Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Attractions Toolkit - Body Wars

Welcome back to Attractions Toolkit, the section selecting one attraction from the pavilion, and figuring out which parts can be added, subtracted or replaced. But first, there had been a flurry of rumors and updates pertaining to the current state of Body Wars before we begin today's brainstorming. From an anonymous witness, word has it that demolition of the interior may have happened, with the simulator shells removed completely. In an uncanny way, this somewhat freed up some thought possibilities pertaining to how Body Wars would have been updated, or even by now, replaced.

It is important to note that Body Wars was a headliner attraction since the pavilion's opening in October 1989, which catered to adrenaline junkies looking for a hit somewhere in Epcot. However, let's weight up the pros and cons with regards to three categories - the idea, the technology, and overall reception.


  • Extended the target audience to include teenagers and young adults (commonly associated with thrill rides)

  • Provided excellent opportunity to educate riders on various locations of the body 

  • Excluded the expectant, the elderly, or those with heart problems due to safety concerns


  • Innovative technology used to its advantage (Epcot was the centrepiece for innovation and the technology was ideal at the time)

  • Not very immersive and innovative compared to its Omnimover incarnation (its predecessor, The Incredible Journey Within)


  • Overall memorable experience for riders; has inspired/motivated riders into the bioscience and medical profession

  • Contributed to motion sickness in the majority of riders

  • Subject matter may not settle well with some people (some are squeamish or prone to nightmares)

  • Can prove tragic [for example, the infamous loss of a girl in May 94 and the aftermath article from Orlando Sentinel]

These are just a sliver of thoughts pertaining to the positives and negatives pertaining to Body Wars (any more thoughts to further fill in the gaps are appreciated), and in this case, it would be a good idea to keep these in consideration. Moving on from opinions, let's move into the physical aspects of improving the attraction (or replacement thereof).


First up, Body Wars was Epcot's first ride system built on flight simulator technology, in the form of the ATLAS simulator, bearing the capacity to seat 40 passengers in one sitting. As you may have heard, this technology is also used in Star Tours, and it was state of the art for its time, allowing the rides to transfer passengers into imaginable worlds which would prove complicated to recreate into an actual rollercoaster or OmniMover (this was true as the Incredible Journey Within was designed to be an OmniMover ride, but it would prove painstakingly expensive and irritating to maintain any moving parts of the ride). Of course, while the visuals and graphics were convincing during the brink of the 90s, it seems by now it may have seen better days. This means there is some room for improvement in this area (doubtable by time of the article being written). In this article, there will be three ways of how this would be carried out.

Updating the Ride

While this may not necessarily be possible by now, here are just a few ponderings with regards to how Body Wars would have been updated to a much more modernised format. Here are some of a few points pertaining to the update.

  • As cited in previous blog posts, update the ambience and visual theme of the queue; consider a change in colour scheme or interior style to not only help describe the attraction's medical theme, but also add a few things to the queue to further back it up.

  • Consider updating video and graphics footage (for instance, the preshow clips, by having a new set of stars, or adding new information of the organisation (perhaps continue on with the attraction's history), also the footage as seen from the ride can be updated (yes, computer animation has really come a long way since the brink of the 90s, especially to achieve the lifelikeness of the experience)

  • Expand the amount of possible destinations much like the case with Star Tours; in fact, the splinter-to-rescue-mission has been done to death and has remained the same for about 15 years (including dropping a few seconds responsible for making people fall ill from motion sickness), and it could be a pick-and-mix situation with the addition of different locations in the body. Also room for demonstrating different conditions and diseases (such as an up-close look on smokers lungs, or a microbial look on food poisoning and the digestive process, etc.) would have been the case.

  • Additions such as 3D vision, much like Star Tours has employed, could be possible, but it could aggravate motion sickness in some riders.

