Epcot’s Horizons – Part Two

In Part Two of my Horizons blog I’m going to take you on a ride through this great attraction.

Horizons Building

As many travel ads say, “Getting there is half the fun.” When guests entered the Horizons building, they found themselves in FuturePort, a Transportation Terminal of the future. A large departure board listed some of the destinations we could travel to from this terminal. If you notice, HORIZONS is highlighted and leaving via SHUTTLE from gate 4A and is NOW BOARDING. Also in the terminal were large octagonal windows showing pictures of far off locales. These represented the travel posters of the future. All the while, overhead speakers announced the arrivals and departures from other far off locations.

Destination Board

Travel Posters

Shortly after we were seated in our car, an on-board announcement proclaimed, “Horizons One is now departing. Our final destination today – the twenty-first century.” But before we visited the future, we were transported into the past to see how previous visionaries predicted life would unfold in the coming years. Our vehicle passed by drawings of the Icarus legend, early renderings of flying machines, and a man studying a cage full of birds. Eventually we came to our first Audio-Animatronics vignette. Here we saw Jules Verne and a chicken floating in a bullet-shaped spacecraft. This scene was inspired by his work “From the Earth to the Moon” in which he uses a canon to propel his spacecraft toward this celestial body.

From the Earth to the Moon

The next scene comes from French filmmaker Georges Méliès’ movie “A Trip to the Moon” (Le voyage dans la Lune) made in 1902 which was based loosely on both “From the Earth to the Moon” and “The First Men in the Moon” by H. G. Wells.

A Trip to the Moon

A Trip to the Moon

As our journey continues, we see how another Frenchman, Albert Robida, visualized the future. Robida was a prolific illustrator and during the late 19th and early 20th centuries he created hundreds of drawings depicting the future. The next scene in Horizons portrayed his conception of Paris in 1950 using stylized enlargements and animations of a number of his illustrations. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of this section of the attraction. So I’m posting two of Robida’s renderings to help give you an idea as to what this portion of the ride was like.

Robida Illistration

Robida Illistration

Next we jump to the 1930’s and possibly the most memorable scene in the attraction. This vignette takes place in a high-rise apartment where we find a robotic butler attending to the household chores. Meanwhile, his owner contemplates the good life while staring out at a vibrant city through floor to ceiling windows.

1930's High Rise Apartment

Nearby, another gentleman receives an automated haircut and shoeshine while getting a custom suntan. With just a flick of a switch he can choose rays from the Bahamas, Hawaii, or Florida.

On the second floor, a woman takes a bubble bath while watching television. The channel selected features a young man singing “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from the Carousel of Progress attraction. This same rendition can still be heard on this Magic Kingdom favorite.

Further on, a multi-armed robot multitasks by pouring the cat milk, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, and flipping eggs all at the same time – with dubious results.

Multi-Armed Robot

Our next stop is Neon City. Here, brightly colored strands of light created a two-dimensional vision of our future. A keen observer could even make out the outline of Disneyland and Monsanto’s House of the Future. Also presented in this section were old movie and television clips that foretold our future, including some footage from the Disneyland TV show.

Neon City

Neon City

As our journey continued, we entered “present day” and were surrounded by two huge OMNIMAX screens. The ride vehicles were positioned perfectly to afford everyone the optimal view. For the next two minutes we were immersed in visions of the sun, colonies in space, microprocessors, crystals, oceans, the launching of the space shuttle, and a DNA molecule. It was an impressive sight, indeed.


As we exited the OMNIMAX room, we’re told that these marvelous inventions and discoveries are the building blocks for our future. As we turn the corner, we see what lies ahead in twenty-first- century Nova City and we’re introduced to the narrators whose voices we’ve been hearing from our vehicle’s speakers. Seated in a modern living room is a couple in their mid-sixties, still active and youthful-looking due to advances in medicine. The husband is playing a Theremin-organ, an instrument that can be activated without actually touching the device. Named after its Russian inventor, this device senses hand movement. One hand controls the pitch while the other controls the volume. If you want to play with a modified version of this technology, head over to the Imagination Pavilion and check out the ImageWorks section at the end of the ride.

