Guests gathered and waited for one last chance to ride Ellen’s Energy Adventure, in the Universe of Energy Pavilion on Sunday. From reports of people that were there, the last ride broke down halfway through and guests essentially were able to walk the ride. What a great way for fans to say their final goodbye to an attraction that, in some shape or form, was there since the opening of Epcot.
Honestly, it’s very telling of the current state of Epcot, if you think about it. The ride breaks down, and people aren’t really that mad when they’re told they can’t ride anymore. Universe of Energy is closing down to make room for an all new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction in the near future. It’s part of the “reimagined Epcot”, but what will that mean, exactly? What does the final closing of Ellen’s Energy Adventure mean for Epcot as a whole?
Energy Encounter was a marvel of engineering when it first opened. It used a a huge moving theater system, and spinning screens to bring the story of the creation of energy in the universe to life. It was a great ride when it originally opened, and it brought some huge educational moments to the park. It was Epcot of the 80’s, using technology to learn more about our world around us and the world ahead.
The coolest part? The dinosaurs! In a time before Jurassic Park, this was the closest and coolest thing that we had that got us close to these creatures from a long forgotten time.
Then the 90’s happened, and what was a long in the tooth, and kind of boring ride…that had one really cool part, was changed into something else.
The dinosaurs stayed, but in an effort to make the ride popular and more fitting with the 90’s, Disney added Ellen Degenres in what is clearly an odd choice for a ride about energy and the creation, use and production of the fuels we use today.
Bill Nye the Science Guy was also added, and he brought the “brains” to the project while Ellen provided the “laughs”. A new animatronic was added, and we had a slightly shorter ride.
See the highlights, which includes most of the ride below. We tried to leave in most of the ride, but there are scenes where you sit in total darkness that just don’t translate well to film.
Watch-Highlights from Ellen’s Energy Adventure
The ride was long, and while it was kind of funny, it was no longer relevant. Jeopardy has changed so much, and of course people got older. Ellen is no longer the goofy, bumbling sidekick she once was, she’s now the goofy dancing talk show host that most people recognize as Dory from the Finding Nemo movies.
Time just moved on. Honestly, we would go to Universe of Energy when we needed a break from the day, and when we wanted to take a short nap. It was air conditioned, dark, and usually not very crowded, so you could stretch out. Is that what you really want in a theme park ride?
So, what does the end of Universe of Energy mean for Epcot? It means the same thing that bringing Ellen on in the first place did, Epcot is no longer about educating you, it’s about entertaining you. While the purists, and especially the 80’s kids (like me) will be upset about it, is it really that upsetting? In this day and age of rides and parks pushing the boundaries with new entertainment options, do guests really want to spend over a hundred dollars to walk through what essentially has become a science museum? Granted, there are tons of great attractions, and amazing festivals at Epcot, but it’s just not the fun that it used to be. That’s because all of us 80’s kids got older, and changed. Epcot just got older. Blame who you want, but Epcot did not change the way that it needed to. Now, it is, and it’s going to be big and sudden.
Keep in mind that it pretty much started with Ellen, and Journey Into Imagination, The Living Seas and even Soarin. Test Track and Mission: Space also helped by replacing classic attractions with new ones that would bring people in, but at least those TRIED to stick with the Epcot theme of taking you on adventures that at least partially educated you while entertaining you at the same time.
So what will happen to the education, and learning aspects of Epcot? Believe it or not, the only hope we have is Star Lord. The new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction is said to follow a storyline that will see the Guardians come to Epcot, because Peter Quill visited as a kid in the 80’s. What will he think of the new Epcot? Maybe he’ll be there this time to educate the rest of the Guardians about Earth, and we’ll get some ind of highly fun, and still kind of educating adventure. Maybe the new ride won’t be a chance to catch a 45 minute nap.
The Epcot that most of us know and love has to move on. We’ll see plenty of that in the next few years as Ratatouille comes to France, a new Space restaurant launches and the rest of the park changes along with it.
While we’ll definitely miss the Epcot of Yesterday, it’s honestly time to move on and try something new. Let’s just hope we keep that spirit of being an Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow alive.