Is at the heart / of all creation
Right at the start / of everything that's new
One little spark / lights up for you
Journey into Imagination is a series of dark rides at Epcot in Walt Disney World that focus on the importance of creativity in life, contained in a pavilion that originally shared the name. There have been three incarnations of the attraction over the years.
- Journey into Imagination: The first iteration of the ride. It featured two characters, Dreamfinder, a collector and user of dreams, and Figment, a small purple dragon that's friends and partners with Dreamfinder. The guests would first come across Dreamfinder flying in the clouds on his own zeppelin, which he reveals also functions as a machine that he uses to collect dreams and ideas from people in order to create grand new things. He then summons in Figment, the latter of whom quickly comes up with so many ideas that Dreamfinder's "idea bag" becomes full, forcing them to unload it at the "Dreamport". Afterwards, Dreamfinder demonstrates the power of imagination by using the collected ideas to create the "Realms of Imagination", five worlds that each represent a different form of creation: Art, Literature, Theater, Science, and Film. Dreamfinder and Figment would then take the guests through each of these realms, as a way of showing first hand how pivotal creativity is to everything.
This version operated from 1983 until 1998, during which time one of the pavilion's original sister attractions, the 3-D short film Magic Journeys (which did not feature the characters but had a similar "wonders of imagination" theme, and which riders disembarking were directed by a sign to "Follow Figment to...") was swapped out twice. First came Captain EO and later Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, neither of which had a clear thematic connection with the ride or the Image Works second-floor playground. Eventually, it was decided to revamp the two attractions and pavilion in hopes of tying everything together again.
- Journey into YOUR Imagination: Opening in 1999, the second version completely did away with Dreamfinder and reduced Figment to a couple of cameos, along with changing the setting to being inside the "Imagination Institute" (which also became the new name of the pavilion) and putting the spotlight on Dr. Nigel Channing (Eric Idle), both of which came from Honey, I Shrunk The Audience. (The original Image Works was also shuttered and replaced with a far smaller play area of the same name.) The plot of this version was fairly straightforward, with guests being taken on a tour of the Institute's facilities, in hopes that it can boost the creativity in their minds, as the "Imagination Scanner" at first would show that they have no imagination. Due to negative guest response (Disney's theme park division was not investing heavily in new or revamped attractions at the time, and it really showed here), this iteration was shuttered in 2001 and re-tooled.
- Journey into Imagination with Figment: The current version of the ride opened in 2002 (the pavilion's name being changed to "Imagination!" in the process). In response to guest demand, Figment was brought back as the main character alongside Dr. Nigel Channing. The plot of the ride still involves Nigel giving guests a tour of the Imagination Institute — but this time Figment hijacks the tour to show the guests what imagination should really be like and how the Institute's way of seeing it as something that needs to be controlled is wrong.
Dreamfinder would also be the main star of the short lived Epcot show Skyleidoscope from 1985-1987; in it, he decides to create rainbows in the sky to brighten everyone's day, but two dragons (who, unlike Figment, are evil) decide to ruin it. This results in a battle of good versus evil, depicted by stunts using watercraft and aircraft as well as special effects. An accident during a rehearsal in which a pilot suffered fatal injuries in a crash of the ultralight plane he was flying resulted in the show being discontinued.
From 1988-1989, Figment starred in the educational film series Language Arts Through Imagination, consisting of eleven short films meant to teach elementary school students basic language arts concepts and the role imagination plays in putting said concepts into practice. Dreamfinder was Adapted Out, making this series an alternate continuity to the original ride.
Dreamfinder and Figment received an origin story in the appropriately titled Disney Kingdoms series, Figment in 2014. A sequel series, Figment 2, was published from 2015-2016. Both series lasted 5 issues each.
Figment eventually made his video game debut in 2023, appearing as a racer in Disney Speedstorm. Fittingly, Dreamfinder appears as an exclusive crew member for him.
A Little Golden Book titled "Figment" and based on the first version of the ride is set to be released in January 2024.
One little trope, lights up for you.:
- Adventure Duo: Dreamfinder and Figment are both partners who embark on creating new worlds with the dreams and ideas they've collected.
- Animal Superheroes: In the Film realm, one of the movie roles Figment appears as is a superhero.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Press material and early interviews from the 80s suggested Dreamfinder was an ageless manifestation of creativity, being described as "Older than wisdom, but younger than the morning mist".
