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Horizons 
Introduction


Attraction:

Script - Page 1

Script - Page 2

Script - Page 3

Script - Page 4


Extras:

Original Exit Mural

Fact Sheet

Concepts & Construction

"New Horizons" Lyrics

"There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" Lyrics


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Horizons Concepts and 
Construction Page

Concepts | OmniSphere Theater & Finale | Construction Pictures
Ride Track Layout | Pre-Opening Publicity | Horizons Dedication

The information on this site may not be reproduced in any form on the Internet without express written permission from EDC.

Horizons Pavilion Model
Model of Horizons Pavilion Exterior ©Disney

The main theme for Horizons was first established by Reginald Jones (who was then the CEO of General Electric) and Jack Welch (his successor). Early ideas for the ride focused on a retrospective on Thomas Edison and GE's origins. That was quickly switched to a more forward-thinking approach. In its earliest incarnation, Horizons was to be called Century 3 or Century III. That was a few years after the U.S. Bicentennial and people were looking forward to the United States of America entering its third century of existence. But, the design team realized that EPCOT is not just for Americans, it is for people around the world. So, someone came up with Futureprobe. "Not bad. But we always thought it had a rather uncomfortable medical connotation" said Ned Landon, GE representative on the Horizons Imagineering creative team. "We thought Horizons was just right. There always is a horizon out there. If you try hard enough, you can get to where it is - and when you do, you find there's still another horizon to challenge you, and another beyond that. If Horizons had a subtitle, I'd vote for 'An Achievable Future.' To me, that phrase means a lot about what we're trying to do and say. We're not predicting a better world based on wild guesswork or imaginary science fiction. Instead we're saying that today's technology - scientific understanding - is so advanced that it gives the human race magnificent options to shape a better tomorrow. To achieve a future with greater promise for everybody."

Movies of Yesteryear Model
Movies of Yesteryear Model - Actual version is not exactly like this ©Disney

He continues by explaining that the family is still going to be important in the future. "The 'stars' of our show are all members of a single family, living and working in highly diverse places but still keeping together. We're also trying to show that the future can be friendly, that it's not something to fear. And we're trying to at least suggest that the future won't be all mapped out by someone else. We think there will be options, choices, even more opportunities than ever before to do one's own thing."

Concept drawing for the Space sequence
This drawing shows the concept for the transition from Space into the space colony. ©Disney

With concepts and models in hand, Imagineers went to the experts to make sure they were feasible. They worked with Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill for the space colony. George McGinnis, Horizons Show Designer, says "And we talked to NASA and Cal Tech's Jet Propulsion Lab about growing crystals for semi-conductors in space. For the desert portion, we worked with Carl Hodges, director of the Environmental Research Lab at the University of Arizona. Following his suggestions, we used genetic engineering principles to design new plants and create voice-activated robot harvesters and helium lifters to load and deliver crops to market." Site work began on August 5, 1981 with actual construction beginning in January of 1982.

Easy Living Scene Approval
Set-up of Easy Living Scene at WED for Approval ©Disney

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OmniSphere Theater

OmniSphere Construction
OmniSphere Construction ©Disney

This picture shows the construction of one of the two screens in the OmniSphere theater. Originally slated to be the finale to Horizons with three Omni screens, it was altered to be the centerpiece with only two. The challenge was figuring out how to film the images of science and technology in the world's largest film format. The equipment to photograph molecular structures and underwater scenes as well as using computer animation and landsat photos in the large format had to be invented. Filmmaker, Eddie Garrick, who has produced several National Geographic TV specials, helped design the new technology. The stunning visual effects are complemented by a state-of-the-art sound system "which uses digital recordings and transmits infrared light to the ride vehicles, where it is received and converted back into sound. Low frequency sonic transducers attached to the vehicles near the base of each rider's spine give the full-bodied 'feel' of a concert-hall performance."

 

Choose Your Tomorrow Finale

When the OmniSphere feature was moved to be the centerpiece of the attraction, a new finale had to be created. The difficulty was that it had to fit in the space left in the pavilion and it had to be just as exciting as the OmniSphere. Horizons Show Designer, George McGinnis, suggested a 50 foot traveling picture that, utilizing the ride vehicle's on-board computer, would allow guests to choose how they returned to the FuturePort. Engineer Marty Kindel began working out the complicated logistics that would enable each car to see a different environment. Seven stationary GE Talaria video projectors, tilting the ride vehicles ten degrees, and using low-frequency transducers combine to create the feeling of accelerating through space, the desert, or under sea.

