Theme Park of the Day: Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Theme Park Apprentice 4: Challenge 9 – Restoration

Challenge 9: Epcot Restoration

From Jeff Elliott
Posted July 30, 2012 at 10:21 AM
This challenge is all about love. Specifically about the lack of love some parts of Epcot's Future World are getting. With the Seas, Mission Space, Test Track, and Soarin' getting most of the love in Future World, there is not much left over for the rest, in fact an entire pavilion has been quietly closed and the entire second floor of another has also been closed and left to rot. The challenge this week is to take one of these neglected pavilions and build it back up. Feel free to gut the inside of the building and start over or even knock the whole thing down ala Test Track and Mission Space. Here is the catch: You have to use the theme of the current building.....and you will have a riot on your hands if you try to close Soarin'. The available Future World pavilions that need some love are: Wonders of Life, Universe of Energy, Imagination, and The Land. If you choose not to knock down the whole structure, remember that there is a lot of space inside these pavilions for several new attractions, shows, restaurants, gift shops, and other things. If you do knock the whole thing down, the replacement single attraction needs to be spectacular.

In your pavilion, you must include the name of the pavilion you are fixing and all of the usual details in regards to your restoration.

Proposals are due on Saturday night (Aug 4) at midnight as usual.

From Chad H
Posted July 30, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Dateline, Celebration FL. Walt Disney World announced today a new sponsor for the "universe of Energy" pavillion. Recently home to "Ellen's energy adventure", the new sponsor "Progress City University" plan to create a new facility as a scientific outreach centre, keeping some old favourites whilst highlighting some new exciting attractions...

From Chad H
Posted July 31, 2012 at 6:56 PM
(please bear in mind I've not seen the actual building beyond phorographs, and its hard to judge scale from those). 

The existing “Universe of Energy” pavilion is in dire need of a rethink and new direction.  With a single attraction focused more on the needs of previous sponsors (big oil-based energy companies) rather than excitement or “mapping the future” of energy, there is a huge scope for improvement.  The Current show seems to focus on the formation of fossil fuels, and then only look at how we use these, and future trends as an afterthought.
The upgraded facility keeps a nod to the old, and extends its coverage further.  It looks in more detail on how energy generation has changed the world from the Industrial Revolution to today; the challenges we face because of how we’ve generated this energy in the past; and the future of energy generation.

The replacement of the former large theatre with a long running time with several smaller attractions allows for an opportunity to tell a more of the story of energy, and an attraction where people will linger longer.

The Universe of Energy now has a pretend sponsor – the “Progress City University”.  Staff are costumed as if they were working at a scientific outreach centre as a part of the university. Regular sponsors are still welcome, and would be co branded with this "Progress City University, in conjunction with…"
The front of the building has a makeover. Rather than the stepped shape the front half the front is now all glass on all 3 sides and the roof. The rear portion is extended upwards to allow for a total of 4 levels (including ground) to explore.
Front Half – (Atrium)
The first (entrance) part is a huge glass fronted structure, creating a sheltered atrium area.  Around the glass windows is a large Perpetuball / Rube Goldberg style machine that demonstrates Newton’s laws in motion – energy not being created or destroyed, but transferred and transformed.  The majority of the structure is metal tracks for balls (around bowling ball sized to allow them to be seen from some distance) to roll down or through (including loops demonstrating Centrifugal force) which in turn interact with other elements – other balls, see-saws/teeter-totters, scales, etc to keep the structure moving, and trigger some other external elements. 

At one point these balls push some clockwork gears (having enough weight to do so), which are in turn connected (visible through a transparent floor) to a cog connected to a large planet Earth in the middle of the room (with a clockwork orbiting moon attached similar to how an orrery), the planet structure is a reference to the “Energy: You Make the world go round” line that appeared in the original Universe of Energy and in its sequel. 

The machine is full of so many interactive elements, paths and balls one can lose track of time just watching the balls run through the machine.
(In case you don’t know what I mean by Perpetuball, I found pics to this online… perpetuball motion machine #1 (2)perpetuball motion machine #1 (1)
Put this on a grand scale.
The machine also interacts with the open-air elevators in the structure that allow guests ease of access to the 4 levels of the second half of the structure, seeming to activate these lifts when a ball interacts with a button element (these track is only activated when a cast member on the elevator marks the elevator as “ready”, the CM also directs the guests attention to the element that will activate the lift; when the elevator is “unready” the balls are diverted away from this element).  One elevator calls all floors, whilst the other runs express ground to top.
The atrium area also plays host to the “Equals and Opposites” comedy trio.  Actors portraying Galileo Galilei , Issac Newton, and Albert Einstien take to the stage with their science-based comedy act.  They also take the time during the show to answer as best they can any physics based questions from guests (they are wearing earpieces that link to a control room to allow for quick research and answer feeding when required).  One soon-to-be popular part of their act is a parody version of Bohemian Rhapsody detailing the life history of the performers and several physical principles. There is a stage where they do a somewhat rehersed, somewhat improv set, and will continue their antics through the atrium in popular times.

