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"General Motors now invites you to travel the open road - to discover that when it comes to transportation, it's always fun to be free!"

Basic

World of Motion (1982-1996), presented by General Motors, was a road trip through the evolution of transportation. It opened in October 1982 with the rest of EPCOT Center and closed in January 1996 to make way for Test Track. Also presented by General Motors (GM), Test Track opened in March 1999.

Exterior & Area

The outside was shaped like a huge silver wheel with passenger cars spiraling up at the entrance. The entrance was inset the front of the pavilion with red walls and a blue tile floor.

Angular green areas with tall slim trees and other plants surrounded the entrance. At the very front of the entrance was a round green area with a rectangular sign reading "World of Motion presented by General Motors." At times the sign was surrounded with flowers spiraling around the sign like a spinning wheel.

Ride

The ride contained the greatest number of Audio-Animatronics in Future World. Thirty scenes spanned the different ages of transportation from the use of feet to the first traffic jam. Throughout the ride, different versions of the pavilion's theme song "It's Fun to be Free" were heard. The lyrics went "It's fun to be free,_ to be on the move, to go anywhere_ with never a care, to_ do all there is to be done._ it's fun_ to be free."

Guests began by boarding chaircars - black, two-benched omnimover vehicles that could hold around four to six passengers. The vehicles would go outside in the open entrance of the pavilion and spiral up a ramp around a silver column. It then reentered the pavilion into the upper level.

Ancient Times

The first scene guests witnessed was a group of cave people blowing on their feet to cool them off, after they had used them as a means of transportation.

The next scene, we see "our first safe highway - water," as our narrator tells us. An Egyptian boy is seen on a reed raft. In the papyrus swamp, lurks a Nile crocodile. Projected white images of various boats, such as conoes, rafts, and Viking ships are seen against black.

Our narrator then tells us "on land, our animal friends give us new freedom, and we test-drive new models." We see various animals against a palm tree background of Africa. A zebra, an ostrich, an ox, an elephant, and a camel are seen trying to be rode by people. A man with a crystal ball is seen on a flying carpet. Another man with a loaded-up donkey is seen trying to make a deal with an innkeeper.

The wheel is invented. We see an ancient court where the round wheel is selected, while the square, pentagon, and triangle-shaped wheels are rejected. Projections of various wheeled vehicles are seen, such as an Egyptian chariot, a Greek chariot, and a Chinese rickshaw. We see a Roman used-chariot lot with marked-down prices in Roman numerals. We also see a woman with her new means of transportation - a Centaur.

Discovery & Renaissance

Our narrator then tells us, "With proud new ships, we sailed forth in search of new worlds, undaunted by age old myths and silly superstitions." We see a large projected map with sailing ships being blown by winds across the Atlantic. The ships blow clear off the edge of the world. We then see a sailor aboard a ship looking through his telescope. On the other end of the telescope a sea serpent is staring back at him.

We then enter the age of the Renaissance. "Great minds are turning from works of art to flights of fancy," our narrator tells us. We see the model for the Mona Lisa waiting impatiently, while Leonardo da Vinci works on one of his flying machines. We also see a man in a powdered wig in a hot air balloon with pigs, goats, and chickens. Unfortunately for him, his balloon has become caught in a clothesline.

Steam Power

We see a steam-powered stagecoach being blocked on a bridge by a bull. Other steam-powered vehicles are seen projected in the background. "From hot air to the power of steam. Now nothing stands in the way of progress on the open road," comments our narrator.

"Great boilers of steam change our sails to paddle wheels." A boy playing the banjo and a boy fishing are seen. We see a steamboat and a man trying desperately to get his donkey aboard.

We then head west of the Mississippi where we see settlers with wagons. Attacking the wagons are Indians on horseback, seen galloping as a projection in the back.

Still in the west, we see that "another kind of horse arrives - a steam-powered iron horse, bringing fast, dependable, safe travel to the new frontier." We see the iron horse, a train, being held up by a gang of outlaws.

Bicycles & Automobiles

We then travel to "the peaceful countryside." Our narrator comments, "What more romantic way to enjoy it than with that infallible combination of man and machine - the bicycle!" We see many people riding bikes. A man is off his bike and on a fence, trying to ward off the dog that chased him there. A man is seen in the mud among pigs after crashing his bike. A man on a unicycle is also seen. Various types of bicycles are seen as projections.

