The Imagination Pavilion is one hot mess. What was once one of the most popular areas in all of EPCOT Center is now one of the least in Epcot. I have no statistics to back this claim up but Iím going to go with my gut, and my gut is rarely wrong on things like this. I also personally witnessed the latest version of this pavilionís central attraction make a grown person cry, and not in the good way.
The problems with this Pavilion are quite apparent from the start. The buildingís once tranquil and dreamy color scheme has been replaced with cardinal tones of red and orange seemingly in order to make the structure scream, ďLook at me, Iím eccentric,Ē like a poorly written sitcom character. This seems to be what we are to surmise raw imagination to be like, since this bombastic theme recurs throughout much of the pavilion and its attractions. Even the cast membersí costumes are meant to make them look like wacky inventors at The Imagination Institute.
The beautifully designed fountain area has thankfully remained relatively untouched save for the removal of the spinning Figment topiary, the removal of the plants from the leapfrog fountain planters, and changing the color of the leapfrog fountains from blue to red. I have no explanation for this. I thought Epcot was trying to shed its reputation of being comprised of corporate gray monoliths. Why would it then decide to remove plants to be replaced by gray rocks? The red paint doesnít help any as it only makes the structure look more like a desolate Martian wasteland.
Once inside the loading area for Journey into Imagination guests found themselves in a large atrium with an enormous mural depicting the various sections of the ride above the loading area for the ride itself. At the center of this large room, a spiral staircase wrapped around an elevator enclosed in a glass shaft decorated with white abstract shapes that almost resembled clouds. This staircase and elevator lead to a terrace at the base of one of the pavilionís signature glass pyramids. From this vantage point, guests could look down at the lower level or be treated to a magnificent view of the rest of Future World before entering the Imageworks.
The new Entry area is bright orange and features a reception desk. The queue for the ride is now a long hallway passed closed office doors. Yes, I canít think of anything more imaginative than the lobby of an office building, except perhaps for ANYTHING ELSE. Office buildings radiate banality. I donít care how many prime colors you paint them. A desk with a computer monitor on it and a closed door with a smoked glass window and a name painted on it in black letters is enough to make most adultís skin crawl, and most children feel like they are being sent to the principalís office. Office buildings crush dreams, kill fairies, and make most people slowly lose the will to live. How can you in good conscious say that this, THIS is the place where imagination lives. Youíre five freaking miles away from a giant fairytale castle and an office lobby is the best thing you can come up with to raise the curtain on a ride about imagination?
The ride itself is intended to be an open house tour of the Imagination Institute that centers around how we humans use our five senses. This ride isnít that bad, it just belongs on the complete opposite side of Future World in the Wonders of Life Pavilion. Heck, I even remember several of the gags and illusions used in this attraction from the Sensory Funhouse area of The Wonders of Life. What the heck do a train whistle and an eye chart have to do with imagination? Figment messes everything up and hijacks the tour to take us to his blacklight sensitive house and for the big finaleÖ half a dozen audio animatronic figures!
There has been a lot written about the deeper meaning behind this attraction and how it is actually an allegory for Imagineering being restricted by the sharp pencil boys, so I wonít repeat that tale here. What is important is that we are still left with a downright awful ride. One that is underwhelming at every turn and only really makes sense to the people who know the history of the attraction.