Figment Ride at Epcot: The Purple Dragon Who Sparked YOUR Imagination!

Recently, the popularity of Figment at Epcot became the topic of global speculation, leading to some slight ridicule of adult Disney fans as the world could take a glimpse into the Disney fan bubble.

Publications like CNN and platforms like Twitter and TikTok showcased hours long lines during Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts for what?

A Figment shaped popcorn bucket filled with rainbow flavored popcorn.

These buckets started memes and were being sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars for an item that cost no more than $20. But this raised the question to outsiders of the fandom, “Who is Figment?”

Epcot purists and Disney fans alike debate about Journey Into Imagination, home to the purple dragon.

One thing we usually all agree on is that Figment is a delight and that his legacy in Epcot is important.

And yes, the Figment ride is STILL at Epcot…

Join me as I dive into the history of Figment the purple dragon who has sparked the imagination of people for generations!

Figment will greet guests in the Imagination! pavilion at EPCOT starting Sept. 10. Guests will delight as the moment to meet this creative mischief-maker has arrived. The iconic purple dragon is waiting to spark creativity and help imagination soar at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Figment will greet guests in the Imagination! pavilion at EPCOT. Guests will delight as the moment to meet this creative mischief-maker has arrived. The iconic purple dragon is waiting to spark creativity and help imagination soar at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Photo Courtesy of Disney Co. via Matt Stroshane, Photographer)

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The Creation and History of the Figment Ride at Epcot

If I told you that this small purple dragon was inspired by an episode of Magnum P.I, would you believe me?

View showing pyramids at Imagination Pavilion Epcot 1982
Imagination! Pavilion Epcot 1982 (Photo Courtesy of Florida Memory)

Figment’s creator, Disney Legend and former senior vice president of creative development at Walt Disney Imagineering, Tony Baxter and former Disney Imagineer Steve Kirk are the brains behind Figment.

According to Baxter, he came up with the name for the small purple dragon after watching an episode of Magnum PI, where Higgins has his flowers eaten by a goat and in response he exclaims, “Don’t tell me the goat is a figment of my imagination. Figments don’t eat rare tropical flowers!”

Figment takes on many roles at Epcot, but his main role is to inspire creativity.

With the help of the Sherman Brothers, we were able to get a full description of Figment in an uplifting and quirky song called “One Little Spark.” The lyrics are as follows:

 “Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, but a lovable fellow. From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment, and there, voila, you’ve got a Figment.” In short, he is meant to be the physical embodiment of the phrase “Figment of your imagination.”

Since its opening in 1982, the Imagination Pavilion has been a prominent feature of Epcot.

When did the Figment ride open at Epcot?

However, it was not until the debut of its ride on March 5, 1983, that Figment became its official mascot, a role he has held ever since.

Figment Ride at Epcot Journey into Imagination Melody Maker

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Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion and Figment’s Role

For those who aren’t in the know, the Journey Into Imagination ride that we know today isn’t the original version. It’s a very watered-down version of what opened in 1983.

Epcot Journey Into Imagination with Figment Ride Disney Genie Lightning Lane Entrance

The original 1983 version actually featured another original character named “Dreamfinder.”

The Dreamfinder

The original story concept is straightforward. Dreamfinder, a cheerful and optimistic wizard/scientist, embarks on a mission to teach Figment how to harness his imagination.

Dreamfinder and Figment at Epcot 1983 in Imagination Pavilion
Dreamfinder and Figment at Epcot 1983 in Imagination Pavilion (Photo Courtesy of Flickr: Javier Loren)

During the ride, you were introduced to Dreamfinder, who explains that his Dreammobile is the vehicle through which he generates ideas to create amazing new things.

Soon after, Dreamfinder invents Figment and together they populate Dreamfinder’s “idea bag.”

Dreamfinder and Figment at Epcot Center
Dreamfinder and Figment at Epcot Center (Photo Courtesy of Flickr: Joel)

The idea bag would get full and so the bag had to be emptied into the Dreamport.

As the ride proceeded, riders would see different rooms, such as a storage room for organizing ideas, as well as rooms specifically devoted to the arts, literature, science, and the performing arts.

Throughout the adventure, Figment assumed a variety of fun roles such as a pirate, mountain climber, cowboy, and superhero, but his appearance in recent media suggests that his preferred role to portray is that of an astronaut.

Journey into Imagination with Figment

As the ride concluded, the Dreamfinder informed Figment and the audience that Imagination is the key to unlocking the hidden wonders of the world.

Figment Wall Mural Painting at Epcot Festival of the Arts

Guests could then exit into Imageworks, an interactive playground that allowed visitors to express their creativity in various ways.

The crown jewel was the rainbow tunnel which would have the Instagram girls shaking.

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The All-Star Duo: Dreamfinder and Figment

Dreamfinder and Figment were two beloved original park characters, but especially since they were the mascots of the extremely popular pavilion.

