Universe of Energy
|Universe of Energy|
|The exterior Universe of Energy sign.|
|Opening date||October 1, 1982|
|Number of Attractions||1|
|Sponsored by|| Exxon (1982-2003)|
The Universe of Energy was a pavilion located in Epcot.
An Energy pavilion was one of the concepts that was agreed upon early in EPCOT Center's development. Initially, the pavilion’s focus was on solar energy, with plans for a large solar energy "collector" to be located in the building's center, around which a complex attraction that would feature unguided cars and a walkthrough portion would be constructed . Eventually however, this design was deemed too complicated and the plans were scratched . When Exxon signed on to be the pavilion’s sponsor, the Energy pavilion’s scope was broadened so that it included all forms of energy, with a special focus on fossil fuels . Taking inspiration from the 1964 World's Fair, the new plans for the Energy pavilion called for moving theater vehicles which could hold a large amount of guests . By 1978, the plans also called for guests to travel back in time to view the dinosaurs, while subsequently learning about of the power and energy that wind, lightening, water, heat and the sun could create . Furthermore, by 1978, the Energy pavilion's shape began to take its final form .
The Universe of Energy (as the pavilion was eventually named) was the first of Future World's pavilions to reach its final design. Of note, is the fact that throughout the development of EPCOT Center, the Energy pavilion never changed locations, despite the fact that many of the other Future World pavilions were being constantly moved around . The reason for this, was that plans for the pavilion always called for solar panels to be used in some capacity (initially as part of the solar energy collector and then later as a part of the pavilion's roof). In order to maximize the amount of the sun that the panels would receive, the Energy pavilion needed to be in the location that it was eventually constructed . By 1979, the pavilion's final shape was decided. During the Energy pavilion's development there were only minor changes to the building's exterior. A 1981 model of the pavilion shows that at one time Imagineers planned on giving the pavilion a blue color scheme . Furthermore, pre-construction concept art showed a number of shallow lagoons that were to be located in Future World East, much like those that were eventually constructed in Future World West. In the Energy pavilions final design however, a fountain was constructed outside of the building in lieu of shallow lagoons .
Construction began on the Energy pavilion in 1979/1980 . The pavilion featured 105,000 ft of show area, as well as 2,156 solar panels . Construction on the Universe of Energy was completed on time, and the pavilion opened with the rest of EPCOT Center on October 1, 1982. When completed, the Universe of Energy pavilion housed an attraction (also called Universe of Energy) that featured four films and a dark ride . Guests entered the pavilion and watched a preshow film before moving into a large theater. When seated, visitors watched a second film, before the theater itself broke up into six dark ride vehicles. In the dark ride portion of the attraction (known as the Primeval Diorama), guests traveled back to the time of dinosaurs to get a better idea of where fossil fuel energy came from. After traveling through the Primeval Diorama, the ride vehicles reassembled and guests watched another film and then a grand finale. After exiting the attraction, guests could explore a few Exxon exhibits before leaving the pavilion .
Throughout the first 14 years of its existence, the Universe of Energy pavilion did not see any major modifications. This changed however on January 20, 1996, when the pavilion closed for refurbishment . Although the Universe of Energy had been quite popular when it opened, by the mid-1990s the pavilion’s popularity had waned . Furthermore, the information given in the pavilion was becoming dated, and guests began to complain about the overly serious tone of the attraction . In line with the rest of the Future World pavilions, Exxon wanted the Universe of Energy to get a new attraction in time for the pavilion’s 15th anniversary in 1997. In contrast to the original attraction’s scientific tone, Disney hoped to rejuvenate the pavilion by giving it a lighter and more comedic tone, while still keeping the original attraction’s basic structure (including the Primeval Diorama)  . In order to do this, Imagineers pitched a new attraction titled Ellen’s Energy Crisis, which would take the format of a game show and star Ellen DeGeneres. At the time that the attraction as being developed, DeGeneres had a popular show on ABC, which Disney was in the processes of buying .
Although originally scheduled as a five month refurbishment, problems with the filming and editing of the new attraction’s films led Disney to conclude that the Ellen’s Energy Crisis would not be ready for the Summer of 1996 . Due to the fact that the World of Motion was already closed in order to convert the pavilion to Test Track, it was decided that the Universe of Energy would reopen for the busy summer season using the old films, albeit with the new infrastructure that had already been installed  . With many of the attraction’s original components unusable or removed altogether (as in the case of the breathtaking Radok screens in the first theater), a hybrid version of the original Universe of Energy and the unfinished Ellen’s Energy Crisis opened on June 1, 1996 .
After staying open through the peak season, the Universe of Energy closed for refurbishment on September 1, 1996 . The attraction then finally reopened on September 15th as Ellen’s Energy Crisis, before being renamed Ellen’s Energy Adventure on October 1st . The new Ellen's Energy Adventure attraction featured four new films and retained the Primeval Diorama scene. Hosted by Ellen Degeneres and starring Bill Nye the Science Guy and Jamie Lee Curtis, Ellen's Energy Adventure followed the story of Ellen, as she learned about the history and future of energy . Besides installing the new attraction, the 1996 refurbishment also changed the exterior of the pavilion. As opposed to the red, orange and yellow colors scheme that the exterior originally had, the pavilion was given new rainbow colors . At this time, the mosaic tiles were also removed from the exterior’s side walls. Finally, the reflecting pools located on both sides of the pavilion were filled in, and new dinosaur topiaries were added .
Since the opening of Ellen’s Energy Adventure in 1996, the Universe of Energy pavilion has seen relatively few changes. In September of 2001, a new sign was added outside of the pavilion to reflect the fact that Exxon and Mobil had merged, and become joint sponsors of the pavilion . At this time, all references to the company both outside and within the Universe of Energy were updated to reflect this change . In 2004 however ExxonMobil chose not to renew their sponsorship of the pavilion , and thus all references to the company were removed . Perhaps the most significant post-1996 change came in 2009, when the dinosaur topiaries located outside of the pavilion were removed . At this time, the pavilion’s original exterior color pallet was also returned, although the mosaic tiles did not  .
On July 15, 2017, Disney announced that the Universe of Energy pavilion (and Ellen's Energy Adventure attraction) would be closing on August 13, 2017 to make way for a new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction .
Universe of Energy- This attraction was made up of three films and a dark ride attraction. The Universe of Energy took guests on a journey where they learned how energy was created and used. The Universe of Energy opened on October 1, 1982 and closed for good on September 1, 1996.
Ellen's Energy Adventure- This 45 minute attraction taught guests the history of energy, beginning with the Big Bang and concluding with potential future sources of energy. The attraction stared comedienne Ellen DeGeneres as well as Jamie Lee Curtis and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Ellen's Energy Adventure operated from September 15, 1996 until August 13, 2017.
Fun Facts and Trivia
- There are roughly two acres of solar panels located on the roof of the Universe of Energy pavilion. The energy harvested from these panels gives the attraction vehicles located inside the pavilion about 15% of their power ..
- Just inside the Universe of Energy pavilion, there is a tile mosaic which is meant to represent the sun and its rays. If guests look closely, they can see one blue tile, which is meant to represent the view of Earth from the sun .
- Pedersen, R.A. The EPCOT Explorer's Encyclopedia:. United States: Epcyclopedia, 2011. Print.