it’s used as the Festival Center for both the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

(photos Blog Mickey)

Do you miss Cranium Command or Body Wars?  Do you wish they would have done more with the pavilion?  Comment and let us know!

Sources: Wikipedia Wonder of Life, Wikipedia Body Wars, Wikipedia Cranium Command, Wikipedia Making of Me

Image Sources:  Oh My Disney,  Disney Wikia, Yesterland, Walt Dated World, Epcot Manifesto, Blog Mickey,

 

 


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Disney has been a big part of my life for years--from family trips to WDW to growing up on Disney classics, TV, and movies. I'm a mom and an art teacher. I love to share my love for Disney and I'm also a co-host of the Disney fan podcast Pirates and Princesses (PNP.) Opinions, like my freckles, are all mine.

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