This area also plays host to to the "Great Discoveries" gift shop, which offers souvineers based on the concept of Energy in both is physics (items such as Newton's balls), and disney branded science kits around engines and Solar Cells (help encourage the kids to get into making some energy of their own). You can also snack at "Chemical Energy" which offers a small range of fast food, and a somewhat larger range of snacks.
Rear half - Fuel as Energy
The Rear building is split into 4 levels (including the ground), with a gentle ramp offering views of the Atrium machine leading from the end of one levels experience, to the start of the next.
Ground Level - Prehistory

This section echos the former main attraction, explaining the origin of Fossil Fuels, it is made up of a single attraction.

"Yesterday: fueling today” (B Ticket equivalent) hosts dinosaur dioramas similar the current universe of energy pavilion but adjusted to reflect their new smaller role in the greater whole.  The ride system is instead replaced with an Omnimover system, (as this part of the attraction no longer needs to explain how these fuels are used, it merely needs to explain that the bodies of dinosaurs over time became coal and oil).

Level 1 – The energy revolution”
This section charts energy from the birth of the industrial revolution through to today and highlights the changes in society that these developments have brought (spun as for the better).
This section contains a number of self-directed displays including antique engines and generators, and features two main attractions.
“Say Watt?”  (B Ticket).  This is a short film (10-15 mins) that shares a lot in common with The Timekeeper (Where Jules Verne visited today) in that it takes a historical “Visionary” and looks at the future their visions have brought. Rather than Jules Version, James Watt, Industrial revolution era engineer is shown just how his inventions will change the world - from the Victorian era steam railways, to the oil-powered cars and aeroplanes of today.
“A Fantastic Invention” (C-D Ticket) -  This (large) motion simulator ride echoes the film “Fantastic Voyage”, but rather than explore the human body, the miniaturised guests are instead taken on a tour of an internal combustion engine with the guide explaining how all the parts work.
Level 2 - “Energy in Crisis”.
This area is dedicated to the problems that we face today with energy generation.  These include human-influenced climate change, Acid Rain, Smog, and other pollution concerns as well as continuing increases in demand for more energy.  This section isn’t dedicated to problems – its dedicated to solutions, including  renewable energy, hy, and other technologies that can help reduce our need for energy and generate it in cleaner ways.  As Climate change is only one of the negative elements stressed even AGW sceptics should find something they can agree with here.
“The Challenge” (B Ticket) - an Omnimover based ride hosted by a “virtual” Al Gore.  This ride details several environmental problems caused by our current energy production, and details some solutions to this, and warns of the consequences if nothing is done. 
There are also several self directed exhibits on a similar theme
Level 3  “The energy of tomorrow”.
This section is reminiscent of Walt’s original dream for EPCOT – to make us excited about the world of tomorrow.  This area plays host to two attractions:
Centrifuge (D Ticket equivalent)
Centrifuges are useful in a number of scientific fields, but for the hoped for developments in cold fusion they are intergral to separate “heavy water” from the regular kind.  A short pre-show video explains the concept of cold fusion, and the possible role of heavy water in this, before allowing guests into a “Starship 4000”/Gravitron type ride. 

Building a better tomorrow (A ticket):
Although “The Challenge” does its best to present the challenges facing our use of energy without getting negative, Building a Better tomorrow is designed to blow any remaining worries out of the water.  This walk through attraction (with human guides) offers a number of interactive exhibits designed to showcase the technologies of tomorrow.  The exhibits in the attraction are constructed in a modular fasion, allowing them to be quickly and easily swapped out with new technologies as time marches on (thus preventing the attraction seeming dated at any point).  The final exhibit, and perhaps the biggest drawcard, is a refurbished and refreshed version of Walt’s Progress City model.  Rather than just being static model, this model now also contains a recorded voice and light show that allows the “Progress city solutions” to energy problems to be highlighted (regenerative breaking on the Peoplemovers, traffic system underground to allow capture of noxious chemical and designed to have a continuous traffic flow rather than traffic lights to prevent waste through idling, Biofueled aircraft at Progress City Airport, solar panels on all buildings for electricity and water heating, etc).
Powering the model is a dynamo/alternator on a cog which gets its motion from the balls running through the atrium machine, demonstrating an electrical generator in action (with an explanation on how the principle translates in power generation and regenerative braking)
The guests can then board one of the atrium elevators to return to a previous level, or exit to the ground floor via the express elevator.

