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Universe of Energy Original Version

Universe of Energy

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Universe of Energy Epcot

 This Exxon (later ExxonMobil starting in 1999)-sponsored pavilion was an Opening Day attraction.  It was notable for featuring solar panels on the roof which helped power the attraction.  The building had no post show area and instead hosted Energy Exchange located in CommuniCore East.  The Universe of Energy pavilion later hosted the Ellen's Energy Adventure show.  

Universe of Energy entrance Epcot

 The original preshow featured a film that was shown on a 14-by-90-foot screen made up of 100 rotating projection triangles that could flip in sync.  Czech filmmaker Emil Radok, who created the effect, called it a "kinetic mosaic".  Images of energy in use were shown, such as falling water, windmills, fire, coal and jet engines.  The song played during the preshow was Energy (You Make the World Go 'Round).  It was written by Bob Moline, who also wrote Listen to the Land.


The Preshow: Energy (You Make the World Go 'Round)

Universe of Energy Radok screen Epcot

The universe we know is one of dynamic forces, its heartbeat sending a constant flow of energy coursing through the vastness.  

This energy is never destroyed, nor is new energy created.  But energy is perceived in different forms.

Within the atoms of all matter, on a level most infinitesimal, yet most powerful, is nuclear energy.

Binding atoms into molecules and crystals, and stored in the cells of all living things, is chemical energy.

In the sudden flow of electrons, there is electrical energy.

In the world around us, there is constant motion, and in this motion, there is mechanical energy.

Unleashed in the motion of molecules themselves is heat energy.

Finally, washing over the Earth in an all-pervasive, never ending flood is light energy.

We long observed with fascination, the interplay of these elemental forms of energy.  Noting that certain forms often changed into others.

Then, through the genius of the human mind, came the realization that energy could be harnessed and made to work for us.

Energy locked in Earth's vast forests was put to use.  Fire became both friend and tool.

The unbridled winds were captured.

The flows of mighty rivers were tapped.

For centuries, we depended on these three resources alone.

Then only a little while ago, we learned to use the energy locked in fossil fuels.

In coal.

In oil and natural gas.

The energy from these fuels has dramatically advanced civilization.

Sooner or later, present resources will not be sufficient for the world's energy needs.  Only by understanding energy in its various forms, the Universe of Energy, can we build a transition to a better tomorrow.  

Male Singer:
Listen and you'll hear the heartbeat,
of a universe teeming with force.
See all the forms and the faces,
of nature taking its course.

And feel all the wonderful motion,
flowing through things far and near.
Nature will share her secrets,
when we are ready to hear.

Energy, these are a few of your faces,
glowing in timeless places.
Bringing our lives new graces.

Energy, there is no living without you,
we must keep learning about you.
Now is the time to find how to.

Energy, you are profound,
you make the world go 'round and 'round.
You make the world go 'round.
You make the world go 'round.
You make the world go 'round.

Theater 1: Energy Creation Story

 Guests then moved into a theater, where they were seated in large cars.  A four and a half minute animated  film called the Energy Creation Story was then shown on a screen that was 32 feet tall and 155 feet wide.  The film showed the formation of fossil fuels during the primeval time of dinosaurs.  

Sunlight.  The original source of energy in all fossil fuels.  Its radiance falling upon the seas of Earth, gives rise to the first stirrings of life.  

Myriads of creatures evolved, feeding upon plants and each other, capturing the sun's energy for themselves.  As death comes, there begins a ceaseless silent snowfall of organic matter, drifting downward with other sediments, accumulating layer after layer upon the ocean floor.  

Finally, time, heat, and pressure transform the sediments into shale, entombing countless remains of marine life.  Eons of time pass.  The shale is buried still more deeply and its organic material transformed into oil and gas.  These fossil fuels then begin to creep into surrounding layers of more permeable rock.  

The endless wrenching of the Earth's crust, causes these strata to be folded and broken, sometimes trapping oil and gas in the porous rock.  On the surface, vast new forms of plant life take root.  As sunlight floods the lush primeval forests, every plant and tree captures a bit of this energy.  

