Anyone who knows me or (those of you who actually read my articles) know that EPCOT is by and far my favorite park at Walt Disney World. Although I do enjoy the other 3 parks, I can take them or leave them and I’d be fine. But let me make a trip to WDW and I don’t get to go to EPCOT, I feel like a part of my soul has been stripped away and devoured by some unearthly beast. O.K., not quite that bad, but I do feel like I’m missing out. It’s hard to say what it was about this park that captivated me at such a young age. It might have been the futuristic feel of Future World or the feeling that I actually was in another country while meandering around World Showcase, but whatever it was it had me hook line and sinker. There’s been a lot of change throughout the years since EPCOT first opened. Over the years we’ve suffered the loss of some of the most beloved attractions and characters that have ever been on Disney property. So this week I thought I would talk about another one of those bygones that some of you may remember, World of Motion.
On EPCOT Centers opening day one of the showcase attractions was the World of Motion. It was sponsored by General Motors and was located next to (my personal favorite extinct attraction) Horizons. Much like Horizons, World of Motion was an Omnimover attraction and designed to educate guest about the history of transportation. The ride was designed by Imagineer Ward Kimball (his only ride design) and contained the greatest number of Audio-Animatronics in Future World. Voice actor Gary Owens narrated the attraction. One of the attractions most noticeable features was that after boarding the ride inside the attraction you were carried back outside of the attraction and back into it to the first scene of the ride. The scenes showed how the means of transportation evolved through the years.
The first scene that was encountered was a group of cavemen who were trying to cool their feet by blowing on them after some extensive walking. The scene then changes over to that of water transportation. An Egyptian boy is on a raft in a swamp being over-watched by a crocodile lurking close by. A black screen shows images of different kinds boats, canoes and rafts. Moving along to the next scene we find the invention of the wheel. There seems to be some sort of contest going on in an ancient court. A square wheel, pentagon and triangle wheel have apparently lost out to the ever-popular round wheel. The scene shifts to the exploration of the seas and there is a sailor looking through his telescope only to find a sea serpent staring back at him through the other end.
The ride vehicles then move into the Renaissance period and shows an impatient Mona Lisa modeling while Leonardo da Vinci works on one of his flying contraptions. The scenes continue to progress as the ride continues. We see steam power transportation such as a steam-powered stagecoach, a steamboat and a steam powered iron horse train that is being held up by a gang of bandits in the Wild West. Then comes the bicycle and automobiles. During this scene we catch a glimpse of the worlds first traffic jam sometime around 1910. Moving along we come to a new tradition, the Sunday drive, where people can be seen “getting away from it all”. The scene closes out with a pilot standing with a female companion next to a biplane. The next scene brings us to our final scene with a group of cars from the 1930’s to 1960’s. We then enter into a full wrap around projection screen that shows scenes of the rider zooming through the country, a bobsled, a surfboard and various other means of transportation. Then the ride vehicle enters CenterCore, the city of the future that is reminiscent of Walt Disney’s Progress City. CenterCore is the 60-foot high core of the pavilion. Here we see futuristic vehicles and skyscrapers with lighted roads and highways. As the ride vehicles enter a mirrored tunnel, the rider is shown in a reflection to be sitting a futuristic car. The effect is the pepper’s ghost effect like the one used in Haunted Mansion. The riders then exit the ride vehicles and make their way into General Motor’s Transcenter.
After getting out of your ride vehicle you would enter the GM TransCenter. The TransCenter was kind of like Innoventions. There were five areas that showcased exhibits throughout the first floor of the pavilion.
- The Bird and Robot show – This show was a very popular show during its duration. Over 7 million guests viewed it each year. In the show the toucan named Bird would demonstrate how robots were important in automobile assembly. This was done with the help of Tiger the assembly robot.
- Concept 2000 – Concept 2000 gave a look at what advanced automobile design was capable of. Ideas such as an electronic dashboard on the windshield.
- Dreamer’s Workshop – This was dedicated to the concept cars of the future and current GM production models. It showcased the Aero 2000, which was an experimental three-cylinder, turbo charged diesel engine. The Aero 2000 was also capable of speaking, hearing and seeing. The Lean Machine was a three-wheeled compact vehicle that looked like a car and motorcycle hybrid. It was pedal operated for leaning like a motorcycle.
- Aerotest – This is where guests could design and model a car using a computer.
- Concept to Reality – This was a showroom for GM’s current cars and trucks.
In 1992 GM entered into a year-by-year contract agreement after business began to decline. The Imagineers and GM decided to gut the building and design a whole new ride focused only on vehicles. The new ride would open 19 months after the closing of World of Motion. But nothing went as planned and the new ride would open a great deal later than planned.
Sadly World of Motion did finally close in 1996 to make way for the newer and more exciting thrill ride, Test Track. During the final ride for GM executives the ride broke down and all of the riders had to be walked back to the exit.
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