Universe of Energy




(Photos by Sebastien Barthe)





Conceptual Artworks of "Universe of Energy"
published in
Walt Disney's Epcot Center, creating the world of tomorrow,
Abrams Edition, 1982
(Walt Disney Productions - The Walt Disney Company)

Universe of Energy attraction used the same traveling theater system that is currently used by Ellen's Energy Adventure. The original films presented similar information but in a more serious fashion. The primeval diorama used essentially the same sets and audio-animatronic dinosaurs as Ellen's Energy Adventure, though the latter attraction added several animatroinc figures to tie it to the new films.

Pre-show Theatre Film (audience standing):

- The original pre-show featured a unique film presentation known as the "Kinetic Mosaic," which was invented by Czech film director Emil Radok (see link below for video). The mosaic screen consisted of 100 rotating prisim-shaped flip screens (reminiscent of those on the classic game show Concentration), arranged in a 25 wide by 4 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 featured 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) - Guests viewed a hand-animated film that depicted the beginnings of life on earth and the formation of fossil fuels.
- Primeval Diorama (audience seated) - At the conclusion of the film, the theatre seating broke up into six multi-passenger vehicles. The vehicles traveled through a primeval diorama, which was populated by numerous audio-animatronic dinosaurs.
- Theatre II Film (audience seated) - The lengthiest portion of the show, this live-action film took guests on an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources.
- Theatre I Finale Film (audience seated) - At the conclusion of the film, the ride vehicles returned to Theatre I where guests saw a 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."

The current show stars Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye 'The Science Guy,' Alex Trebek, 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. The entire pavilion building itself is an innovation in energy use, as the entire roof is covered in photovoltaic solar panels that partially power the ride system. Visitors travel in large battery-powered "traveling theatre cars" that forego conventional tracks and instead follow guide-wires embedded in the floor.

- Pre-show Theatre Film (audience standing) - Ellen DeGeneres falls asleep, and finds herself in an energy-themed version of Jeopardy!, playing against an old rival Judy Peterson (portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis) and Albert Einstein (played by Detroit's Benny Wasserman b.April 2, 1934).
- It was not possible to film using the actual Jeopardy! set, so the crew built a replica, which is why the set seen in the attraction varies slightly from the way viewers would have recognized the 1996 set. One of the most notable differences is the lack of a vane display for the scoreboards - instead, light bulbs similar to those used in eggcrate displays form the seven-segment formation used in vane displays.
- Theatre I Film (audience seated) - 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.
- Primeval Diorama (audience seated) - At the conclusion of the film, the theatre seating breaks up into six multi-passenger vehicles. The vehicles travel through a primeval diorama, which is populated by numerous audio-animatronic dinosaurs as well as an audio-animatronic Ellen.
- Theatre II Film (audience seated) - The lengthiest portion of the show, 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.
- Theatre I Finale Film (audience seated) - The ride vehicles return to Theater I where guests see the conclusion of Ellen's Jeopardy! dream.
- During the transition from Theatre II to Theatre I, Johnny Gilbert, the Jeopardy! announcer, in traditional game show style, mentions that some contestants would receive as a consolation prize "...a year's supply of energy. Energy - You Make The World Go Round." This line is actually a tribute to the original attraction, whose pre-show film featured a song titled, "Energy (You Make The World Go Round)."

Timeline:

- 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 (Ellen's Energy Adventure): 45 minutes (new shows every 17 minutes)

- Preshow length: 8 minutes

- Seating capacity: 1100+, Six 97-passenger vehicles per show, two concurrent shows
- Number of audio-animatronics: 36
- Former Sponsor: Exxon (Universe of Energy) / ExxonMobil (Ellen's Energy Adventure)
- Ride system: Traveling Theatre
- Track: 1/8-inch embedded guide-wire

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