Overall the new Universe of Energy offers a more comprehensive "Energy" based experience, going beyond the bounds of the current installation whilst reflecting the original vision for both the original EPCOT and the park it inspired.

From Bryce McGibeny
Posted August 3, 2012 at 8:14 PM

For years Epcot has promised visitors to the park a one-of-a-kind experience about exploring the depths and wonders of Imagination. But recently, the Imagination Pavilion located at Epcot’s Future World has fallen into despair. The 2nd floor has been abandoned and Journey to Imagination has been reduced to a boring experience. The time for change has come. The Imagination Pavilion will start from a new beginning, bringing a brand new ride and re-opening the 2nd floor!


The new Imagination Pavilion will bring you…

- Imagination Exploration – A unique attraction where you can decide what you want to do and where you want to go! Featuring the beloved Jiminy Cricket as your tour guide!

- Figment’s WonderWorks – For too long has the old ImageWorks been sitting dormant above Journey into Imagination. But with the removal of Journey into Imagination, Figment finds a new home upstairs at Figment’s WonderWorks, the re-opening of ImageWorks, featuring Figment!

- Imagic – Replacing the dated 3-D show “Captain EO”, is Imagic, a 3-D adventure with Mickey Mouse about how one idea and a little imagination can go a long way!


Imagination Exploration

Imagine a ride where you can control your destiny and make decisions. Well, Imagination Exploration will be just that! A motion-simulator ride that will take the place of Journey into Imagination, Imagination Exploration will put riders in control of what happens during a psydelic adventure into your own imagination. So grab those 3-D glasses and lets get going!

- Queue – A large, circular and glistening sign will beckon guests above the queue’s entrance. The sign will read, “Imagination Exploration” and will be colored gold, purple and blue. Guests will enter and will immediately be placed into a whole new environment. The queue will be located all in one room and themed to night-time. Riders will walk along a cobblestone pathway through what appears to be a park. Above riders will be clouds suspended from the ceiling. In the far left corner, you can see the moon suspended from the ceiling. Fiber optic stars glisten all around riders and above the clouds. Street lanterns guide guests through the queue that gives a sense of sleep, a hint of what is to come. At the end of this room, a cast-member dressed in pajamas will direct you to one of two pre-show rooms. The façade to the pre-show room is made to look like two houses. You enter either pre-show room through the house’s automatic front door.

- Pre-Show – Guests will be directed into a room themed to a child’s bedroom. The only light to guide guests is a couple of night-lights near the bed and dresser. Once all of the guests are loaded into the pre-show room, the doors will close and the T.V. in the entertainment center will turn on. Jiminy Cricket will appear on screen and begin telling riders about the dream-world where you can use your imagination to take you to far off worlds. He explains that once you enter the dream-world, he will become your personal tour guide, but first, you have to enter it. As soon as he concludes his monologue, the T.V. shuts off for a few seconds and the room goes dark. Then, glistening fiber optic stars that change color will light up the room, signaling you’ve entered the dream state. The “closet” door will open and riders will exit the pre-show room enter the loading area.

- Loading Area – The loading area is similar to Star Tours. Guests will be directed to rows where doors will open, leading them to their own 4-seat robotic arm/simulator (similar to Harry Potter), except these don’t move along a track (except for a short segment at the beginning). The loading area will have a pink and purple glow, with more multi-colored fiber optic stars covering the walls and ceiling. Hanging from the ceiling is the furniture from the bedroom, but floating in this new dream-world. Once guests near the door to enter, they must grab their 3-D glasses. The doors will swing open and guests will step forward to find their bench. The small passage way to the bench is themed to a distorted hallway in the house. Once guests pull down the shoulder restraints. The door will close and the bench will begin moving backwards out of the hallway.

- Main Ride – The robot arm stops moving and Jiminy Cricket’s voice comes over the riders as it begins extending upwards. He tells riders how imagination can take you to far off places that are only in your wildest dreams. Then, when the robot arm is at it’s full height, the screen becomes reality. The riders instantly find themselves in a moment of turmoil as the screen shows them spiraling downwards towards the middle of the ocean. The robot arm shakes and rocks back and forth until we hit the water. Jiminy Cricket appears onscreen, floating in an inner-tube and sipping a lemonade.

