Horizons, Epcot
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Horizons
Future World, EPCOT

Horizons opened on October 1, 1983, and, more than any of the Future World pavilions, it is specifically about the future. Horizons is "dedicated to humanity's future. It is a careful synthesis of all the wonders within EPCOT, and applies the elements of communication, energy, transportation, creativity, and technology to a better life-style for the family of the future." (A Pictorial Souvenir of Walt Disney World © 1990 Disney)

Horizons takes guests on a fascinating journey through the world of the 21st century. First, take a look back at what past visionaries dreamed the future would be like from Jules Verne to sci-fi 1920s and 30s comic books to a futuristic 1950s. Then, two giant OmniSphere screens show what scientists and explorers are discovering now, which will be the basis for the future. Next, guests enter the 21st century and view a typical city apartment, a desert farm complete with the scent of fresh oranges, an underwater city, and a space colony. In order to return home to 20th century earth, guests chose the method of travel: on land, undersea, or through space. Upon arriving, guests are left with a final thought, "If we can dream it, we really can do it. And that's the most exciting part."

General Electric's sponsorship of the pavilion expired on September 30, 1993. Even though GE decided not to continue sponsorship of Horizons, Disney continued to operate the attraction until it was closed in late 1994. Horizons reopened in December of 1995 because both Universe of Energy and World of Motion were about to close for renovations the following month. That would have left only Wonders of Life open on that side of the park. With Test Track finally open, Horizons closed forever on January 9, 1999. On September 23, 1999, both the large and small Horizons signs were removed. In April 2000, Disney and Compaq announced that Horizons would be demolished and in its place Mission: SPACE would be built. The new attraction is scheduled to open in 2003. In the meantime, destruction of the Horizons building could be seen throughout the summer of 2000. A black wall was put up in front of the pavilion and read "Watch this SPACE for a future announcement." Trees were added behind the wall 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.

Horizons Facts

Pavilion: 136,835 ft2
Surface Area: approx. 37,000 ft2
Audio-Animatronics: 54
Props: 770
Sets: 24
Video Monitors: 4
Video Projectors: 9
Video Playbacks: 13
Film Projectors: 12
Special Effects: 50
Capacity: 2,784/Hour
Show Time: 14:45 Minutes
Cycle Time: 15:00 Minutes
Maximum Number of Vehicles: 174
Spare Vehicles: 10
Seats per Vehicle: 4
Ride Length: 1,346 feet (410.3 m)
Ride Speed: 1.5 Feet/Second (0.457 m/s)
Dispatch Interval: 4.8 Seconds
Type Load/Unload: Moving belt
Queue Capacity: 696
Ride System: Overhead Omnimover


Tom Fitzgerald with 'Tom II' in the sub repair bay scene

Imagineers who worked on the project included:

George McGinnis (project show designer - pictured right)
Marty Sklar
Gil Keppler (ride vehicle design, kitchen design)
John Hench
Marty Kindel (engineer 'Choose your tomorrow')
Ned Landon (GE rep, on creative team)
Claude Coates (show designer)
Bob Kurzweil (industrial designer)
Bill Norton (architect)
Collin Campbell (developed early scenes)
Chase Young (architect, construction drawings)
Tom Fitzgerald (story designer)
Tom Sherman (undersea set)
John Berman (set designer)
John Patrick Burke (Industrial Design and set and prop production)
Ernie Soos (robots for “Looking Back at the Future” scene)
George Trimmer
Greg Wilzbach (Family arriving in space scene).
Shim Yokoyama (painted Floating City and Space Habitat scenics)

Omnimax film: Eddy Garrick
Omnimax projectors: 70mm 15perf Omnimax projectors from Imax, Canada
'Choose your tomorrow' projectors: GE Talaria Light Valve projectors
Exit mural artist: Bob McCall
Building architect: George Rester
Closed: 9th January 1999

An incredible journey through lifestyles for the 21st century. After "blasting off" from the Futureport, you'll examine the marvels imagined by visionaries of the past ... Jules Verne's cannonball flight to the moon, for example. Through the wonders of micro- and macro-photography, never-before-seen images of today's world unfold on the world's largest motion-picture screen. Then it's off to explore four future habitats... the urban environment of tomorrow, a robotics-staffed desert farm, a working ocean colony, and a "space city" where asteroid mining and zero-gravity crystal manufacture are facts of everyday life. The rest of the adventure is up to you! You and your fellow passengers control which future environment to explore as you choose your own "new horizon" for the finale.


Are we any closer to realising visions from Horizons?

A lot of things have changed over the years since Horizons was conceived.

The daughter in the reclaimed desert scene used voice recognition to command the crop harvesters, and so did the boy in the kitchen scene. A huge majority of this very tribute website was dictated to the computer by voice recognition. A number of smart phones and even some cars even have it today.

On occasion I was interrupted by people calling me on Skype where I can see them and talk to them wherever they are in the world. Videoconferencing is now an accepted part of everyday business and is even becoming possibly on smart phones.

Fridges can now automatically re-order items of food that you are running out of using the Internet - maybe not incorporating voice recognition to open drawers, but surely less amusing because of it.

Genetically modified fruit and vegetables are common, although many people prefer organic non-GM products. Scientists in China germinate seeds in space which spawn huge aubergines, tomatoes, etc. back on earth.

Pre-orders for holidays in outer space are being taken (allbeit from multi-millionnaires!).

Hong Kong Disneyland reclaimed some sea, but not desert!

This underwater hotel in the Bahamas opened in 2006:


From The Funday Times / Sunday Times, November 2005.

So although the physical locations aren't the same as in Horizons, some of the technology is similar, if not ahead of Horizons.

1983: If we have dreamed it, we really can do it!

2011: Dreamed it - done it!

 

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If we can dream it, we can do it