For some reason, it is most likely that the ATLAS units might be replaced with a more updated unit, such as the Kuka Arm mentioned in this blog earlier in Possibilities. If this is possible, the units could be either retrofitted or built to accommodate up to 6 people per cabin, as with Test Track 2.0 recently. It could be tempting to follow Test Track 2.0 with regards to a customised ride experience, and if Body Wars could benefit from this, this could mean a far better ride experience – the ability to customise the ride itinerary, such as picking which body systems might be of exploration interest, as well as entrance and exit strategies (uhm, with caution), as well as whatever diseases that might be encountered on the way. In fact, the pick-and-mix option of a customisable nature can happily add variety to the ride.

Development of a New Ride

Of course, in the event that Body Wars couldn't be brought back, either retrofitted or updated and mechanically overhauled, it could be somewhat possible to bring in an entirely different ride. In hindsight, there could be two possible options for a different kind of ride system – the OmniMover system (a slow dark-ride system, such as Horizons and Universe of Energy) and the roller coaster.

Should the OmniMover system be in favor, it would be a helpful idea to consider looking back at the predecessor that is The Incredible Journey Within. The limitations to the OmniMover system would probably be with ride mechanics, such as notably trying to have a model of the heart's valves pulsing almost all the time without failing (note that was during the pavilion's planning years of the 70s and 80s). Thanks to the advancements of audioanimatronic and engineering technology, this could lead to some more efficient developments in the world of dark rides. Sometimes, three dimensional displays using models, through to simulated additional virtual scenes displayed on screens (such as in the transportation-themed dark ride World of Motion) can be used to their advantage to immerse guests into each of the scenes.

However, should the option for a rollercoaster be preferred (this could make some adrenaline-junkies happy), this could mean the equivalent of Space Mountain, but given the importance of immersing guests into the scene (that is, the illusion of, for example, gliding through red blood cells), this wouldn't feel like an inner body experience, unless the track is properly themed corresponding to the scene. Barriers between scenes can be set, much the same way as dark rides are, and the plotline for the ride would typically be adventure based, ranging from a battle within the immune system, through to a rapids ride through the digestive system (...uhm, nope?), or even what's it like to be a message travelling down firing neurons in the brain.

A Different Attraction Altogether

In some cases, especially currently, there is a less likely chance that the pavilion may even have room for a ride. In this case, this could open up more room for many possible alternate attractions. Perhaps a space for travelling interactive exhibits (typically those you'd find in most science museums), considered lowbrow if you take into consideration of the Disney experience, but this could work wonders if the pavilion were to host convention events pertaining to a health cause. Not to mention, that could open up numerous opportunities for external companies (for example, in medical, health and pharmaceutical sectors) that might be interested in demonstrating their latest advancement to the public, and in this case, this could lead to company relationships being developed via public interaction. Or tongue-in-cheek wise, probably home grown exhibits somehow demonstrating health topics with a little magical help. (Which reminds me, "Psst, Calhoun! Yes you! Are you qualified to shoot down the common cold virus?" But I better stop now.)

But all in all, there would be a lot more possibilities for a possible addition (or replacement to fill in the gaping hole in the dome). While Body Wars may be no more, to the dismay of some fans, let us just say that there could be other ideas left open to either follow the legacy of the long gone adventure, or even blaze a new trail altogether. Even the sister blog carrying out the study, "What's Next for Wonders of Life", has a variable series of results on what participants think could be for the next attraction. Anyways, if you have any ideas or suggestions, or something of interest pertaining to Epcot's Wonders of Life, feel free to leave a comment, or leave an email if it's confidential.

Until next time readers, and belated holiday wishes, especially in the first part of the new year.


  1. We need it to be updated. Dakin Matthews, Elisabeth Shue, and Tim Matheson could stay, but there would be new stars, like...Tara Strong, Micheal Buble, Martin Short, and Ryan Reynolds. And that "pick-and-mix" idea would be great. I actually want there to be an area outside the ride where you can meet-and-greet Dr. Lair...and she'll give you her autograph.

    1. Very clever idea, and yes it would be a brilliant memory to meet an iconic doctor in this way :)


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