Wednesday, October 12, 2011

History of WDW: The Timekeeper

Added as a part of "New Tomorrowland" on November 21, 1994, The Timekeeper was an attraction that spanned the entire globe, from Paris to Tokyo with a stop in Florida along the way. Surprisingly, The Walt Disney World version was the last to open. The attraction was a circle-vision 360 show, the first such attraction in this format to have a flowing plot, as well as audio-animatronics. The stories narrative style followed the adventures of "9-Eyes" as she travelled through time on a research and record trip.

The attraction was originally housed in "The Transportarium" which was later renamed to the "Tomorrowland Metropolis Science Center" to keep the canon of "New Tomorrowland" in tact. Guests were introduced to the Timekeeper (Robin Williams) as he presents not only his invention of the time machine but his creation 9-Eyes (Rhea Perlman). As guests move into the circle-vision theater the presentation changes to show 9-Eyes vision as she travels through time. With the Timekeeper as the narrator, 9-Eyes travels through the ice-age and eventually to a meeting between H.G Wells (Jeremy Irons) and Jules Verne (Michael Piccoli) As Wells' departs, Verne is introduced to 9-Eyes and quickly wants to learn more about the future. After mistakingly bringing bit 9-Eyes and Verne back to the present, the Timekeeper decides to show Verne exactly how his creations became realities. As the Timekeeper finally returns Verne to the sight of his presentation (after a few failed attempts) we are once again met with H.G Wells, who as it turns out is trying to figure out what has happened to his friend, and who 9-Eyes is. The Timekeeper decides to send 9-Eyes to the future, and is once again met up with Verne, now with Wells aboard his own time machine. The show ends with the successful demonstration of time travel.

The Timekeeper was a popular ride upon opening, but had issues that attributed to its rather short history.  Probably the single greatest reason for its demise was its setup. As a show, guests are used to sitting and relaxing (one of the major reasons shows are generally well attended) as well as watching in one direction. The Timekeeper as it was setup, forced guests to stand and lean on handrails, as well as never really have a major focal direction. This led to confusion, and a lower attendance as well. Many people also attribute its lack of connection to Disney as a cause of its demise. It was also known that The Timekeeper had a pretty hidden entrance which made it often overlooked. (it seems that Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor has a similar issue now)  The events of September 11 also had a major affect on this attraction as it featured a scene depicting the World Trade Center. Many executives were ready to close the attraction around that time, but it remained open. The attraction's attendance eventually waned, and in the early 2000's it went seasonal. This generally is the death bell ringing as the attraction eventually closed on February 26, 2006 to little fanfare.

The Timekeeper is generally considered as one of the greatest "extinct" attractions. Part of the reason for that is its short life span. The attraction was open for just over 11 years, which is a relatively short life for an attraction. As an attraction, The Timekeeper has gained a cult style following, with videos on youtube as well as other sights commemorating its inclusion in Walt Disney World as well. Most people believe that if it would have had any type of seating, we may still be seeing it in Tomorrowland today.

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