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World of Motion (1982-1996) was an omnimover attraction designed to educate guests about the history of transportation using a variety of humorous scenes.
The ride was known for its exterior look, in which the cars of the attraction would start inside, then curve outward outside, then back into the building to start the show. The symbol used for this ride between 1982-1994 (shown right) represents the exterior of the building from an aerial view.
The ride was narrated by Gary Owens.
Riders entered the building through the queue area that wrapped around the portico where the Omnimover vehicles (called Chaircars) moved into the building through. There was a small embarkation station that kept playing the attraction's theme song "It's Fun to Be Free" where the guests boarded the vehicles. The Omnimover rounded the same portico seen in the queue and entered the show area.
The first scene began in a cave, where the first means of transportation, foot power, was shown with cavemen trying to cool their feet down.
The scene shifted over to the earliest means of over-water transportation--people traveling on a raft. The next scene showed the first time animal power was introduced, with an Assyrian tableau depicting people trying to control animals from camels to zebras.
The next scene showed the invention of the wheel at Babylon, with men holding a square object, a triangle object and the award-winning circle object. The riders then passed a wheel factory and used chariot lot, where everything, including the Trojan Horse, was put up for sale.
Up next was the first evolution of exploration on the high seas, where a man (supposedly Christopher Colombus) is seen staring down the eye of a sea dragon.
The next scenes were the "Age of Flight", with Leonardo da Vinci and his many attempts to fly with a visibly upset and ignored Mona Lisa sitting nearby. The following scene showed a man and his anima companions looking over London in a hot air balloon.
The next scenes depicted the evolution of steam power, starting out with a Mississippi Riverboat followed by a never-ending stream of stagecoaches and such for the Western Expansion. The steam locomotive was the next evolution of steam travel, which in turn shows an authentic steam locomotive and an authentic railroad robbery.
The scene shifted over to one of the most photographed and most remembered scenes: the world's first traffic jam, set in a city circa 1910. The chaos included items such as an upset horse, a spilling ice truck and kids screaming. Guests then traveled past the open road scenes which included a man who crashed a bicycle, a family picnic and cars from the 1940s and 1950s.
The cars then went through three Superspeed Tunnels similar to the onesused in the Magic Kingdom attraction If You Had Wings and the Disneyland attraction PeopleMover. These were unique in the way that one was curved in a left turn. Some of the footage shown was of crop dusting, rafting down rivers and hurtling down a snowmobile trail.
The journey culminated at CenterCore, a glowing blacklight model city of the future. This was reminiscent of Walt Disney's Progress City model on display near the Tomorrowland Transit Authority at the Magic Kingdom and the scene from the 1964/1965 World's Fair's Ford Magic Skyway. At one point, a mirror reflects the Chaircars as cars of the future (an effect similar to that of the Hitchhiking Ghosts in The Haunted Mansion) before arriving at the unload area.
After disembarking from the ride, guests we're directed into TransCenter, a large showroom that was full of exhibits and shows about transportation and the things surrounding it.
TransCenter, designed by award-winning experience designer Bob Rogers and the design team BRC Imagination Arts, offered educational attractions which included prototype cars such as the Lean Machine in the Dreamer's Workshop and a show called "The Water Engine", which pit nine animated characters associated with various and alternate fuel-systems in a debate over which motor design should be used to power cars.
There was a replica of America's only wind-tunnel on display.
The ever-popular show "The Bird and the Robot", starring a talking toucan and an assembly-line robot named Tiger, entertained people with acts (and Bird's signature bad jokes) about the importance of the GM assembly line.
A computer-generated display showed GM's car 'torture' tests without actually performing it.
Concept 2000 showed the process of creating prototype cars for GM. The prototype concept cars at the TransCenter were once the most photographed spot in Walt Disney World. An exhibit called Aerotest educated people about air-flow on auto concepts and fuel economy. Another exhibit featured styles of clothes with GM's advanced polyester production styles.
Business slumped with General Motors after the second sponsorship deal ended for World of Motion in 1992 and, as a result, GM started signing 1-year contracts for the ride. However, a suggested idea to gut the building and turn it into a new attraction stuck with Disney representatives and GM businessmen. It would take World of Motion, close it down and refurbish it into a new ride that focused only on cars.
World of Motion's last day of operation was January 2nd, 1996. On the final ceremonial ride on that same day, it broke down. GM executives who were riding it had to climb out and walk back to the exit.
A new attraction, called Test Track, replaced it. Scheduled to open 19 months after World of Motion's closing, this new ride would put guests in a test car against vehicle tests that were needed to deem the car safe for road travel. However, nothing went as planned and the new ride opened significantly later than the scheduled opening date.
The closing of World of Motion forced the reopening of Horizons, another Disney attraction which focused on the future of the family. It was closed in 1999, shortly before Test Track's grand opening.
Since the attraction closed, various audio-animatronics and props from the attraction have been spread out around Disney parks world-wide. Many figures were sent to Disneyland to join Pirates of the Caribbean and dress areas of Disney California Adventure, others found homes elsewhere at Walt Disney World such as at Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios.
- On the final operation day for General Motors executives, the ride ironically broke down.
- When World of Motion closed along with Universe of Energy for renovations, Horizons was forced to reopen.
- No tributes to World of Motion appeared in Test Track appeared until the 2012 re-imagining. The World of Motion logo now appears at the end hill climb and on the trashcans throughout the queue area. Also, the miniature city during the capability test bears a resemblance to the miniature city in World of Motion's finale.