- More accurately, Dreamfinder is meant to represent the refined creative pallet of an adult while Figment represents the unrefined creative pallet of a child.
- Are We There Yet?: Figment asks "Are we almost there?" after Dreamfinder tells him that they have to store the collected ideas in the Dream Port. Dreamfinder's response isn't a stock one. (See the teleportation example.)
- Artsy Beret: In the Art realm, Dreamfinder and Figment each wear a beret.
- Born of Magic: It's suggested that Figment was created via Dreamfinder bringing his own imagination to life, as he's able to summon the dragon in by doing the same.Dreamfinder: Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, but a lovable fellow! From head to tail, he's royal purple pigment, and there, voilà! You've got a Figment!
- Cool Ship: Dreamfinder's Zeppelin, which carries a neat Steampunk-kind of look to it.
- Cowboy: This is another one of the things Figment dresses as in the Film realm, to represent the Western genre.
- Creepy Crows: The Raven from the Edgar Allan Poe story shows up as one of the many spooky things in the Literature realm.
- Crystal Ball: One scene has Dreamfinder and Figment look into one (with the latter using a magnifying glass to do so).
- Cute Critters Act Childlike: Figment, as when Dreamfinder created him, he specifically made sure to include a "dash of childish delight".
- Delightful Dragon: Invoked by Dreamfinder when he adds a "dash of childish delight" to finish creating Figment.
- Disney Acid Sequence: More or less the entire attraction, with it being set in a wonderland of pure imagination.
- Dramatic Thunder: Occurs right at the beginning of the ride, shortly after Figment is introduced. Dreamfinder mentions that they can use the lightning as an ingredient for a new tale.
- Dressed to Plunder: Figment appears as a pirate in the Film realm, as a way of representing that genre.
- Eccentric Mentor: Dreamfinder is this to Figment, behaving unusually while being wise at the same time.
- Eldritch Location: The Literature realm appears to be this, as it's represented by the suspense and horror genre.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: Rainbows were used quite frequently in the attraction, most notably when Figment uses a pot of rainbows to paint a white area in the Art realm, and the Image Works post-show included a large "Rainbow Corridor" tunnel that people could walk through.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Dreamfinder throws in a dash of childish delight as the last ingredient to make Figment, causing the purple dragon to sparkle a little.
- Expanded Universe: The Disney Kingdoms comic book series features an ongoing title based around Figment and Dreamfinder, which acts as a prequel to this attraction, giving a lot of extra backstory.
- Additionally the characters found use in media in the 80s with Figment starring in an educational film series called Language Arts Through Imagination and a never-completed Dreamfinder-centered show known as Dreamfinders promoted during the initial Disney Channel launch that only had one to three scripts written for it before the plug was pulled.
- Full Moon Silhouette: In the Literature realm, Figment makes the silhouette of a bat and a black cat appear in front of a full moon.
- Futuristic Pyramid: The facade for all versions of the ride is made up of two big glass pyramids.
- Goggles Do Nothing: The goggles Dreamfinder wears appear to be just an accessory.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Figment's normal outfit is just a shirt.
- Hold the Line: Figment does this against monsters that come from books.
- Impossible Shadow Puppets: Figment does this in the Literature realm, forming several different words with his hands. It's a Justified Trope because of him being in a realm of imagination.
- Insubstantial Ingredients: The last ingredient that Dreamfinder uses to make Figment is a dash of childish delight.
- Long-Runners: This version of the ride was in Epcot for a little over 15 years before it's closure and replacement.
- Looks Like Jesus: Dreamfinder, according to one child.
- Mascot: Since his debut in this ride, Figment tends to be used as Epcot's mascot every once in a while.
- Meaningful Name:
- Dreamfinder finds and collects dreams as fuel for inspiring new ideas.
- Figment is a figment of Dreamfinder's imagination, but brought to life.
- Mr. Imagination: Dreamfinder may be one of the ultimate examples of this, though in this case his imagination is real, meaning this also counts as an example of Imagination-Based Superpower.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: Dreamfinder played one in the Tales of Terror sequence (the twist, though, was that since the section was about literature, the organ resembled something of a huge typewriter/computer).
- Out of Focus: The first iteration of Epcot's Journey Into Imagination attraction took guests on a hypothetical journey through the human mind's creative process (hence the title). The second iteration kept guests mostly in a laboratory, and focused on how optical illusions tricked people into seeing things that aren't really there... in order to (somehow) make the guests more creative. The third iteration ditches the first-person guest narrative entirely and instead spends (or at least attempts to spend) most of its time discussing how the five senses can trigger the imagination.
