Lost Original Versions of Cranium Command: Epcot Center's Canceled Attractions Part 48

 Epcot Center's Canceled Attractions

Captain Cortex Buzzy Cranium Command Concept Art

Cranium Command gained a level of notoriety outside the Disney Parks superfan community in the aftermath of the animatronic Buzzy disappearing from his attraction after apparently being stolen, but there is so much more to this attraction than its grim ending, with a development that helped us get Disney and Pixar classics from Beauty and the Beast to Inside Out.

Today we are exploring the original but never opened versions of Cranium Command at Epcot, the classic animatronic stage show from Wonders of Life. Be sure to check out the entire Epcot Center's Canceled Attractions series here.

The basic idea behind Cranium Command had been a part of Epcot since the beginning, originally proposed alongside The Incredible Journey Within as an attraction called Head Trip.

Head Trip would have been located in a multi-use theater also showcasing a show about dentistry. It initially would have featured three animatronics that controlled emotion, intelligence, and the basic nervous system.

This attraction would not get built when the pavilion it was planned for did not get a sponsor and it was relegated to phase two of Epcot.

But eventually, when Wonders of Life was actually given a budget, this concept was revisited with a more science fiction style, and more freedom as it would be its own singular attraction this time instead of having to share space with another show. It was planned to have a cast of miniature animatronics controlling a human through everyday life, with the set being designed to look like the mechanical inside of a human head.

Budgetary issues would limit the show to a single animatronic then known as Captain Cortex. Disney decided not to animate or film this attraction themselves and send off the story to an outside company, Colossal Pictures, for completion.

When Disney saw it they found it did not live up to their attraction standards. The problem was the props, animatronic, and set of the attraction had already been created and the Wonders of Life pavilion was speeding towards its opening.

Disney then quickly began reworking the show, filming and animating it simultaneously, with animation work actually happening at Disney MGM Studios.

Captain Cortex would be reimagined into the new character of Buzzy, an inexperienced member of the Cranium Command. His animatronic would look different than the animated version featured in the preshow due to having already been built prior to the change in production company. His animatronic would receive a costume change to fit the new vision, but his animatronic form paid tribute to the original version.

This redevelopment featured many future notable Disney figureheads. The directors of Beauty and the Beast would earn that job for their stellar work in this attraction's animated segments.

Future head of Pixar, Pete Doctor would also be an animator for this attraction very early in his career, with it eventually helping to inspire Inside Out, with its very similar premise.

This shows original versions were never experienced, but the final version was a beloved Epcot attraction that deserved a much better ending than the abandonment and theft it received. This attraction gave us one of the best Disney films of all time and jump-started the careers of multiple future big players in Disney animation.

Thanks for exploring this attraction with us and be sure to come back the next two weeks for the final two entries of Epcot Center's Canceled Attractions. Check out the rest of the series here.