“Being in the dream-world, you can do whatever you want. Go wherever you want to go. You don’t have to stay here floating in the middle of the ocean. Or do you? You have three options. Do you want travel the infinite depths of space, explore prehistoric times or travel through an underwater world? Rider on the left, the decision is yours.”

There buttons on the lap part of the shoulder restraint light up and give the rider the three options.

- Option A - If the rider chooses space, the robot arm will lean back and we will tilt towards the sky on screen. Suddenly the robot arm will shake and riders will be blasted through the atmosphere.

- Option B – If the rider chooses prehistoric times, the screen will warp through a wormhole and the vehicle will toss riders around until the screen unfolds again and riders are in the middle of a volcanic eruption with dinosaurs stampeding around you.

- Option C – If the rider chooses underwater, the screen will tilt downwards and the vehicle will too as you blast down to the watery depths of the ocean at a high speed.

Jimminy Cricket will appear before wherever you choose. “Ah nice choice, are you looking for… adventure?” Jiminy Cricket vanishes in a poof of smoke and leaves us stranded in our selected imaginary world.

The person in the middle-left’s seat has buttons that light up, giving them three options. (I’ll show you the scenario for Prehistoric.)

- Option A – Save young brontosaurus from T-rex in an action packed and wild battle.

- Option B – Go past the brontosaurus and dive off the side of a cliff as you try to escape some crazed raptors.

- Option C – Fly to the top of the volcano to get a scenic view… But things don’t always go as planned.

At the end of your short adventure, Jiminy Cricket will appear again. “That was intense! You know, with your imagination, your possiblites are endless! Go ahead, think of what you want to do next!”

The 3 buttons light up again for a few seconds to let the middle right rider make their decision.

- Option A – Fly with the pteradyctals over the erupting volcano, soar over the forest and skim the surface of a river.

- Option B – Dive underwater and see many prehistoric animals as you narrowly escape a prehistoric shark attack.

- Option C – Hope on the back of a stampeding brontosaurus and ride it until you have to bail and make a crash landing on the land below.

Jiminy Cricket will appear once more. “Well hello there! You really just put your imagination to use! Great display of how your imagination can really take control. You know, we gotta get outta here! I’ll give you a couple of options of how to make our daring escape!”

Two buttons light up, giving the last rider. an interesting descision on how to get out of the prehistoric world.

- Option A – Make your thrilling way out by flying above the erupting volcano and diving into it.

- Option B – Theres only two ways out. Do you dare to take this second option and fly into a hungry T-Rex’s mouth?

Suddenly, there is a flash and we appear to be at Epcot. It is now daylight and Jiminy Cricket stands looking out at the main lake, with his back turned towards us. The camera slowly pans in on him and he begins to speak, “You know, I wasn’t lying when I said your imagination is capable of great things. Whether it be far off places, made up characters or crazy stories, always make full use of your… imagination!” Suddenly the screen bursts in a colorful display of fireworks. And the showroom’s lights slowly come back on to reveal the showroom is themed to the bedroom where you started. The vehicle begins a 180 degree turn as it simultaneously is lowered down to ground level. The vehicle slowly moves forward and riders are unloaded.

Technological Details

- There a total of 10 showrooms for each robot arm. 5 on one side of the loading area, 5 on the other.

- The robot arm is capable of many motions such as rolling, twisted, hopping, spinning, flipping and more.

- The robot arm itself is manufactured by KUKA.

Gift Shop – Here is where ImageWorks was moved after the 2nd floor completely closed. Here you can buy Jiminy Cricket plush dolls, keychains, and something really cool: The Explorer Card.

You earn this card after riding and exploring the power of imagination. Have your name and on-ride photo printed on a special card called the Explorer Card to show you’re a bonafide imagination explorer!

After looking through the gift shop, you exit back into Future World of Epcot to contine your Magical day!

Figment’s WonderWorks – Say hello to the new ImageWorks upstairs, WonderWorks! Starring your favorite purple dragon, Figment!
Here are some of the original and new attractions being refurbished for this grand opening:

- Figment’s School of Drama - Using a bluescreen, guests put themselves into a movie under the direction of Figment.

- Pin Screens - A massive pin table.

- Stepping Tones - Guests create music from stepping on color panels

- Figment's Coloring Book - Guests colored images featuring Figment and Dreamfinder using electric "paintbrush guns"

- Rainbow Corridor - A large tunnel that featured colored lights that followed the guests as they went through, each guest getting a different color.

- Electronic Philharmonic - By the usage of sensors, guests could conduct an orchestra.

- Kaleidoscopes - Very large kaleidoscopes that could be controlled by the guest.

