Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Possibility 6: Running through Veins (and Arteries)

Oh, hello again, readers! Earlier in Possibilities, we've focused on what possible features could be perfect for the outside, physical aspects of life. Now in this issue, things are about to get much smaller... wait, red blood cell sized small, in fact. However, this article is far from small, and might contain a mouthful of research, so this better be worth it. What we're about to do is have a look back at the staple of Wonder's attraction sphere - the innerspace simulator ride.

Sure, love it or leave it, the Wonders of Life pavilion (wait, Life and Health?) planned to have their guests take a trip through the human body from the pavilion's very beginning dating from the late 70's. One person we would owe it all for such insightful ideas into a trip of this kind would be Frank Armitage, a former Imagineer who, during his prime, had done medical sketches showcasing parts of the body's organs, up close, and in all its anatomically spectacular glory. These formed the humble beginnings of a dark-ride inside the body, which in that time, was dubbed the Incredible Journey Within.

Concept art from the Incredible Journey Within; as found in
Mind you, as Disney, in regards to imagineering, was at its height in the 70's and early 80's, such ideas were thought to be possible, with the planned use of the OmniMover ride systems used previously in Disney's previous attractions (Anyone still remember Horizons and World of Motion? Well, Spaceship Earth still uses OmniMovers, don't they?) to be further developed and perfected for this ride. However, the further time progressed, management and guest expectations began to change (again, guests yawning at the thought of learning things on vacation...) not to mention the cost of having to maintain the ride (for instance, keeping the 80 foot tall heart muscle continuously pulsating like a real-flesh-and-blood one?) This proved a major setback for the trip through the human body, but with developments in flight simulator technology (as well as interest in science-fiction and Leonard Nimoy), this led to the development and finally the birth of Wonder's prized attraction, Body Wars.

Now for those who've never heard of the openly-publicised ride termed as Body Wars, basically the point of this 'once-in-a-lifetime' ride is as a passenger group, you are to tour the body on a probe vehicle. Obviously following in the footsteps of Fantastic Voyage and Innerspace. Apparently, for those who are interested in the technology behind this ride, you may not have known (maybe you did) that Body Wars was powered by the ATLAS simulators. The same kind that made Star Tours possible. Basically, there is a short article on Wikipedia to do with the ATLAS simulators used for these rides, as well as some patent documentation. Below, some information on them:
[The ATLAS Simulators used in the attractions] feature large, 40-person cabins hidden from outside view, arranged lengthwise with four or six simulators per installation. There are four simulators at Disneyland's Star Tours and EPCOT's Body Wars, while the remaining Star Tours installations have six.
Sure, back in the brink of the 90's when a life and health pavilion literally came to fruition, the simulator of this kind was primarily high-tech and innovative. But keep in mind the following considerations with these kinds of simulators, as mentioned in the Wednesdays with Wade article:, Farewell to Body Wars
Since the story of the attraction is that you are in the bloodstream, the Imagineers programmed in movement to mimic the beat of a pulse. That additional movement may be the movement that unsettled me. Or maybe it was just the images of being inside a human body. Apparently, others also had a similar reaction and the film was eventually shortened.
If the film slips out of synchronization even slightly, that can also cause a feeling of uneasiness. Although there is debate as to the exact cause or causes of simulator sickness, a primary suspected cause is inconsistent information about body orientation and motion received by the different senses, known as the "cue conflict theory." For example, the visual system may perceive that the body is moving rapidly, while the vestibular system perceives that the body is stationary. Inconsistent, non-natural information within a single sense has also been prominent among suggested causes.
It was common practice for riders to get motion sickness while riding Body Wars, for several reasons. Firstly and most obvious, from the swerving and bumpy motion during the ride, and adding insult to injury, there's no window to determine which way you're facing in the simulator. Of course, don't get me started on the subject matter, after all, to the squeamish mid-majority (mine included recently),  the feeling of being in the blood stream doesn't really appeal to them. Also, the limitations of hitching a ride without any knowledge of having a heart condition (condolences to the loss of a rider in 1994) almost limited the experience to the lucky, healthy guests boarding the ride.

The warning sign, found at 
So much for it being overly marketed as EPCOT's first 'thrill ride'. But by today's standards, some of you may have noticed that some of the simulators may have experienced maintenance problems (remember the creaking noise heard in the final seasonal operation in 2006?) and blaming the financial management of a soon-to-be-forgotten part of EPCOT history, it shut down for good.

You readers may be asking, 'what's with you and drabbling on with the negative aspects of Body Wars? Surely that barely has anything to do with the Possibilities section here...' Basically, now we've done some backstory research, let's delve into a scenario with regards to bringing it back (well, not physically, so we'll be happy to brainstorm). with some possible solutions, and even some points of inspiration that would've otherwise mirrored (or followed in the footsteps of) Body Wars somehow.

For instance, with regards to hardware, while some suggest that reusing the simulators could be possible (as rumors of Star Tours testing 2.0 suggest), some of them might be in potential disrepair, and may need a total overhaul completely. But suppose we have different options to choose from, if the simulators are out of the question. Gyrating simulator rides from Mission: Space? Plausible idea, but with the number of people opting for a sick bag over there next door, it just leaves us baffled. Another plausible idea would be a smaller ride simulation system, a little similar to Sum of all Thrills as seen in Innoventions East in the external footage below:

Of course, you're wondering: "That doesn't look like an actual body!", but that's just the bare bones of it all. Assuming the option to take about six or eight riders at a time, it could prove a pleasant surprise for the adrenaline-seeking junkies looking forward to a fantastic voyage. No pun intended.

Also, mentioning that interactive features that could interest the user (for instance, designing a tour covering which systems to go through) this could mean that we may no longer have to start off with, nor be confined to just the splinter area. this means we get to roam through the arteries and veins with the red blood cells, or witness and fight against armies of bacteria in a tag-team of white blood cells. Even, how about an informative tour of the digestive system. Wait, partially scratch that. We have squeamish site visitors reading this, remember?

Moving on, I have also found footage that could prove a superior update to the past footage used in 1989. To begin with, GE has been involved in healthcare-involved innovations that has saved the lives of patients in hospitals and medical facilities worldwide. Surely, this footage is heavily used for advertising purposes, but it could be possible to tweak the footage into an actual demonstrative tour through the body. For some reason, embedding the video into the site isn't easy, but for best results, open the video into a new window, turn out the rights and imagine the whole thing on a simulator ride. Amazed?

Those are just suggestions, however, for something to fill the void left out by Body Wars for the time being. But somehow in time, there will be more innovative solutions and ideas that could be used for a future incarnation of the attraction one way or another. but sure, if you have any ideas of what could be in store for filling a niche for a fantastic voyage, feel free to explain what you think and what might work in the comments section below.

Until next time, readers!

UPDATE: In spirit of this article, I have created an audio-based fan advert for the site, based on the Body Wars attraction. Note that all dialogue is subtitled to help clarify what's said. Critique, comments, or anything else, please ask.

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