Journey into Imagination with Figment is the third and most recent iteration of a ride at the Imagination Pavilion at EPCOT at Walt Disney World in Florida. The attraction is a “dark ride,” meaning the parts of the ride in between scenes take place in the dark. It opened in its first iteration on March 5, 1983, and was called Journey into Imagination. The ride featured a tiny purple dragon mascot named Figment, and the ride was accompanied by a song called One Little Spark, by the Sherman Brothers.
The ride was the creation of Tony Baxter and Steve Kirk, and used people mover vehicles that were designed to appear to be floating in the clouds. Passengers could see the silhouette of a blimp “flying” next to them, and hear the blimp’s pilot humming and singing. The second scene of the original ride featured the passengers pulling up next to the blimp, and the pilot coming out and introducing himself as the Dreamfinder. The blimp’s pilot appeared as an old man with a red beard, wearing a blue suit and top hat. Dreamfinder was voiced by Chuck McCann and Ron Schneider.
The Dreamfinder tells the ride’s passengers that he uses his blimp to collect people’s dreams and ideas, and uses these to create all kinds of new, fantastical, and amazing things. One of the things he created was Figment the Dragon. Billy Barty voiced Figment, who appeared at that point in the ride. Together, the Dreamfinder and Figment use their imaginations to fill up an “idea bag.” When the bag is full, Dreamfinder tells the riders that its contents must be emptied into the Dreamport—which, conveniently, isn’t far away when you use your imagination to get there.
The next scene moved the passengers to the storage room of the Dreamport. The room included a huge machine for sorting ideas. There are all kinds of fantastical objects in the room, as well, such as boxed applesauce and a birdcage filled with musical notes instead of a bird. The ride then moved passengers through several other rooms, each one representing an area of academics that is usually heavily influenced by the imagination, such as Art, Writing, Acting and Music, and Science. The Dreamfinder, assisted by Figment, showed the riders how to use their imaginations to produce amazing things in each of these rooms.
At the end of the ride, the Dreamfinder told Figment (and the passengers) that imagination is the key to discovering the hidden wonders of the world. The final scene of the ride showed Figment on several movie screens, each with him being in a different profession that is influenced by the imagination, such as a scientist, pirate, tap dancer, mountain climber, cowboy, and other such things. Dreamfinder takes an in-ride picture of the riders (which could be purchased later), and gives them an inspirational message of using their imaginations as they exit the ride.
The passengers exited the ride into Imageworks, which was intended to be an interactive “playground of the future,” where guests could use their imaginations in a variety of creative play scenarios and games, like a rainbow corridor, pin-screens, huge kaleidoscopes, and a stage where guests could put themselves in their own movie.
This iteration of the ride was closed in October of 1998 to change it into its second iteration, Journey into YOUR Imagination. This iteration opened in October of 1999. Journey into Your Imagination did away with the Dreamfinder and Figment, and used a theme based on a 3D 1994 movie called Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. In this iteration, passengers took a tour of the fictional Imagination Institute, and were test subjects on a new invention called the Imagination Scanner. The host of this ride was a character named Dr. Nigel Channing, who was played by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame.
This second iteration of the ride was not popular among park guests. It was so unpopular, in fact, that it was changed again in 2001 and opened in its third and current iteration in June of 2002. This newest iteration is called Journey into Imagination with Figment. The popular Figment the Dragon was brought back for this iteration, and he appears in every scene of the new ride. The “One Little Spark” song was put back in the ride, with new verses. The Dreamfinder, though, was not brought back for this iteration. Instead, Dr. Nigel Channing is still there from the second iteration.
In this version of the ride, the Imagination Institute from the second iteration has five labs, each based on one of the five human senses. Dr. Channing, still voiced by Eric Idle, invites the passengers to an open house at the Institute. Figment (voiced this time by Dave Goelz) tags along, annoying Dr. Channing and causing mischief during the open house.
In fact, Figment causes so much mischief that Dr. Channing stops the tour outside of the Touch and Taste labs, and leaves the tour, abandoning the passengers. Figment then takes over the tour, turning the scene upside down with his imaginative mind. Dr. Channing later learns from Figment that imagination is best when it is set free. The passengers on the ride go to the last scene of the ride, which shows Figment in a variety of different, whimsical situations, while Figment and Channing together since “One Little Spark.” As with the first iteration of the ride, passengers leave the ride and go right into the ImageWorks playground.
There is a door in one of the rooms in this third iteration that has a name on it that reads “Dean Finder.” This is an homage to the Dreamfinder of the original iteration of the attraction.
The Kodak Company, which had been a sponsor of the ride and its pavilion since the beginning, ended its sponsorship in August of 2010. There are current tentative plans to change the ride again, designing a fourth iteration of it, though nothing has been definitely decided on yet. As of now, the third iteration of the ride is the one visitors to EPCOT will find when they go.