From 1982 to 2010, it was sponsored by Kodak.
The Journey Into Imagination Pavilion started out in 1982 as an area in which the show Magic Journeys was played. When Journey Into Imagination opened a year later, the area was dubbed The Journey Into Imagination Pavilion. It held from 1983 to 1986 Journey Into Imagination, the Upstairs Image Works, and Magic Journeys. In 1987, however, Magic Journeys was replaced by Captain EO, a more advanced 3D Film created by George Lucas and starring Michael Jackson as the title character. In 1995, Captain EO was replaced by Honey, I Shrunk The Audience and starred Rick Moranis as Professor Wayne Szalinski and Eric Idle as the Imagination Institute chairman Dr. Nigel Channing.
The Millennium Celebration Version
In 1997, Fujifilm (Kodak's biggest rival at the time) came to Disney with an offer: make JII into a thrill ride that had nothing to do with imagination whatsoever. Kodak's sponsorship contract was almost up, and Fujifilm knew that when the contract ran out, Disney would need someone to sponsor the building. Kodak, however, wished to stay with Disney and continue the contract. Kodak realized that in order to compete with FujiFilm, they too must come up with a new attraction to go into the building. Their proposal was to make Journey Into Imagination, already an E-Ticket attraction, into something more scientific.
The ride would also be shorter and have cheaper special effects. At the time, Journey Into Imagination was the most expensive ride in Epcot to keep running, despite the fact that it got more visitors in a day than Epcot's flagship ride Spaceship Earth. The guests made it all worthwhile for Disney to keep it running, but Disney still wasn't satisfied with it. It was the most technologically advanced dark ride in history. A roller coaster would mean much more money to build and keep running, and they feared it wouldn't be nearly as popular as Journey Into Imagination. Therefore, by the end of 1997 Disney accepted Kodak's idea.
In 1998, the original Journey Into Imagination went down for a rehab. During this rehab, the Upstairs Image Works was closed and the building's white and blue painting exterior was replaced with different colors, Kodak colors being primary. The original glass sign was replaced by one made of wood and metal. The leap frog fountains were reduced in size to accommodate the new gift shop at the exit of the new Journey Into Imagination. Despite the fact that the pavilion already had a gift shop right next to the 3D film playing at the time, Disney felt this one would be more successful. To everyone's surprise, the glass pyramids stayed despite the fact that the Upstairs Image Works was closed. The new Downstairs Image Works took the upstair's ones place.
The attraction opened in 1999, just in time for the Millenium Celebration. Fans went on the ride with eager hearts, but were dismayed to find that the Dreamfinder was gone and Figment only mage cameo appearances until his short dialogue at the end of the ride. They felt that Disney tried to hard to make it like The Imagination Institute and the ride was just a lame tie-in with Honey, I Shrunk The Audience. The fans were even madder when they saw the new Downstairs Image Works which focused on visual imagination but was really just an ad for Kodak.
Fans decided to take action and boycotted the new imagination ride and Kodak Film. This campaign proved better than the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride protest, mainly because of pressure from Kodak as well as Michael Eisner, who was also unsatisfied with it. By the end of 2001, Disney closed the ride and decided to replace it with something more kid-friendly, just in time for the 100 Years of Magic Celebration.
Current Version (2002–present)
The new Imagination ride was revamped and renamed in 2002 from "Journey Into Your Imagination" to "Journey Into Your Imagination With Figment" (The name was yet again changed in 2003 to "Journey Into Imagination With Figment", thus destroying any connections with the previous change). In this revamp, the chairman returns, but now costars along with Figment as they explore the 5 senses and how they can trigger the imagination. They finally come to the conclusion that imagination is not any good when it is controlled, but is better when set free.
Some fans were delighted that Figment had returned (now voiced by Muppeteer Dave Goelz), while others criticized Figment's change from an eager and curious childlike creature to an obnoxious, disrespectful character. The current iteration of the attraction has been the target of ire from its original designer, Tony Baxter, who referred to it as "a sham of an attraction" in an August 2018 episode of theme park history/comedy podcast, Podcast: The Ride. Baxter criticized the comedic juxtaposition of two "wacky" characters, Figment and Nigel Channing, against the more balanced pairing of the "lovable and benign", Santa Claus–like Dreamfinder and innocent, childlike Figment of the original attraction.
What also surprised many fans was that the ride remained 6 minutes long and used exactly the same track that the previous version used. There was no real revamp of the track or cars, just a revamp of the scenery. The new Image Works also stayed with no significant changes beyond implementing Figment into some of the games.
- ImageWorks: The What-If Labs (1999-)
- Journey Into Imagination With Figment (2002-)
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival (2015-)
- Disney Vacation Club Lounge (2016-)
- Magic Journeys (1982-1986)
- The Image Works: Creative Playground of the Future (1982-1998)
- Journey Into Imagination (1983-1998)
- Captain EO (1986-1994)
- Captain EO Tribute (2010-2015)
- Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (1994-2010)
- Journey Into Your Imagination (1999-2001)