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Horizons: Walt Disney’s Lost Futuristic Legacy

A late lamented attraction at Epcot shared Walt's vision of a happy future unlike any other.

by
Chris Queen

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June 20, 2013 - 9:00 am
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Horizons

Recently I wrote about what I call Walt Disney’s optimistic futurism. Walt Disney believed – perhaps to a fault – that advances in technology and communications would make the future an exciting and vibrant place for everyone. This notion manifested itself in Walt’s ultimate dream: his planned community, EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow), which was to be part of the company’s Florida Project, which became Walt Disney World.

The EPCOT Center (now known as Epcot) theme park at Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1982. The park embodies the spirit of Disney’s optimistic futurism. One attraction in particular – Horizons, which was open from 1983 to 1999 – encapsulated Walt’s ideas like no other. Although Horizons closed nearly 15 years ago, a rabid cult following (including yours truly) still professes deep affection for the ride.

In its storyboard stage, Horizons went by the name Century 3, a nod to the third century of America’s existence. The Imagineers later changed the name to Futureprobe, but not for long, due to the unpleasant connotation of the word probe. General Electric sponsored the ride, and the Imagineers intended for it to be the sequel to another GE-sponsored attraction, The Carousel of Progress.

The slogan for Horizons – “If we can dream it, we can do it” – was the brainchild of Imagineer Tony Baxter, though it was so reminiscent of Walt Disney that to this day many writers falsely attribute it to Walt. In many ways, Horizons was a quintessential Disney dark ride, utilizing the company’s Omnimover technology to usher guests through the space, which looked like a diamond-shaped spaceship and suggested an unending horizon ahead.

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All Comments   (4)
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Horizons was my favorite ride. It was the first and last ride I hit at EPCOT, often I went in the middle of the day as well. I miss it - Mission to Mars is not an acceptable substitute
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Never visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World (and as long as Michael Eisner's legacy of Gay Day is still going on, or Iger is continuing to promote Hillary Clinton by not releasing a DVD of The Path of 9/11 or promoting the Obama agenda, there's a Snowball's Chance in Hell that I'll ever visit it in my lifetime. Honestly, I'm not even anti-semitic, yet after witnessing the quite frankly shabby management and increasing liberal aspects of the company since Walt Disney died under Eisner and later Iger, I honestly can't blame Disney for being anti-semitic if these claims are true), so I can't comment on it personally. Still, Horizons from what I have heard was pretty good. Heck, a lot of the things they promoted, especially arid agriculture not only is possible, its actually proven, as can be seen with Israel. All I can say is I might pursue a high-level position at the Walt Disney corporation and ensure its returned back to a Conservative position, and also make some policy changes to ensure that liberals don't ruin the company again.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, and another thing, I've heard that the Tokyo Disneyland version of the original Star Tours did feature the endings of Horizons, with the Mesa Verde, Sea Castle, and Brava Centauri Space Colony being named Bar-Neth, Praya, and The Edge of the Galaxy, respectively. I doubt they are part of The Adventures Continue, though.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Horizons was a great ride! I loved visiting EPCOT.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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