It featured a combination of four separate large-format film presentations and a slow-moving Dark Ride. The pavilion was previously sponsored by ExxonMobil (formerly Exxon) from opening day on October 1, 1982 through 2004. It closed on August 13, 2017 for a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.
The show starred Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye, Alex Trebek, Johnny Gilbert, and Jamie Lee Curtis. It took a light-hearted look at various energy resources, how energy was produced, the history of energy production, and the search for new energy resources. In particular it focused on the origins of fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas. It also mentioned renewable sources such as solar and hydroelectric power. In 2011, it surpassed the original show as the longest running version of the attraction.
The attraction used the same traveling theater system that was used by the original Universe of Energy show. The primeval diorama used essentially the same sets and Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs as the original show, although during the renovation to the Ellen's Energy Adventure show, all of the dinosaurs were repainted in much brighter colors, and several audio-animatronic figures were added along with an upbeat musical score to help tie it into the new films.
Pre-show Film (audience standing)
Guests viewed an eight-minute film in which Ellen DeGeneres fell asleep and dreamed that she was in an energy-themed version of Jeopardy!, playing against an old rival Judy Peterson (portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis) and Albert Einstein. Not knowing anything about energy, Ellen fell way behind Judy (who happened to be a professor of energy at Princeton University). And the end of Round 1, Bill Nye stepped in and offered to help teach her about energy during the commercial break.
Theatre I Film (audience seated)
Upon entering the theatre, guests were seated in one of six sections. The seating area rotated 180 degrees to face three large movie screens the first film: a four-minute computer animated film in which Bill took Ellen back billions of years in time to witness the Big Bang and the formation of the Earth. Finally, they ended up in a prehistoric jungle where he briefly explained how fossil fuels were formed.
Primeval Diorama (audience seated)
At the conclusion of the film, the seating area rotated once again to face a curtain, which then rose to reveal a primeval diorama, which was part of the original attraction. The entire seating area moved into the diorama where it then broke apart into six multi-passenger vehicles that took guests on a seven-minute journey through the diorama, which was populated by numerous audio-animatronic dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus and two Arthropleura fighting and a family of Brontosaurus in a swamp (one of whom sneezed water onto guests), a Stegosaurus fighting an Allosaurus on an overhead cliff, several Trachodon bathing beneath a waterfall, a number of Ornithomimus drinking from a pond (one of whom spit water at guests), an Audio-Animatronic Ellen standing near a tidal pool fighting off an Elasmosaurus with a tree branch, and numerous Pteranodon perched around an erupting volcano. As of November 2014, the Audio-Animatronic Ellen fighting off the Elasmosaurus with a tree branch stopped working and was removed. They were replaced with a group of smaller Pteranodons.
Theatre II Film (audience seated)
Leaving the diorama, the vehicles entered a second theatre where they reassembled back into their original theatre seating formation. After listening to a brief prehistoric broadcast from KNRG News Radio (which featured the voices of Willard Scott and Chris Berman), guests viewed a twelve-minute live-action film on three giant wrap around screens in which Bill took Ellen on an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources across the United States. Actor Michael Richards made a brief cameo as a caveman near the beginning of the film.
There was one Hidden Mickey towards the beginning of the Theatre II film; it was only on-screen for 3 seconds.
Theatre I Finale Film (audience seated)
At the conclusion of the film, the screens rose and the entire seating area traveled beneath them into Theatre I and rotated back into its starting position facing the audience towards a large television-shaped screen. The final two minute film presented the end of Ellen's dream in which she used her new knowledge about energy in Round 2 to unseat Judy as Jeopardy! champion.
- During the transition from Theatre II to Theatre I, Johnny Gilbert, the Jeopardy! announcer, first announced that "If you'd 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" (a fictional website). Then, in traditional game show style, he mentioned that as a consolation prize, "Some contestants on Jeopardy! will receive a year's supply of energy. Energy, You Make The World Go 'Round." This line was a tribute to the original attraction, whose pre-show film featured a song at the conclusion entitled Energy (You Make The World Go 'Round).
Universe of Energy references
Disney has a tradition of paying homage for former attractions, the original show being one of them:
- In the original Theater I, some scenes from the Rite of Spring from Fantasia were included.
- The original logo was preserved on the tile mosaic wall at the entrance to the pavilion near digital clocks counting down the time until the next show begins.
- Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert referred to energy with Energy, You Make The World Go 'Round, referring to the title of the original pre-show's theme song.
- Some footage from the original film could be seen in the introduction one at The Hall of Presidents.
Similar to other Epcot pavilions, the pavilion could be booked for corporate special events and group functions. The large indoor spaces within the attraction allowed ample room for dinners, receptions, and other planned events.
- October 1, 1982 — The pavilion opens with the original show.
- January 21, 1996 — The original show and pavilion are closed for refurbishment.
- June 14, 1996 — The fully refurbished pavilion temporarily reopens in an effort to help handle the park’s busy summer crowds. The old films from the original show are used during this time as the new films with Bill Nye and Ellen DeGeneres had not yet been completed.
- September 2, 1996 — The pavilion closes and the new films are installed.
- September 15, 1996 — The pavilion reopens with a new show entitled Ellen's Energy Crisis, but for reasons unknown, is immediately renamed Ellen's Energy Adventure.
- 2003 — The original marquees at the entrance to the pavilion are replaced with all new signage to reflect the sponsor's new name, ExxonMobil.
- 2004 — ExxonMobil drops its 22-year sponsorship of the pavilion, and all references to it are removed from the signage and show.
- 2008 — The pavilion closes for a lengthy refurbishment.
- March 28, 2009 — The pavilion reopens after an extensive refurbishment. Although no significant changes to the show itself were made, some of the scenes within the diorama were refreshed, the audio systems were upgraded and the computer systems that operate the attraction were updated. The exterior was also repainted back to its original color scheme of reds, oranges and yellows (during the 1996 refurbishment, it was repainted into a pastel rainbow color scheme) and the traveling theatre vehicles were repainted from their original purple color into a light blue color.
- 2014 — The Elasmosaurus and Ellen figures are removed from the diorama due to maintenance issues and never return.
- August 13, 2017 — The pavilion closes, with the last ride suffering a breakdown and resulting in a guest evacuation. Rumors have circulated that it was planned to occur as a treat for guests since they were allowed to linger in the primeval diorama to take photos with the dinosaurs.