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The Timekeeper


November 21, 1994


February 26, 2006




Walt Disney Imagineering



Replaced by

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

The Timekeeper (also known as From Time to Time) was a 1992 Circle-Vision 360° film in the Magic Kingdom. It was the first Circle-Vision show that was arranged and filmed with an actual plot and not just visions of landscapes, and the first to utilize Audio-Animatronics. The film featured a cast of European film actors of France, Italy, Belgium, Russia and England. The film was shown in highly stylized circular theaters, and featured historic and futuristic details both on the interior and exterior.

The Timekeeper and its original European counterpart Le Visionarium marked the first time that the Circle-Vision film process was used to deliver a narrative story line. This required a concept to explain the unusual visual characteristics of the Theater, hence the character 9-Eyes. 9-Eyes is sent through time by the Timekeeper, so that she can send back the surrounding images as she records them in whichever era she finds herself in.


The Timekeeper was not just an ordinary Circle-Vision 360° film, but was important in that, for the first time in a Circle-Vision film, Imagineers wanted to tell an immersive story and attempt a light-hearted dialog without just switching between scenes of landscapes, as had been done in all of the previous Circle-Vision films.

The original concept for the film had included Jules Verne and the culture of past and present European history and events, and new inventions. Along with the previous elements, the story had to do with the idea of time travel, with one idea being that of a child that explored the story of the great European scientists of the past on an intelligent computer. However, to keep the audience focused and use imagination to depict situations and places that do not cater to the average person, the number of visions of the past and extreme situations of the plot kept increasing all the time for the project.

The film first premiered in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris on April 12, 1992 as Le Visionarium. It was an extravagant attraction, and was touted by then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner as the showcase attraction of the land at the time. However, TIME Magazine derided the film as a "flop" of a "wan drama" in its review of Disneyland Paris.

The attraction had long been on the Discoveryland USA proposal for the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. However, when financial difficulties arose because of the EuroDisney Project, this Discoveryland project was canceled. At one point, the attraction was to be extended into a restaurant featured next door to the attraction. The Plaza Pavilion was to receive a makeover as the "Astronomer's Club," where a stage would have featured actors portraying famed scientists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton or Galileo, who would appear in the restaurant, and then be called back to the past by either 9-Eyes or Timekeeper.

However, the film was named From Time to Time and opened in the Magic Kingdom's Circle-Vision Theater, rechristened "Transportarium" on November 21, 1994 as part of the New Tomorrowland expansion. Six months later, the attraction underwent some name changes. The theater was renamed "Tomorrowland Metropolis Science Center," and the film became formally known as The Timekeeper.

In April 2001, the attraction was moved to the seasonal list of attractions along with Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. For some time, the attraction was open on a sporadic schedule during the busy seasons. Some attribute it to the following criticisms:

  • Obese or elderly guests may have found it hard to stand or strainful on the eyes
  • The lack of familiar Disney characters
  • The building's entrance was very inconspicuous and did not feature a large rotating globe icon or full title.

After the events of September 11, 2001, the attraction faced even harder times. With a decrease in tourism due to the terrorist acts in the United States, and the fact the film featured a scene of New York that still included the now-destroyed World Trade Center Towers, the attraction's demise was certain. To preserve the memory of those events, the Timekeeper′s clock registered the current year as 2000, placing him in a time prior to the attacks.

However, it managed to last five more years. During the time when construction was occurring on Stitch's Great Escape, it was open more frequently, as was Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. On days when the show was not opened, the queue was a meet-and-greet for Disney characters such as Stitch and Pixar characters Buzz Lightyear, and Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone from The Incredibles.

In February 2006, the Walt Disney World Resort reported that The Timekeeper was to be closed on February 26, 2006.

In early 2007, the former location of The Timekeeper became home to Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. The attraction building still retains most of the elements of the previous tenant, including the water columns in the queue and the basic Circle-Vision theater. However, the theater floor has been modified to include seating, and several of the screens are now covered by other elements. The building, theoretically, is still able to revert to a Circle-Vision Theater, although the likelihood of this occurring is low.

Attraction Description[]

Before the actual show, guests are introduced to the invention of the show, "Circumvisual PhotoDroid," more frequently referred to as "9-Eye." The nine eyes she has represents the nine cameras used in filming the show in the round, thus showing the view from one of her "eyes" on each of the nine movie screens. She is the latest development by the Timekeeper, the inventor of the Time Machine. Guests are invited to be witnesses of the first use ever of the newly invented machine. Guests also watch 9-Eye's training videos, which include a plunge over Niagara Falls, a flight into a barn full of dynamite in Topeka, Kansas, a swirling ride aboard a centrifugator, and lastly, hitching a ride on a space shuttle.

