Friday, October 8, 2010

The Dreaded JII 3.0

I feel I owe it to my followers (read: no one) to explain my serious concerns regarding Journey Into Imagination.  When I first had this idea to ride all of the worst* rides in the park, it didn’t occur to me that that would mean having to ride the MOST HORRIBLY AWFUL TERRIBLE PUTRID RIDE EVER IN EXISTENCE: the current version of Journey into Imagination (to be referred to hereinafter as JII 3.0). 

Let’s briefly recount the history of JII:  I’ve been visiting Disney World since 1983 when I was 18 months old.  By this time, Epcot had been open for about a year.  My favorite ride in that park, and possibly in all of Disney World, was Journey into Imagination.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  Sponsored by Kodak, it was colorful and artistic.  The Dreamfinder and Figment were charming and extremely likeable.  To this day, One Little Spark is one of my favorite Disney songs.  I remember admiring the beautiful mural on the walls as we waited in the seemingly endless line to get on this family-friendly dark ride.  And at the end of your gorgeous journey, you got to play in Image Works.  We spent hours there.  I specifically remember the room where you could make different colored bubbles appear on big screens high on the wall by pressing certain buttons before you.  I remember the room where you would stand against a wall and right as the ticker stopped, jump up in a crazy movement and then after the flash, your silly-shaped shadow would be temporarily preserved on the wall like a photograph.  I remember the room with the colorful hexagons on the floor.  We stepped on them and each hexagon made a different musical sound – dancing around on the shapes created a symphony of percussion and brass.  I remember using a "pen" to color in pictures of Figment on a computer screen.  And then, of course, there were the giant, pool-table-sized tables of pins.  We made countless handprints on those things.  It was fabulous.

Then, in 1998, it closed.

What opened thereafter was, to put it succinctly, an abomination.  I can’t think of a less imaginative attraction that could be put in a pavilion allegedly dedicated to imagination.  Many, many people agreed and the seemingly-endless line for this ride evaporated.  Disney took note, so in 2002 they renovated the ride for a third time.  

Now, you would think that after such a sharp loss of interest and enjoyment by its customers in JII 2.0 that they would simply bring back the ever-popular and beautifully executed JII 1.0.  But no.  No, what they gave us was a step up from 2.0 but still a very very far fall from the original flavor.  Indeed, in the Imagination pavilion, for years we used to drink “Cristal”.  Then they started serving us “Two-Buck Chuck”.  Now they’re serving us a “$6 Pinot”.  It’s just barely drinkable but I’m sorry, I miss the Cristal.  I was used to the Cristal.  I want the Cristal back.

I’ve ridden JII 3.0 once, in 2006.  Immediately upon disembarking, I vowed never to return.  Even though I still have an affinity for that pavilion (which has only increased since the return of Captain Eo to replace the regretful Honey I Shrunk the Audience), I won’t contribute to increasing the attendance numbers of that particular attraction.  The less people who ride it, the less valuable it becomes to Disney, the more likely the company will take notice and possibly renovate for a fourth time (hopefully, this time, to learn its lesson and bring back the original).  I am a peaceful objector, and it seems most Epcot visitors are doing the same as I hear the wait for this ride is historically 0 minutes.  But now, if I want to be true to my goal of riding all the worst rides of Disney, it would be heresy to skip over the worst of the worst would it not?  

I don’t know if I’ll manage to sack up and stomach riding this Disney travesty.  I’m torn between not wanting to let Disney think this ride is worth keeping around for one more minute, and not fully completing my new goal to ride all  I guess we’ll see which side wins out in the end.

* For the purposes of this blog, “worst” can mean poorly-executed, age-inappropriate, or just plain old boring.  In the case of this particular attraction it means dreadful, atrocious, bad, shoddy, substandard, and simply abysmal.

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