Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Disney Song #22: Horizons

To Listen: Click Here

The Facts:
  • Composers: several
  • Year: 1983 - 1999
  • Key: several

Heard In: 

Background / Personal Connection:
Pull up a chair and get comfortable, it's time to talk about Horizons!  It's hard to adequately describe Horizons to those that haven't experienced it, but I'll just say that it was the one ride that epitomized all that was good about the Future World of the mid to late 80's: optimism, technological innovation, inspiration, and soulfulness.

The optimism is an important point.  Horizons' motto was "If we can dream it, then we can do it," and the ride was a feel-good, hopeful look at the future that was meant to inspire rather than create fear.  I loved this ride as a kid, and it turns out that other people did too considering that there are a ton of Horizons tribute sites out there (including one blog that just started a few days ago called "Looking Back at Tomorrow").

So why did Horizons go away?  I don't know all the details, but I think it's a similar story to Journey Into Imagination in that it was due to be rehabbed and a decision was made to replace it altogether. The new incarnation, Mission Space, is a motion simulator and more of a traditional "thrill" ride in that it's more about stimulation and adrenaline than it is education and inspiration.  I've only been on it once and don't remember it really well, but it didn't do much for me.

And changes like this sadly have happened all over Future World.  The music and inspiration has been stripped away and replaced by thrills and more traditional forms of entertainment.  I don't dislike some of the new things per se like Test Track, Soarin', and Ellen's Energy Adventure, but taken as a whole they don't have the same sense of optimism and spirit like the old Epcot did.

And much as I sometimes want to blame Disney for all of that, I think they're just adjusting and conforming to what society wants in order to satisfy their bottom line.  I remember going to Epcot in the late 90's on a school trip (after Future World had begun its transition), and I remember one of my classmates moping around and saying, "This is so boring."  There are a lot of people (in fact probably a big majority) who would be bored by things like "education" and "inspiration" and instead would prefer to just go on a very fast and thrilling ride.  With the company's rise and transformation into a powerful, more traditional corporation in the Eisner era and without Walt's leadership and creative vision to guide them, it's not surprising that they continue to stray further and further from Walt's vision of Epcot and move toward a more traditional, common theme park.

I do think Disney deserves some blame, however, and I believe that they could do more to balance profits and thrill rides with the spirit of Walt and old Epcot.  At the very least, they could easily add back in some music that was taken out (more on this in a future post).

But enough about the demise of Future World - let's get back to Horizons!  I won't recap the entire ride (available for viewing here), but I will say that my favorite part was the giant Omnimax movie in the middle of the ride -- in particular there was a sequence where it looked like you were rotating around the helices of a DNA strand.  I always hoped to see that part of the movie (depending on the timing of the omnimover, you might miss it) because of the great music and cool effect.  I also remember the desert farming room with the citrus smell since I don't like to eat or smell citrus, but it was still a fun room.  And I liked how the story centered on a family with scenes involving birthday celebrations and video conferencing -- in fact, I read that the family is supposed to be the same family as the one in the Carousel of Progress and that Horizons is like the fulfillment of their future.

As for the music, lots of great stuff here (the entire video is 1 hour and 19 minutes and the score had many composers) .  The high points for me are:
The beginning: "If we can dream it, then we can do it.  Yes we can, yes we can!"  Is this where Barack Obama got his campaign slogan from?!
The Omnimax: Starts at 15:19 and really picks up at 17:37.  At 17:59 was where the DNA sequence started and then the organ comes in.  Incredible stuff.
Space Colony: starts at 27:12.  The epitome of hope and inspiration. 


  1. Thanks so much for the shout out, Nicholas!

    1. Absolutely! Looking forward to keeping up with your blog!