Horizons, Epcot
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Future World, Epcot Center


1979 - Early concepts were pitched by eventual project show designer George McGinnis, but records give official 'idea germination' date of 1980.

1st October 1982 - EPCOT Center opens to the public. Horizons appears on guide literature and is scheduled to open a year later.

1st October 1983 - Opening day.

30th September 1993 - General Electric's contract to sponsor the attraction expired. Within a couple of months, signs and dialogue mentioning GE are removed.

Late 1994 - Horizons is closed to guests.

December 1995 - Horizons is re-opened 'by default' because both the neighbouring attractions - Universe of Energy and World of Motion - were to close in January for updates and renovations. If Horizons stayed closed, the only open pavilion would have been the Wonders of Life on that whole side of Future World. Bad show!

9th January 1999 - The last day Horizons was open to guests. When Test Track opened (which replaced the World of Motion), Horizons closed forever.

September 23, 1999 - Horizons signs are removed.

October 1, 1999 - Some press groups supposedly rode Horizons at night, confirming that the ride is intact nearly 10 months after it closed to guests.

January 1, 2000 - Horizons surprises guests when it does not open on millennium night to the capacity crowd.

March 2000 - Horizons begins to be emptied for demolition. Some set pieces are preserved, and some animatronics are kept for use with other attractions running a similar vintage of audio animatronics.

13th March - Omnimover ride vehicles are removed.

20th April 2000 - Disney and Compaq announce at a press that the new Mission: SPACE attraction is so big it won't fit into the current (Horizons) building (which seems odd, as the new building is considerably smaller than the Horizons one - see satellite photos at bottom of page). The announcement took place in the evening in front of the Horizons pavilion which was used to launch fireworks up the front and off the top (many thought they were going to demolish the building pyrotechnically at this event!). Destruction of the Horizons building could be seen throughout the summer of 2000. A black wall surrounded the site with "Watch this SPACE for a future announcement." Trees were added behind the wall in an attempt to cover some of the destruction of the building. By October 2000, the land was all cleared and the foundation work for Mission: SPACE had been started.

30 May 2000 - Ride vehicles seen on back of a lorry leaving WDW.

7th July 2000 - Demolition continues - the building's front now showing real signs of this

12th July 2000 - At least half of the front view of the building has collapsed.

16th July 2000 - Only the triangular prism of the Omnimax structure remains with parts of the roof structure draped around it like cloth.

23rd July 2000 - The building is now rubble.

10th September 2000 - Ground clear.



The ride system and vehicles were sold to a company with the intention of selling them on to another theme park. They are alleged to have been destroyed - but there is confusion as to why they were not at least sold off on eBay to collectors like other ride vehicles seem to be these days, but there may have been a clause in the terms of sale that they were not to be sold in such a way. Other omnimover systems such as the "Adventure Thru Inner Space" one were put in land-fill!

While the design was still on paper, the team were asked to reduce the overall budget of the project by $10million. Project show designer George McGinnis did this, and, among other things reduced (including building size), the track length was reduced by 600 feet, a 35% reduction. The Epcot Center's overall budget was estimated in the region of $800million (back in 1981). We can only approximate from inventory asset costings that the Horizons budget was in the region of around $73.8million (in 1981).

Ever wondered why Tom's SoloSub and the Century 3 Spaceship looked so similar? They had been deliberately designed to appear similar as they were to be morphed in a transition film from undersea to the space scene, but the effects projector never managed to make the effect cohesive and it was dropped.

The holographic party line scene has the characters singing 'happy birthday'. The Summy-Birchard Music Company is the copyright holder to the song 'happy birthday' and Disney had to pay royalties of approx. $3,000 to be able to use the song in the scene.

The desert omnimax 'choose your tomorrow' sequence is the longest continuously shot miniature sequence ever made.

Because Horizons opened a year after the rest of Epcot opened, the project had the pick of the top Walt Disney Imagineers staff. We think it showed!

© Disney

© Disney


Why did Horizons close?

There are many theories and rumours behind the reason for the closure of the Horizon pavilion.

