Sunday, March 04, 2007

Blue Sky Department: New Horizons

I imagine that there are no doubt many other Disney Park enthusiasts out there like myself who are closet Imagineers. I have longed dreamed up numerous concepts that I thought would be great additions to Disney’s existing venues. So forgive my self indulgence as I finally put into words some of my own blue sky creations and share them with the readership of 2719 Hyperion.

My initial blue sky offering is one that essentially puts the future back in Epcot’s Future World. I have long held that Horizons, in my opinion the very best of EPCOT Center’s first generation attractions, should have been refurbished or even reinvented rather than abandoned completely. Hence, my idea is for a completely new pavilion that would once again introduce guests to future living, but this time on a farther reaching and much grander scale.

Welcome to the 22nd Century. Welcome to New Horizons.

New Horizons would be a Future World pavilion that restores the forward thinking idealism born out of Disney’s landmark attraction the Carousel of Progress and its successor of sorts, the original Horizons.

New Horizons would be located on the west side of Future World, between the Seas and Land pavilions. It would be a large, enclosed pavilion, akin to the Land or Wonders of Life, and house shops, restaurants and multiple attractions. It would essentially reinvent the original Horizons’ concept of traveling through the future and mark a return to much of that attraction’s original mythology.

When guests enter New Horizons, they will immediately arrive at the Futureport and be transported to the 22nd century. This Futureport, unlike its earlier counterpart, is in fact a busy, bustling transportation station in the center of the sprawling metropolis of Nove Cite. A futuristic Grand Central Station of sorts, the Futureport would be the hub of this vast city’s various transportation systems.

New Horizons would feature a number of state-of-the-art, innovative, and very immersive attractions:

The Hovership City Tour - Using ride mechanics similar to Soarin’, this attraction would take guests on a sweeping aerial tour of Nove Cite. Hoverships would sail throughout the city’s maze of skyscrapers, parks, sports arenas and neighborhoods, giving riders a bird’s eye view of what a 22nd century urban center will encompass.

TransExpress Destinations - Employing the very latest in simulator-based ride technologies, TransExpress shuttlecrafts would take guests on high-speed excursions to destinations such as the desert community of Mesa Verde, the floating city Sea Castle, and the orbiting space station Brava Centauri. Guests would literally choose their desired destination upon entering the attraction’s queue area.

The main concourse area of the pavilion would be a next-century version of modern day transportation centers such as airports and rail stations. It would include a food court, a full service restaurant and numerous retail shops. Large plasma monitors would be scattered about, featuring Nove Cite newscasts, weather reports and commercial messages. The visual highlight of this area would be large panoramic windows that would display views of the surrounding Nove Cite skyline. And amazingly, these views of the city’s skyline would reflect real time conditions. In other words, as the sun goes down on central Florida, so would the external views of Nove Cite experience the same transition to nightfall.

A large area of the Futureport would be the home of the Yesterday’s Tomorrows Museum & Retrospective. This attraction would combine walk-through exhibits with a brand new incarnation of Disney’s Carousel of Progress. This Carousel would, over the course of five acts, demonstrate progress from the year 2010 to 2100, effectively bridging the time between the modern age and the pavilion‘s 22nd century setting. Decidedly whimsical exhibits would be expanded multimedia presentations of the original Horizon’s Looking Back at Tomorrow sequences.

Yeah, I know. New Horizons would cost an enormous amount of money. Likely more money than Disney and any corporate sponsor would be willing to spend. But what the heck, the great thing about blue sky dreaming is that there are no financial constraints, and you are limited only by your own imagination.

So what do you think? Is a new incarnation of Horizons something you would like to see at Epcot? Let me know, and also write in with any blue sky concepts you would like to share with the readers of 2719 Hyperion. Who knows, there might even be an Imagineer nearby lurking and listening . . .

13 comments:

Matt said...

I couldn't agree more that Future World needs dire refurbishment and that your concept of a "New Horizons" would be the single greatest thing at EPCOT. Keep up the good work and check out my blog if you get a chance: paleofuture.com

Tony said...

Well planned Jeff. I would more than like to see a "New Horizons" at Epcot. Great concept - you really are a "closet Imagineer"! (You aren't a Roller Coaster Tycoon fan, are ya?)

