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Rainbows In The Attic

One of the greatest and most inexplicable mistakes in the annals of Disney management and Imagineering was the truly terrible, late-90s refurbishment of EPCOT’s Journey into Imagination pavilion. This wonderful attraction, full of artistry and atmosphere, was stripped down and repurposed into what became one of Disney’s all-time least popular attractions.

One result of the remodeling was the walling off of the translucent, beaux-arts stairway and elevator that led upstairs to the Imageworks, the “creative playground of the future.” This high-tech interactive play area seamlessly blended early digital technology with a great deal of flair and the results were often far more impressive than more high-tech attempts Disney has made in recent years. The showmanship present in the Imageworks more than compensated for its now-primitive underpinnings, and scenes like the Rainbow Corridor and Stepping Tones were standard fare for postcards and souvenir books for years.

The Imageworks has sat walled off for more than ten yeas now, but bizarrely remains greatly untouched. Much of the equipment is gone, no doubt, but the infrastructure remains. Remains in the hopes that Disney gets its act together and decides to do what is needed to restore this pavilion to its previous grandeur. Here’s a brief video of the Imageworks today. How bizarre to see the Rainbow Corridor still there, unused. Time to plug that sucker back in.

And for the Imageworks in happier times, you can always check Martin’s tribute:


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10 comments to Rainbows In The Attic

  • Yes, it’s sad what they did. For a while they were using this as a rentable space for private banquets. What they really need is a new sponsor to revitalize the building. I’m sure the equipment we made for the Neon Corridor still works. Electronic Philharmonic has been replaced by the CGI systems downstairs, but they aren’t as fun, because you can do that on your PC. Boy did the maintenance guys hate those pin grid tables!

  • I count Imagination as perhaps EPCOT’s single most baffling tragedy because, unlike the rides that needed updating to keep up with the future, the Imagination ride was a pure fantasy dark ride in the vein of the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland classics. It was timeless. It wasn’t my personal favorite of the Future World lineup, but it was the most evergreen.

    You’re so right that a new sponsor needs to come along and spruce things up. Of course, as a purist I believe that this is such bad show that Disney has a responsibility to fix it even if they have to pay themselves. It’s so low rent to have this situation persist for years now.

    The original ride concept would be great to revive, and I have faith that modern ride control systems could even manage to make the Turntable of Doom work!

    You’re right that the new versions of these games just aren’t as effective as the original. The Electronic Philharmonic was a wonderfully classy and “magical” experience that could not be reproduced on a PC running Flash. Man, I loved that Philharmonic as a kid. My fantasy was to be in the Imageworks where there wasn’t a crowd so I could just play with that stuff without interruption.

  • Dolphy

    I absolutely love this area of the building, plus the original ride. It truly was all timeless, but now I don’t even bother to go in (especially with FutureWorld’s Hours closing the thing at about 6 or 7ish at night with a few of the other attractions) I pray that one day Disney will realize what they lost was something brilliant and restore it. If that doesn’t happen, maybe something will catch on fire (other than the Figments CX) and they’ll have no choice to do it just like the Tiki Room.

  • beaglelady

    I loved the original Journey into Imagination. It was always my favorite attraction. I can’t even be bothered with the newer and terrible Journey into Abomination. So depressing!

  • Smaha

    Saw the shot of the view from the top floor…around 0:46….and immediately thought of prime restaurant real estate. What’s more imaginative than a kid-focused restaurant based on molecular gastronomy? Someone call Wylie Dufresne.

    Darn. There I go again using my imagination. I guess that’s what happens after spending hours in Imageworks in the mid-80s.

  • Gary

    Sometimes I forget just how much I loved this area of Imagination. Sometimes I forget just how great the entire pavilion was. Nowadays, when I walk through Epcot, I scarcely even think of it. It’s become such a non-entity. When I do look over (as I dare not enter it) to the once brilliant pyramids of glass, all I can do is sigh. Of course, the same sadness comes over me when I look at Mission: Space, Test Track, the empty shell that once was Wonders of Life, The Seas with Anthropomorphized Fish, and even Innoventions. Once my favorite place in all of WDW, Future World is now nearly meaningless to me. Strange that in Future World, most of all, I should so eagerly dream of the past.

  • Its such a shame that this is just sitting there, going to waste!

  • WC

    Does Disney aggressively seek corporate sponsorship of Future World Pavillions anymore? Look at these corporate slogans:
    General Electric- “Imagination at Work”
    Samsung- “Imagine”
    Cadence- “How Big Can You Dream?”
    Futjitsu- “The Possibilities are Infinite”
    Panasonic- “Ideas for Life”
    Honda- “Power of Dreams”

    You would think that a company somewhere would jump at the opportunity to bring back “Imagination” to it’s former glory.

  • OK that’s pretty funny. Good point!

  • Tina Callaway

    Why do they tear down the good – I loved this ride and hands on stuff as a kid. And the “If you had Wings” ride – can’t remember the name, just the smell of oranges! Wish they would leave the old and just build new. Wouldn’t that spread the crowds out better anyways? I miss my childhood favs!

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