Whatever Happened to… Horizons: Resurrected?

They Can’t Tear Down What Was Never Assembled, Can They?… After the Break…

Whatever Happened to… Horizons: Resurrected?

EPCOT Center, a Disney World theme park based in Florida, USA, opened on October 1st, 1982. It is with a wry grin that the date mentioned is the start of one of the four business quarters that businesses use to track their fiscal progress. October 1st may have had some sentimental value within the Disney company but it was also easy on the spreadsheets for the bean counters as well.

When EPCOT Center opened on October 1st, 1982, guests were treated to many of the pavilions and rides that have since been mangled by a succession of Disney executive teams: The Universe of Energy pavilion, the World of Motion pavilion, the Journey into Imagination pavilion, the Land pavilion & the Living Seas pavilion.

One pavilion that was not there on opening day was the Horizons pavilion. It opened up in 1983.

The Horizons pavilion also has the distinction of being the only pavilion within the FutureWorld portion of EPCOT Center to be torn down. It’s not there anymore. In it’s place is the “Mission:Space” pavilion. If you’ve ever had a hunkering to see what actor Gary Sinise looked like and have never been to a single county fair that has had a Gravitron ride… Well, “Epcot” now provides you with the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (or, on occasion, actual riders).

For many who visited EPCOT Center during it’s heyday, Horizons was the penultimate amusement ride of the EPCOT Center theme park. Yes, the Living Seas was very nice with it’s huge aquarium. The Land was great with it’s many restaurants. Journey Into Imagination was perfect for the kids. The World of Motion was a display of animatronic delight. The Universe of Energy excelled in it’s sheer size of scale and multiple rotating screens. Spaceship Earth has it’s iconic, odd spherical shape and iconic narration by Walter Cronkite (Yes, there are those who prefer the Jeremy Irons narrative…To each their own).

Horizons, though, was all about the Future. It wasn’t about communications and the future, or automobiles and the future or the oceans and the future… Horizons was just about the future and only the future. Nowadays, we can all look back at the hokeyness of late 1970’s-early 1980’s futurism but, for back then, that was the future. There was nothing ironic or sarcastic about Nova Cite or Brava Centauri; We really did believe that was going to be the future (Yes, even the Athena computer and all of it’s amusingly clunky physical media).

So it was a bit ironic… And sarcastic… That the only pavilion that was solely dedicated towards the future was torn down just before 21st century was to begin. And it was replaced by a fancy version of a ride that could be ridden at just about every single county fair in the Autumn. Yes, Disney splashed a huge coat of ‘fancy’ all over the ride and actor Gary Sinise must have gotten a nice paycheck to act out a scene or two but, in the end, the ride is you being pressed up against a seat having to reach out and push buttons… If you lived through the experience since two people have since died on that ride.

Disney doesn’t tend to listen to their fans. They are not receptive to their guests’ suggestions. For example, the “wand” that graced the Spaceship Earth pavilion for many years was torn down, not because fans requested it so vehemently (which they did) but because the new sponsor for Spaceship Earth requested it. Money talks.

In all odds, Disney fans are not getting a Horizons-like pavilion back. It’s not happening. In this modern day and age, what are “Classic EPCOT Center” fans to do when all that Disney cares about is cramming the latest Disney movie into some random orifice of “Epcot”?

“Horizons: Resurrected” has, for the past 4 years, attempted to answer that question. With the Unity3D engine, Chris Wallace has been building a virtual representation of the Horizons pavilion that you, with your browser and with the appropriate Unity web plug-in, can operate. You can walk around inside of the pavilion and enjoy the ride just as you would have in the real thing.

So, how has the project been going after 4 years? Well… It’s not there yet. And, like a lot of projects, it has slowed down with time. 2011 and 2012 had the most amount of activity and then there was a sharp decline in postings for 2013 and 2014 (the last known posting was May 2014 but the last released build of the project was April 2013, called “Simulation Version 16”). The project doesn’t appear to be dead but it’s forward momentum appears to definitely have been blunted.

As for the ride itself, some of the scenes are done but, for the most part, you ride inside of an empty pavilion as though you were temporarily transported into one of those “survival horror” first-person shooters that are so popular with the kiddies nowadays.

In the end, at least there is no “404 error” or announcement that the project has been cancelled. There is still a ride to enjoy (and, at the least, can listen to ride audio track the entire way through).

Along with it’s unofficial “sister” attraction, “Journey BACK Into Imagination,” Horizons: Resurrected seems to have lost the lead in terms of overall completeness although, to be fair, no one knows what the latest internal build of H:R might have that is missing in Simulation Version 16.

Fans have been waiting since 1999 to visit Brava Centauri, Nova Cite, Sea Castle and all of the other exciting places that Horizons took us. It looks like that we’ll just have to wait a bit longer.


6 Responses to “Whatever Happened to… Horizons: Resurrected?”

  1. Alex Says:

    Yeah, I wish Chris would get back to work on this project. It had so much potential.

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Alex and thank you for reading my blog.

      I have no inside information on the status of this project. I am merely a supporter of it and would like, as so many others, to see it through to completion. EPCOT Center was a great theme park at one point in it’s history and the Horizons pavilion was a large part of that greatness. To see that theme park in it’s present state is a shame. To be fair, all theme parks must add, renovate or remove attractions in order to stay relevant to the contemporary population. However, what EPCOT Center has lost over the years is it’s theme: It lost it’s icons, it’s cohesive vision, it’s unique artistic style. I could type until my knuckles bled about all of the aspects that the present-day “Epcot” could improve upon but it would be pointless: At the end of the day, the executives look at spreadsheets and bottom lines instead of the long view strategy of engaging guests and challenging their conventional thinking with thoughtful edutainment.

      I sincerely hope that “Horizons Resurrected” is completed so that everyone can see, to some degree, the wonderful pavilion that Horizons was.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

      • Alex Says:

        Unfortunately, it looks like Chris Wallace has given up on H:R altogether. He hasn’t posted anything about it in a couple of years, and he took the website down. H:R looks to be dead.

      • Lutonaut Says:

        Hi Alex and thank you for reading my blog.

        I, too, am aware of the project’s current demise. This was a project that I was looking forward to but, for whatever reasons, has become just like many of the other projects that I used to follow: DOA, Dead On Arrival. While there is always a sliver of hope that the project might get resurrected (Horizons: Resurrected: Resurrected?), I consider myself too jaded with experience about such projects to place much faith that there will be a change of heart. Oh, well. The demise of this project just makes the success of other projects that much more special.

        Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  2. Andy Says:

    “Disney doesn’t tend to listen to their fans. They are not receptive to their guests’ suggestions.”
    I feel compelled to point out that that observation is untrue. It may feel that way: when millions of dollars and hundreds of man-hours are involved they may not act quickly or do everything that’s asked of them. Disney takes every single guest letter extremely seriously, though. Writing them with your feedback is always a good idea.

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Andy and thank for reading my blog.

      I feel as though we are going to just have to agree to disagree on this issue. I have followed Disney for too many years and have seen too many events transpire to reconsider that position. Is a stopped watch right twice a day? Yes it is. However, I don’t think anyone would consider wearing that watch and relying upon it for the time. The same with Disney and “listening” to their fans; Time and time again, the only prevailing factor that Disney listens to is their revenue stream. If the fans’ desires and Disney’s revenue stream projections match up then perhaps something beneficial occurs. If not… Well, “Go pound sand” might sound too harsh but it’s also not too far from reality, either.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

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