Finale Movie: Desert sequence model
Desert Sequence Model ©Disney

Filming the sequences was another complex issue. David Jones, who worked on special effects in Star Wars, spent two years designing, constructing, and filming models for the three sequences. The desert film was the longest continuous sequence ever filmed with miniatures. A computer was used to get a precise camera path and a special gantry system was constructed to keep the camera from casting a shadow over the model. "All that for 31 seconds," sighs Jones. "But what seconds!"

 

Behind the Scenes GE Technology

GE technology was used throughout the construction of the pavilion. GE's Talaria® light-valve TV projectors are utilized for the finale movie sequence. The ride vehicles are made of Lexan® polycarbonate and are powered by GE motors and drive systems. GE control devices are located throughout the building. There's GE lighting inside and out of the pavilion. GE's Gemlink® video transmitter system, GE mobile radio applications and new uses for GE silicones are also used.

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Construction Pictures

Steel Fram Construction
Pavilion Steel Frame Construction

Horizons Pavilion Construction
These pictures show the construction of the pavilion in 1983. Notice a painting of the pavilion and concept art on the wall in front of the construction site.

Horizons Pavilion Construction Motion Side View
This picture shows the pavilion from the World of Motion side.

Horizons Pavilion Construction Energy Side View
This black and white shot shows the building near completion (at least on the outside). Special thanks to Todd Becker for these pictures.

Floating City Construction
Floating City Construction ©Disney

Construction of Solosub 1
Construction of Solosub 1 near completion ©Disney

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Horizons Ride Track Layout

Would you ever have guessed that when you are getting on and off the ride vehicles you are actually directly underneath the OmniSphere theater? You are. The following two pictures show how the scenes and ride track are arranged inside the pavilion. The first picture shows the First Level. Beginning with the "Movies of Yesteryear" segment, the ride vehicles begin ascending up and eventually, by the time they reach the end of the 50s scene, they are on the Second Level (the second picture). The vehicles begin descending at the Desert Farm scene and arrive back to the First Level at the Undersea Restaurant. Leaving the Undersea Industry scene, the vehicles ascend into Space (the Second Level). By the end of the Brava Centauri sequence, the vehicles are back on the First Level. Click below to view each drawing of the ride layout:

First Level | Second Level

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Pre-Opening Publicity - 1980

The following is from a 6 page booklet entitled "Walt Disney World EPCOT Center." It provides brief summaries of the attractions at the new park. Century 3 is grouped with the other pavilions that were expected to be open on the first day and not separated with the "Future" Seas and Life and Health pavilions. Here is the complete text for the Century 3 pavilion.

 

Century 3

The Century 3 Pavilion, presented by General Electric, will celebrate the envisioned technological achievements of America's third century ... the years of the 21st Century leading to the U.S. Tricentennial in 2076 ... and what these advances will mean to each of our lives.

In the pavilion's "FuturePort," a transport center of a futuristic community, guests will board unique vehicles for an aerial "Journey to Century 3." On their "flight," passengers will encounter exciting story-telling effects, highlighted by three-dimensional scenes and nine-story high film projections.

The trip will begin with a salute to past dreams about future communities and lifestyles drawn from vintage science-fiction films and world's fairs. Vehicles will then transport guests "through" spectacular 90-foot high projected images of micro and macro worlds - frontiers of tomorrow whose secrets will affect our futures in Century 3. Next, "time travelers" will pay an overview visit to three-dimensional community settings and possible lifestyle habitats of tomorrow. As a finale, guests will contribute their own dreams and hopes for the future via audience polling devices within the ride vehicles.

Visitors to the pavilion will see the ever-expanding opportunities and choices for tomorrow's world ... and the important role their decisions will play in making those visions come true in Century 3.

© 1980 Walt Disney Productions


 

1982

Two years later, with construction nearing completion (for the park, not Horizons), Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom Club put out a publication with the same name, "Walt Disney World EPCOT Center," but in color and over 50 pages long. It is filled with concept art for the new attractions coming to Walt Disney World. The end of the Future World section features a few pages devoted to Future World Phase II.

"Opening 1983. In Future World Phase II, visitors will see a bright view of what's on our Horizons in a show depicting family life-styles in the 21st century.

Before entering the future, guests see today's world as it's never been seen before. The incredible OmniSphere presents microworlds and macroworlds of crystal formation and chains of DNA as well as a fiery space shuttle blast-off and extra-terrestrial locales on a colossal projection surface towering more than eight stories.

On tomorrow's horizons we'll find a 21st century habitat floating beneath the sea. Here, school children equip themselves with recirculation gills to prepare for a "field trip" to an undersea kelp farm. In a desert community, voice-controlled robots are seen harvesting genetically engineered crops. Guests will also visit space colonists who live within the interior of a rotating sphere, simulating the pull of gravity. To bring members of the family "together" from ocean, urban, desert and space habitats, colonists use their holographic televiewer, one of tomorrow's many innovations for a better life-style.