In the ageless cycle of life, these living things too wither and fall.  In marshy areas, the decaying limbs and leaves form a spongy mass of peat.  For near endless millennia, the process continues until marshes and swamps finally disappear, sinking deeper under cover of mud and sand.  

Once again heat, pressure, and time work a remarkable transformation.  The peat turns into coal.  The formation of fossil fuels occurred over a span of millions upon millions of years.  Much of the Earth's present supply was deposited during the primeval era when great reptiles roamed the land.  Come with us now and experience a few moments from that dark and mysterious past.

Primeval World Dinosaur Dioramas

 As the film ended, the cars began to move and went into the area of the pavilion with Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs.  Some of the figures were similar to dinosaurs used at the 1964 New York World's Fair/Primeval World diorama at Disneyland.  The diorama was the only part of the building not radically changed (except for the addition of an Ellen figure and some of the dinosaurs being repainted) during the pavilion renovation.  

Epcot Universe of Energy Dinosaurs

Universe of Energy Brontosaurus dinosaur Epcot

Universe of Energy dimetrodon dinosaur Epcot

Universe of Energy Epcot dinosaur pterodactyl

Universe of Energy dinosaur battle epcot

Theater 2: Energy Information Center

 After the moving past the dinosaurs, the cars entered the Energy Information Center, where a twelve and a half minute film was shown.  The film depicted the ongoing quest for energy and went to places such as Alaska and the North Sea.  A shot of a Space Shuttle launch ended the film.  The screen for this movie was 210 feet wide and circled 220 degrees around the audience.  

It's out there.  Everywhere, much of the time pouring down on us like an endless rain.  Sometime in the next century, its immense power may be economically harnessed, and sunlight itself will become one of the real keys to the Universe of Energy.

But today, a far different form of energy is coming from sun-parched regions of the globe like the Middle East.  Stretching across the hot desert sands, massive pipelines carry petroleum to the edge of the sea.

It is a supply that is not inexhaustible however, not as the global demand for energy, all kinds of energy, continues to increase.

Most countries must depend on the uncertainties of imported oil until the big breakthroughs finally happen.

But the world can't simply park its cars or turn off its lights until that day.  We must continue to conserve and extend today's energy sources and develop a broad mix of alternatives for the future.

Already, current supplies are being stretched through the use of heat-sensing monitors and other new systems which help increase energy conservation.

At the same time, special oil recovery techniques are helping to bring older fields back to life.

Even so, the world is continuing to diminish today's known reserves.  And the energy search must go on to help us bridge to the future.

Out in space, "eye in the sky" satellites scan the face of the Earth, helping to find new oil and gas deposits.

On land, seismic crews record echoes to pinpoint new locations.

The best hopes for finding major new supplies often lie in some of the world's most remote environments, sometimes miles below the ocean floor.

On land, these great drilling platforms would dwarf all but the world's tallest buildings.  In the ocean, they function as complex, massive island communities, surviving in often treacherous waters like the chilling, windswept North Sea.

The deep-water search is now pushing still deeper.  Here, a new breed of remote controlled ocean floor units can bring up oil and gas in once inaccessible regions.

The job of transporting fossil fuels has its own challenges.  Near the top of the world at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, is the largest oil field in North America.

The Trans-Alaska pipeline begins here.  A nine billion dollar energy highway stretching 800 miles over and under the rugged frontier.  At the end of the pipeline lies majestic Port Valdez.  About one and one-half billion barrels of crude oil arrive here every day, enough to meet the petroleum needs of nearly seven million households.

But even as these frontiers are explored, new technologies are being developed that one day may economically provide energy in the form of synthetic gas and liquids.

Synthetic oil is already being produced from these vast Canadian tar sands.

Oil shale; the rock that burns.  Located in the Western United States, it is one of the greatest synfuel resources of all.  Mined, crushed and heated, it could yield billions of barrels of liquid energy.

Smaller quantities of synfuel may be derived from a pesky river-clogging weed, the water hyacinth, along with grains, recycled wastes and other biomass resources.

Coal, perhaps the most abundant of fossil fuels.  It is mined primarily to generate electricity, a growing demand for the years ahead.  And one day, it too may yield large amounts of synthetic oil and gas.

