After 26 years of visiting Walt Disney World, I’ve seen many attractions come and go. Some were great, some were past their prime, and I miss many of them. I miss Horizons the most.
Horizons opened 25 years ago today, on the 1st of October, 1983. Arriving in EPCOT Center a year after the park’s debut, it served as the park’s thesis statement. Focusing not on any one topic, but rather the full potential of humanity’s future, Horizons incorporated concepts from all of Future World’s theme pavilions to synthesize a vision of what we can achieve as a society if we put our minds to it. If we can dream it, we can do it, claimed the ride.
The pavilion served as a sequel of sorts to the Carousel of Progress, expanding the tale of that show’s family into the 21st century and beyond. The ride consisted of three segments; the first, “Looking Back At Tomorrow”, provided a tongue-in-cheek look at the history of futurism. A dual-screen Omnimax theater then surrounded guests with a large-format film of then-current technologies that were ushering in the future. The final segment, “Tomorrow’s Windows”, showed the future of mankind “on land, sea, and even out in space.” The show’s finale allowed guests to choose the way they would return to earth; depending on how each vehicle’s riders voted, one of three different simulator films would be shown.
Horizons was a high water mark for Imagineering. Some fans, including myself, consider it their finest work. It was an animatronic spectacle that used cutting-edge technology to present an inspiring yet accessible message with humor and style. It certainly seems to have sparked the imaginations of an entire generation, seeing as its legion of fans continue to discuss and dissect it nearly ten years after its tragic closure. Many continue to hope to see it return, in some form, someday.
Happy Birthday, Horizons. You are missed.