The Universe of Energy pavilion was part of the Future World section of Epcot. From 1982 to 1996, it housed the Universe of Energy attraction. In 1996, the attraction was changed to Ellen's Energy Adventure. The name of the pavilion, however, remained unchanged.
Original attraction (1982-1996)
The original Universe of Energy pavilion itself was an innovation in energy technology, as the entire roof was covered in 80,000 photovoltaic solar cells that partially powered the ride vehicles. Visitors were transported through the pavilion in large battery-powered "traveling theatre cars" that followed guide-wires embedded in the floor as opposed to riding along conventional ride tracks. The original attraction featured numerous films that presented information on the subject of energy in a serious fashion as well as a ride through a primeval diorama complete with audio-animatronic dinosaurs.
Pre-show Theatre Film (audience standing)
The original pre-show featured an eight-minute live-action film presentation about the various forms of energy found in nature and traced the history of how mankind harnessed these different forms of energy for his use. This unique film presentation was known as the Kinetic Mosaic and was invented by Czech film director Emil Radok. The mosaic screen consisted of 100 rotating prism-shaped flip screens (reminiscent of those on the classic game show Concentration), arranged in a twenty five wide by four high array. These flip screens rotated under computer control and were synchronized to a live-action motion picture that was projected onto their surface via five synchronized motion picture projectors. Each flip screen contained three sides, with white projection surfaces on two sides and a matte black surface on the third. The combination of the film and the screens' rotation created undulating, sometimes three-dimensional-appearing images. During the conclusion of the pre-show, the song Energy (You Make The World Go ‘Round) was played.
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 for the first film: a four-minute hand-animated film that depicted the beginnings of life on earth and the formation of fossil fuels.
Primeval Diorama (audience seated)
At the conclusion of the film, the seating area rotated once again to face a curtain, which then raised to reveal a primeval diorama. 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 animatronic dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus and two Arthropleura fighting and a family of Brontosaurus in a swamp (complete with realistic "swampy" smell), a Stegosaurus fighting an Allosaurus on an overhead cliff, several Trachodon bathing beneath a waterfall, a number of Ornithomimus watching helplessly as one of their own sank into a boiling tar pit, an Elasmosaurus that lashed out of a tidal pool at guests, and numerous Pteranodon that were perched around an erupting volcano.
Theatre II Film (audience seated)
Leaving the diorama, the vehicles entered the EPCOT Energy Information Center where they reassembled back into their original theatre seating formation. Here, guests viewed a twelve-minute live-action film on three giant wrap around screens that took them on an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources around the world.
Theatre I Finale Film (audience seated)
At the conclusion of the film, the screens raised and the entire seating area traveled beneath them into Theatre I and rotated back into its starting position facing the audience towards a large cylindrical-shaped screen. There, guests viewed a two-minute computer-animated film that was reflected off of mirrored walls within the theatre. The film depicted an ever-evolving landscape of colorful, laser-like imagery of the various ways mankind has benefited from harnessing energy for his use and was accompanied by an upbeat song entitled Universe of Energy.
Summer 1996 Version
The Summer of 1996 saw many changes come to Future World East. World of Motion closed in January of that year to make way for Test Track, and Horizons was not operating consistently due to alleged structural issues with the building. The updated films for the attraction were behind schedule and with that side of Future World set to only have Wonders of Life open for the summer peak season, the decision was made to reopen Universe of Energy after renovations had been made to the pavilion in preparation for the new show.
This version of the ride featured all of the original films from the 1982 version, but lacked some of the effects. Most notably, the Kinetic Mosaic screen from the original pre-show had been removed resulting in the film being projected onto static screens and the shape-shifting effect of that film being lost. Also removed were the maps and television monitors on the wall in the EPCOT Energy Information Center in Theatre II, having already been replaced by the KNRG radio tower backdrop for the new show. For this scene, a new narration played that covered much of the same information as the original narration minus any mention of the maps and monitors. In Theatre I, the mirrors on the walls had already been removed by this point, resulting in a much less dramatic version of the finale film.
During this period, some elements for the new show had already been installed in preparation of the new show and had to be hidden. This included the Audio-Animatronic figure of Ellen DeGeneres in the Diorama. To solve this, temporary rockwork was placed in front of the figure hiding it from view. However, the Elasmosaurus figure had already been reprogrammed for the new show, leading to the awkward result of having it lunge at rocks instead of at the ride vehicles as it had originally done.
This version of the show only ran during the summer of 1996. The pavilion was closed again soon after peak season to allow final work to be done on the new version of the attraction.
- October 1, 1982 — The pavilion opens with the original Universe of Energy show.
- January 21, 1996 — The original Universe of Energy 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 Universe of Energy 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 re-opens with a new show entitled Ellen's Energy Crisis, but for reasons unknown, is immediately renamed Ellen's Energy Adventure.
- 2003 — The original Universe of Energy marquees at the entrance of 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 the company are removed from the signage and show.
- 2008 — The pavilion closes for a lengthy refurbishment.
- March 28, 2009 — The pavilion re-opens 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 of the pavilion was also repainted back to its original color scheme of reds, oranges and yellows (during the 1996 refurbishment, the exterior of the pavilion 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 — Universe of Energy closes, with the last ride suffering a breakdown and resulting in a guest evacuation.
Dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures featured in the ride