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35 To Epcot 35: Day 19 – Horizons

Epcot Center 35th Anniversary on October 1, 2017

“If we can dream it, we can do it.”

(WDWFacts YouTube)
The Horizons Pavilion, presented by General Electric (1983-1993), was located in Epcot’s Future World. Established on October 1, 1983, as part of Epcot’s 1st Year Anniversary Celebration, the omnimover dark ride focused on families of the future. The ride was designed as a sequel to the Carousel of Progress, located in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, with the featured family continuing their story of living with technology in the future –the 21st century.  

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  • The concept title for the ride was Century 3 to usher in the third century of America as a country. The name was changed to Futureprobe in order to appeal to international guests as well.
  • Due to the medical context of the word “probe,” the name was then changed to Horizons.
  • The Carousel of Progress theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” played on the television in the “Looking Back at Tomorrow” portion of the ride. “If we can dream it, we can do it.”
  • The Horizons ride had 184 vehicles that could each seat 3-4 guests.
  • The length of the ride was 14:45 minutes long.
  • Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald worked on Horizons and was the model for one of the animatronics.  He was part of the original Epcot project, and is now in charge of the upcoming changes to Epcot.

Exterior:

The shape of the pavilion is meant to provoke interpretation to reflect the varying ideas people have regarding the future.  The original sign featured “Presented by GE,” but was later changed when GE pulled sponsorship of the ride in 1993.

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Entrance:

Guests were welcomed into the entrance area, or FuturePort, by futuristic décor, the theme song, “New Horizons” and ride vehicles called suspended gondolas.

Part One:

The first part of the ride takes a look at the past and how people envisioned the future from the time of Jules Verne to the 1950s.  It included the following sections: Early Interventions, “Looking Back at Tomorrow,” Jules Verne, Robida, Art Deco, Neon City, and Future City. Some past idea for the future were pretty amusing, including Jules Verne’s bullet-shaped rocket with plush red interior, planes with flapping wings, and shark propelled vehicles.

During this part of the ride, we visit the family from the Carousel of Progress and how they have acclimated to technology.  A robotic barber’s chair gives a man a haircut, while a robot vacuums the floor, and yet another multitasks with seven arms –doing dishes, feeding the cat, and tending to the kitchen.  

Part Two:

After exploring our past visions of the future, guests travelled to a theater with two large OMNIMAX screens, or OmniSphere, that showed ground breaking discoveries and how they can shape our future.

FACT: Each screen was eight stories tall and wide, or 80 feet.

Choose Your Own Ending:

In this innovative part of the ride, visitors were actually allowed to “choose their own ending” by pushing a button and selecting which path they wanted to travel to get back to the FuturePort. Each person in the omnimover could vote, but the majority would decide the rides ending. They could choose from a desert farm, Mesa Verde, an ocean city, Sea Castle Resort, or a space station, Brava Centauri.

Mesa Verde:

In this section, guests were shown cultivation technology advancements in a desert environment. Visitors could smell oranges as they were shown orange groves in the desert. The parents talked about how proud they were of their daughter who was helping with the cultivation efforts. Later, we saw a family at home talking about a coming storm and their daughter talking to her boyfriend through a television screen.

Sea Castle Resort:

The boyfriend from the previous section was shown repairing an individual submarine with a floating ocean city seen through the window in the background. Guests saw kids taking a diving class, seaweed floating near bubbled windows, an underwater restaurant, and a girl looking at a seal swimming outside of a window. The family reminisced about all of the wonderful things that have been discovered underwater.

Brave Centauri:

As guests entered the space civilization, they saw astronauts working on satellites and a space shuttle named Century3, after the original working title. They discussed how harvesting materials from space could help industry on Earth. There is a city in the distance and a family working out with anti-gravity exercise equipment.  We later saw the parents singing “Happy Birthday” to their grandson back on Earth via a holographic screen.

 

Part Three/Exit:

After the choose-your-own-ending scene, the father proclaimed that, “If we can dream it, we really can do it.” The “New Horizons” theme song played again as guests exited the omnimovers at FuturePort and walked passed a mural of the family looking at a futuristic city.

Closing the Ride:

The ride actually closed several times before its final closing/demolition in January of 1999.  Horizons first closed in December of 1994 after GE ended its sponsorship; however, due to the refurbishment of Universe of Energy and World of Motion, it was reopened a year later. Since both rides were also in “Future World,” it would provide little entertainment for guests without it. Once the renovations were complete, Horizons was permanently closed on January 9, 1999 and the building was demolished for the construction of Mission: Space.

Although no reason was given for the decision to close the ride, many speculated it was due to a combination of the loss of sponsorship and the structural integrity of the building. The building stayed unoccupied for a year before being demolished. It is thought that Disney was trying to decide whether to revamp the original ride with a new story and building remodeling, or tear down the ride all together and replace it with something new.  In the end, the entire

building was removed and a new, cutting-edge space ride was created. Mission: Space opened in 2003.

Horizon Tributes:

Although the ride was destroyed, there is still a large cult following. Pieces of memorabilia from the ride have been stationed throughout Disney parks to pay respect to Horizons many fans.  

  • EPCOT: Creating the World of Tomorrow for Epcot’s 25th Anniversary Celebration – Robot Butler

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Studio Warehouses – Underwater City and Mesa Verde Props

mesa-verde-horizons-hovercraft

  • Mission: Space gravity wheel, flower bed and Cargo Bay gift shop counter – Horizons Logo

  • Disney offices –The Prologue and the Promise print of original mural that was near the exit of Horizons.  Painted by artist Bob McCall.

  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream – Robot Butler in gallery before the film

  • Mural at Innoventions in Tomorrowland, Disneyland – Many of the rides robots are on it.
  • Space Mountain :

        • The words “Mesa Verde” written on luggage at the start of the exit moving sidewalk
        • Several similar scenes including: desert scene, robot butler and a skyline from a city of the future
  • Tokyo Disneyland; Star Tours – A kiosk shows three different “Star Tours” adventures: Mesa Verde, Brava Centauri, and Sea Castle. The footage is from the Horizons finale in its original format


(Brett Ryan Bonowicz YouTube)

Sources: Disney Parks, Lost Epcot, ThemeParkTourist, Extinct Disney, Wikipedia, DisneyAvenue,

Image Sources: Disney Parks, Intercot, Extinct Disney, Wikipedia, AllEars, WDWinfo, WDWinfo, Wdwstuff, Insidethemagic,


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