Disney’s fifth dragon is a bit of a departure from the others. Though Madame Mim had one of the shortest spans of time on film, this next fellow has virtually no screentime whatsoever. And yet despite that, he’s become one of Disney’s most consistent performers over the last thirty-plus years and an icon of Walt Disney World. He is, of course, the lovable Figment.
There, Voila, You’ve Got A Figment
Towards the back of EPCOT Center’s Future World stands the Imagination Pavilion. Inside the original Journey Into Imagination ride back in 1983, a man known simply as the Dreamfinder sought to show audiences the power of our own creative sparks. To help guide us through this journey, he creates one of his favorites figments of imagination, mixing two tiny wings, big yellow eyes, horns of a steer, childish delight, and royal purple pigment. What we get is the fifth Disney Dragon.
For about sixteen years, Dreamfinder and Figment would have visitors humming along to their song “One Little Spark” and the purple dragon propelled into stardom. Our joyful, little Figment became a symbol of EPCOT Center. But he became a victim of progress in the late 90s.
In an attempt to update the Imagination Pavilion, a new ride was introduced called Journey Into Your Imagination. The theme switched from a surrealistic voyage to an off the wall trip through wild laboratories guided by a Dr. Nigel Channing (portrayed by Monty Python alum Eric Idle). Gone was the jolly Dreamfinder and the role of our friend Figment was highly reduced.
Audiences were angered by the move. Our tiny winged dragon had gained so much popularity during his time that the updated ride received quite the backlash. After only two years, the new ride incarnation was shut down and more Figment was added. Though when it opened again in 2002, it was mostly a cosmetic fix to add the popular character. But Epcot had it’s most popular character back.
For the last few years, rumors have circulated that Figment may soon reunite with his friend, Dreamfinder. But with a variety of projects being undertaken at Walt Disney World it would seem that has been placed on the back burner. But the two have received a little updating, courtesy of Marvel Comics and the Disney Kingdoms line. The first miniseries gave the duo a new origin story for a new generation. This new version features Figment helping a man named Blarion Mecurial reach his potentialas the Dreamfinder in the early 1900s and then eventually traveling through time to modern day. This also gives a reason for the Dreamfinder’s steampunk sense of style.
As a fan of the original Journey Into Imagination, I would love to see Figment and Dreamfinder return to sing their catchy Sherman Brothers penned song. The current incarnation just does not draw on enough imagination like the original ride did. Current animatronic technology and an updated story mixed with the classic music would please this fan and many others. Until then, I’ll continue to follow Figment’s adventures in the parks and in the comics.