Ellen's Energy Adventure

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Ellen's Energy Adventure is an attraction located within the Universe of Energy in Epcot.

Ellen's Energy Adventure
Ellenexterior.jpg
Ellen's Energy Adventure attraction sign
Epcot
Land Future World
Attraction type Film and Dark Ride
Theme Energy
Opening date September 15, 1996 (as Ellen's Energy Crisis)
Closing date August 13, 2017
Hosted by Ellen DeGeneres
Vehicle type Theater seats
Ride duration 45:00 minutes
Formally Known As Ellen's Energy Crisis
FastPass + No
Sponsored by Exxon (1996-2001)
ExxonMobil (2001-2004)

Attraction History

Ellen's Energy Adventure was developed as a replacement for the Universe of Energy attraction, which was located in Exxon’s Universe of Energy pavilion. Although the Universe of Energy had initially been quite popular with guests, by 1996 attendance in the pavilion had dropped substantially. Furthermore, the information presented in the attraction was dated, and guests began to complain that the ride's tone was too serious [1]. With this in mind, Exxon and Disney agreed that a new attraction was necessary, with Exxon asking that the attraction be ready in time for the pavilion’s 15th anniversary in 1997 [2]. In order to rejuvenate the pavilion, Disney pitched the idea of Ellen’s Energy Crisis, a show that would still teach guests about energy, but would do so in a lighter more comedic tone. Using the same ride format (including the Primeval Diorama) as the Universe of Energy, Ellen’s Energy Crisis would feature comedienne Ellen DeGeneres as the attractions host. Disney estimated that the change from the Universe of Energy to Ellen’s Energy Crisis would take five months, and with this in mind the attraction closed on January 20, 1996 [2].

After the Universe of Energy closed changes were made to the attractions infrastructure in order to accommodate Ellen’s Energy Crisis. In the preshow theater, the rotating Radok screens were taken out and replaced by five standard screens [2]. Initially, Disney had planned on reusing the Radok screens, however after further changes to the attraction's script, this idea was scrapped [1]. Also in the first theater, the gold curtains that rose were removed and replaced by stationary black curtains. Furthermore, the mirror walls which were used to reflect and multiply the images of the theater’s three rear screens (giving the attraction's finale a seemingly endless scope) were removed and replaced with sound insulation [2]. More substantially, as part of Ellen's Energy Crisis the first theater got a completely new film as well as a new audio system [2]. Like the first theater, the second theater also got a new film, which used both new footage as well as recycled footage from the original attraction [2].

In the Primeval Diorama, the storm effects were toned down and a significant amount of vegetation was added [2]. At this time, the dinosaurs’ skin color was also changed based on new scientific findings [2]. As far as the dinosaurs themselves, the Ornithomimus who was once drowning in a mud pit, was relocated and reprogrammed so that it now squirted guests with water [2]. An Ellen DeGeneres Audio Animatronic also replaced a fish eating Pteranodon, and the Elasmosarus' programming was changed so that it now attacked Ellen as opposed to guests [2]. Finally, the quaking rock effect and the wave pool effect were both deactivated [2].

Although initially planned for a Summer 1996 opening, delays in Burbank with the filming and editing schedule for Ellen’s Energy Crisis, led Disney to realize that the attraction would not be ready on time [1]. With the World of Motion already closed for refurbishment during the busy peak season, Disney decided that they would temporarily reopen the original Universe of Energy attraction, albeit it with Ellen’s Energy Crisis’ infrastructure [2]. This meant that beginning in June 1996 an attraction that was a combination of the original Universe of Energy and the incomplete Ellen's Energy Crisis ran in the Universe of Energy pavilion [2]. Without the Radok screens, the first preshow film did not achieve the effects that were intended. In the Primeval Diorama, the dinosaurs had their new colors and the audio tracks for Ellen's Energy Crisis were muted. Furthermore, the Ellen Audio Animatronic that was installed in the Diorama was deactivated and hidden from guest's view behind a boulder [2]. In the attraction's second theater, the monitors and maps that the ride narration referred to had already been removed [2]. To fix this, a new narration was installed that made the attraction seem more current, while also omitting the references to the removed props[2]. Finally, due to the fact that the mirror walls had been removed from the third theater, the attraction lost its grand finale [2].

After operating throughout the summer, on September 1, 1996 the Universe of Energy attraction finally closed for good [2], and on September 15th Ellen’s Energy Crisis soft opened for guests [1]. A few weeks later, On October 1, 1996, the attractions name was changed to Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and the attraction had its official opening[1]. On hand for the festivities were attraction stars Alex Trebeck and Bill Nye the Science Guy [3].

Since Ellen's Energy Adventure opened very few changes have occurred. In 2001, Exxon and Mobil merged, and thus ExxonMobil became the sponsor of Ellen’s Energy Adventure [2]. This sponsorship was short-lived however, because in 2004 the company chose not to renew [1]. More recently, in 2009 the attractions ride and sound system was upgraded [4].