Nova City and Grandfather

While hubby is busy composing music, his wife is chatting with their daughter in Mesa Verde via a three-dimensional holographic televiewer.

Nova City and Grandmother

Looking out their windows we see fantastic Nova City. Here, mag-lev (magnetic levitation) trains were depicted. These trains, which float above the track, are not slowed by friction and thus can travel more rapidly than their predecessors. The message”¦ Far off places are closer than ever.

Nova City

Nova City

We next pass by an array of unusual fruits and vegetables. We’re told that these are the products of genetic engineering. This scene provided a nice transition as we entered the far off farming community of Mesa Verde.

Genetic Fruits and Vegetables

In Mesa Verde, we saw that once barren desert had been transformed into fertile land. The scent of oranges filled the room. We were also introduced to the city couple’s daughter, who, after seven years of college has become a hydro-cultural engineer. Using voice activated controls, she directs automated harvesting of the crops while talking with her mother in Nova City. Notice the hover craft in the second picture. This prop can be seen today on the Tram Tour at the Walt Disney Studios Paris.

Mesa Verde

Hover Craft

Nearby, the “farmer’s” husband could be seen in their kitchen, tending to their son. He was also hard at work baking a birthday cake for an upcoming party. Notice the role reversal between husband and wife. This concept was far more dramatic in the 1980’s.

Husband and Birthday Cake

In the family room next door, we meet the farming couple’s daughter. She is supposed to be doing her homework, but instead is talking to her boyfriend via a large-screen picture phone. This telephone conversation was used as a transition device to move the story from the desert to the ocean.

Farmer's Daughter

When we arrive at Sea Castle City, a new floating community, we see her boyfriend working on his one-man submarine. The boyfriend is actually played by Tom Fitzgerald, the Disney Imagineer who was the main story writer for the attraction.

Boyfriend and One Man Sub

Tom Fitzgerald

As we explore Sea Castle City further, we observe a classroom where young children are learning to scuba dive. At the underwater resort, windows look out into the ocean and we see guests peering into the deep and diners enjoying a meal at a submerged restaurant.

Underwater Classroom

Underwater Resort

Continuing our ocean journey we see kelp farming on the water’s surface which provides both food and fuel. On the sea floor, a robot harvester collects manganese-rich nodules. As we dive deeper, light grows dim and we transition to the inkiness of outer space. Floating before us are astronauts working on various pieces of equipment and a space colony rotating in the distance. We enter the space colony and see a community complete with roads, residences, lakes and even a sports stadium.

Working in Space

Brava Centauri

As we look closer at some of the facilities within the colony, we discover a weightless gym complete with cycling and martial arts classes. And at the docking port, we’re introduced to the Nova City couple’s son and family as they arrive at Brava Centauri and become accustomed to weightlessness for the first time.

Arriving at Brava Centauri

We’re told one reason for colonizing space is to develop new industries and create products superior to those manufactured on earth. Crystals, which can be grown larger and purer, show promise in this endeavor.

Growing Crystals in Space

The final vignette shows the family coming together from their various locations to celebrate a birthday. With the use of three-dimensional holographic televiewers, it’s almost like everyone is actually in attendance.

Birthday Party

After the birthday party, the following announcement was made: “Attention Horizons passengers. You are invited to choose your own flight path back to the FuturePort. Please look down at the lighted panels in front of you. Press one of the three ride choices: Space, Desert, or Under Sea. Everyone can choose, majority rules. All passengers, make your selections now.”

As you continued to move forward, privacy screens were lowered to each side of the vehicle as you moved in front of a monitor. A 31-second video then played showing the simulated adventure selected. To be honest, I was never blown away by this effect. After the elaborate nature of the rest of the attraction, this portion of the ride was somewhat anticlimactic – but it was unique and made me want to ride again just so I could experience all three endings.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I know many people mourn the loss of this wonderful attraction. I know I do. It was nice to be entertained with Disney magic for almost fifteen minutes. But times have changed and the public now wants more thrills than this sedate attraction offered.

In October 1986 I visited Walt Disney World carrying one of those gigantic “portable” video cameras.

