Retro Magic: Magic Journeys

Magic Journeys
Mystic flights
On the wings of unexpected sounds and sights

Magic Journeys Theater

Magic Journeys debuted on October 1, 1982 in the Magic Eye Theater of the Imagination Pavilion. It was the first 3D film to be screened in the Disney parks and was shown at four different locations (Disneyland, EPCOT Center, Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland) during its 11 year run.

Background:
With the Journey to Imagination attraction running behind completion schedule, WED Enterprises needed to open the Imagination Pavilion or risk losing the sponsorship of Eastman Kodak. If the Pavilion did not open with EPCOT Center’s debut, Kodak had a clause which allowed them to pull out their contract. WED Enterprises needed an attraction fast. The decision was made to premiere a film in the Magic Eye Studios in lieu of an attraction (for the time being). Magic Journeys had its own set of production problems and was almost delayed as well. In fact, audio issues were barely solved before its debut for Disney and other sponsor executives on September 24, 1982. Everything needed to be perfect for the presentation since Kodak held an iron fist on every decision for the Imagination Pavilion. This even included the color of the beloved character Figment. He originally was green which was the color of rival, FujiFilm. In a nod to Kodak, Figment’s sweater does has the trademark yellow and red.

Opening Scene - Magic Journeys

Preshow:
The EPCOT Center preshow feature was titled Makin’ Memories. It was essentially a commercial for Kodak that featured a slide show of pictures and the song “Makin’ Memories” by the Sherman Brothers.

When Magic Journeys transitioned over to the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland Theater in 1987, the 1953 Donald Duck 3D short Working for Peanuts was paired with it.

Film:

The film was directed by Oscar-winning director Murray Lerner and scored by the Richard and Robert Sherman. Magic Journeys was the first computer generated 3D film to debut in the Disney Parks. It featured sharper imaging due to the 65mm of film and was shown at 75 frame per second compared to the average 24 frames per second.

The film starts with children running in a field. One blows on a dandelion and the seed float away to become stars and the sun. The next scene features the children at the beach flying a kite. The kite turned into a bird, a fish, a school of fish, a flock of birds, bird wings, a Pegasus, a horse and finally into a merry-go-round. The children ride the merry-go-round as it spins around the moon and bats fly out. The moon transforms into a witch, a mask, an Olmec head until it finally takes the shape of a cat. The boys reach for the cat that now changes into a Sphinx and then a lion at the circus. The last scene features clowns, trapeze artists and acrobats.

Clown Magic Journey

Epilogue:

The film will always be remembered for its imagery and music. Through the years it has been the brunt of many jokes, some even describing the film as a “long acid trip.” The film’s intention was to view the world in a new and exciting way through the use of imagination. It closed in EPCOT Center around 1986 and was replaced by Captain EO. The film moved to the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland in December 1986. It remained in operation until 1993 where it was replaced by The Legend of the Lion King.

Facts:

EPCOT
– Grand opening: October 1, 1982 (Imagination Pavilion – Magic Eye Theater)
– Closed: February 9, 1986
– Designer: WED Enterprises
– Show Duration: 17:53 minutes
– Former Sponsor: Eastman Kodak
– Attraction type: 3D Film
– Replaced by: Captain EO

Magic Kingdom
– Grand Re-Opening: December 15, 1987 (Fantasyland)
– Closed: December 1, 1993
– Replaced by: The Legend of the Lion King


Attraction Video:

Sources:
Inside the Magic, Extinct Disney, Walt Disney’s Epcot Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow

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Theresa Carlson

Theresa has been a life-long Disney fan since she first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1985 at the age of 3. According to her mother, she squealed with excitement when she saw Winnie the Pooh and Chip n' Dale for the first time. That love for Disney has not died as she grew up. She continues to be fascinated with the history of EPCOT Center and maintains the radio station, Kungaloosh Radio on TuneIn Radio.

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