*DillosDiz would like to welcome David Boyarsky, aka @FigmentsWorld on Twitter, as our guest blogger! David took a final ride on Ellen’s Energy Adventure and ended up having his own adventure!
Last week, Disney committed attraction murder in the worst possible way. Not only did they kill off 1 classic attraction, they killed off 2! Both attractions had been operating for several decades and developed quite the fan base and oddly enough, both employed the way-ahead-of-its-time traveling theater car concept. Coincidence? I think not. You see, whenever an attraction becomes a ‘classic’ Disney loves to pull on our heart strings and tease us with rumors of altering or shutting down completely. Unfortunately, we lost the battle for both The Great Movie Ride and the Universe of Energy, all in the same evening. This day also happened to be my sister’s birthday. So when the news quickly spread of the imminent closing, we both jumped at the chance to pay our respects and achieve our goal of traveling back in time with Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Stupid Judy one last time.
Why the Universe of Energy you may ask? This attraction meant so much to us. I still have fond memories from a trip in 1994 when we rode the original energy attraction. Everything was going well for little Figgy until a large Elasmosaurus shot out at me and I thought I was going to die. My ride was ruined and I was in tears so I can’t really recall what happened during the second half of the 45 minute journey. However, by the time we went back in 1998, Ellen’s Energy Adventure had taken over and this scary snake-like creature was attacking an Ellen audio animatronic instead of me! Boy was I relieved and thus began a love affair with the most underrated attraction that ever existed in a Disney theme park.
Fast forward to August 13, 2017: final day of operation for the Universe of Energy. My sister and I had one goal: be on the very last public ride of the Universe of Energy. However, we couldn’t wait to experience the attraction so we had to ride it in the middle of the day as well (plus who could resist a mid-afternoon nap).
So after enjoying our day around Epcot, we approached the Energy Pavilion at around 6:30pm as the Universe of Energy was set to shut its doors at 7pm. To our surprise, we weren’t the only longtime fans who showed up, so much so that Disney set up a staging area for 500 people to wait for the very last ride. At 7:15pm, the crowd was let in for the last 8 minute preshow ever. To say the crowd was emotional is an understatement. Here in this room were 500 diehard fans who knew every punchline, every witty response, and every time Ellen would call her old college roommate, “Stupid Judy!”
The audience responded to Ellen on screen like she was really there and started chanting for Bill Nye when he walked in. At the end of it all, a huge standing ovation and round of applause commenced for both the film and the Cast member who delivers the safety spiel. It was a truly magical experience that only a closing Disney attraction could ever convey.
500 guests bolted for theater cars for the final time to get the perfect seat. The theater rotated and the big bang portion of the film began, not a dry eye in the house. Afterwards, as has happened for the last 35 years, the theaters magically travelled out of theater one and into the dinosaur diorama without a single track on the floor. As the dinosaurs came to life and the theater cars broke apart, Ellen’s dream was suddenly interrupted. Lights flashed on and off, theater cars halted, and the crowd went wild!
As most people who have ridden this attraction know, this ride was quite possibly the most prone to breaking down and today, the final day of operation on the final ride, was no exception. But something magical happened that night. You see, instead of being ushered out of the building by Cast Members and being told to put our cameras away, they opened our theater car doors and looked the other way for Energy’s most diehard fans. Yes, that’s right, they actually had no objection to us walking through the entire Dinosaur diorama, touching, feeling, smelling it all for one last time because come Monday morning, it was all heading to the dumpster. So while we were figuratively still stuck in Ellen’s dream we got to interact with the entire attraction like never before and bid our fond farewells in one of the most unique ways possible.
There were some hopes about possibly fixing the attraction and letting us ride again but eventually it was decided that the battery pack in one of the vehicles was too faulty and they just couldn’t wait to scrap the whole thing in the morning. It was a bittersweet moment. While we never got to complete Ellen’s dream that night, we got to see off one of the greatest classic Epcot attractions in the most truly fitting way, through one last e-stop and ride evacuation. This was the night that the Universe of Energy ran out of energy but as Ellen and Bill Nye taught us, our brain power will never run out and our fond memories will always live on.
I leave you with these pictures from our exploration of the dinosaur diorama as I am getting very tired. “Stupid Judy. Stupid energy. Maybe the universe needs energy but I don’t. I’ll take a nap for a hundred.” ~Ellen the uh… Just Ellen I guess
What are you looking at?!
Still fighting over if the Universe of Energy or Horizons was the better attraction
I’ll miss you the most despite the fact that you sneeze on me every time I see you
It’s a Dino-celebration party 220 million years ago, give or take a day
Boy I bet Ellen really wished she figured out how to work that clicky thing earlier