Jack with Video Camera

In those days, we did not have video editing equipment. What you shot was what you got. While on that trip, I filmed a reasonable portion of the Horizons attraction. I have taken that video, added a few still pictures and a new soundtrack in an effort to make a presentable presentation for you to watch. It’s a long way from perfect, but I hope it brings back some pleasant memories for you. Enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

48 Replies to “Epcot’s Horizons – Part Two”

  1. I sure miss this ride – one of my all time Disney favourites. This and Journey into Imagination (the original) are definately my two EPCOT favourites. So hard when they replace it with a ride that I just am not able to go on (I have a steel rod in my back so have to be very careful). I find that more and more – the “old favourites” being replaced with roller coaster like thrill rides. Oy vey. As they say – “thanks for the memories”

  2. That was such a great trip down memory lane. Horizons was always one of my favorite attractions, I was so excited when I came across this video. The narration and the scenes have brought back so many good memories of my earlier trips to Disney.
    Thank you so much for posting the video, I thought for sure my days were done of getting to see Horizons. Great video!!!!

  3. Jack – Im in my early 30’s and take my family now to Disney annually. My parents took us once when I was about 6 years old, and then I did not visit again until 1997 when I was a Senior in High School.

    I always have memories of Horizons, but I never knew what they were until now. Its like my memory has come back! Im always telling my husband about the orange scent, and the smell of an orange always brings me to the Mesa Verde scene – I just had no idea what it was from. In fact, I have just figured it must be from Spaceship Earth.

    This blog absolutely AMAZES me how vivid I remember every bit of this attraction from when I was only 6 years old.

    Thanks for tying it all together for me!!! Also excites me for the memories we are making with our children.

  4. I still have partial memories of this attraction when I visited with my parents when I was 8. It was one of my favorites! I liked picking the ending too. My mom is not much of a wild ride person so she wanted to go to the desert but the rest of us chose outerspace. I am very disappointed that I can not share this with my family now. Thanks for helping fill in the gaps in my memory!

  5. Hey Jack,

    This brought back a lot of great memories. It’s too bad that Horizons had all the elements against it that led to its closing. I realize that Disney is not a museum, but I really wish they could have kept this ride or updated it.

    Thank you for the video. I really enjoy being able to relive these rides through your blog. I hope that TDO pays more attention to their flagship parks here because they need to!

    Thomas in Orlando

  6. Jack,
    Thank you!
    Horizons was my FAVORITE ride at Epcot Center.
    I MISS it every time I go to Epcot.
    I can still smell the orange smell that would emanate as you passed the orange groves!

    I wish they hadn’t demolished it

    You are awesome for posting this.

  7. Hi Jack,

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I adored Horizons and was extremely crushed when it finally closed. I rode the ride over 20 times the summer before it closed. To me there is no other ride that rivals it. And I’m sad there will be no ride like it going forward.

  8. Hey Jack,

    Thank you for another great blog!

    I believe I only rode Horizons once or twice. I barely remember it because I was so young. The one thing I remember clearly was how special I felt after choosing which ending I wanted.

    Even though it seems thrill rides are taking over theme parks, I hold out hope that kids still appreciate and enjoy rides like Horizons.


  9. Definitely add me to the list of diehard “I Liked the Old Rides Better” fans. Like so many others, I am still nostalgic for the original Horizons, Motion, Imagination, Energy, Spaceship Earth, etc. Alas, you can’t stop progress . . . But I can still sing “Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit” to my heart’s content and relive all the happy memories through your blogs!

  10. Thank you, Jack! I have had this memory of a robot maid from one of my first childhood trips to Disney. All these years and visits later, I couldn’t place it. I thought I made it up. Now, here it is right before my eyes! You have no idea how much this means to me. Wish the ride still existed!

  11. Wonderful blog! I loved Horizons and was so disappointed that it closed! It was a ride that left me feeling inspired for certain while growing up and through my college days. Years later and now married, I have been trying to describe the attraction to my husband who never had a chance to ride Horizons, and now I can show him what I liked so much about it. Too bad I can’t get the smell of the oranges to go with the video. I hold out a little hope that Disney may do something similar again. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for this amazing flashback Jack!