- The message of the attraction has changed with each iteration as well, and seems to match up with whatever message the park itself was trying to push at the time it was made. The message of the 1983 version has the very 1980s EPCOT Center message that "imagination and science can work together to solve the world's problems", while the message of the 1999 version had the very 1990s Epcot message of "science is totally awesome, and it can be used to analyze the imagination", and the message of the 2003 version has the very 2000s Epcot message of "science is boring, but imagination is totally awesome and the two should be separate".
- Purple Is Powerful: Figment, who is essentially the personification of Imagination, has purple skin.
- Self-Duplication: This is one of Figment's many abilities. Both this and the current version have a scene where Figment creates numerous clones of himself.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Along with his fancy hat, Dreamfinder wears a blue suit with a red waistcoat.
- Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Figment is this in all iterations of the ride.
- Signature Headgear: Dreamfinder wears a fancy top hat with flight goggles on it.
- Teleportation: Dreamfinder and Figment are able to do this throughout the ride, via the power of imagination.Figment: Are we almost there?
Dreamfinder: Oh, the Dream Port is never far away when you use your imagination!
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Dreamfinder and Figment sport new outfits in every scene.
- The Wonderland: The Realms of Imagination are this, each embodying different forms of creation: Art, Literature, Theater, Science, and Film.
- Zeppelins from Another World: Dreamfinder's ship is an otherworldly zeppelin.
- Ascended Extra: Dr. Nigel Channing started off as one of the characters in Honey, I Shrunk The Audience, but was later then given a prominent role in the pre-show of Tokyo's version of the attraction, and later was made the star of this version of the Journey Into Imagination ride, expanding the universe HISTA is set in.
- Bizarrchitecture/Gravity Screw: In both this and the current version of the ride, guests are taken through an upside-down house, where all of the furniture manages to stay perfectly in place.
- Canon Discontinuity: The current ride retcons the events of this version.
- Chirping Crickets: This is one of the first noises played in the Sound Room, with it getting much louder from there.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The Dreamfinder is nowhere to be found on this version of the ride, and has yet to make any reappearance from here on out.
- Commuting on a Bus: While Figment has no proper role on this ride, he does get two (admittedly very small) cameos during the span of it.
- Creative Sterility: The riders start off as this from the perspective of the ride's story, but at the end are shown to now be bursting with imagination.
- Creepy Changing Painting: Played with, as it's not creepy, but Nigel's portrait in the Institute lobby will suddenly change to have Figment appear in the corner of the picture and for Nigel to be looking at him, rather than forward.
- Crossover: This along with the current version of the ride places Journey into Imagination, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Flubber all under the same continuity. This is further indicated with appearances of various objects used by the scientists of these movies in the lobby as well as labs in the hallway.
- Demoted to Extra: Figment was reduced to only a couple of very quick cameos in this version.
- Invisibility: In the Illusion Lab, a butterfly is shown turning invisible. The same butterfly is also used in the current version.
- Mental Picture Projector: The Imagination Scanner. It reads the riders' minds at the start, and shows a bunch of boring mudane objects on the screen, implying they have no imagination.
- Runaway Train: The Sound Lab makes it appear as if the riders are about to get hit by a train, only for it to be revealed that it was just an elaborate sound effect.
- Short-Runners: This version only lasted two years before being shut down due to terrible guest reception.
- Shout-Out: When showing the "Through the Looking Glass" experiment, Nigel says, "Is this looking glass actually magnifying...or is your imagination?", a parody of what the Ghost Host says of the Stretching Room in The Haunted Mansion.
- Take That, Audience!: The ride opens by "scanning" your mind and finding little activity, claiming "there's not much going on upstairs." Subverted by the ride's end when it determines your imagination levels are off the charts.
- An Aesop: While there is a scientific reason for imagination, don't forget that the point is to have fun and let your mind go wild.
- Artistic License: Nigel says that the tour will show the guests how the five human senses can help capture their imagination. In reality, those 5 human senses and imagination are controlled by different parts of the brain.
- The Bus Came Back: After the poor reception of the previous version, Figment was fully brought back into the spotlight for the current ride.
- The Cameo: In Phillip Brainard's office, Flubber can be seen having a party.
- The Cat Came Back: No matter how much Channing tries to shoo off Figment, he comes back and interrupts him again.
