The World of Motion, sponsored by General Motors, opened with Epcot Center in 1982 and lasted until 1996, when it closed to make room for Test Track.
World of Motion was a fun ride through the history of transportation from foot power, to the invention of the wheel, to CenterCore the future of transportation via a 6 person omnimover vehicle. I remember going up “the spiral” stairs to get to the loading area and then spiraling around in the ride vehicle. It was always one of my favorite rides!
The World of Motion ride was designed by animator Ward Kimball. But, it’s said that Marc Davis also helped design the ride.
An Animatronic heavy ride there was estimated to be between 130 and 188 animatronics in this ride.
(video MartinsVidsDotNet on Youtube)
The ride took you through the history of transportation, beginning with the opening scenes involving cavemen and foot power, then moving on to a raft, animal transportation, to the invention of the wheel at Babylon.
The next scenes take a look at the invention of flight, from Leonardo da Vinci’s attempting to fly to a hot air balloon soaring over London. Followed by the use of steam as a power source for transportation, from a Mississippi Riverboat to a Steam locomotive in the midst of a train robbery.
Following this scene was the memorable “world’s first traffic jam” scene.
After that comes the “open road” scenes. People on bicycles, one not so successful cyclist, and cars from the 40’s and 50’s.
Then you head into the “speed tunnel” area with images of past transportation flashing across the screens.
Finally the ride takes you to CenterCore, the city of the future. Here Disney utilized the “Pepper’s ghost” effect seen in the Haunted Mansion, to place you into a vehicle of the future.
After exiting the ride, guests entered the TransCenter to look at prototype cars of the future. It was designed by Bob Rogers and the team from BRC Imagination Arts.
I remember going into the prototype car exhibits as a kid and seeing the “cars of the future.” A lot of the designs I saw then were what cars of today look like. I particularly remember the Aerotest exhibit with streamlined cars and the demonstration of wind flow. The feel of this was brought over into Test Track.
Other exhibits included:
The Dreamers Workshop. Futuristic car designs and models.
- Aero 2000– A silver 4 seat, 2 door subcompact car with an experimental 3-cylinder with a turbo-charged 68 horsepower diesel engine.
- Lean Machine– 3 wheeled, subcompact car that resembled a cross between a car and a motorcycle. It had a fiberglass, all weather cockpit. Since it was small, 3 feet X 4 feet, and had reduced wind resistance, it could go 200 miles on one gallon of gas.
Aerotest– Guests could use computers to design a car. The goal was to design a car that would be more efficient in a virtual wind tunnel.
Bird and the Robot-This was a funny audio-animatronic show with a car manufacturing arm named called “Tiger” and his “manager,” a toucan named “Bird.” Bird is trying to get Tiger into show business and has the robot perform multiple tricks for the audience.
Water Engine Theater– This was an animated film about the different types of engines, presented on multiple video screens. Each screen has a character arguing why their type of engine is best. I always enjoyed it.
(video from WidenYourWorld on Youtube)
Concept 2000– This exhibit showcases the inside of the future car. Displays about various car part like seat belts, seats, power systems, microprocessors, etc.
Concept to Reality– Near the exit was this showroom exhibited current cars and trucks. Much like Test Track does today.
Sadly the ride was shut down in 1996 and turned into Test Track, which opened in 1999.
In true Disney style, some of the ride pieces were re-purposed or used in other areas.
For example the sea-serpent was used in Disney’s California Adventure.
A lot of pieces ended up in the Backlot Studios Tour at Hollywood Studios (MGM) on the tram segment. (images by Walter and Jeff Lange)
Signs from the Wheel scene, as well as masks for the animatronics use in the World of Motion.
(hot air balloon from World of Motion)
(from Da Vinci scene in World of Motion)
(pig from bicycle in World of Motion)
(dog and horse from World of Motion)
Now, even the Backlot Tour is gone from Hollywood Studios to make room for the expansions. Makes me a bit sad, but World of Motion will always stay with those who experienced it, even if it’s gone.
Do you remember World of Motion? What do you miss about it? Comment and let us know.
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