    I used to go to WDW every year with my father and Horizons was a favorite because we loved to see what the future might hold. In fact, the other weekend as I sat on the couch with my husband and our cat in LA video-chatting with my father in NY I thought to myself, “this is like that birthday party in the Horizons ride!” : )

    Amazing to think that we now live in that world of video conferencing, hydroponics, commercial space travel, and robotic everything! I wonder what kinds of inventions would be featured if they were to do the ride now….

  13. Jack On the night of 01/09/1999 my son and I were the last people on Horizons. It was cold and wet and dark. We were going home the next day and wanted to experience another ride before we left. We saw the sign about closing and decided to go for it. We caught the ride just as they beginning to shut down. We’ll never forget it, no one else was there. Great memories. I think we chose the way home by space.

  14. Journey into Imagination is till there, Redone but still there. Does not have the same song it use to have. Ima-ga-nation, Ima-ganation
    One tiny spark ……

    I miss the original Alien Encounter and and If you had wings too.

  15. Great job, Jack. Horizons remains my favorite all-time attraction at Disney World (or anywhere else, for that matter). I rode it often as a kid and was lucky enough to catch it again in Summer 1998 for a few last rides before it closed. I’ve bookmarked your blog for days when I think fondly about this remarkable attraction.

  16. Jack: Thanks so much. This and the GM ride were favorites of mine. A nice way to sit back and relax for a while. I’m sure they were in low attendance and out-dated, but I liked them. Since I’m none too thrilled with Mission Space or Test Track, I wish they were still there. Thanks for the trip.

  17. There is a great youtube video that shows Horizons. Search under EPCOT Horizons Tribute HD part 1 (there are three parts) by century3horizons. It gives some history (although Jack gives some extra that is not presented in the video) and follows up with a complete ride along. Absolutely great!

    One person in part 1 asked about Journey into Imagination. The best one I found on youtube is by dragonrider1227 and search under Journey into Imagination pt 1. Purely vintage.

  18. I remember riding Horizons for the first time in 1991, and then several more times over the next few years until it closed. It was always one of my favorites, along with World of Motion. I would beg my parents to let me ride it over and over. In 1999 my high school marching band got the honor of marching through EPCOT during music days, and we ended behind Horizons. There were some ride vehicles sitting outside and it looked just sad…if I could have only gotten one of them under our bus, LOL. Now I always look at the Horizons’ logo in the queue when I ride Mission Space. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  19. Thank you for the trip back in time. To this day every time my family smells oranges we think of Horizons. It was our “must do” attraction along with World of Motion. Ah, the old days.

  20. Jack,

    Thanks for posting this series. I loved Horizons as a kid, and miss it now as an adult with my own children. I really appreciated how, despite not being the geographical focus of the park, it was the keystone to Future World, holding together all of the theming. I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in that environment for such a lengthy ride. When I went, there was a long line, but the payoff was worth it.
    Anyway, have you heard any Imagineer reactions to the demise of the attraction, i.e., did they acknowledge that it couldn’t be timeless, or were they disappointed that efforts to rejuvenate the attraction weren’t made?

  21. thank you Jack!

    I’m 18, so I was able to appreciate the ride for a short while. It was my favorite! I still remember the scent of oranges….
    I like Mission Space but it isn’t my Horizons!

    Thanks for the photos. It brought back a large chunk of my 6th year of life, haha!

  22. Thank you Jack! For years I’ve had “flashbacks” from a Disney ride & have tried to find those scenes each time I return to the World. Now I know where they were from: Horizons! I must have been fairly young & very new to Disney when I rode this attraction, but it obviously made a big impression on me as I remember many of the scenes. In reading this blog & watching your video clip I kept thinking “Ohhh! Now I remember!” Wish it was still there for my own kids to enjoy. Thanks for another great blog!

  23. Jack,

    Just like everyone else, I want to thank you for taking us down memory lane. My family just returned from WDW and my wife asked me about the attraction that preceded Soarin in that same builing. It took me a while to recall that it was Horizons. How timely! Thanks again.

