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Universe of Energy

"From the sea to the skies, there's a force beyond our eyes!"

Basic

Universe of Energy opened with the rest of the park on October 1, 1982. It became Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure in the year 1996. It was sponsored by Exxon (later ExxonMobil) from 1982-2004. It has always revolved around the same concept of energy.

Exterior

The building is angular in design and originally had red, orange, and yellow stripes running down its sides. This color scheme was repainted to rainbow colors in 1996 with the opening of Ellen's Energy Adventure. The building's color scheme is being repainted back to the original reds/oranges as of late March 2009.

Surrounding the building are many plants and a few dinosaur topiaries. The Universe Energy display sign sits in a small pool of water. It was originally orange, but then changed to a blue sign in 2001 when the pavilion's sponsor, Exxon, merged with Mobil to became ExxonMobil. After ExxonMobil ended its sponsorship in 2004, the sign simply says "Universe of Energy." Near the entrance also sits a large sign advertising the Ellen's Energy Adventure attraction inside.

Covering the two-acre roof are 2,200 solar energy panels, made of of 80,000 three-inch photovoltaic solar-collector cells. The cells generate around 77 kilowatts of DC current when the sun is at its best angle. This power is transformed into AC current, which gives the vehicles inside the pavilion about 15 percent of their power.

Original Ride

Preshow & Theater I

After entering the building, you would stand in a large preshow room. The preshow was a large moving screen. It was a "kinetic mosaic," as described by its creator, Czech filmmaker Emile Radok. The screen was made up of 100 turning sections that almost resembled cubes. They were not technially cubes though because they had three sides: one black and two white for projection. The five projectors and the turning cubes were synced together to create a kaleidoscope-like show.

Many types of energy were displayed on the turning cubes including nuclear, electrical, mechanical (motion), heat, light, wind, water, and fossil fuels. The preshow's main theme was that "energy is never destroyed, nor is new energy created, but energy is perceived in different forms." The song "Energy (You Make the World Go 'Round)" was heard at the end of the preshow.

After the preshow, you would board a 97-passenger theater car in Theater I. On the 155 foot wide screen, you would watch an animated film on how fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, were formed. This was the largest animated film to be projected at the time.

During the film, primeval sea life and plant life form and die. The organisms sink down into the Earth, and after millions of years worth of heat and pressure, they are turned into fossil fuels. The sea life becomes oil and gas, while the plant life becomes peat then coal. Dinosaurs and volcanos are then seen in the film, eluding to the next part of the ride: the Primeval World.

Original Ride (cont.)

The Primeval World

After seeing the film in Theater I, a curtain would raise and the six cars would travel into the Primeval World, a huge room filled with Audio-Animatronics. Fog filled the warm room, along with swampy smells made by WED Smellitzers. The first creatures you see include a giant millipede and an edaphosaurus. The biggest dinosaurs you witness in the swamp are giant brontosauruses eating water plants. Duck-billed trachodons are seen in a pool of water.

One of the next major scenes in the Primeval World is the allosaurus vs. stegosaurus fight scene up on a cliff. As the cars move further on, a sulfur smell becomes present as volcanoes are heard and lava is seen. A smaller dinosaur is seen in a pit of bubbling liquid. Winged pteranodons are seen on along the cliffs and rocks. A large carnivorous elasmosaurus with a long neck lunges out at the theater cars.

Theater II & Theater I Finale

After exiting the Primeval World, the cars travel into Theater II (a.k.a. the EPCOT Energy Information Center) where a 210 foot screen displays a 12 minute film on present-day energy sources. The screen measures at a wrap-around of 220 degrees. Scenes include a Californian desert solar facilty, oil platforms, space satellites looking for deposits of fossil fuels, scientists searching for new oil, Dutch windmills, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Saudi Arabian oil wells, Tokamak machines (used in developing fusion energy reactors), and the solar panels on the roof of Universe of Energy. The final scene in Theater II is a rocket blasting off into space. As this scene plays out, the theater cars travel back into Theater I.

In Theater I, curtains on the sides have been raised to reveal fully mirrored walls on different sides of the main screen to create a wrap-around effect for the audience. The final film used computer-generated laser-like images to present the grand finale. The song "Universe of Energy" was played (the title of the film was called "The Universe of Energy"). Among many other laser-like images, was an astronaut girl. At the time, this was the biggest computer-generated film to be projected.

After the grand finale, you would depart the cars into a room where Exxon had displays. At one point, a free Universe of Energy comic book was handed out featuring Mickey and Goofy. To continue your energy journey, you were encouraged to go to Energy Exchange at CommuniCore.

Ellen's Energy Adventure

On September 15, 1996, after a rehab, Universe of Energy reopened with the subtitle "Ellen's Energy Adventure." For a short time, the subtitle was "Ellen's Energy Crisis," but then changed to "Adventure."

The ride now stars Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Alex Trebek. Instead of the preshow and Theater I and II films displaying forms of energy in an informative way, Ellen's Energy Adventure uses Jeopardy with topics in energy and is more comical. All of the dinosaurs were repainted brighter with more stripes and markings. The dinosaur in the bubbling liquid is now surrounded by plants. Ellen was added as an Audio-Animatronics figure, fending off the long-necked elasmosaurus. Ellen's and Bill Nye's voices are heard as if they were in the dinosaur area with the guests. The show runs 45 minutes, the same as the original version.

Walt Disney World Books and Music on Amazon.com
  • Walt Disney World Official Album
  • Walt Disney World: A Magical Year By Year Journey
  • Disney's Electrical Parade
  • Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration
  • This Is Halloween
  • Disney Magic Kingdom Event Party Music CD
  • Walt Disney World Epcot Center a Pictorial Souvenir-1982
  • Walt Disney World 15th Anniversary Edition
  • Story & Song From the Haunted Mansion
  • The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World
Created April 2001
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