World of Motion was an EPCOT Center opening day attraction that lasted until January 2, 1996, when it closed to make way for Test Track, a thrill ride, which opened in 1999 after numerous delays. The World of Motion building was shaped like a giant silver wheel (Test Track makes use of this same main building with some clutter added for good measure) and it featured an Omnimover attraction wherein the vehicles traveled through an educational, yet comical, look at the evolution of transportation.
The attraction was Audio Animatronics-centric (with the most of any Future World attraction), and featured a number of show scenes. For those who never experienced it, in its most basic terms, think of World of Motion as a transportation-based and more humorous version of Spaceship Earth.
The attraction presented numerous show scenes and very little “dead space,” beginning in Ancient Times with cavemen blowing on their feet, and concluding with the age of aviation and superhighways. Following the main attraction, the General Motors’ post-show “Transcenter” presented numerous exhibits and glimpses of potential futures for transportation.
Rather than describing World of Motion scene-by-scene and failing to do it justice, I recommend watching this ride-through:
Unlike Journey into Imagination (check out the Journey into Imagination Vintage Photos post), I don’t have quite the same super-vivid memories of World of Motion. I remember the view out into Future World as the ride began, and several other scenes (the Sea Serpent and Traffic Jam come to mind), but I don’t have a crystal clear memory of the entire ride-through. (Still, much better memory than of Horizons!)
As mentioned above, World of Motion closed in 1996 to be replaced by Test Track. This occurred, purportedly, because Epcot was deemed to be lacking in the thrills department, and had too many elaborate, lengthy, and slow-moving Audio Animatronics-based attractions. While it’s not clear to me whether this explanation accurately reflects the behind-the-scenes discussions regarding Epcot, it’s certainly plausible. Epcot certainly skewed towards slow-moving, long, and high-quality “edutainment.”
After some initial delays and hiccups, Test Track has gone on to be one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World, although many fervent EPCOT Center fans, myself included, feel that it’s inferior to World of Motion. This is largely due to the expanses of empty space in Test Track, and the knowledge that much of that space used to contain numerous Animatronics and sets in World of Motion.
Obviously all things in Walt Disney World must continue to evolve and change, so I can understand the decision to replace World of Motion with Test Track, which is likely a much broader crowd pleaser. As Test Track now undergoes a massive overhaul (its first since opening), I hope that it lives up to some of its excellent potential by adding more creative, futuristic, and impressive show scenes and effects. This would really dull the sting of it replacing World of Motion, at least for me.
To all of you who submitted photos, I am eternally grateful. These vintage posts would not have been possible without your generosity. For photographer attribution and other information, hover your cursor over each photo. Also, be sure to check out our photo credits page. If you have EPCOT Center photos, please check out our EPCOT Center Photo Search page for details on how to submit them!
The General Motors corporate lounge in World of Motion.
Notice the person standing up to snap a photo (likely pretty comparable to the photo directly above this one). This was a common occurrence on World of Motion.
The “World’s First Traffic Jam” scene was one of the most memorable–and comical–scenes in World of Motion.
After World of Motion closed, the Sea Serpent could be seen in Disney California Adventure for a while.
There are multiple pages and over 100 photos in this Vintage EPCOT Center photo showcase. Navigate to the next page below!