Posted by: lylescott89 | February 1, 2013

Time to Update the Universe of Energy

HillaryHey kids,

The Universe of Energy was one of the original attractions at EPCOT Center when it opened on October 1st 1982. Since that day it has had only one serious makeover and that was in 1996. Well, by my Hooters Calendar it is 2013 and it is way past the time for an update.

In its original incarnation guests walked in and watched an interesting pre-show featuring a whole bunch of prism shaped flip screens that were in seemingly constant motion. Along with the narration a series of projections were seen on the screens creating 3D effects. It was pretty cool and when the attraction was redesigned they made a huge mistake in removing it, but more on that in a bit.

From the pre-show area guests moved into a large theatre and were seated in one of three large ride vehicles. As the show began a pretty good film about the creation of the universe was shown and interest was piqued. Then when the film was ending a curtain rose and the vehicles moved forward into a primeval world full of really awesome dinosaurs. This was the part of the attraction that everyone wanted to see and for what it’s worth I have always thought the diorama should have been at least twice as long. After that ended guests went into yet another theatre and were forced to sit through one of the most boring films ever created. Not as boring as Out of Africa, The English Patient or Chariots of Fire, but pretty damn dull nonetheless. When that film mercifully ended the ride vehicles processed back to the original theatre where a short film using projected laser images was shown while the awesome Universe of Energy theme song was played. When that ended it was time to exit and since it was sponsored by Exxon there were a lot of pictures of tigers in the exiting area.

In 1996 the original attraction was replaced with Ellen’s Energy Adventure. The pre-show was replaced with a movieUniverse of Energy with Ellen DeGeneres, the at the time somewhat relevant Bill Nye the Science Guy, a much younger and better looking non-gray haired Jamie Lee Curtis and a still mustachioed Alex Trebek. Ellen does her cutesy routine, which was fine the first 100 times I saw it, and then falls asleep and dreams she is on Jeopardy. Ellen does poorly on Jeopardy because all the questions are about energy and she knows nothing about energy. Frankly I have always thought the better comic for this would have been Weird Al, but I digress.

Once we progress to the vehicles Bill Nye takes Ellen back in time to the Big Bang and explains fossil fuels to her. Yawn. But, we do still get to see the primeval diorama, only this time it is enhanced with more colorful dinosaurs, a sneezing Brachiosaurus and an animatronic Ellen. Now, I really do not have a problem with the animatronic Ellen, but why no animatronic Bill Nye? All we get from him is a voice yelling for Ellen. And don’t even get me started on how incredible an animatronic Weird Al would have been.

My main problem with the fake Ellen is that she is now drawing the attention of the Elasmosaurus. Before the creature would look right at you and lunge at the guests. Since 1996 it only has had eyes for Ellen and thus we never get a good look at it. Say it with me slowly…dinosaurs are awesome and the more we see them, the better.

Okay, tangent over. Once we get through the again all too brief diorama we move into that same theatre where we used to see the incredibly boring film. We are once again subjected to another overly long film and while it is better than the old one, it is only slightly better and yawning becomes the norm.

Universe of EnergyWe get to the last theatre where we find no retro 80’s laser technology and no awesome theme song; only Ellen finally winning on Jeopardy while a stunned Jamie Lee Curtis looks on. We then exit and there are no more tigers to be seen.

Let’s think for a second how long ago 1996 really was. A child born that year will turn 17 this year. That kid is driving and is probably sleeping through high school. The Macarena was the number one song of the year. Independence Day was the top grossing film. Not a lot of people had cell phones and no one had a flat screen TV. On a more positive note no one had ever heard of Justin Bieber, there were no reality shows to speak of and certainly none featuring any Kardashian unless you count the OJ trial. I often wonder (okay that’s a lie, I have never wondered about this but it sounds good) what Robert Kardashian would think of all of his daughter’s fame if he were still alive. For some reason I tend to think he is relieved that he has been dead for 10 years. Anyway you get the idea; 1996 was a long time ago.

So with that in mind can we please get a Universe of Energy update? What you basically have there is one room of really cool dinosaurs and four movies. We do not need nor do we want four movies in one attraction. It’s overkill. Here are my ideas to overhaul the attraction:

• Get rid of Ellen, Bill Nye, etc. We don’t need them and we are tired of them.
• Reinstate the original flip screen panels in the pre-show area and then update them with a new narration (I’m available) and new pictures designed with a 21st century audience in mind.
• Hire Weird Al. I cannot stress this enough.
• In the first room we can still have a movie that introduces us to fossil fuels in both an informative and humorous way. This film will feature Weird Al.
• No more fake Ellen either and get the dang Elasmosaurus facing the right way again.Weird Al
• Increase the primeval diorama. Get rid of movie #3 and replace that area with more animatronic dinosaurs that spit and sneeze on guests. We love getting a dose of water.
• In the last room the retro 80’s tune needs to be reinstated.
• We can close with a brief (two minute) film with a computer animated Weird Al interacting with Rex from the Toy Story films.  Maybe throw Mr. Potato Head in too.  Just because.
• And let’s not forget that tigers are not copyrighted by Exxon/Mobil. Put up some pictures of the famous Disney tigers: Tigger, Shere Khan and Rajah.

Now you have a streamlined attraction that will be utilized by more guests. Instead of being a place to get out of the hot sun and sit down for a while, it will become a prime destination. Walt Disney World executives you can thank me now. (You could offer me a job too while you’re at it)




  1. The problem with that is that the film after the dinosaurs is designed to complete the story. Without it, we would have a film showing us the history of the universe, and the origins of fossil fuels, then see the dinosaurs, and then there would be nothing to finish the story by connecting it to the present. That final film is absolutely essential.

    • But it’s as boring as shit. I think you’ve missed the point. I want the attraction updated with like, I don’t know, maybe 21st century technology?

  2. […] for a fastpass for Guardians of the Galaxy when it opens.  Energy was so outdated that I wrote a blog about it several years ago complaining about how outdated it was.  The last time I rode it I […]

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