- Vibrating Mirrors - An effect that made the guests reflection warp like a funhouse mirror.

- Voice Activated Lumia - A 6-foot-diameter (1.8 m) sphere that would respond with light effects to the guests voice or sounds.

- Bubble Projectors - In the small pyramid, bubbles were projected on circular screens under the guests control. When they overlapped they would create new colors

Imagic – Replacing Captain EO is Imagic, a 3-D adventure with Mickey Mouse about how one idea and a little imagination can go a long way!

Enter the theater and let Walt’s original creation lead you on a stellar 3-D adventure through the process of making everything that Disney is today that ends in a climatic and stellar conclusion including all of the characters over the many years of Disney.

It goes to show how a small idea and a great imagination can lead to big things!

Each showing last approximately 10 minutes and can seat up to 500 people. Young children and people prone to heart attacks or seizures are warned to attend this show as there is moments of darkness, scary images and loud sounds.

Discover your own imagination at Epcot!
Epcot has been held as a center of learning. Well, with the new Imagination Pavilion, you have even more opportunites to learn about and discover your own Imagination!

From AJ Hummel
Posted August 4, 2012 at 9:34 PM
The Land


While the Land pavilion is one of the more popular at Epcot, this is not due to a general love of the attractions present within. Instead, many people come here for Soarin', one of Epcot's newer attractions. They mainly view the remainder of the pavilion as a place to kill time while waiting for their Fastpass return, and many skip it entirely. By remodeling the pavilion, the park hopes to give guests a place they want to visit instead of one they consider a filler.


Current interior. The new Land pavilion keeps the same basic layout but changes the decorum.

Refurbishment Overview: As part of the refurbishment, every attraction in the Land will receive some sort of modification. A majority of the pavilion will be closed for an entire off-season to allow time for all the necessary work. The new Land pavilion will feature three completely new attractions, two remodeled attractions, a reimagined attraction, a revamp of both dining areas, and a large new shopping area. Keeping with the pavilion's past upgrades, the entire pavilion will also receive new decorations and a new color scheme to give it a refreshed, modern look.



Living with the Land remains, but not as it is currently known.

Living with the Land: The Land's largest current attraction, Living with the Land, will receive a complete overhaul, with a new attraction that is related in name only. The entire greenhouse portion of the ride will be removed, and the attraction will be reworked into a 7 minute dark ride about human interaction with the environment. In addition, the vehicles will be changed from the current covered barges to boats similar to those found on it's a small world. The ride will feature scenes of several different biomes, with animatronics illustrating both the wilderness untouched and how humans have made use of its resources. Throughout, only the most ecologically sensitive processes are shown. The finale of the ride features a musical scene with the message that humans can live in harmony with nature. Due to the high capacity of the attraction, Fastpass will no longer be necessary.

Living Laboratories Tour: Although technically a new attraction, this is simply a walk-through the greenhouses that were part of the old version of Living with the Land. Guests visit the Tropics, Temperate, String, and Creative greenhouses on this self guided tour. Inside each one, guests are allowed to explore at will, but are kept far enough away from the foliage to avoid damage. Signs posted at convenient locations provide all the information given during the former ride, and a cast member is on duty inside each greenhouse to answer questions guests may have. Visitors are also able to see the Aquacell, Biotechnology, and Integrated Pest Management Laboratories, although these sections are more restricted (guests must follow a predefined route and may have to wait before entering depending on crowds).

The Greenhouse Effect: A walk-through exhibit about the history of climate change, the science behind it, and how it will affect the future. As much as possible, interactive displays will be used to keep guests interested while providing the information. The attraction is designed in such a way that it can be easily updated as new information becomes available.

Disneynature Presents...: A theater where guests can view clips from current and upcoming Disneynature productions. In addition, shorter mini-documentaries (20-25 minute films) could be created specifically for exhibition here. This attraction will take the place of the Circle of Life attraction, but the existing theater will be slightly enlarged (increased to around 600 seats) to accommodate more viewers per show.

Fruit Basket: A teacups attraction where each car is shaped like a different fruit. A wide variety of fruits are represented, ranging from common, immediately identifiable ones to obscure species many people have not seen personally. The attraction is not restricted to edible fruits, and enough are represented that no two cars are the same. Plaques in the line identify each of the 18 fruits present (same number of vehicles as the Mad Tea Party) and give information about them. The entire ride is sunk into the ground a bit, with the walls themed to resemble a giant basket. This attraction, while not restricted exclusively to them, is mainly for the benefit of families with small children who would be bored with the Land's other offerings.


