Universe of Energy

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Universe of Energy
Epcot Universe of Energy logo.svg
Universe of Energy Sign.jpg
The logo for the original attraction (top), The sign as it looked from 2001 to 2004 when the pavilion was sponsored by ExxonMobil.
Epcot
Area Future World
Coordinates 28°22′29″N 81°32′52″W / 28.374599°N 81.547877°W / 28.374599; -81.547877
Status Operating
Opening date September 15, 1996
General statistics
Attraction type Pavilion
Designer WED Enterprises
Theme Energy
Music Official Album 1991 (old version)
Vehicle type Traveling Theatre
Riders per vehicle 100
Duration 45:00
Audio-animatronics 26 (new), 34 (old)
Sponsor Exxon (1982-1996), ExxonMobil (1996-2004) None (2004-Present)
Current Host Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye 'The Science Guy,' Alex Trebek, Jamie Lee Curtis and Johnny Gilbert
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible

The Universe of Energy is a pavilion located in the eastern half of Future World at Epcot. The pavilion contains one attraction, its second since its 1982 opening. The attraction, Ellen's Energy Adventure, starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy, consists primarily of a slow-moving dark ride through three films and an elaborate recreation of the dinosaur era. Universe of Energy was previously sponsored by ExxonMobil (formerly Exxon) from opening day October 1, 1982 through 2004.

Original attraction[edit]

The original Universe of Energy pavilion itself was an innovation in energy technology, as the entire roof was covered in 80,000 photovoltaic solar cells that partially powered the ride vehicles. Visitors were transported through the pavilion in large battery-powered "traveling theatre cars" that followed guide-wires embedded in the floor as opposed to riding along conventional ride tracks. The original attraction featured numerous films that presented information on the subject of energy in a serious fashion as well as a ride through a primeval diorama complete with audio-animatronic dinosaurs.

Pre-show Theatre Film (audience standing)[edit]

The original pre-show featured a unique eight minute film presentation known as the "Kinetic Mosaic," which was invented by Czech film director Emil Radok (see link below for video). The film was narrated by actor Vic Perrin. The mosaic screen consisted of 100 rotating prism-shaped flip screens (reminiscent of those on the classic game show Concentration), arranged in a twenty five wide by four high array. These flip screens rotated under computer control and were synchronized to a live-action motion picture that was projected onto their surface. Each flip screen contained three sides with white projection surfaces on two sides and a matte black surface on the third. The combination of the film and the screens' rotation created undulating, sometimes three-dimensional-appearing images. During the conclusion of the pre-show, the song "Energy (You Make The World Go ‘Round)" was played.

Theatre I Film (audience seated)[edit]

Upon entering the theatre, guests were seated in the theater. The seating area turns to face the door for the first film: a four minute hand-animated film that depicted the beginnings of life on earth and the formation of fossil fuels. This film was also narrated by Vic Perrin.

Primeval Diorama (audience seated)[edit]

At the conclusion of the film, the entire theatre seating area turned to face the rising curtain, and moved into the primeval diorama. Here, the theatre seating broke up into six multi-passenger vehicles that took guests on a seven minute journey through the diorama, which was populated by numerous dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus and a family of Brachiosaurus in a swamp, a Stegosaurus fighting a Megalosaurus on an overhead cliff, several Trachodon bathing beneath a waterfall, a number of Ornithomimus watching helplessly as one of their own sank into a boiling tar pit, an Elasmosaurus that lashed out at guests, and numerous Pteranodon that were perched around an erupting volcano. The diorama also featured a deliberately "swampy" smell.

Theatre II Film (audience seated)[edit]

Leaving the diorama, the vehicles entered the EPCOT Energy Information Center where they reassembled back into their original theatre seating formation. Here, guests viewed a twelve minute live-action film that took them on an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources around the world.

Theatre I Finale Film (audience seated)[edit]

At the conclusion of the film, the entire seating area moved back into Theatre I where guests viewed a two minute computer-animated film of laser-like images that were reflected off of mirrored walls within the theatre. The film was accompanied by an upbeat song entitled, "Universe of Energy."

Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure (1996–present)[edit]

The current show stars Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye 'The Science Guy,' Alex Trebek, Johnny Gilbert, and Jamie Lee Curtis. It deals with energy, how energy is produced, the history of energy production, and the search for new energy resources. In particular it focuses on the origins of fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and natural gas. It also mentions solar and hydroelectric power. It is now also the longest-running show of the ride to date.

The current attraction uses the same traveling theater system that was used by the original Universe of Energy show. The primeval diorama uses essentially the same sets and Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs as the original show, though during the renovation to the Ellen's Energy Adventure show, all of the dinosaurs were repainted in much brighter colors, several audio-animatronic figures were added along with an upbeat musical score to help tie it into the new films.

Pre-show Theatre Film (audience standing)[edit]

Guests view an eight minute film in which Ellen DeGeneres falls asleep and dreams that she is in an energy-themed version of Jeopardy!, playing against an old rival Judy Peterson (portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis) and Albert Einstein. Initially, Ellen does not know about energy.

Theatre I Film (audience seated)[edit]

Upon entering the theatre, guests are seated in one of six seating areas. Here, the theater turns to face the doors, and a six minute film is shown in which Bill Nye takes Ellen back billions of years in time to witness the Big Bang and then into a prehistoric jungle where he explains the formation of fossil fuels.