Over one-fourth of the world's coal is located in the United States.  That's energy equivalent to more than twice the Middle East oil supply.  Sometimes coal is hidden deep in the Earth.  Other times it lies near the surface.

Here, the overlying soil and rock must first be removed to reveal the coal deposits below.  Then, it is replaced and replanted, a massive reclamation project to help bring the land back to life.

Another environmental demand on coal is also important.  While some is clean-burning, some requires precipitators, wet scrubbers and other new technologies.  Costly, but necessary systems designed to reduce emissions to harmless water vapor.

Other sources, even small ones, may also help meet tomorrow's growing demand for electricity.

From the Earth's great underground cauldron, the power of geothermal steam.

From the wind, age-old power to drive the windmills of tomorrow.

From the restless sea, power from driving waves, tides and changing temperatures.

Universe of Energy Theater 2 Epcot

And from the awesome force of moving and falling water, hydroelectric power.

Nuclear energy: controversial but still a significant source of electricity.  Chicago, for example, gets more than half its power from nuclear plants.

And around the world, France, Germany, Japan and many other nations are continuing to develop nuclear power as part of their energy bridge to the future.

Some countries are also moving ahead with a new process, the Breeder Reactor, which actually creates more fuel as it operates.

Within two decades, nuclear energy will probably contribute about a fourth of the world's electricity.

Unlimited electric power for tomorrow.  Is it a fantasy?  A pipe dream?  Scientists at Princeton and other research centers don't think so as they inch towards the process of the stars: nuclear fusion. The challenge: to fuse hydrogen isotopes at temperature exceeding 180 million degrees.  The potential exists for a real breakthrough to one day harness this inexhaustible new energy source.

From the sun itself comes another potential for the future: solar energy.

Solar heating and cooling are already in limited use.  By the next century, research will hopefully lower the cost of converting sunlight directly into electricity.

EPCOT's energy pavilion provides a showcase for today's solar technology.  More than 80,000 photovoltaic cells have been installed on the roof.  When exposed to sunlight, they generate electric current to help power your traveling theater cars.  So, in a sense, you've been "riding on sunshine" throughout our show.

In our ever-changing world, the road to tomorrow's energy is indeed long, complex and challenging.  It demands the development and wise use of today's energy resources.  It calls for practical and affordable new sources for tomorrow.  And it will require the combined efforts of science, industry, government and the public.  Then we will indeed, bridge to the future to a world which one day may harness the entire "Universe of Energy".

Universe of Energy Space Shuttle film Epcot

Return to Theater 1: Finale (The Universe of Energy)

The show concluded as the cars moved back in to Theater One and rotated to show mirrored surfaces and early computer-animated images that would morph and display a light show as The Universe of Energy was played.  The song was written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschorn.

Male Singer:
Feel the flow, here we go,
through the Universe of Energy.
Feel it grow, see it glow,
it's the Universe of Energy.

Come through time, set the course.
Sail the wind, tap the source.
From the sea, to the skies,
there's a force beyond our eyes.

Feel the flow, here we go,
through the Universe of Energy.
Feel it grow, see it glow,
it's the Universe of Energy.

Cross the bridge, future bound.
There's a flame, all around.
From the sea, to the skies,
there's a force beyond our eyes.

Feel the flow, here we go,
through the Universe,
the Universe,
the Universe,
Of Energy.  
Of Energy.  

Once the show was over, the energy fun continued at the Energy Exchange located in CommuniCore East.  For many years, this was the place to pick up a free Universe of Energy comic book featuring Mickey and Goofy.

Epcot Universe of Energy comic book
 Although well researched, the show inside the building was often put down by guests, who viewed it as too dry and academic.  Imagineers tried to address these issues when Universe of Energy was remodeled into Ellen's Energy Adventure.  The new show premiered on September 15, 1996 but Exxon ceased to sponsor the attraction in 2004.  The last show was on August 13, 2017.  

 For those who missed the old show, there was an in-joke during the Final Jeopardy scene in Ellen's Energy Adventure about the Energy (You Make the World Go 'Round) song and you could also sometimes hear an instrumental version of the song at the entrance to Epcot by Spaceship Earth.

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See ya real soon!