    P.S. If you have the time and the material, can you write a post on the old Figment ride? I think it was called Journey into Imagination? I can still humm a few bars of that song…

    Jack’s Comment:

    I think you’re a little confused. The building that houses Soarin’ was built specifically for that attraction. Occupying this space previously was Food Rocks and Kitchen Kaberet (Land Pavilion). Mission: Space replace Horizons in another new building.

  24. Thanks again for bringing back some fond memories. I particularly enjoyed the picture of you from 1986. Can you believe you wore shorts that tight? If you haven’t already done so, could you do a post on River Country? It’s terrible what’s become of it and I’d love to see some pictures and maybe some video from the good old days. You always do such an excellent job.

  25. Ahh Memories I remember going on this ride with my parents when I was a child. Watching the video it seams so different now then it was when I was young. I do remember the screens coming down at the end of the ride how much fun it is to remember back when. Thanks Jack

  26. What a trip down memory lane!! My late husband and I LOVED Horizons. We’d always walk in, take a sniff and say “Yeah! The “oranges” are working”! Because the orange scent used in the ride would permeate the entry area. How wonderful you caught it on video. Really brought back a lot of wonderful memories. Never seemed to be 15 minutes long to me…always much shorter. And we never tired of the ride.

    On exiting the ride, wasn’t there the GE logo with the following message…”If you can dream it, you can do it.”? And didn’t Figment in Imagination use that? I could be mistaken.

    But thanks again!!

    Jack’s Answer:

    If memory serves me correctly…

    Yes — there was a GE logo at the end of the ride.
    No — Figment never used the “If you can dream it, then you can do it” phrase.

  27. Thanks for revisiting Horizons. This was my kids favorite. I’m amazed you still have all this great footage. Would love to see a revisit to World of Motion if you have any video. I hated to see both of these attractions go. I would like to see a few new attractions in Future World. Do you know of any plans for new attractions? Thanks.

  28. Thank you, thankd you, thank you for another wonderful and detailed blog and video of what feels like an old and trusted friend. I remember this ride and miss it as well. I am amazed that you have all this great video of so many older attractions still around and can bring it together for all of us. It is ALMOST as good as being at Disney itself. I really LOVE your videos and the way you edit the pictures and music. Please don’t stop. Everything you do and submit is TRULY MAGICAL- Just like Disney itself.

  29. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog story. I loved these old rides at EPCOT. The park just doesn’t seem the same without them. I appreciate the attached video, it brought back a lot of memories. It was always nice to go to EPCOT and ride these kinds of rides. It is what gave EPCOT its charm and made it my favorite park.
    Thanks again!!!

  30. Hi Jack:
    I love your blogs! You are like a walking Disney archive!
    This was one of my favorite attractions as a kid. I loved the fact that I could be part of the ride by choosing my ending. That was so exciting to me. I was very sad when it closed.
    I know that to some, these rides might seem outdated, but I believe that they had that “Disney” charm and nostalgic feel that can not be replaced by thrill rides.
    There was a certain smell in the air, that always brings me back to Disney…you can feel it on rides like Spaceship Earth, Carousel of Progress and Space Mountain too. Do you know what I mean?
    I’m afraid that other rides like Spaceship Earth and Carousel of Progress might have their days numbered and that makes me sad as well.

    Anyway, great Blog! Thanks for the memories!

  31. Thank you so much for posting this! Horizons, along with World of Motion, was one of my favorite rides at Epcot. I loved everything about the ride and still miss it to this day. It was nice to relive old memories. Thanks again!

  32. Allow me to give a “shout-out” to the ethereal sound track and uplifting theme song, by Richard Bellis and George Wilkins, respectively, for Horizons. Both composers’ music and arrangements are found extensively around the Disney theme parks; IMO Horizons is some of their best work and it was a real coup for Disney park music collectors to score an early copy, bootleg or otherwise, of the Horizons sound track before the first official recording was released in 1991.
    Thanks for the memories.

  33. Jack,
    Thank you so much for bringing us horizons. Having never been able to visit the world until 2 years ago, I became obsessed with debunked and retired attractions and you never disappoint.

    I always look forward to reading your blogs because they are so detailed oriented and give the readers the entire picture. It is almost like the Jack from 1986 knew that video recording this ride would some day be important.

