An underrated gem of an attraction in Walt Disney World® is Ellen’s Energy Adventure located in the Universe of Energy in Epcot®’s Future World. It is a massive ride in both size and time, and embodies the true spirit of Epcot® by sharing information in a fun, innovative way. Let’s check out what makes Ellen’s Energy Adventure just so special.
The Universe of Energy opened with Epcot® on the park’s opening day- October 1, 1982. From that day until 1996 the attraction bore the same name as the pavilion, but by the mid nineties was in need of an update. On September 15, 1996 the Universe of Energy reopened with its new attraction- Ellen’s Energy Adventure. The pavilion was sponsored by Exxon from opening day, through the reinvention, and until 2004. Currently the pavilion does not have a sponsor. In addition to the attraction being reinvented, the outside of the building was also given a facelift. In 1996, Imagineer John Hench helped to choose the bright new paint colors which resemble a rainbow.
Throughout all of the changes, there is one thing that stayed the same- guests are still riding on sunshine. Located on the roof of the pavilion are two acres of photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, which provide fifteen percent of the attraction’s energy. Thus, guests are literally riding on sunshine throughout their experience.
While there is a new version of the attraction, there are still several references which pay homage to the opening day attraction. Before entering into the waiting area for the preshow, look for the countdown clock- the original circular symbol of the Universe of Energy can be found there. In addition, towards the end of the attraction listen for the phrase “Energy, you make the world go round” which was carried over from the original version’s theme song written by Robert Moline.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure stars, you guessed it, Ellen DeGeneres. Also featured are Bill Nye the Science Guy, Alex Trebek, and Jamie Lee Curtis playing everyone’s favorite smarty pants Stupid Judy. The theme of the attraction focuses around energy and the use of new technologies to discover sustainable and new energy sources including fossil fuels. But since this is Ellen we are talking about, the message is portrayed in a humorous and entertaining way.
The preshow begins with Ellen hanging out in her apartment with her cats watching Jeopardy. Bill Nye, her neighbor, comes over to borrow some eclectic household items for an experiment and sticks around as Ellen realizes that her old college roommate Stupid Judy is a contestant on the show that night. Ellen then proceeds to fall asleep and enter into a dream sequence in which she is competing on an energy focused episode of Jeopardy with Judy and Einstein and getting her butt kicked. Bill Nye shows up and offers to help her learn all about energy in order to make a comeback and beat Stupid Judy. Guests, who were standing in a theater throughout the preshow, then carry on through a set of doors to the attraction’s ride vehicles. These vehicles are massive and can accommodate up to five hundred guests making this a high occupancy attraction.
Once seated, guests watch another short movie in which Bill Nye teaches Ellen about the Big Bang and the time of the dinosaurs. Suddenly, the vehicles begin to move and reveal that guests have traveled back to prehistoric times and are surrounded by dinosaurs. The Tyrannosaurus Rex fighting the Stegosaurus was actually inspired by the scene in Rite of Spring from 1940’s feature motion picture Fantasia. Throughout the dinosaurs and jungle like scenes, guests can find Ellen trying to make her way through and, instead, finding herself in some humorous situations.
Once through the dinosaur scenes, guests view another film in which Bill Nye shares new and ever evolving forms of energy, such as solar and wind powered, and teaches Ellen the value in using those methods. Armed with her new understanding of energy, Ellen returns to Jeopardy where she dominates the second round and finds herself tied with Stupid Judy entering into Final Jeopardy. The final question asks which form of energy will never run out. Judy supplies no answer and loses her money, but Ellen pulls through with the correct response- brain power!
Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a great attraction to experience if you haven’t yet. Not only is it interesting, but Ellen provides some pretty great humor along the way. The attraction also offers guests a great way to relax and cool off on a hot day in the parks. From beginning to end, it is a forty five minute experience, the majority of which guests are sitting. Thus, it is one of the best opportunities to get off of your feet for a while in air conditioning while in Epcot®. The attraction also begins every seventeen minutes, so guests never have to wait too terribly long for their experience to start.
Another great perk of this attraction is its music! It’s one of my favorite themes throughout all of the parks. Here is a link so you can enjoy it while reading this article and getting through your day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb7vcmBifCI.
So, if you haven’t experienced this attraction, be sure to stop by Ellen’s Energy Adventure on your next visit to Epcot® – you won’t be disappointed! And until next time, be sure to save some energy!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
What is your favorite part of Ellen’s Energy Adventure? Think you could beat Stupid Judy in a game of Jeopardy? Enjoy the music as much as I do? Let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.