After guests enter the theater, Timekeeper comes to life and has 9-Eyes prepared for the journey through time. Timekeeper then turns on the machine for its first use, then watches from his control panel as 9-Eyes is thrust back to the Jurassic age period in Earth's history. She narrowly escapes a hungry dinosaur as Timekeeper sends her to the last great ice age about 12,000 years ago. As she starts freezing up, Timekeeper sends her to 1450, for what should be a demonstration of Johannes Gutenberg's printing press.

However, Timekeeper has yet again messed up and sent her to a Scottish battlefield in which one warrior comes after her. Finally working the kinks out of the Time Machine, Timekeeper sends 9-Eye to the year 1503, at the height of the Renaissance. The machine is placed right in the middle of Leonardo Da Vinci's workshop, where he is painting the Mona Lisa and working on a model of his flying machine. 9-Eye, being curious, picks up an item close to her, and is quickly noticed by Leonardo, who becomes fascinated by the strange machine, and starts drawing it on paper.

However, the meeting between 9-Eyes and Da Vinci is cut short. Her next stop in time is 1763 in a French castle, where a child named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is giving a performance to a crowd, which includes King Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. The meeting is again short as she is noticed by the people, who start chasing her through the hallways. Timekeeper decides to send her to the 1878 Exposition Universelle, but the machine is stuck on fast forward, so she witnesses a Paris skyline in such a motion that the progress of the Eiffel Tower, symbol of the 1889 Exposition Universelle, is shown in the background. Finally Timekeeper has the Machine stopped in 1900, just in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle.

Timekeeper announces that guests are in time for a meeting between H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. 9-Eyes hides from the fair-goers but not so that Verne and Wells are hidden. After a brief conversation about their conflicting visions of the future, Wells walks away, leaving Verne with a model of his Time Machine, which Verne has just criticized as impossible. After a sarcastic comment about time travel from Verne, 9-Eyes rebuts his claim and appears to the author. Jules Verne decides to take a closer look at her and tries to grab her. Timekeeper seeing this tries to bring her back to the present, but he also takes Verne.

Timekeeper and 9-Eyes, realizing their mistake, try to send him back, but he refuses after discovering he has finally arrived in the future he had always dreamed of. He begs for them to show him the world of today in ten minutes or less, so he can return to 1900 and deliver his speech at the Exhibition (which makes Timekeeper ironically reply that he did it in 80 days). They agree, and Timekeeper sets the Machine for today. He sends Verne and 9-Eyes to a dark tunnel, which Verne believes to be a "dark future." They are unaware they are standing in a railroad tunnel. The next thing to happen is a collision between Jules Verne and a French TGV train, with Verne becoming a new hood ornament.

From the train, Jules Verne and 9-Eyes explore the modern streets of Paris (with Verne walking among the traffic, nearly causing an accident), which leads Verne, curious, to try driving. As such, Timekeeper puts him in the front seat of a race car, and Verne takes off, albeit in the wrong direction. From race car driving, Verne then enjoys a bobsled run. After this bobsled run, Timekeeper sends Verne and 9-Eyes to the bottom of the sea, to show Verne how his novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea has come to life.

The screen then shows a flight through the air above the European countrysides featuring castles and mountains. Verne is shown in a helicopter, sitting dangerously close to its open door. After flying over Mont St Michel, Neuschwanstein Castle, English countrysides, and the New York skyline, Verne requests to go even higher. They take him to space, in order to show that another dream of his, space travel, has come true from his book From the Earth to the Moon.

Time is running out, so Timekeeper and 9-Eyes return Verne to the site of the Grand Palais of the 1900 Exposition Universelle. However, Timekeeper makes one mistake in the wrong year, and Verne is in the right place, but at the wrong time (in the 1990s). When they finally return Verne to his right time, H.G. Wells happens to go back to the site of his discussion with Verne, and therefore sees all that is going on with the Timekeeper. Wells is flabbergasted, and Verne and 9-Eyes exchange goodbyes as Wells tries to understand what is happening. 9-Eyes returns to the present time, and now that guests have witnessed a "flawless" demonstration of his Time Machine, Timekeeper decides to see the future.

Timekeeper sends 9-Eyes and selected guests to 2189, 300 years after the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and the completion of the Eiffel Tower (both evidenced by the Timekeeper's clock, and by the appearance of the number "300" on the Eiffel Tower). As they explore a futuristic Paris aboard a flying car named Reinastella, they see Jules Verne and H.G. Wells appearing in what looks like Wells' Time Machine from 1900. The show ends as they jet off, and Timekeeper wishes everyone well. As guests leave, Timekeeper makes plans to see other important events during history and in the future with his machine and 9-Eyes.

Sources & External Links[]