Friday, January 3, 2014
The Universe of Energy was an opening day attraction at Epcot, which educated it's riders on various fuel ans power sources, mostly focusing on the creation and harvesting of crude oil before touching on alternative power sources. The ride building even had solar panels outside that powered the ride vehicles. Probably the most unique aspect of the attraction was a new vehicle system developed by the Imagineers called " The Traveling Theater". The six ride vehicles, which could carry 97 people each didn't travel on a traditional track. They instead followed computer signals received through an eighth-inch thick wire in the floor. This allowed the vehicles to break formation and follow the same path through the dinosaur scene without needing to use several mechanical switches, which most any type of track would require. This same system would later be used in the Great Movie Ride and the Tower of Terror. The Universe of Energy Operated until early 1996 when it was re-imagined and updated. Don't worry baby birds the animatronic dinosaurs - which are the only part of this trek that kids really cared about anyway- have not gone extinct. What has been lost is this attraction's atmosphere and mood. It used to have loud, awe-inspiring music and movies about energy that surrounded you on giant, shifting, wrap around mosaic screens. The journey into the past to see the dinosaurs was both exciting and frightening; it really felt like you had traveled back in time. Sadly, in 1996 this ride was changed to Ellen's Energy Adventure and featured Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy playing it for laughs. Sure, it's probably more entertaining for some, but the epic nature the ride once possessed is gone. Instead of learning about the energy process through the projected movies and surrounding effects, we're being force fed the information through a game of Jeopardy. It has been transformed from the must visit attraction of my younger years to a 45 minute air conditioned nap after drinking around the world. Which I guess still makes the ride very much enjoyable.
It seems the full ride video was taken off of YouTube so I am unable to embed it. I can however provide a link to The Universe of Energy: Ultimate Tribute on Vimeo.