On July 15, 2017, Disney announced that Ellen's Energy Adventure (and the Universe of Energy pavilion as a whole) would be closing on August 13, 2017 to make way for a new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction [5]

Attraction Summary

Ellen's Energy Adventure is a 45 minute attraction with consists of four films and a dark ride.

Preshow

Ellen's Energy Adventure stars Ellen DeGeneres (left), Jamie Lee Curtis (top right) and Bill Nye (bottom right)

As guests enter the attraction’s first room, they can see a dark movie screen on the wall. After everyone is in the theater, Ellen DeGeneres walks onto the screen and begins to talk to the audience. Ellen introduces herself as the spokeswomen for the Universe of Energy, which she admits is somewhat surprising. She then tells guests that while she is an expert on a lot of things, not too long ago she could have cared less about energy. Ellen then explains that one day everything changed as she was watching TV in her apartment. With a snap of her fingers (for a second time) Ellen transports guests back to her apartment, where they hear the TV announcer say, "This is ... Jeopardy!" As Ellen is watching Jeopardy, her neighbor Bill Nye the Science Guy walks in. Bill says he came over to borrow some foil for an experiment, but soon enough he is watching the game show too. The announcer then tells guests that the first contestant on that day's Jeopardy is a professor of energy at Princeton University, named Dr. Judy Peterson. Hearing this, Ellen exclaims that Judy was her "know it all" roommate in college. Ellen claims that both Judy and energy are stupid, which Bill disagrees with before leaving. After Bill leaves, Ellen says that even if the universe needs energy, she doesn't, before she falls asleep.

Back in the present time, Ellen appears again in order to tell guests that every time somebody takes a nap in front of the TV, that means they are going to have a dream. The scene then shifts to Ellen's dream (or nightmare) in which she is appearing on Jeopardy! alongside Dr. Judy Peterson and Albert Einstein. Alex Trebek (the host of Jeopardy!) tells the contestants the categories for the day’s show, which all have to do with energy. After the end of the first round, Judy has $17,800 while Einstein has zero and Ellen has negative money. Although defeated, Ellen declares that since it is her dream she can still win. Bill Nye then appears (to meet Einstein) and agrees to teach Ellen about energy, by taking her back in time.

Following this 8 minutes preshow video, guests enter a theater where they are seated in one of six seating areas.

First Film

After everyone is seated in the first theater, the theater itself turns 180 degrees so that guests are facing another large screen. This new screen shows Ellen and Bill standing in almost complete darkness. Although Ellen is confused, Bill explains that they are going to witness the Big Bang, which many scientists believe is how the universe started. Bill tells Ellen that they are about to witness how the universe formed, and that they should probably get out of the way. All of the sudden, the universe explodes and guests see a high speed depiction of how the Earth was created. In the scene, volcanoes erupt, mountains are formed, and vegetation covers the Earth. Bill then emerges from a jungle and tells Ellen that they are "two hundred twenty million years in the Earth's past, give or take a day". When Ellen asks Bill where all the energy is, Bill explains that when the plants and animals that they see around them die, "time, pressure and heat" will turn them into fossil fuels. Bill then says he wants to go explore, and while Ellen is at first hesitant, a dinosaur roaring convinces her to go. Following the six minute film, the theater seats break into six ride vehicles and guests proceed into the next room.

Primeval Diorama

An Allosaurus and Stegosaurus fight in the Primeval Diorama

After leaving the theater, guests find themselves in the Primeval Diorama, where they can no longer see Ellen and Bill (although they can hear their voices as they proceed through the scene). The first thing that guests hear in the Primeval Diorama is Ellen talking to a roaring dinosaur, who she has mistaken for Bill. After Bill calls her over, the two reunite and move with guests through the scene. The first creatures that guests encounter are a giant millipede and Edaphosaurus. Further on, guests can see a Brontosauruses eating swamp plants. The large dinosaur then sneezes on guests, while nearby, duck-billed Trachodons can be seen bathing in a small body of water.

Up ahead, guests see perhaps the most recognizable scene in the attraction- an Allosaurus and a Stegosaurus fighting on a cliff. Nearby Pteranodons are perched around an erupting volcano. Further on, guests can see Ellen fighting off an Elasmosaurus with a stick. As she defends against the dinosaur she says:

"Don't make me use this thing! ... Stop it! You don't wanna eat me! I'll make you lose your appetite. Help! Ow! ... If you can't say something nice, then ... ya can't. Hey! Listen mister, don't give me that attitude! Bill! I could use a little help here. Down, boy. I -- I said, down, boy!"

Guests then leave the Audio Animatronic portion of the show, and they enter the second theater.

