Jim Hill: From the Archives
Page 1 of 5
LaughingPlace.com continues its publishing of "Jim Hill: From the Archives" with this article, originally published in October 2000.
Part One: Getting there is half the fun...
After you've read this article, Discuss It on the LaughingPlace.com Discussion Boards
After a summer of demolition, the "Horizons" show building is no more. Its old Future World location has been scraped clean and - even as you read this - a new foundation is being poured for the massive "Mission: Space" attraction. Theme park enthusiasts worldwide are itching to ride this cutting edge attraction - which will supposedly momentarily duplicate the sensation of weightlessness NASA astronauts experience as they rocket through the cosmos. Epcot cast members are equally excited about the idea of the projected 2003 opening of this state- of- the- art ride. With its liberal mix of hard science and high tech thrills, "Mission: Space" is shaping up to be *THE* definitive attraction for this science and discovery park.
But - to be honest - nobody's happier that the Walt Disney Company finally decided to greenlight "Mission: Space" than the Imagineers. After all, these poor slobs have trying for the past year or so to get numerous ambitious new attractions approved for Disney's stateside parks.
Unfortunately, this meant constantly scaling back and / or down-sizing proposed rides and shows in a desperate attempt to meet new WDI head Paul Pressler's financial mandate (I.E. "If it ain't cheap, we ain't buildin' it").
So many promising projects got their plugs pulled that veteran Imagineers had begun to despair that the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts had seen their very last really- for- real "E" ticket attraction.
But then along came "Mission: Space." And - thanks to the incredibly deep pockets of the Compaq Corporation - Future World's about to get a ride that will put Disney back on the theme park map. You can forget about Universal's Islands of Adventure and its incredible "Amazing Spiderman" ride. "Mission: Space" - with its awesome simulation of the G forces that push space travelers back into their seats as they blast into orbit - will soon set the gold standard for all attractions to follow.
Sounds like one heck of a ride, don't it? And yet - while I'm sure thousands of Epcot visitors will eagerly line up daily for the privilege of being pummeled during a simulated trip into space - I personally will always get a little wistful as I get on line to ride "Mission: Space."
Why for? Well, no matter how entertaining the finished version of "Mission: Space" pavilion will be, I won't be able to forget what friends at WDI have told me about Imagineering's original plans for Epcot's "Space" pavilion. Had Disney opted to go forward with that version of this proposed Future World attraction ... Ai yi yi! ... Surgeons would have had labored for hours to remove the smiles from our faces, kids. That's how much fun "Mission: Space" would have been.
Hard as it may be to believe, the $150 - $200 million that Compaq's ponied up for "Mission: Space" pavilion isn't nearly enough scratch to cover the construction costs of the Imagineer's original vision for this Future World pavilion. $300 million might have covered it. *MIGHT HAVE.* That's a huge sum, I know. But - once you got inside the "Space" show building as WDI had originally planned the place to be - you'd have seen that it was money that had been very well spent.
Unfortunately, neither Disney or Compaq was willing to put up the coin necessary to do "Mission: Space" right. So that's how the pre-show of the original version of this proposed Future World pavilion ended up becoming the *ONLY* show WDW visitors will get when they drop by "Mission: Space."
Do you want a taste of the fun you missed out on? Well, it just so happens that Calvin isn't using his transmogrifier today (By the way, Hobbes says "Hi!"). I'll just set this thing so it takes us to the appropriate alternate reality: a place where Imagineers always get all the money they want to build the best Disney theme park attractions possible. (Talk about your Fantasyland...)
Anyway, join me now inside the cardboard box while I press all the right buttons and twirl the appropriate dials. (Please keep your hands and arms inside the box at all times. And hang on to those hats and glasses. For this here's the wildest ride across the space / time continuum ... )