- Copiously Credited Creator: In-Universe. Nigel's office door labels him as being the "Chairman, Principal Scientist, Director of Operations, Head of Laboratories, and Everything Else" when it comes to the Imagination Institute.
- Derailed Train of Thought: When Figment interrupts the guests' tour of the Sound Lab, Nigel angrily remarks that he's lost his train of thought, to which Figment responds by playing the sound of an oncoming train, saying, "No you haven't, it's over here!"
- Exact Words: Happens in this exchange:Nigel: I want you out of my sight!
Figment: Out of sight? Okay! (turns invisible and begins to lead the tour forward himself)
- Foil: Nigel is this to Figment. He believes that Imagination should be captured and controlled, while Figment believes that it should be fully embraced and set free.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: In the Sight Lab, Figment turns the eye chart into a screen that he uses to project the words for the song "One Little Spark", telling riders to "follow the bouncing Figment".
- The Gadfly: Figment messes with Nigel by talking about the fun of imagination rather than the science. While he is being a prankster, he really means no malice towards Nigel and more encourages him to think outside the box.
- Giving Up on Logic: When the riders are taken to Figment's upside down house, Nigel, impressed by the display, suddenly decides to give up on his previous beliefs, saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
- Glass-Shattering Sound: When quickly going through the five senses, Figment shows sight by putting glasses on Nigel, and then shows sound by doing a high note loud enough to break the glasses.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Subverted. Nigel's open house tour of the Imagination Institute ends up as a complete disaster due to Figment's intervention, but it goes wrong in a positive way, allowing Nigel to rethink his views on imagination.
- Jump Scare: When Figment exclaims, "Imagination is a BLAST!", the riders suddenly get hit with an intense blast of air.
- Literal-Minded: Figment, as the exchange below is what gives him the idea of bringing the guests into his own upside down house.Nigel: Figment, what is going on? You're turning this entire open house upside down!
Figment: Upside down? Now you're talking! That's the best idea you've had all day!
- Long-Runners: This version of the ride hit the 20 year mark in 2022 and has outlasted both of its predecessors combined.
- Magic Carpet: In the last scene, Figment can be seen riding on one.
- The Man in the Moon: Just before the ride vehicles stop at the unloading zone, the moon is shown with Nigel's face.
- Mona Lisa Smile: Figment at one point appears in an image that is a parody of the Mona Lisa.
- Morphic Resonance: When Figment turns into a skunk in the smell lab, he retains his wings and horns.
- Mythology Gag: One of the office doors is labeled "Dean Finder", a reference to Dreamfinder.
- In the finale, the giant sheet music for "One Little Spark" includes an image of Dreamfinder and Figment on the Dreamcatcher ship.
- On the TV in Figment's upside down house, the cartoon being shown is actually 2D animation of Figment used in the Science realm of the original ride and in some of the activities in the original Image Works.
- Once Upon a Time: Figment's flying carpet has a short fairy tale written on the bottom side, that starts off with these words.
- Portmantitle: For this iteration, the title of the ride's post-show, the Image Works, was slightly altered to ImageWorks.
- The Prankster: In this version of the ride, Figment is depicted as more of a mischief-maker.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: Used twice in the ride's screens with both instances being a live action Nigel with a CG Figment. The first is in the beginning of the ride, the second right after guests have gone through Figment's upside down house.
- Rule of Three: The riders are only taken to 3 of the labs before Nigel abandons the tour as a result of Figment's antics.
- Science Is Bad: It may have been unintentional, but this attraction gives off this feeling, as it depicts science as being cold and miserable when compared to the wonders of creativity and art. Zigzagged in that the point is that while you can measure and study imagination with science, it also misses the point that imagination is supposed to be fun.
- Self-Deprecation: This ride is essentially a big Take That! to the previous one, as Nigel's way of imagination is ultimately shown to be dull and lifeless, and in the end he changes his ways and follows Figment's more unrestrained way of Imagination.
- Shout-Out: There's a handful of references to older Disney films going back to the 60s and 70s, including The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
- Smelly Skunk: In the Smell Lab, Figment turns into a skunk and blasts the riders with the skunk stench. note
- Tastes Like Chicken: When Figment licks Nigel to represent the sense of taste, he afterward says this word-for-word.
- Imaaagination! / Imaaagination!
A dream can be / a dream come true
With just one spark / in me and you.