Four months after making its return to the Disneyland Resort in California, the popular (and quite retro) 3D film “Captain EO” has now returned to EPCOT at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
While the attraction doesn’t officially reopen until Friday, July 2, a special sneak preview was held this morning for invited media, Disney’s Cast Members, and some other Guests. The film returns to its original home, having first premiered at EPCOT in 1986 and ending its run there in 1994. But the sixteen-year gap wasn’t enough to stop Michael Jackson fans from eagerly awaiting EO’s return.
With Jackson having passed away just over a year ago, timing is perfect for a nostalgic look at this 17-minute 3D film experience, produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Here’s a video of the excitement as “Captain EO” re-debuted at EPCOT this morning, including a special introduction from EPCOT vice president Dan Cockerell as well as interviews with him and two Walt Disney Imagineers:
Not all of the in-theater effects from the original days of “Captain EO” were reinstalled into the EPCOT theater, but there is no shortage of interaction with the watching audience. Special lighting, a booming sound system, and even the occasional squirt of water are all enjoyed during the presentation. And there’s good news for anyone who has experienced the current Disneyland version of the attraction and did not enjoy the theater seats bouncing along to the beat of the music: EPCOT’s “Captain EO” uses seat movement much more subtly and only for emphasis, not to force Guests to “dance” along with Jackson’s tunes.
Another change from Disneyland’s version of the attraction is that while that park is billing its return as the “Captain EO Tribute” at EPCOT, it is once again known as “Captain EO.” I was told Walt Disney World’s version is not a “tribute” simply because Disney found and used the original attraction’s sign (pictured at the top of this article).
Like in California, there is plenty of “Captain EO” merchandise to be found just outside the attraction at EPCOT, including T-shirts ($25-29), hats ($25), posters, and buttons:
Back in February, we spoke with Walt Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter at Disneyland’s “Captain EO” reopening about bringing the attraction back to the parks:
Imagineer Rick Rothschild also spoke to us about his thoughts on “Captain EO”:
A few of the original dancers and actors from “Captain EO” were also on hand at Disneyland’s reopening to talk about their experiences shooting the film:
(Disneyland interviews by Jeremiah Daws.)
Once it officially reopens at EPCOT on July 2, “Captain EO” will be presented multiple times daily at the Imagination pavilion. It has temporarily replaced “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience,” which is planned to return at an undetermined date. No additional plans for the Imagination pavilion have been revealed.