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I swear you need a podcast for 2719 Hyperion! Some of the great stuff that you've been doing here is very, very, VERY cool, and I'd love to hear another Disney podcast (admittedly...)

Love what you're doing not only here, but over at DisneyWorldTrivia.com and on the WDW Radio show.

BJ

Jeff Pepper said...

Thanks guys for all the nice things you've said!

Tony: Yes, I was an RCT player, back during its first incarnations. How'd you guess?

BJ: Stay tuned on the WDW Radio Show--more DSI segments are on the way.

Anonymous said...

Jeff - how inspired!! I'm totally in! Where do I sign up to do some voices? Great work! Keep it up!

Jonathan

dean said...

A very nice blue-sky concept. The updated Futureport adds the social setting that the original Horizons didn't have. (Even the pavilion's designers wish there would have at least been a GE post-show.) Your description makes me think of something similar to the Land court, though it can certainly take another form. Considering the similarities, it might be better to place New Horizons in Future World East.

Jeff Pepper said...

Dean--

My reasoning for Future World west was that according to a Google Earth view, the only open area large enough for it was that space between the Seas and the Land.

Scotty said...

What an awesome idea! As you said too bad the cost makes it highly unlikely.

Why not instead of having seperate incarnations of TransExpress Destinations, whereby your experience is decided in the queue, bring back the interactivity of the original Horizons. That's what always sold it to me. With modern technology we could have an amazing interactive simulator, where the choices could be either a) majority rules, as in the original Horizons, or b) have smaller simulators and pick up where mission: Space dropped the ball and have the interactivity actually affect the outcome. I was so disappointed when I was on mission: Space, didn't follow my "task" and the computer "overrode". A great idea down the drain. This would avoid any potential favored experience causing long queues on one simulator, theoretically of course, while the others could potentialy be going unused. Plus it'd be a great throwback to the original.

Anonymous said...

I love your ideas! I was devastated when they destroyed Future World, er, Horizons. Dinosaurs and Figments just don't do it for me.

Does WDI have a suggestion box somewhere for great concepts like yours? (seriously)

New Horizons could attempt to bring back Walt's Epcot...

Craig (Rocketeer @ DWT.com)

dreamersempire said...

Hello,

I am the "Imagineer nearby lurking and listening . . ." I recently stumbled on this blog posting on your vision of the "New Horizons", based on the best attraction ever at Epcot.

If you find this half as amazing as I do, you'll be truly amazed. I submitted an idea to WDW back in 1992 that is VERY much like your idea, so much so that it might make your hair stand on end. To me thats one indication of a truly good idea, when people come up with the same kind of idea separately, perhaps it means its meant to happen.

Interestingly, I had this idea so I called Disney and asked "Where do you send in suggestions" and they gave me this "I have an idea" address, so I began working on this concept, very similar to yours.

I basically took the concept of Star Tours but brought you to another planet. It took me about 1/2 year in my spare time, I had some art work done, typed up a 30+ page description of the attraction and sent it in. I got it back within a few weeks saying, "We at Disney dont take outside suggestions". Hey, I understood their stance but that whole address thing made me believe they would take a look at it.

Anyway, my idea is documented with illustrations at my new web site www.dreamersempire.com only it is hidden from normal users right now, I have to grant permission to registered users to see it. I'd like you to take a look at it.

What strikes me about your idea is you took the aspects I felt I was very weak in and imagineered them much better. I think that I captured some other elements well and the combination of the two seems very exciting to me.

Here is the "leap of faith" part that I'm now lobbying folks to consider, that this concept of the kind of Epcot that Walt envisioned IS POSSIBLE! I've given great thought on how to start something that could make Disney reconsider its future and look at an outside suggestion. Disney, imho, has losts its sense of "wonderment" and traded it mostly for "thrill rides". Horizons, as you know, was the pinnacle of wonderment, it brought a sense of future possibilities that has not been captured since. World of Motion wasn't bad, Soarin is pretty cool, but not at all the same.

