Universe of Energy
The Universe of Energy was a pavilion located on the eastern side of Future World at Epcot, a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida. The pavilion contained one attraction, Ellen's Energy Adventure, starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye, which was the second version of the show since the pavilion's 1982 opening. The attraction featured a combination of four separate large-format film presentations and a slow-moving dark ride through audio-animatronic filled sets.
The Universe of Energy pavilion was previously sponsored by ExxonMobil (formerly Exxon) from opening day on October 1, 1982, through 2004. The attraction closed permanently on August 13, 2017, being replaced with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind that will reuse the Universe of Energy's show building.
Universe of Energy (1982–1996)
|Universe of Energy|
|Opening date||October 1, 1982|
|Closing date||January 21, 1996|
|Replaced by||Ellen's Energy Adventure|
|Music||Robert Moline - Energy (You Make the World Go 'Round), Al Kasha & Joel Hirschhorn - Universe of Energy, Buddy Baker - Film background scores|
|Vehicle type||Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV)|
|Riders per vehicle||80|
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.
The original pre-show featured an eight-minute live-action film presentation about the various forms of energy found in nature and traced the history of how mankind harnessed these different forms of energy for his use. This unique film presentation was known as the Kinetic Mosaic and was invented by Czech film director Emil Radok. 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 the motion picture that was projected onto their surface via five synchronized motion picture projectors. 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
Upon entering the theatre, guests were seated in one of six sections. The seating area rotated 180 degrees to face three large movie screens for the first film: a four-minute hand-animated film that depicted the beginnings of life on earth and the formation of fossil fuels.
At the conclusion of the film, the seating area rotated 90 degrees to face a curtain, which then raised to reveal a primeval diorama. The entire seating area moved into the diorama where it then broke apart into six multi-passenger vehicles that took guests on a seven-minute journey through the diorama, which was populated by numerous animatronic dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus and two Arthropleura fighting and a family of Brontosaurus in a swamp (complete with realistic "swampy" smell), a Stegosaurus fighting an Allosaurus 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 of a tidal pool at guests, and numerous Pteranodon that were perched around an erupting volcano (complete with flowing lava and realistic "volcano" smell).
Theatre II film
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 on three giant wrap around screens that took them on an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources around the world.
Theatre I finale film
At the conclusion of the film, the screens raised and the entire seating area traveled beneath them into Theatre I and rotated back into its starting position facing the audience towards a large cylindrical-shaped screen. There, guests viewed a two-minute computer-animated film that was reflected off of mirrored walls within the theatre. The film depicted an ever-evolving landscape of colorful, laser-like imagery of the various ways mankind has benefited from harnessing energy for his use and was accompanied by an upbeat song entitled Universe of Energy.
Summer 1996 version
The Summer of 1996 saw many changes come to Future World East. World of Motion closed in January in preparation for its conversion into Test Track, and Horizons was not operating consistently due to alleged structural issues with the pavilion. The updated films for the attraction were behind schedule, meaning that Future World East would only have the Wonders of Life pavilion open for the peak summer season. The decision was made to reopen Universe of Energy after renovations had been made to the pavilion in preparation for the new show.
This temporary version of the show featured the original 1982 films, but lacked some of the effects. Most notably, the Kinetic Mosaic screen from the original pre-show had been removed resulting in the film being projected onto static screens, losing the shape-shifting effect of the film. Also removed were the maps and television monitors on the wall in the Epcot Energy Information Center in Theatre II, having already been replaced by the KNRG radio tower backdrop for the new show. For this scene, a new narration played that covered much of the same information as the original narration minus any mention of the maps and monitors. In Theatre I, the mirrors on the walls had already been removed by this point, resulting in a much less dramatic version of the finale film.
During this period, some elements for the new show had already been installed in preparation for the new show and had to be hidden. This included the Audio-Animatronic figure of Ellen DeGeneres in the diorama. To solve this, temporary rockwork was placed in front of the figure hiding it from view. However, the elasmosaurus figure had already been reprogrammed for the new show, leading to the awkward result of having it lunge at rocks instead of the ride vehicles as it had originally done.
This version of the show only ran from June 14 to September 2, 1996. The pavilion was closed again soon after peak season to allow for the installation of the new films for the new version of the attraction.
Ellen's Energy Adventure (1996–2017)
|Ellen's Energy Adventure|
|Opening date||September 15, 1996|
|Closing date||August 13, 2017|
|Replaced||Universe of Energy|
|Replaced by||Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind |
|Attraction type||Traveling theater dark ride|
|Designer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Theme||Energy, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Jeopardy!|
|Music||Bruce Broughton (Ride Score)|
|Capacity||2432 riders per hour|
|Vehicle type||Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV)|
|Riders per vehicle||80|
|Audience capacity||500 per show|
|Host||Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye 'The Science Guy'|
Ellen's Energy Adventure starred Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye "The Science Guy", Jamie Lee Curtis, Alex Trebek, and Johnny Gilbert. It took a light-hearted look at various energy resources, how energy was produced, the history of energy production, and the search for new energy resources. In particular it focused on the origins of fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and natural gas. It also mentioned renewable sources such as solar and hydroelectric power. In 2011, Ellen's Energy Adventure surpassed the original Universe of Energy show as the longest running version of the attraction.
