September 1986 – April 1997, February 2010 – June 2014
Tomorrowland – Captain EO entertained guests from Tomorrowland’s Magic Eye Theater. The theater, located between Space Mountain and the Star Trader gift shop, has been used for tons of different previews and movie clips over the years. Today, it currently houses a Star Wars tribute show.
In the mid 80s, Disney Imagineering collaborated with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to create a spectacular 3D science fiction show for both Disneyland and EPCOT in Orlando. They cast Michael Jackson as the lead, and Jackson wrote two original songs for the short.
Captain EO quickly developed into a brand new kind of theater experience: a 4D show. Meaning, it combined 3D visual effects with real, in theater visuals like lasers and smoke. In fact, Captain EO was one of the first 4D shows in the world.
The show started with Captain EO and his crew on a journey to present a gift to the Supreme Leader. But the Supreme Leader is not pleased to see them, and orders the crew captured upon their arrival. She sentences the crew to become trash cans on her planet, but saves special torture in the dungeon just for Captain EO.
Quick thinking EO tells the Supreme Leader he sees her inner beauty, and that through song, he can unleash it. As he sings, some of his crew become living musical instruments. Another crew member runs to join in, smashing one of the instruments in the process. The startling noise breaks the spell, and the Supreme Leader orders her guards to carry out the ordered punishments.
One crew member, Hooter, fixes his broken instrument and plays a few notes, giving EO a surge of power. EO quickly transforms the Supreme Leader’s henchmen into dancers, who can’t help but join EO’s melodic crew. As a last ditch effort to stop EO, the Supreme Leader unleashes two cyborg warriors. The scared crew and dancers flee, so EO must face the warriors on his own.
EO and the warriors fight for a moment, until EO finally regains enough power to transform the warriors into more dancers for his crew. Free from attack, EO keeps his word and unleashes the Supreme Leader’s inner beauty. Safe and free, EO and his crew head off into space once again, destined for their next adventure.
Throughout the 90s, Captain EO’s popularity gradually dwindled. Guests were more interested in newer attractions like Indiana Jones and Star Tours, and the old-fashioned Michael Jackson show wasn’t as exciting in comparison. But after Jackson’s death in 2009, Captain EO went viral online, and guest interest in the show surged. Disney brought back the show for another four years, before closing it for good in 2014.
The 2010-2014 version of Captain EO did not include lasers or smoke, reducing the “4D” show to a 3D show.
Anjelica Houston made a cameo in the film, playing the Supreme Leader.
Captain EO ended a nearly decade-long estrangement between Lucas and Coppola, which started when Lucas declined to direct Apocalypse Now.
In the 80s, Captain EO was the most expensive film ever produced (when measured by cost per minute). The average expense per minute totaled $1.76 million.