Before leaving the 21st century, we'll be able to choose our own tomorrow by simply pressing one of the buttons aboard the ride vehicle. Our probe into the future will culminate in a simulated ride through one of the environments we've just viewed."

© 1982 Walt Disney Productions

The following is information from the General Electric Answer Center computer database. When a GE consumer called with a question about Horizons, this is what the operator would tell them. It was not written in complete sentences because it was not meant as a script, but as a guideline for the phone operator to answer questions about the pavilion.

AS OF OCTOBER, 1993, GE NO LONGER SPONSORS THE HORIZONS EXHIBIT

PURPOSE OF THE PAVILION.................

IN OCTOBER OF 1983 GE OPENED IT'S NEW "HORIZONS" PAVILION AT EPCOT CENTER NEAR ORLANDO, FLORIDA. THE PURPOSE OF THE PAVILION THAT ENTERTAINS AS WELL AS EDUCATES IS BEST DEFINED IN A RECENT ISSUE OF "HORIZONS" MAGAZINE.....................

"HORIZONS IS MEANT TO ENTERTAIN, INSPIRE, AND EVEN TRY TO EDUCATE-PAINLESSLY-SOME EIGHT TO NINE MILLION GUESTS A YEAR BY PROVIDING THEM AN EXCITING "RIDE THROUGH THE FUTURE." WE HOPE THAT OUR GUESTS WILL BE EXTREMELY IMPRESSED BY THE HORIZONS EXPERIENCE.....................HORIZONS IS NOT A SHOWROOM OR TRADE SHOW. THAT'S NOT THE IDEA.............THE HORIZONS "EXPERIENCE" IS MEANT TO MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE FUTURE AND TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT A COMPANY CALLED GENERAL ELECTRIC, WHICH IS TRYING TO MAKE THESE GOOD THINGS COME TO LIFE"

CHOOSING A NAME FOR THE PAVILION...........

"HORIZONS" WAS CHOSEN FROM A LONG LIST OF NAMES THAT INCLUDED TITLES LIKE "CENTURY 3" AND "FUTUREPROBE". "WE THOUGHT "HORIZONS" WAS JUST RIGHT {NAME}. THERE ALWAYS IS A HORIZON OUT THERE. IF YOU TRY HARD ENOUGH, YOU CAN GET TO WHERE IT IS-AND WHEN YOU DO, YOU FIND THERE'S STILL ANOTHER HORIZON TO CHALLENGE YOU, AND ANOTHER BEYOND THAT."

HORIZONS-THE PAVILION THAT "TIES EPCOT CENTER ALL TOGETHER".............

IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT "HORIZONS" IS THE PAVILION THAT "TIES EPCOT CENTER ALL TOGETHER". WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? ".............WE REALLY DO "PULL IT ALL TOGETHER", AND A NUMBER OF OBSERVERS HAVE COMMENTED THAT THEY THINK "HORIZONS" IS THE PAVILION THAT MOST COMPLETELY REPRESENTS WHAT WALT DISNEY HIMSELF MANY YEARS AGO ENVISIONED FOR EPCOT CENTER WHEN IT WAS HIS "LAST AND GREATEST DREAM."

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Dedication & Grand Opening

Grand Opening Celebration
Horizons Grand Opening Celebration ©Disney

On October 1, 1983, the media and special guests gathered for the dedication of Horizons. Walt Disney Productions' CEO Ron Miller, Dr. Schmitt from General Electric, Florida Lt. Gov. Mixson, and Walt Disney World Ambassador Cynthia Pleasant attended the ceremony.

Crowd at Dedication
Crowd and Festivities at Dedication Ceremony ©Disney

CEO Ron Miller speaks
Horizons Grand Opening Celebration ©Disney

The ceremony featured trumpets playing the EPCOT theme, dancers in white suits, homing pigeons as well as blue and silver balloons released into the sky, and speeches. Since it was also Walt Disney World's 12th anniversary, Cast Members wore their 12th Anniversary buttons that featured the Horizons logo.

Grand Opening Celebration Dancers
Dancers at the Grand Opening Celebration ©Disney

WDW 12th Anniversary button
WDW 12th Anniversary Cast Member button

GE advertisement for Horizons
GE advertisement for Horizons' opening. ©Disney/GE

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Horizons Script Page 1 | Script Page 2 | Script Page 3 | Script Page 4
Horizons Exit Mural | Concepts/Construction Page | Horizons Fact Sheet
"New Horizons" Lyrics | "There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" Lyrics

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Created July 20, 1996 / Last modified November 19, 2001

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