» No longer sponsorship from GE

» Dated appearance

» Problems with the roof

» Sink hole under the buliding / structural problems with the building «
( Now the accepted reason. )

From WDWMagic discussion boards:

"The primary reason to do away with the ride system and gut the building was to correct problems with building failure and reinforce and correct these problems, then install a new attraction that does not place as much stress that the old ride did. News that is leaking around the cast members is that just this past week, Disney has had some serious setbacks discovering that the building is in fact in worse shape then previously thought, they pulled the Imagineers out of the building and cancelled the cast member preview/walkthroughs because the company fears for their safety! Disney is aggressively attempting to save the building, although there is a appearing to be a strong possibility that they will have no choice but to tear the building down and start over again.

There you have it, Horizons was actually closed out of concern for the safety of the guests, had Disney been ready to replace it with a new attraction, work would have begun quickly (like when World of Motion closed), Horizons stayed closed 9 months ready to run again at a moments notice because Disney didn't even have a clue as to what to do with the Horizons situation, repair, rehab/repair or teardown and replace, one thing they didn't want to get out was that they built a building that is in fact almost ready to collapse under its own weight after 16 years. One backroom rumor is that a Florida sinkhole formed under the building's foundation at some time in 1998 or some type of soil subsidence situation caused the problem."

When the land was cleared, a large hole at the back left of the site was visible, into which was put metal girders...

What happened to all the props?

Many were kept and shipped to Tokyo DisneySea, others (as you can see below) took a trip to Disneyland Paris. Quite a number of props ended up in private collections (blue lamp in futuristic lounge, film strips, art work, voting panels, etc.). Imagineers will have salvaged their fair share to adorn their offices. Most wanted was the "Space colony" birthday cake as seen in the kitchen and the cat drinking spilt milk. George McGinnis received a rescued 'triple-apple'. Animatronics would have been kept and dismantled to re-use the servos and valves in other animatronics of the same era in other parks. Judging by photographs showing the 'emptying' of the scenes, the clothes of the animatronics were one of the first things to be removed, and other props have tags attached to them (so presumably they weren't just thrown away). The IMAX and GE projectors were salvaged (but were absolutely huge!)

More recently, props from Horizons have been seen at Disneyland Paris
on a backstage movie studios train ride - notably a SoloSub and hovercraft.

The satellite photograph below seems to indicate the location of these items (perhaps moved) on the ride track in Paris. Incredible!

In the 1990s, Disney were planning "Westcot" - a smaller and improved yet highly ambitious west US coast version of Florida's Epcot to be built in Anaheim, California at a cost of $2.75billion. It was to be built in the Disneyland car park. In a similar way that they have successfully duplicated rides at their parks around the world, Westcot would have had a cloned (probably improved) versions of Horizons. But in late 1993, the success of EuroDisney made the company think differently about bold new ventures. Westcot would have opened in 1998. Around the same time they were considering Tokyo's Disney Sea and a $700million park, Disney's America in Virginia. Only Disney Sea was built. Instead of Westcot they built "California Adventure".

A nice report from a Horizons fan riding a preview day on Mission: Space ...

Upon exiting, one of the Disney brass sees my tee shirt, and comments.. "Nice shirt".... obviously trying to put a positive spin on the Horizons demolition, she states, "have you seen the hidden Horizons logos?".. I say yes, but add. "I still miss my Horizons, though"

She says "I know, me too" we smile, and I walk back down the exit.

(From TheHorizonsTribute Yahoo Group - see links page)

This is a view from the Russian spy and mapping satellite showing Epcot Futureworld in 1995. I've highlighted Horizons in yellow. Compare the footprint of the Horizons pavilion to that of Mission: Space in the newer satellite shots below it.

Satellite photo of the Mission: Space pavilion, almost half the area of the Horizons pavilion.
© Google Earth

Satellite photo showing more of Communicore, Spaceship Earth, etc.
© Google Earth

The new sat view showing Mission: Space with a graphic overlay of exactly where Horizons stood.
You can see that quite a bit of land at the front and back of where Horizons stood is not really built on.
The Horizons building was also a lot taller.

At the unveiling of the plans for Mission: Space with the agreement between Disney and Compaq, the official press launch script said that the new attraction would be "so big that the current building won't hold it"...which is an odd thing to say because the new Mission Space building was considerably smaller than the Horizons building as can be seen from the satellite photos above.

Horizons icon, script and music © Disney. Horizons and Epcot are trademarks of The Walt Disney Company.
This site is in no way affiliated or connected with Disney.
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