Figment Coloring Book inside ImageWorks at Epcot Center 2002
Figment Coloring Book inside ImageWorks at Epcot Center 2002 (Photo Courtesy of Flickr: Steven Miller)

The pair was adored for their embrace and support of individuals of every age, affirming that no concept was foolish and no aspiration was too far-fetched.

Every idea and every dream were worth pursuing and the ride and their pavilion were truly the most positive spark to inspiring everyday guests.

Dreamfinder and Figment at one point were walk-around characters that delighted guests daily.

Figment at Epcot Journey into Imagination Queue Interior at the Reception of the Imagination Institute

To this day, friends of Dreamfinder are still beloved and cherished for the core memories they instilled in Disney fans who visited during the 1980s.

However, even Walt said, “Progress is impossible without change.”

Journey Into Imagination with Figment Ride at Epcot

In 1998, the ride was closed for a major refurbishment and in 1999, it reopened with a new story and Dreamfinder was replaced with Dr. Nigel Channing as a host.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Beautiful Yellow Tree in front of Journey into Your Imagination with Figment

Most fans agree that the refurbishment really messed up the character and imagination theme.

Figment at Epcot Journey into Imagination Institute Inventor of the Year Award with Nigel Channing, Flubber and Wayne Szalinski

Guests also complained about Figment’s minimized role and that Dreamfinder was completely gone. Budget cuts were also an issue as well and so the ride track was greatly reduced.

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Disappointing Reviews of the Figment Ride at Epcot…

The complaints were heard, and the ride went down again for another refurb in 2001. In 2002, figment returned with a larger role and was included in every scene.

Plus, the focus of the ride was the five senses rather than imagination.

Figment at Odyssey Building during Disney Pin Celebration 2002 Epcot
Epcot Center 2002 (Photo Courtesy of Flickr: Steven Miller)

Guests still weren’t quite happy, and some folks are still not sure if the third version of the ride and Figment’s role in it are really hitting the mark. But hey, everyone’s got their own take on it, right?

Something that’s super cool to me.

With the lore we know as far as figment’s role in the ride, in the original version, he is a creation of Dreamfinder and we go along as Dreamfinder mentors him to showcase the different ways we can utilize our imagination.

In the updated version, Disney’s Figment tackles the role with a fun, offbeat, and wild approach.

He’s all about showing that you don’t have to stick to the same old routine when it comes to coming up with ideas. He’s all about pushing people to think differently and be more open to new experiences.

Figment at Epcot Journey into Imagination Boarding ride with Nigel Channing

Regardless, his role in the attraction is always to be a Segway to convey the message of Imagination and its importance to riders.

Figment’s Recent Resurgence at Epcot

Our favorite purple dragon, Figment, has seen a recent return in the age of the internet as nostalgic Disney fans shared their fond memories of Dreamfinder, Figment and their ride.

Disney 50th Anniversary Celebration Figment Statue at Epcot

Figment has made cameos in Disney Pixar films, Toy Story 4 and Inside Out.

Inside Out was particularly special due to the character of Bing Bong, who plays a similar role as Figment for the main character, Riley.

Disney started to cash in on the fans when they teamed up with Marvel to release a Figment comic book miniseries in the summer of 2014.

It was called “Disney Kingdoms: Figment” that gave us the backstory of the beloved purple dragon and his creator and mentor, Dreamfinder. It became so successful that a sequel series was released the following year.

Marvel seems to love Figment a lot as he is an Easter Egg in the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout attraction in Disney California Adventure.

Figment Painting at Epcot Festival of the Arts

For Walt Disney World, he is usually used as the mascot for EPCOT’s festival mascot.

Anytime Figment appears, whether it be in digital media, literature, merchandise or in the parks, he continues to be loved by all generations of guests (including me).

Why is Figment at Epcot so loved?

We have no come full circle to the recent popcorn bucket chaos of EPCOT’s International Festival of the Arts and the question “Who is Figment?”

Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2022 Figment Popcorn Bucket Merchandise Frenzy
This Figment Popcorn Bucket is a hit this year and causing so much hype with a 5+ hours line just to purchase one.

Now that we have gone through and answered that question, it’s time to answer one more. “Why is Figment so loved?”

In this writer’s honest opinion, I believe that Figment represents the child in all of us. During our childhoods, that is when we are the most optimistic, curious and imaginative generally.

Our favorite purple dragon, Figment, is relatable in that way to us, not to mention he is full of optimism while encouraging all of us to not suppress our sparks.

Epcot Festival of the Arts Merchandise Figment Tie Die Shirt

Figment is a reminder that we still have that spark within us, and we can still utilize it to create a better world full of hope and imagination.

Without imagination, we would not have developed as wonderfully as we have as a society. AND without figment, we would not be reminded of the spark that we all have to create, inspire and achieve things we might not ever thought possible.

In short, Figment, the physical embodiment of “figment of your imagination” is a reminder when we step foot into EPCOT that imagination is truly the key to the hidden gems of the world.

Is Figment still open at Epcot
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Do you have any memories with Figment from past visits? Let us know in the comments section below.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

About the Author

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

(Original Article Date: March 21, 2022/Updated by Editor on May 16, 2024)

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