"The call of the open road brings us a new wonder - a carriage without a horse. Yes, with the horseless carriage we thunder full speed into the twentieth century." We see this horseless carriage - the automobile. A mechanic is seen cranking the engine of an auto in a garage. Another man is raising and lowering his auto's canopy. A horse is nearby watching. Black and white footage of autos on a street is seen.

We then witness the world's first traffic jam around the year 1910. A horse-drawn cart carrying chickens and produce has crashed and jammed up with an ice truck, a double-decker bus, and a red automobile. The chickens cluck, while the produce roles around on the ground, and a man pops his head out of a manhole. The drivers of the vehicles are seen hollering and honking in frustration.

Sunday Drives & Airplanes

We then see "our newest tradition - the Sunday drive. Now we quickly get away from it all to the beautiful carefree countryside." People are seen out in the country. Projections of automobile joy riders along with biplanes in the sky are seen. A patrol officer on a motorcycle is seen hiding behind a billboard.

Various types of airplanes are seen in white, projected on black. A family has driven to an air show. A glamorous barnstormer pilot and his lady friend are seen next to his biplane in a field. In the back, projections of other planes are doing tricks. Our narrator comments, "Now the sky's the limit!"

As progress moves on, projected footage of more planes are seen, along with freeways, racecars, surfboards, and the Goofy short "Freeway Fobia." People in cars from the 1930s to 1960s are seen along with the projections.

Finale

We then enter the speed-tunnel. A full wrap-around projection surrounds our vehicles. Scenery flies by making it seem as if we are in zooming down a country road, speeding through a swamp in an airboat, in a bobsled, on a surfboard, and in other vehicles. To help make the illusion of speed, hidden fans blow air onto our vehicles. Light flies past, making it seem like we are traveling faster and faster. Projections of grids are seen as we enter CenterCore.

CenterCore is the 60 foot high core of the pavilion (the entire pavilion is 65 feet high). In the vast black room of CenterCore, lighted roads and highways of the future are seen curving around extremely tall skyscrapers. We see futuristic vehicles moving along. As we descend down back to the lower level of the pavilion, we go into a mirrored tunnel. Against the mirrors, we see ourselves in futuristic bubble cars.

As our vehicles enter the unloading area, our narrator tells us, "Ladies and gentlemen, General Motors now invites you to share the challenge of the future. We need you to help us shape tomorrow's mobility. Just ahead is General Motors' exciting Transcenter. Join us behind the scenes where we are working to ensure that tomorrow's world will continue to be a world of motion."

Transcenter

Designed by GM, Transcenter was the post ride area with many exhibits. It was Located on the lower level of the pavilion - the second hemisphere. It included the following:

Aerotest

Aerotest was an exhibit where guests could use computer modeling to design a car. The goal was to improve aerodynamics in a virtual wind tunnel to promote fuel efficiency.

The Bird and the Robot

"The Bird and the Robot" was an Audio-Animatronics vaudeville show starring a robotic car-manufacturing arm named Tiger and his manager, Bird. Bird was a cigar-smoking toucan with a New York accent. In the show, Bird is trying to get Tiger into show business.

He has Tiger perform many tricks for the audience like rolling over, playing dead, and fetching a donut. After Tiger fails to fetch the donut, Bird threatens to send Tiger back to GM where he would have to work at hard jobs like spray-painting or welding hot car parts together.

A video diplay in the background shows other car-manufacturing robots working in GM plants. The finale has Tiger conducting the "Detroit Phil-robotic Orchestra," which was a series of clips of car-manufacturing robots set to music.

Water Engine Theater

Viewed on a series of video screens, "The Water Engine" was an animated film on different types of engines. In the film, characters try to say that certain engines are the best. A cowboy believes that the internal combustion engine is best, unless something better comes along. Other characters vie for other engines, such as the battery-electric, the coal-fired turbine, the flywheel, the hybrid flywheel-turbine, the magnetic levitation, the hybrid turbine-electric, and the horse.

The final engine to show is the hydrogen-powered water engine. After being pumped up, the water engine explodes over all the video screens. In the end, the internal combustion engine wins out to be the best.