Bountiful Harvest Restaurant: The remodeled Garden Grill, Bountiful Harvest features a menu with healthy offerings made with produce grown in the Living Laboratories. The restaurant revolves slowly, giving guests a view into the greenhouses and the Living with the Land attraction. Characters are present at specific times for autographs and pictures, but this is not an exclusive character dining experience.

Field of Flavors: A revamped version of the Sunshine Seasons food court. The offerings will be mixed up somewhat, replacing the less popular stations with new options and keeping those that always have a line. The seating area will also be expanded slightly. Regardless of what changes are made, the food court will continue to provide unique options and not standard amusement park fare.


The Earth Emporium: A large, two-story store featuring almost every type of souvenir imaginable. Items that can only be found inside the Land pavilion will be sold here, along with general Epcot and Walt Disney World souvenirs. Although the Earth Emporium will not necessarily be located in the same location, the Green Thumb Emporium will be closed and all its merchandise will be transferred to this store.


As Epcot's most popular attraction, Soarin' is the one attraction that will not be closed along with the pavilion. However, it will still receive an upgrade. To minimize downtime, the attraction will operate with one theater while the other is upgraded and programmed to work with the new experience. The whole attraction will then shut down for a brief period (1-2 weeks) to change the queue area and signage, before reopening with one theater while the second one is upgraded. The new version of the attraction will be...

Soarin' Around The World: Instead of a simple flight to California, guests are now taken on a journey around the world, viewing well known natural and man-made landmarks from all the continents of the Earth. Some of the sights include (listed alphabetically, but will be shown in a logical order):


The Grand Canyon, just one of over 20 destinations visited on the new Soarin' Around The World.

Chichen Itza
CN Tower
Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)
Empire State Building
Golden Gate Bridge
Grand Canyon
Great Pyramid of Giza
Great Wall of China
Hagia Sophia
Itaipu Dam
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Machu Picchu
Mount Everest
Old City (Jerusalem)
Polar Ice Cap
Potala Palace
Rio de Janeiro
Serengeti National Park
Victoria Falls

Naturally, the attraction will end with a flight over Walt Disney World. Although the new movie will feature a different audio score (composed by Jerry Goldsmith, the composer of the current score), the same main theme will be retained. The new attraction will be slightly longer than the current ride, at about six minutes in length.

Other than the movie, very little will be changed. The queue decoration will be changed slightly to reflect the broader scope of the new ride, signage will be replaced, and a new safety video listing the complete locations list will be added to replace the current video. The ride will also begin using a single rider line, just like the California installation currently does.

Conclusion: With new, more entertaining, though still educational and informative attractions, the new Land pavilion will once again be an essential part of a trip to Epcot instead of a second tier time-killing stop. A new Soarin' experience is just one more reason to come check this pavilion out on your next trip to the park.

From David L.
Posted August 4, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Our Universe of Energy

Energy is everywhere. It’s the light from the sun, it’s in the trees in your yard, it’s in the fan in your house, and it’s even in you. Man has always harnessed energy, depended on it, and lived on it. Epcot’s latest expansion takes us deeper into the world of energy, how we’ve used it, how it’s used, and how it can be used tomorrow.

Overview: The exterior of the building remains mostly the same, but large skylights are visible from the outside situated far back on the roof. In addition, the building is expanded in the back to cover the backstage space for the current ride’s vehicles. Guests enter and watch a film hosted by Ellen DeGeneres before entering a central room. Here are the entrances to all of the attractions and exhibits inside the pavilion. The entire inside has been gutted and rebuilt.

Entrance: Guests enter and walk through a metallic walled queue lit by the sun’s light reflected through a series of mirrors to the passage way. White lights fading in and out on the other side of the wall turn on when it’s dark outside. Guests then enter one of two theaters in groups of 300. The 4 and ½ minute film, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, has standing room only. The film begins with introducing herself and welcoming guests to Our Universe of Energy, even though they’ve been in it ever since they existed. She tells how important energy is in the universe and a few simple facts about it. Occasionally, she makes a reference to a strange dream that had to do with energy, but she casts it off as nothing. Toward the end, she tells how energy is being used everywhere in the room and lists examples. Finally, she describes in detail the use of energy in a door that opens through the screen (So the center of the screen is actually a double door that opens away from the audience). From here, guests walk through, down a ramp, and into the hub of the pavilion.

Hub: This large room has two main pathway perpendicular to each other. Straight ahead is the entrance to the main ride, The Great Energy Adventure. The left leads to the store (exit) and restaurant. To the right is the smaller ride, Mechanic-Energy. On the side of each pathway are small exhibits and minor attractions to give the room a busy feel. Windmills (self propelled), solar panels, and greenery mix with the smaller attractions in the main room. The room is lit primarily by skylights during the day and lights in the greenery and lights from the small attractions at night.

