How Figment ‘Grew Up’ in EPCOT

When you think of Figment, that pesky, purple dragon from EPCOT’s Journey Into Imagination ride, you probably aren’t ALSO thinking about the 1980’s television series Magnum PI starring Tom Selleck’s mustache.


If I just said a bunch of words and names that you don’t understand, let me catch you up: The 1980’s were real, even though they seem too good to be true.

Now that we’re on the same page, I have to deliver the somewhat perplexing news that an episode of Magnum P.I. inspired Imagineer Tony Baxter to create Figment.

Yes, really.

The episode in question is called Dead Man’s Channel, Season 2 Episode 2, and aired Oct 15, 1981. That’s just about a year and five months before Journey Into Imagination, the ride that would introduce us to Figment, opened in EPCOT.

Imagination Pavilion

Included in the episode is a (kind of annoying) subplot where Magnum’s butler Higgins keeps hearing a goat bleating around the property, but can’t locate the animal. Magnum decides it’s hilarious to play like he doesn’t hear it in order to make Higgins believe he’s losing his mind.

Higgins finally confronts Magnum about it once and for all, saying, “And don’t tell me it’s a figment of my imagination. Figments don’t eat rare, tropical flowers. Mine have been decimated!”

This was the moment when Mr. Baxter knew what to call the little, (kind of annoying) dragon character he originally imagined for Disneyland’s abandoned Discovery Bay project, and was being reimagined for a new ride for EPCOT.

Journey Into Imagination with Figment

Figment is punk. What I mean is, rebelliousness was programmed into his DNA. He is a piece of original intellectual property created for and exclusive to a single ride in a single park in a company who created and owns some of the most identifiable intellectual property on the planet. But Figment didn’t start in a beloved animated film, and his likeness wasn’t licensed innumerably, literally illustrating our childhoods. He was a robot in a ride.

Well he was also a meet and greet in the Imagination Pavilion which housed the ride. Journey Into Imagination’s other star, Dreamfinder, would stroll about with Figment in tow, held under one arm and fully animated in a feat of costuming you can only understand if you’ve participated in a production of Little Shop Of Horrors. He didn’t talk, but he was alive (and he was little).

Dreamfinder and Figment

Figment fans have been through a lot. When the original ride closed in 1998 for a refurbishment, there was definitely some outrage, but it’s always nice when things we love get a fresh coat of paint, right? That new-ride smell?

The new version of the original ride, now called Journey Into YOUR Imagination, opened almost exactly a year later on October 1st, 1999, the anniversary date of both Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. The observance of this important date with the “grand opening” of this new version of a beloved ride makes me laugh out loud, because, spoiler alert, everyone hated it.


Actually, it’s more like they lost their minds with rage.

Why? Well for one, there was no Dreamfinder. They also cut out a lot of track and made the ride a lot shorter. But much, much more disturbing, they had removed our beloved Figment completely (save a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameos as a projection).

The outcry was deafening, and while Disney usually has the ability to be infallibly stoic, this is one example of a time they seemed to cave to the angry mob.

Journey Into Imagination with Figment

Two years later, nearly to the day it opened, Journey Into YOUR Imagination closed, and 8 months after that, Journey Into Imagination With Figment, a reworked version of YOUR Imagination, opened. This is the version of the ride we have to this day.

Nobody is saying this version of the ride is amazing. Very few people will even say that it’s all that good. But it’s all that we have of the original ride, and most importantly, it’s all about Figment.


When Disney announced that a Figment meet and greet would be returning to Imagination Pavilion, the hearts, minds, and imaginations of Figment fans everywhere were captured and captivated, and we all got to dreaming about what this could possibly look like.

My version? I was absolutely SURE Figment would be presented BB8 style, sitting on a box in a room where we would be ushered in one party at a time to see him and get our picture taken with him. An opportunity to see our little purple dragon friend once more, just as we had seen him last, little and cute, but without the physical support of Dreamfinder, whose return for this meet and greet wouldn’t make sense based on his longtime absence from the ride.

What we got? The VERY dramatic reveal of a Figment who is now taller than me, and I’m 6’1” (when I stand up straight).


This is what I want to say about the new Figment: I understand if you’re upset. I get why you would be and I relate to why you are. This is not an exploration into why we as Disney Parks fans feel such a deep emotional connection to attractions and characters found in them. The fact is that there are as many reasons for how we got here as there are people in this fandom.
That being said, there are equally as many ways that we metabolize change.

I’m still not over Horizons being demolished. I’ve heard rumors about why it had to close which make it a tiny bit better, but it hurts nonetheless.


So as a Disney Parks fan, my experience is that I have been both comforted and hurt, over and over, to the point where I now NEED to see the good in things, because doing so is what makes me happy (or at least not depressed).

I met Figment on his opening day as a big purple dragon, and doing so made me feel really good. What I realized is that when a lot of us were little, we met Figment, and he was little, too.

Hey, Figment!

Then Figment took some time off from meeting and greeting, and in the meantime we all grew up, and Figment was no exception. It made me feel good to think that we all grew up together.

The takeaway for me is that there are enough of us that love Figment, that a popcorn bucket of his likeness and the subsequent 6-hour line to purchase it, dominated the internet and made national news. That the opening day of his meet and greet drew a 5-hour line. And most importantly, that we get to go to EPCOT in 2023 and meet Figment in literally any form, let alone HUG HIM!

Figment Popcorn Bucket

Walt Disney said of Disneyland that it would never be complete. That it would continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. Now I don’t want to compare Figment to Disneyland, but I think it would be safe to say that the sentiment applies, maybe more literally than anything else ever has.

Why Disney Adults are So Obsessed With Figment

Join the Newsletter to stay on top of ALL the breaking Disney News! You'll also get access to AllEars tips, reviews, trivia, and MORE! Click here to Subscribe!

Click below to subscribe

Have you met this new version of Figment? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Trending Now

Leave a Reply

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

One Reply to “How Figment ‘Grew Up’ in EPCOT”

  1. Great article, Breedlove. Thank you. I’m still not super happy about big Figment but your perspective on it helps. And I like that Dreamfinder is painted on the wall behind the meet and greet (at least I think I saw it there in a video). I feel fortunate my family got to experience the original attraction (and loved it) and that I have a photo of my little brother with Figment and Dreamfinder. He passed away but I have his stuffed Figment, too.