A longtime favorite attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot is returning in 2018. Horizons, which operated at Epcot from 1983 – 1999, will be rebuilt using the original blueprints in response to an internet campaign to bring the ride back to the park.
“I think the message we want to send is: ‘Gary Thompson. We hear you loud and clear.’,” Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III, Lead Developer for Walt Disney Imagineering’s Extinct Attraction Division told us. “Internet petitions are incredibly powerful, as Mr. Thompson demonstrated.”
Geronimo is referring to Gary Thompson’s “Bring Horizons Back” internet campaign that started in 1999 when Horizons closed. The petition garnered an astonishing 24 unverified signatures over a 17 year period.
“When Horizons closed in 1999, I was devastated.” Gary Thompson, avid theme park patron and author of the petition wrote. “The internet was just gaining some steam and so I thought ‘Why not make a petition to bring the ride back?’ Never mind that the building was already being demolished the day my petition started.”
The building which housed the ride was torn down to make way for Mission: Space in 2003. The current ride simulates space shuttle take-off with sustained G-Forces and is extremely popular with park guests.
“Look, I realize that nearing the end of [Horizons’] life, there weren’t too many people who paid attention to the ride,” Thompson continued. “I get it: tear down a ride that sees 100 guests in a day for one that sees 100 guests every 10 minutes. But this ride was such a cherished memory that I want it back.”
Others who signed the petition agreed, like user “XxRaYmOnDxX” who signed the online petition adding, “Sunglasses! 70% off Retail. Why pay retail for more? Use our link. Special buy. Don’t miss! You not be fool!”
Details are still being finalized but Geronimo informed us that the ride would be rebuilt in a new area of the Walt Disney World property.
“It will be a pay-per-ride type experience at first,” Geronimo continued. “Eventually more and more ‘extinct’ rides will be added and it will become our fifth Theme Park.”
When asked about the cost involved, Geronimo responded with, “Horizons was built for $60 million in the early 80’s. Now to re-create that in today’s money is going to cost us roughly $150 million. I think it’s going to be totally worth it to shut people like Thompson up.”
When news of this project broke, many on the internet were quick to criticize.
“Most people with common sense are able to see what a colossal waste of time, money, and resources this project is,” Theme Park Critic James Uso tells us. “Don’t get me wrong. I was the second person to sign Mr. Thompson’s petition, but once Disney actually listened to us, I had to find something else to complain about.”
It may come as a surprise to some that complaining about things The Walt Disney Company does is quite common. One doesn’t have to search very hard on the internet to find a park guest complaining about something. Whether it is the price of the park tickets, an outdated attraction, or the long lines – someone is likely online complaining about it.
“Pleasing park guests can be a bit like playing Whack-A-Mole. As soon as you satisfy one complaint, another two pop up in its place,” Geronimo continued. “It’s hard not to take it personal. That’s why we’re doing this. It’s The Walt Disney Company’s way of saying, ‘Hey… [expletive deleted] you.’.”
The new Horizons will be an exact replica of the original, Geronimo told us. It will feature the same ride vehicles, the same soundtrack, and the same Audio Animatronics.
“In some cases, we will be using the same outdated and frankly dangerous materials we used in the old ride,” Geronimo writes. “It worked for 1983 but technology has progressed so rapidly that many of the items we used are obsolete and in some cases, toxic. But this ride is for Gary Thompson and everyone like him.”
Horizons will begin construction in late 2016 and is scheduled to open in time to coincide with Epcot’s 36th Anniversary Celebration in October 2018.