The Great Energy Adventure: The queue winds back and forth gradually rising until it overlooks the hub. Signs along the way tell how you are about to embark on an adventure with John Grenslow, a scientist who studies ways to use energy, and Zing, a robot to guide you on your adventure. Guests board a 6x6 seated vehicle known as an Atatov (Anti-gravity, Time traveling, Alternate reality changing, Teleporting, and Other stuff vehicle, pronounced “at-a-tove”). The vehicles are EMVs similar to Dinosaur except on a larger scale. Zing is attached on the hood of the vehicle. John is visible on a screen in front of every few seats. The ride begins going gently forward with John telling you how the vehicle will remain calm and gentle throughout the entire ride through time and space. Zing begs to differ, but gives in. Throughout the ride they tend to differ on discussions with Zing usually giving in. The ride continues with Zing taking us to the past. For the transitions into different times and space, the vehicle rides through a spinning tunnel with flashing lights. After riding through one of these time portals, the ride appears in 2000 BC in a tribal village in North America. Zing turns on the invisibility shield so the Native Americans won’t be alarmed. John points out ways energy is used during this time period. Zing teleports us to another area of the globe and then time travels us some years into the future. This process continues as guests see introductions of water wheels, animal power, and more. After three additional places in time, Zing takes guests to the Qin dynasty in China, but forgets to turn on the invisibility shield. Soldiers quickly appear and try to attack. The vehicle quickly is forced to dodge out of the way as Zing tries to get it out of there. In the rush, Zing accidentally begins taking guests to an alternate reality. As the vehicle almost exits the spinning portal into a facility with monsters and many doors, John overrides the system and takes the vehicle back through the portal and into another. John scolds Zing and the ride continues through time seeing the use of steam power, coal, and more. Zing takes us past present day and into the future. Here, the future is seen. Underwater “current mills”, wave energy harvesters, phenomenal solar facilities are seen, and more (all of these are prospective energy harvesting solutions). The vehicle flies over the ocean to see this. Finally, Zing takes us to present day, seeing windmills from above, hydroelectric dams, and a nuclear energy plant. However, alarms go off at the dam and water breaks through. The vehicle races to get out of the way but gets caught under wave. Zing turns on a force field, and the vehicle pops up above the water, undamaged and dry. But the water continues to rush the vehicle in the force field downstream as Zing and John get a portal ready. Just when a tree is about to fall and bump the vehicle underwater, the portal appears, and the vehicle travels back to Our Universe of Energy. Guests disembark while John apologizes for the rough ride and promises that it won’t happen again. Sets with AAs are used for the most part, but with occasional screens. The hydroelectric dam section uses both real water and water effects with screens to simulate going down river.

Mechanic-Energy: At its heart, this is a scrambler, but the entire thing is :uncovered. In the line, guests see how energy starts a gear turning to run the ride. They also see how energy is channeled and how it supplies all the other parts, from the control board to the lights. The gears that run the attraction underneath are visible for guests to see. The ride is a typical scrambler.

Restaurant Efficient!: This restaurant has a central open air kitchen with signs telling how energy is used in cooking the food. The food is primarily hot dogs of various types (chili, cheese, coleslaw, and more), simple burgers, onion rings, and fries. All are slightly greasier than your typical food.

Our Universe of Gift Shops: This store doubles as the exit of the pavilion. Here guests can buy gifts related to energy, Zing, and more.

Smaller Attractions: There are many minor attractions in the hub. Here are a few of them:
-Our Universe of Sound-this interactive exhibit demonstrates sound as an energy.
-Restrooms-This exhibit doubles as an actual restroom. Guests see how energy is used in toilets and air blow driers.
-Solar-This exhibit displays details on how solar power works
-You Home-Guests see how they can save energy around their home.
-Unsafe Energy-Here, poor uses of energy is seen. Guests can learn how some energy sources are unsafe and impractical.
-The Future-This exhibit tells the possible future of harvesting energy.
-Other Organisms-Here guests see how other organisms harvest and use energy.

Out Universe of Energy will let guests be able to learn, laugh, be thrilled, all in one newly expanded pavilion at Epcot.

From James Koehl
Posted August 5, 2012 at 8:28 AM
TPA Challenge 9 Critiques

It is now getting extremely hard to be a judge. Every proposal is getting better and better, and you are all bringing your "A" game every week. Deciding on the rankings between these proposals is becoming similar to deciding on which type of apple is my favorite, Red Delicious or Golden Delicious. They are all great!