Dreamers Workshop

Dreamers Workshop contained futuristic vehicles as well as futuristic car sketches and models. The following were two of its most prominent vehicles:

    Aero 2000 - The Aero 2000 was a sleek silver subcompact car displayed on a red turntable. It had four seats and two doors. Contained in the Aero 2000 was an experimental three-cylinder, turbo-charged 68 horsepower diesel engine.

    The sleek design of the Aero 2000 led to minimal wind resistance. The front wheels are covered by shields (also called skirts) to prevent resistance. The shields only open when a turn of ten degrees or more is made. Also part of the sleek design are handle-less doors. They are voice-activated.

    Voice commands also play a role inside the vehicle. The car itself can speak, hear, and see. The brakes can "see" as they are radar-activated.

    A satellite linkup is inside the car, along with video displays. The displays are on the dashboard and can give the driver a rear view, along with a route map. The map can pinpoint the car's position on the route.

    Lean Machine - The Lean Machine was a three-wheeled sub-subcompact vehicle that had elements of both a car and a motorcycle. Designed with navigating congested streets in big cities and eliminating wasted passenger space, the Lean Machine is only three feet wide, ten feet two inches long, and four feet high. The cockpit is made of fiberglass and can withstand all weather.

    Not only lean in size, drivers can also lean the Lean Machine. That is, they can use the pedal-operated tilting capacity to lean the vehicle around corners similar to a motorcycle. The Lean Machine is composed of a lower part and an upper part. When a driver leans into a turn, the upper part with the driver rotates horizontally, while the lower part with the wheels remains upright.

    Inside the vehicle, we find that the steering wheel, breaks, and throttle controls found in a normal car have been replaced with handlebars, which control all the aforementioned functions.

    Inside the guts of the machine, we find an automatic transmission linked to a liquid-cooling, rear-mounted 38 horsepower engine. The Lean Machine could accelerate to 60 miles per hour in seven seconds.

    Due in part to its low wind restistance (less than one-fifth that of a motorcycle), the Lean Machine could travel 200 miles per one gallon of gas.

Concept 2000

On the way to Dreamers Workshop was Concept 2000 (also known as Design 2000). This was the exhibit on the inside of the "future car." Displays about seats, seat belts, upholstery, power systems, microprocessors, and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) were present. CAD was a program used to design futuristic vehicles.

The exhibit included a full-sized "seating buck," which had an electronic dashboard superimposed over the windshield. With the gauges "ghost imaged" across the windshield, there is no need for the driver to take his eyes off the road.

Also part of the display was a film clip showing what a car manufacturing plant would look like in the future - complete with industrial robots and uniformed workers.

Concept to Reality

Located by the pavilion's exit, Concept to Reality was GM's showroom for current cars and trucks. Guests could get in and out of the vehicles just like the showroom featured after riding Test Track.

General Motors Information Center

Near Concept to Reality was the General Motors Information Center. This was an information kiosk with a GM representative.

Test Track

World of Motion closed in 1996, when Disney and GM began construction on Test Track. Test Track had many delays and didn't open until March 1999 although it was supposed to open in 1998. The entrance to the pavilion is now covered. The outdoor spiral part of the original ride is now the inside queue area for Test Track.

Test Track's replacement for Transcenter is Inside Track. Inside Track has fewer exhibits than Transcenter, and is mostly a car showroom for GM. For awhile there were small virtual simulators called Dream Chasers at Inside Track. While on a Dream Chaser, guests saw what was pretty much an advertisement for GM. The Dream Chasers were eventually removed. Around 2009, a new exhibit on GM's Hybrid 2 Mode engine was put in its place.

Taking up some more of the old room from Transcenter is the Test Track gift shop, located near the pavilion's exit. It sells Test Track items, along with other Disney and GM items.

No longer seen at Test Track anymore are the crash dummies. The crash dummies would entertain guests waiting in the queue line outside.

World of Motion at the Studio Backlot Tour

Retired Audio-Animatronics and props from World of Motion can be seen in the queue line for the tram segment of the Studio Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios. Look up and around to see World of Motion figures such as the hot air balloon, bull, and centaur.
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Created April 2001
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