In 1986, George Lucas and Michael Jackson came together to create Captain EO–a short movie that would play at Disney Parks. The 3D science fiction film played in the Tomorrowland Theatre at Disneyland and in Epcot‘s Future World from 1986-1998. Both theatres were built to have interactive effects, in addition to the 3D effects. With this combination, EO is considered one of the first “4D” films. While the musical score was written by James Horner, Michael Jackson wrote and performed two of the featured songs. They were called “We Are Here To Change The World” and “Another Part of Me.” After Michael Jackson’s death in 2010, Disney brought the show back as a tribute. Its final airing was in December 2015 in Epcot.

Captain EO (played by Michael Jackson) and his spaceship crew are given a task by Commander Bog. They must deliver a special gift to “The Supreme Leader” (played by Anjelica Huston) on her planet of steaming, rotting metals.

The decrepit alien crew consists of a few interesting characters. Fuzzball is EO’s tiny sidekick whose special power is flying. Idey and Odey are the pilots and navigators. They are two different characters in one body. That’s right, they have two heads! Major Domo is the robot in charge of security. Minor Domo is a tiny robot that fits inside Major Domo like a baby kangaroo. Finally, we have Hooter. Hooter is an elephant-like creature who has a reputation for ruining the crew’s mission with his clumsiness.

The Story

EO and his crew are immediately captured by one of the Supreme Leader’s henchmen upon arrival. The Supreme Leader sentences the crew members to become trash cans. She sentences EO to 100 years of torture in the deepest dungeon. Before they are sent away though, EO starts to smooth talk his way out of their problems. He tells the Supreme Leader that she has a hidden beauty. His key to unlocking her hidden beauty? The song: “We Are Here To Change The World.”

Naturally, EO and his crew burst into song. Some of the crew members are turned into instruments, while the others are playing various instruments. This puts the Supreme Leader and her guards in a trance. Unfortunately, Hooter trips over his instrument and it breaks. The music stops, and so does the trance-like state of their enemies. As EO fights off the guards, Hooter gets his instrument fixed and the song restarts. EO is able to turn all of the guards and crew members into super cool backup dancers as the song plays.

Once the song ends, The Supreme Leader turns into a beautiful woman and her lair turns into a peaceful temple of sorts. Her planet becomes a sweet paradise. And to celebrate their victory, everyone breaks out in song once again to Michael Jackson’s “Another Part of Me” as the movie ends.

A Tribute

Even before Michael Jackson’s untimely passing, there was a prominent petition going around asking that Disney bring back Captain EO. However, once Michael Jackson died in 2009, this campaign was more popular than ever. At first, Disney executives seemed hesitant. CEO Bob Iger was quoted saying, “There aren’t plans to bring back Captain EO at this time…We are looking at it. It’s the kind of thing that, if we did it, would get a fair amount of attention and we’d want to make sure we do it right.”

Eventually, it was announced that the show would come back to Disneyland in February 2010 as a tribute to the late King of Pop. This meant Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! would be closing. The tribute show made its way back to Epcot and Tokyo Disneyland as well and played on and off during the next couple of years. Epcot was the last Disney Park to show Captain EO, in December 2015.

Even though sci-fi movies with silly plots like this were far more accepted in the 1980s, the plot was still strange even then. I mean, the power of one song can change everything? These days, audiences appreciate more depth and substance. That is not to say that Captain EO was bad at all, just a little weird.

In the years following the first airing of the in-park film, Michael Jackson’s reputation started to hit new lows. Obviously, we will not be going into too many details here. You can research that on your own time if you are not already aware. Regardless of the truth or situation, it was hard for Disney to keep it around and even want to bring it back after his death.