World of Motion (October 1, 1982 – January 2, 1996), sponsored by General Motors, was the former tenant of the Transportation pavilion at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. It was an opening day attraction at EPCOT Center in 1982 and it closed in 1996 to make way for Test Track, a new thrill ride through a GM testing facility. Visitors would board moving four to six person Omnimover vehicles, and would be taken through scenes that were populated with Audio-Animatronic figures and also projection effects. It was a whimsical look at the history and achievements in transportation, showing scenes from the invention of the wheel right up to the present day and beyond.
The grand finale of the attraction attempted to predict a real future for transportation, with CenterCore, a sparkling metropolis that seemed to be in perpetual motion, and Pepper's Ghost illusions putting guests into futuristic vehicles. At the ride's conclusion, visitors disembarked into the TransCenter, an interactive area about new products in development by GM.
World of Motion closed in 1996. GM was still the sponsor for the World of Motion's replacement attraction: Test Track. Chevrolet eventually replaced GM as the sponsor of Test Track.
The premise of the ride was to be a humorous look into the history of transportation, from the ancient days of foot power, through time into the future. General Motors signed a 10 year sponsorship deal for the ride, in a move to compete with Ford (which had sponsored a Disney-created attraction at the 1964 New York World's Fair). The pavilion's construction was a part of the initial construction of EPCOT Center itself. The attraction was ready for grand opening with the park on October 1, 1982, and was in EPCOT Center's "opening cast". The pavilion was given a specific opening ceremony with GM executives a few days later.
The ride was designed by the legendary Ward Kimball. This was the only attraction the animator ever worked on. His humor was evident in such gags as a used-chariot sale, and the world's first traffic jam.
The ride began with a modern u-turn up a portico that was situated directly in the entrance into the building. The Omnimovers would then bring you to a simple caveman cave. However, it would head into the first means of transportation: footpower.
The second scene brings you into the earliest means of over water transportation, people traveling on a raft. The next scene shows you the first time animal power was introduced. It shows an Assyrian tableau with a person trying to control animals from camels to zebras.
The next scene shows the invention of the wheel at Babylon. A gag shows men holding a square object, a triangle object, and the award-winning circle object. Before exiting, we pass a wheel factory, where everything, including the Trojan Horse, is trying to be sold.
The next scenes are the "Age of Flight". It begins with Leonardo da Vinci and his many attempts to fly and next to him is a clearly upset Mona Lisa. The following scene is a man looking over London in a hot air balloon.
The next scenes are the evolution of steam. It starts out with a Mississippi Riverboat with the never ending stream of stagecoaches and such for the Western Expansion. The steam locomotive is the next evolution of steam travel, which in turn shows an authentic steam locomotive—and an authentic railroad robbery.
The scene shifts over to one of the most photographed and most remembered scenes: the world's first traffic jam. The chaos includes items such as an upset horse, a spilling ice truck, and kids screaming during the 1900s. We then travel past the open road scenes which include a man who crashed a bicycle, a family picnic, and early 40s and 50s cars.
The following areas are "speed tunnels" which pay homage to the tunnels in the Magic Kingdom"s "If You Had Wings". The Omnimover travels through these bullet-shaped tunnels while images are played on the screens. Some include crop-dusting, rafting, and traveling down a snowmobile trail.
The tunnels lead to the final exhibit: CenterCore, the amazing city of the future. Just before unloading, you are asked to "help shape tomorrow's mobility" with a similar effect as The Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion, you in your Omnimover appear to be a simulated car of the future.
You leave your Omnimover vehicles and go to the TransCenter, which is full of exhibits and shows about transportation and the things surrounding it. It takes an Innoventions-style feel to all of it. The TransCenter portion of World of Motion, 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 pits nine animated characters associated with various and alternate fuel-systems in a debate over which motor design should be used to power cars. There is a replica of America's only wind-tunnel on display. The ever-popular show "The Bird and the Robot", starring a toucan, Bird, and an assembly-line robot, Tiger, entertain people with acts (and Bird's signature bad jokes) about the importance of the GM assembly line. A computer-generated display shows GM's car 'torture' test without actually performing it. Concept 2000 shows 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 stylings 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. Thus, World of Motion was shut down to the public while a new attraction, called Test Track, was taking its place. Scheduled to open 19 months after World of Motion's closing, this new ride would put you 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. On the final ceremonial ride of World of Motion, on January 2, 1996, it broke down. GM executives who were riding it had to climb out and walk back to the exit.
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.
Pavilion sponsor General Motors signed a 10-year sponsorship contract in December 1977. When the second contract finished in 1992, and with a slumping economy GM agreed only to one-year contracts and wanted Disney Imagineering to work on a new attraction. GM insisted that the new ride would focus only on cars, as opposed to the general concept of transportation. The marketing department wanted to strongly promote their cars. GM was the sponsor for the whole run of the attraction.
The theme song for the ride was "It's Fun to Be Free", written by X Atencio ("Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" from Pirates of the Caribbean and "Grim Grinning Ghosts" from The Haunted Mansion), and Buddy Baker, another legendary Disney composer. The song was played throughout the ride (and queue area) with music changing to reflect the different time periods as the ride progressed through the various scenes.
The song can be found on The Official Album of Disneyland and Walt Disney World (1991) and Official Album: The Happiest Celebration on Earth - Walt Disney World Resort Album.