Anyway, how does one even imagine that they can help start some momentum that might lend to the kind of dream you have imagined, and that Walt truly desired? If you havn't seen www.waltopia.com yet, you will see you are not far off from Walts vision.

Well, it finally occured to me what it would take to make this happen. Before I say what that is, let me say the way it usually works. A group of people begin to grow, lets say we could get 2000+ folks very interested in this, they congregate, plan, then they have a voice and manage to get it to the real imagineers at WDW, who quickly shoot it down because of the financial impossibility, and plus we already thought of that and its not feasible. Actually, thats about the best you could do, and you would feel like you gave it your best but at that point it would fizzle and you'd all give up.

So what was the main problem? The money? Well, not really. If its a good idea, there must be a way to financially sustain such an idea. And there is, and I cant tell you what it is, yet... but I will. But let me say this, its almost a no brainer, and it makes perfect sense. The idea you've put together is a good idea, I can get many people to agree with it, want it, and even help you refine it. But thats not enough, there needs to be a solid backing to this, a way to say, you can make this along with a sustaining power to it, its a no brainer, I cant believe in part no one has ever pushed the concept. But again, that will have to stay in the lurches for now.

But lets say I'm right, there is something that is actually much bigger, that could sustain your idea, your theme park, if you will. This "something" is actually much more costly than your idea! But its solid, its absolutely perfect, and I'll give this clue, it would complete Walts vision for Epcot. So here is something even bigger, but at least its solid enough to believe in.

But how on earth do you get that to happen? Then, out of the blue I had this idea that could make it happen. I havn't shared this with anyone, not one person in the world. Its similar in a way to the milliondollarhomepage.com idea, check it out if you arn't familiar with it, but a young guy from England made about 1 million bucks by selling one pixel at a dollar a piece on a million pixel web site. He made over 1 million.

My idea isn't that at all, but its a once in a lifetime, no one has done it, and no one will ever be able to do it again, but its a pretty interesting idea. It will cause something to happen, and that will make the world take note of this "bigger" idea, that could sustain this WDW attraction.

You see now that the normal "get a small group of enthusiasts" excited and present their case, you stand little/no chance of making something big happen, it would fizzle. In my case, you would have millions of people not only aware but also supporting our ideas, such a strong voice in fact that if WDW didn't do it, someone else would. And that would definately be a huge motivation for Disney to do it. As a matter of fact, the difference, the major difference, is that now Disney doesn't see this as a "good idea" that is financially unsound, but see's it as an absolute necessity, or else they will themselves fizzle away. Do I want them to? Absoslutely not, but its inevitable if they dont hold to Disneys ideals.

Now, if you are not thoroughly drained from this, go to www.dreamersempire.com and sign up, and I'll give you rights to see "A Trip Thru the Galaxy", the idea I submitted to WDW in 1992.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I love both your ideas for Dragonshire and New Horizons.A Medieval land, filled with dragons would be a huge hit in the Animal Kingdom, and I would love to see it. I heard you and Lou talking about Horizons on The WDW Radio Show, and I too miss Horizons terribly and wish it were still there. Your idea to bring the attraction back in a new form is excellent. I hope someone from Disney is reading this.
-Jeff

theatreman said...

I was very disappointed that Disney put the money into a new building for Soarin' in Florida, but then installed the CALIFORNIA film! What did that have to do with Future World or anyting, other than an a bit of an insult to Florida? I had hoped Florida would get a SOARIN' OVER AMERICA - seas-to-shining-sea film.

Sometimes the most obvious possibilities are overlooked: It never occurred to be that the Sorain' technology and animation could create visit to the future far more convincing than STAR TOURS.

I think the next generation NEW HORIZONS Soarin' could add a sprinkle of rain, and also in addition to the smooth ride, perhaps a few sudden jolts and drops? A tiny touch of Tower Terror? Perhaps an electrical storm over the New City? And maybe it's all in 3D???

Your renderings are beautiful. Make more???

Jim R. said...

Jeff,

It's a great idea. I'd add some sort of feature that updates the Magic Highway USA concept. It seems to me that the idea of where transportation in America is headed into the 21st and 22nd centuries would be very interesting. I'd also be interested in seeing what industrial designer Syd Mead could contribute to it.