Radio Broadcast

After entering the theater, the attraction’s ride vehicles reassemble and guests hear a radio broadcast. The broadcast says that the year is 55 million B.C. and Willard Scott informs them that the forecast calls for a decrease in the dinosaur population and an increase in mammals. The radio also mentions that cockroaches are “two hundred million years old today", but that an incoming comet might get rid of them. The radio announcer then calls for a traffic report, from which guests learn that the mammals are continuing to boom.

The radio broadcast then changes to one million B.C. and guests learn that mammals are now dominating the Earth, while Dinosaurs have gone extinct. Willard Scott then gives another weather broadcast in which says that the Earth is getting colder and mammals need to cover themselves in fur. Subsequently, The broadcast shifts to 900,000 B.C., where guests learn that woolly mammals, saber-tooth cats, and giant antlers have begun to appear. Willard then informs guests that the glaciers are receding, the planet is getting warmer, and a new kind of mammal is soon to evolve. The radio broadcast then ends and guests watch another film.

Second Film

The second film begins with Bill Nye back in the jungle. While he is looking for Ellen, she swings behind him on a vine and begins to protest the whole adventure. Bill informs her that they are at the dawn of humanity, and a very important discovery is about to take place. Guests then see a caveman discovering fire. Following this discovery a montage of man's progress using various forms of energy (including wind, steam, and gasoline) is shown. The montage ends with Bill and Ellen flying in a helicopter, with Ellen asserting that she is ready for Jeopardy!. Bill tells her that she is not quite ready, and he begins to explain potential future energy sources including solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy- which all have their own problems. Bill also explains fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil, saying that although these sources of energy will eventually run out, things like off shore drilling and satellites can help us find new sources. Bill and Ellen also discuss how nuclear and fusion energy could also be solutions to our energy problems. The two celebrities end up concluding that as long as we keep working on it, there should be lots of energy options in the future.

Final Film

Judy, Albert Einstein and Ellen on Jeapardy! Photo by Lauren Javier

After completing her adventure, Ellen reappears on Jeopardy!. As the contestants are about to enter Double Jeopardy, Judy informs Alex that although they were roommates, she called Ellen "stupid Ellen". With Ellen getting to make the first selection, she surprises everybody by getting a $2000 dinosaur question right. This propels Ellen on to a series of correct answers, and at the end of Double Jeopardy, Ellen is tied with Judy at $17,800 (with Einstein still at $0). With only Judy and Ellen competing in "Final Jeopardy" Alex gives them their topic- "The Future of Energy". Alex then tells them that the Final Jeopardy answer is: "This is the one source of power that will never run out". As the Jeopardy music plays the announcer tells guests:

If you would 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

As the contestants finish their answers, the Jeopardy announcer tells the audience that, "Some contestants on Jeopardy! will receive a year's supply of energy. ‘Energy You Make the World Go 'Round’". This is a not so subtle reference to the theme song of the old Universe of Energy attraction.

When Alex asks Judy for her answer to the Final Jeopardy question, she tells him that she wrote nothing down because there is no right answer. Alex informs Judy that her answer is incorrect and that since she bet all her money, she will finish with nothing. Ellen ends up winning, after giving the correct answer of “brain power”, which leads to balloons falling down and Bill congratulating her. Back in the present time, Ellen concludes her story before jokingly telling guests to “look out for that dinosaur!” After the screen fades to black and guests hear a loud roar, the attraction ends.

Cast [6]

Ellen DeGeneres- Herself

Bill Nye- Himself

Alex Trebek- Himself

Jamie Lee Curtis- Judy Peterson

Johnny Gilbert- Jeopardy Announcer

Michael Richards- Caveman

Chris Berman- Sports Announcer

Corey Burton- Radio Newscaster/Traffic Reporter

Willard Scott- Himself

Script

To read the complete Ellen's Energy Adventure script see: Script: Ellen's Energy Adventure

Trivia

  • In case you were wondering, www.energynightmare.game is not a real website.
  • The largest screen in the attraction stretches to 210 feet [7].
  • Both the Universe of Energy and Ellen's Energy Adventure have a run time of 45 minutes. This makes Ellen's Energy Adventure the longest ride in Walt Disney World [9].

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Pedersen, R.A. The EPCOT Explorer's Encyclopedia:. United States: Epcyclopedia, 2011. Print
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=619
  3. http://progresscityusa.com/energy/rehab.htm
  4. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/ellens-energy-adventure/news/20nov2008-ellen's-energy-adventure-refurbishment-in-2009.htm
  5. http://themeparkuniversity.com/disney/universe-energy-closing-august-13th-2017/
  6. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116187/
  7. waltdatedworld.com/id182.htm
  8. http://themeparks.about.com/od/disneyridereviews/fr/NemoRideEpcot.htm
  9. http://www.dadsguidetowdw.com/universe-of-energy.html