  34. Thank you so much for posting this story. Horizons was my favorite attraction at Epcot when I was younger and I was so disappointed when it closed. I just showed the video to my 2 girls (ages 4 and 7) and they loved it; and I loved sharing it with them. Thank you!

  35. I remember riding Horizons as a kid. Even though I don’t really remember the ride, I remember asking my parents to go on it over and over. Now I remember some of the ride too. Thanks for the great blog, bringing back some memories that I’d forgotten.

  36. Jack you did an amazing job of capturing the essence of Horizons. It was my favorite ride as a little girl and was so upset that it closed. As a previous posted mentioned, there was once a very positive air about the futre at Epcot and I am not sure if that rings true much anymore.

    Anyway – I am a huge fan of you AND Horizons and just wanted to let you know how much your time and effort is really appreciated. We owe a lot to people like you who recorded these things long ago….When something is gone having a picture of something so small like a sign is SO important…

    Thank you!

    PS what is the signifigance of 83?

    Jack’s Answer:

    83 is the year Horizons opened.

  37. Another great and entertaining blog, thanks! I first went to Epcot in about 1983 when I was in junior high school. I remember some things that I thought were just the ‘coolest’ at the time – the shooting water fountains, a little round ‘robot’ that was mowing grass by itself and a plant planted in the bottom of a touch lamp in The Land that would turn the light off and on by touching it (touching the plant, I mean). Some very neat things at the time! What was the attraction called in Future World where you rode in these seats that moved in groups and moved you through different areas? I remember it had the dinosaurs, but don’t remember much more. I hope that’s enough to go by! Thanks!

    Jack’s Answer:

    The attraction you’re thinking of was Universe of Energy, now Ellen’s Energy Adventure.

  38. I loved Horizons. Toward the end it seemed to be down a lot. I think it was opened when there were peak crowds. I always loved the connections with Carousel of Progress. To me the family in Horizons were the continuation of the one in Carousel.

  39. Jack,
    I am at a loss for words. Thank you for sharing your video. Having not visited WDW for my first visit until 2000 I never had a chance to experience this attraction. Now I have, so Thanks!! It greatly impresses on me how optimistic for the future it all was. I think we have lost that a bit and would like to see it return. I question if I would have had the opportunity to visit WDW in my youth and experience all of these wonderfully optimistic, entertaining, and yet educational attractions if I would have had more interest and direction in academics. I tend to believe it would have had a very positive impact on me. And I think that is important to note when new attractions are being developed particularly for Future World in Epcot. Sure thrill rides are great but if we loose the educational aspect then we loose what sets Disney apart from any old amusement park. I feel we should be careful to guard against this.

    I also got a bit of a chuckle regarding the floating, Sea Castle City. Although not the architecture proposed we currently are doing just what Horizons predicted! Today’s Cruise Ships are in short just that, floating cities and on company, ResidenSea, has taken it one step further by selling condominiums on their ship, The World, creating the worlds first floating community!

    In one of my final assignment toward my Nursing degree I did a Community Assessment and Health concerns analysis that proposed that cruise ships like The World could be a solution to meet the up coming seriously growing need for Retirement Communities and Long Term Care facilities. Seems Disney beat me to the punch by about 20 years 🙂

    Perhaps if the country and the worlds decision makers took more direction from Disney we would see more of these fantastic concepts come to life and we could all be living a brighter, bigger, beautiful tomorrow!!

    Thanks again for another awesome Blog!


  40. hey jack
    great blogs on Horizons. I have heard many stories about this attraction however when i went on it, i was too young to remember it. I really wish i had it seemed like a fun attraction. can’t wait for your next blog and as always, keep up the great work.

  41. Nice work. I think that if Horizons had continued to this day, some gradual refurbs could have continued on and made this less dated over time. Toning down the extra bright colors in some scenes, maybe adjusting some AA’s. But it was always a fun ride.

    I was going to post a link to a fake Horizons “webcam” someone created online. But I lost the link. Anyone have it?

  42. Thanks for posting this. For years,my mom has been talking about a ride she rode in 1980 where she was able to pick the ending. Then, schreens would come down, and she watched a movie about the ending. Now I know which attraction she rode.