Ellen's Energy Adventure was the second show to be featured in the Universe of Energy pavilion, replacing the original 1982 version of the attraction. This version of the attraction was hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye.
It featured a combination of four separate large-format film presentations and a slow-moving Dark Ride. The Universe of Energy pavilion was previously sponsored by ExxonMobil (formerly Exxon) from opening day on October 1, 1982 through 2004. It is set to close on August 13, 2017 and be replaced with a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction within the solar-powered building.
The show stars Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye "The Science Guy", Alex Trebek, Johnny Gilbert, and Jamie Lee Curtis. It takes a light-hearted look at various energy resources, how energy is produced, the history of energy production, and the search for new energy resources. In particular it focuses on the origins of fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and natural gas. It also mentions renewable sources such as solar and hydroelectric power. In 2011, Ellen's Energy Adventure surpassed the original Universe of Energy show as the longest running version of the attraction.
The current attraction uses the same traveling theater system that was used by the original Universe of Energy show. The primeval diorama uses 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 Theatre Film (audience standing)
Guests view an eight-minute film in which Ellen DeGeneres falls asleep and dreams that she is 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 falls way behind Judy (who happens to be a professor of energy at Princeton University). And the end of Round 1, Bill Nye the Science Guy steps in and offers to help teach Ellen about energy during the commercial break.
Theatre I Film (audience seated)
Upon entering the theatre, guests are seated in one of six sections. The seating area rotates 180 degrees to face three large movie screens the first film: a four-minute computer animated film in which Bill Nye takes Ellen back billions of years in time to witness the Big Bang and the formation of the earth. Finally, they end up in a prehistoric jungle where he briefly explains how fossil fuels were formed.
Primeval Diorama (audience seated)
At the conclusion of the film, the seating area rotates once again to face a curtain, which then raises to reveal a primeval diorama, which was part of the original attraction. The entire seating area moves into the diorama where it then breaks apart into six multi-passenger vehicles that take guests on a seven-minute journey through the diorama, which is populated by numerous audio-animatronic dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus and two Arthropleura fighting and a family of Brontosaurus in a swamp (one of whom sneezes 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 spits 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 figure of Ellen fighting off the Elasmosaurus with a tree branch stopped working and was removed. They have been replaced with a group of smaller Pteranodons.
Theatre II Film (audience seated)
Leaving the diorama, the vehicles enter a second theatre where they reassemble back into their original theatre seating formation. After listening to a brief prehistoric broadcast from KNRG News Radio (which features the voices of Willard Scott and Chris Berman), guests view a twelve-minute live-action film on three giant wrap around screens in which Bill Nye takes Ellen on an in-depth look at various current and future energy resources across the United States. Actor Michael Richards makes a brief cameo as a caveman near the beginning of the film.
There is one Hidden Mickey towards the beginning of the Theatre II film; it is only on-screen for 3 seconds.
Theatre I Finale Film (audience seated)
At the conclusion of the film, the screens raise and the entire seating area traveles beneath them into Theatre I and rotates back into its starting position facing the audience towards a large television-shaped screen. The final two minute film presents the end of Ellen's dream in which she uses 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 announces 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 mentions 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 is 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 Universe of Energy show being one of them:
- In the original Universe of Energy Theater I, some scenes from the Rite of Spring from Fantasia were included
- The original pavilion logo was preserved on the tile mosaic wall at the entrance of the pavilion near digital clocks counting down the time until the next show begins.
- Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert refers 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 can now be seen in the introduction film at the Hall of Presidents.
Similar to other Epcot pavilions, the Universe of Energy pavilion can be booked for corporate special events and group functions. The large indoor spaces within the attraction allow ample room for dinners, receptions, and other planned events.
- 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