Dinosaurs in the Universe of Energy

Primeval Diorama (audience seated)[edit]

At the conclusion of the film, the entire theatre seating area turns to the rising curtain, and moves into the primeval diorama. Here, the theatre seating breaks up into six multi-passenger vehicles that take guests on a seven minute journey through the diorama, which is populated by numerous animatronic dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus and a family of Brachiosaurus in a swamp (one of whom sneezes water onto guests), a Stegosaurus fighting a Megalosaurus on an overhead cliff, several Trachodon bathing beneath a waterfall, a number of Ornithomimus drinking from a pond (one of whom spits water at guests), an Audio-Animatronic Ellen fighting off an Elasmosaurus with a tree branch, and numerous Pteranodon perched around an erupting volcano.

Theatre II Film (audience seated)[edit]

Leaving the diorama, the vehicles enter a second theatre where they reassemble back into their original theatre seating formation. After listening to a brief prehistoric broadcast from KNRG News Radio, guests view a twelve minute live-action film in which Ellen and Bill Nye take an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources. Actor Michael Richards also makes a brief cameo as a caveman.

Hidden Mickey[edit]

There is one Hidden Mickey towards the beginning of the Theatre II film; it is only on-screen for 3 seconds.

Theatre I Finale Film (audience seated)[edit]

At the conclusion of the film, the entire seating area moves back into Theatre I and rotates back into its starting position, The final 2-minute segment presents the end of Ellen's dream, in which she uses her new knowledge about energy to unseat Judy as Jeopardy! champion.

  • During the transition from Theatre II to Theatre I, Johnny Gilbert, the Jeopardy! announcer, first announces that "If you'd like to have your own energy nightmare, place a self-addressed stamped envelope under your pillow, or, check us out on the web at www.energynightmare.game." (a fictional website) Then, in traditional game show style, he mentions that as a consolation prize, “Some contestants on Jeopardy! will receive a year's supply of energy. Energy, You Make The World Go ‘Round." This line is a tribute to the original attraction, whose pre-show film featured a song titled, "Energy (You Make The World Go ‘Round)."

Pavilion facts and figures[edit]

  • Grand opening: October 1, 1982 (Opened with EPCOT Center)
    • Grand re-opening: September 15, 1996
  • Designer: WED Enterprises (Universe of Energy) / Walt Disney Imagineering (Ellen's Energy Adventure)
  • Show Duration (Universe of Energy & Ellen's Energy Adventure): 45 minutes (new shows every 17 minutes)
    • Preshow film length: 8 minutes
    • Theatre I load time: 4 minutes
    • Theatre I film length: 6 minutes
    • Transition from Theatre I to Primeval Diorama length: 1 minute
    • Primeval Diorama length: 7 minutes
    • Transition from Primeval Diorama to Theatre II length: 4 minutes
    • Theatre II film length: 12 minutes
    • Transition from Theatre II to Theatre I length: 1 minute
    • Finale Film length: 2 minutes
  • Seating capacity: 1000, Six 80-passenger vehicles per show, three concurrent shows, maximum of 500 people per show
  • Number of audio-animatronics: 26
  • Former Sponsor: Exxon (Universe of Energy) / ExxonMobil (Ellen's Energy Adventure)
  • Ride system: Traveling Theatre
  • Track: 1/8-inch embedded guide-wire
  • Handicapped accessibility: Guest remains in wheelchairs (up to 6 wheelchairs are ramped onto ride vehicles), guests in EVCs (with joystick) may also remain in chair, guests in motorized scooters must transfer to a traditional wheelchair

U of E references[edit]

Disney has a tradition of paying homage for former attractions, the Universe of Energy being one of them.

  • The original logo is now located on the digital clock counting down the minutes for the next show to start.
  • Some footage from the original film can now be seen in the introduction film at the Hall of Presidents.

Special events[edit]

Similar to other Epcot pavilions, The Universe of Energy pavilion can be booked for corporate special events and group functions. The large indoor areas within the attraction allow ample space for dinners, receptions, and other planned events.

Timeline[edit]

  • October 1, 1982 — The pavilion opens with the original Universe of Energy show.
  • January 21, 1996 — The original Universe of Energy show and pavilion are closed for refurbishment.
  • June 1, 1996 — The fully refurbished pavilion temporarily reopens in an effort to help handle the park’s busy summer crowds. The old films from the original Universe of Energy show are used during this time as the new films with Bill Nye and Ellen DeGeneres had not yet been completed.
  • September 1, 1996 — The pavilion closes and the new films are installed.
  • September 15, 1996 — The pavilion re-opens with a new show entitled Ellen's Energy Crisis, but is immediately renamed Ellen's Energy Adventure.
  • 2003 — The original Universe of Energy marquees at the entrance of the pavilion are replaced with all new signage to reflect the sponsor's new name, ExxonMobil.
  • 2004 — ExxonMobil drops its 22-year sponsorship of the pavilion, and all references to the company are removed from the signage and show.
  • March 28, 2009 — The pavilion re-opens after a lengthy refurbishment that began in late 2008. Although no significant changes to the show were made, some of the scenes within the diorama were refreshed, the audio systems were upgraded and the computer systems that operate the attraction were updated. The exterior of the pavilion was also repainted back to its original color scheme of reds, oranges and yellows (during the Ellen renovation in 1996, the exterior of the pavilion was repainted into a pastel rainbow color scheme).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]