The second version of the show reused the traveling theater system of the original Universe of Energy show. The primeval diorama used essentially the same sets and Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs as the original show, although during the renovation to the Ellen's Energy Adventure show, all of the dinosaurs were repainted in much brighter colors, and several audio-animatronic figures were added along with an upbeat musical score to help tie it into the new film footage.
Pre-show theatre film
Guests viewed 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 college rival Judy Peterson (Curtis) and Albert Einstein (Benny Wasserman). Not knowing anything about energy, Ellen fell way behind Judy. At the end of the first round, Bill Nye the Science Guy stepped in and offered to help teach Ellen about energy during the commercial break.
Theatre I film
Upon entering the theatre, guests were seated in one of six sections. The seating area rotated to face three large movie screens above the exit doors for the first part of the film: a four-minute computer animated film in which Bill took Ellen back billions of years in time to witness the Big Bang and the formation of the earth. Finally, they ended up in a prehistoric jungle where he briefly explained how fossil fuels were formed.
At the conclusion of the film a curtain rose to reveal the primeval diorama. The entire seating area moved into the diorama where it then broke apart into six multi-passenger vehicles that took guests on a seven-minute journey through the diorama, which was populated by numerous audio-animatronic dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus, two Arthropleura fighting and a family of Brontosaurus in a swamp (one of whom sneezed water onto guests), a Stegosaurus fighting an Allosaurus on an overhead cliff, several Trachodon bathing beneath a waterfall, a number of Ornithomimus drinking from a pond (one of whom spit water at guests), an Audio-Animatronic Ellen standing near a tidal pool fighting off an Elasmosaurus with a tree branch, and numerous Pteranodon perched around an erupting volcano. After November 2014, the Audio-Animatronic figure of Ellen fighting off the Elasmosaurus with a tree branch stopped working and was removed. It was replaced with a group of smaller Pteranodons.
Theatre II film
Leaving the diorama, the vehicles entered a second theatre where they reassembled back into their original theatre seating formation. After listening to a brief prehistoric broadcast from KNRG News Radio (which featured the voices of Willard Scott and Chris Berman), guests viewed a twelve-minute live-action film on three giant wrap around screens in which Bill Nye took Ellen on an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources across the United States. (Actor Michael Richards made a brief cameo as a caveman). Returning to the Jeopardy! studio, Ellen used her new knowledge about energy in the Double Jeopardy! round to unseat Judy as Jeopardy! champion, during which the vehicles returned to Theatre I and rotated back into its original starting position.
- 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 14, 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 2, 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 for reasons unknown, 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.
- 2008 — The pavilion closes for an extensive refurbishment. During this time, numerous scenes within the diorama are refreshed, the audio systems are upgraded and the computer systems that operate the attraction are updated. Additionally, the exterior of the pavilion is repainted back to its original color scheme of reds, oranges and yellows (during the 1996 refurbishment, the exterior of the pavilion was repainted into a pastel rainbow color scheme) and the traveling theatre vehicles are repainted from their original purple color into a light blue color.
- March 28, 2009 — The pavilion re-opens after a lengthy refurbishment.
- July 15, 2017 — Disney confirms that the Universe of Energy pavilion will close and be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy themed attraction.
- August 13, 2017 — The Universe of Energy pavilion has its last day of operation. During the final show, the attraction broke down, forcing guests to evacuate mid-show. However, cast members made up for this by allowing guests to linger in the primeval diorama during the ride evacuation and take photos with the dinosaurs.
- Geryak, Cole (June 7, 2018). "Disney Extinct Attractions: Universe of (Ellen's) Energy (Adventure)". The Laughing Place. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
- Barnes, Brooks (July 15, 2017). "Disney Vows to Give Epcot a Magical, Long-Overdue Makeover". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 15, 2017. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
- Nolfi, Joey (November 15, 2018). "Disney unveils spinning Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster cars, new ride details". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- Bevil, Dewayne (August 1, 2018). "Disney World: Look at latest Epcot construction". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- Fickley-Baker, Jennifer. "'Guardians of the Galaxy' & 'Ratatouille' Attractions Coming to Epcot". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on July 16, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
- "GUIDE: Calculating Persons Per Hour". themeparkreview.com. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
- "Theoretical Hourly Ride capacity". wolframalpha.com. Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
- Rosebloom, Matt (August 14, 2017). "Last ever Ellen ride ended with an evacuation, and fans loved it". Attractions Magazine.