Chad H.: I must commend you on your aggressive rethinking of "Universe of Energy" and how you brought it up to the modern realization that we must use all forms of energy available to us to maintain our present and develop our future. You turned this pavilion into less of a one-trick-pony and more into a multi-attraction/multi-media mini-land similar to several other pavilions at Future World.
Your entrance Atrium would be a great attraction to lure visitors to come in and see what is going on. The huge Perpetuball device and associated machines with lots of movement would make visitors curious as to what is going on inside, and make them less wary of entering what could- without the careful attention to action and entertainment you gave this pavilion- a dry, academic presentation.. "Equals and Opposites" could be a cute show and a big draw, also showing that science can be fun. "Great Discoveries" was a nice and needed idea, and "Chemical Energy" is one of the best names possible for a snack bar in this pavilion.
"Yesterday: Fueling Today" was a good idea in that it didn't throw out the dino with the swamp water, but retained a beloved part of Universe of Energy and the huge dinosaur animatronics. "Say Watt?" would have the potential to educate while entertaining the audience, but would have to be done very carefully to keep the audience entertained. The same goes for "A Fantastic Invention" which could go a long way to explaining something that most people take for granted but know little about. There would need to be some sort of drama or danger introduced to the story, or it would just be a lecture about engines with a classroom sitting on a large cocktail shaker.
"Energy in Crisis" is an important part of the energy equation, but would need to be presented- as all scientific concepts in a non-academic setting such as Epcot need to be- in an entertaining manner. Luckily, most people are suckers for an Omnimover system, and would ride it for the experience. A virtual Al Gore? Now that's scary, and I even voted for him!
"The Energy of Tomorrow" was the obvious goal to the entire pavilion, and I liked very much how you progressed the entire pavilion to this conclusion. I was a bit surprised to find the Gravitron-type "Centrifuge" here, but perhaps using the preshow to force riders to learn something in spite of themselves would justify putting a carnival-type spinner ride here. Sometimes we have to keep the unwashed masses appeased, especially where their brains are getting full with the good stuff that they have learned up to now in Universe of energy. The "Building a Better Tomorrow" exhibit would be a great example of how "everything old is new again" with the updated Progress City and related exhibits, and having them modular to be replaced and updated was a good thought. Using energy from the atrium machine to power this section is a good way to integrate this entire pavilion, one that most visitors would ignore but some would understand.
Overall, the new "Universe of Energy" would be a remarkable complex for visitors. I am concerned that there are going to be quite a number who will ignore much of it as being too educational unless the designers of the individual displays kept them light, fun, hands-on and entertaining, much like many of the successful science museums around the country. Including a variety of ride attractions as the focus of these displays would go a long way to bring people in and keep them entertained and educated (in spite of themselves). This was an aggressive proposal, well-written as always, and I thought you did a splendid job of conceiving it. In this case, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Bryce McGibeny: "Imagination" as you conceived it would be a great improvement on the current pavilion, incorporating the parts of it that are still popular (Figment) with new attractions that would make this experience seem both new and familiar.
"Imagination Exploration" would be a remarkable experience for guests. I have read several proposals in the past for rides where the audience chooses the path of the story, and few of them have explained them well. You did so in a clear, easy to follow manner. The entrance queue and preshow would be a perfect introduction to the idea of dreams and imagination. You explained the technology required clearly and realistically, and your inclusion of Jiminy Cricket would provide a familiar, comforting and reassuring guide for guests, esp. the younger ones. This would be a memorable experience for all guests. You were wise to explain the attraction while following just one possible course of events, but I found myself curious as to how the other events and choices would have happened. I am NOT saying you should have described them- that would have been too long and possibly confusing for this proposal. You made the right decision to describe just one experience. You left me wanting more. You left me wanting to come back and ride it again. That is exactly what a good attraction should do.
One thing that baffled me was why, after going through the gift shop you have guests leaving Imagination and going out of the building, rather than having access to the rest of the Imagination complex. You have an audience dazzled by a unique and exciting adventure- don't send them home! If they want to leave, fine, but make sure they can proceed easily upstairs to Figment's Wonderworks. They shouldn't have to ask how to get there- it should be a natural progression, easily accessible and a logical next destination in Imagination.
Figment's Wonderworks would be a dazzling collection of attractions for all ages and entire families. The names you created for these hands-on exhibits were perfect, clearly incorporating them into a sound and light playground. It would be important to include Figment somehow into all of them as a unifying theme.
"Imagic" is a great name for this film, and sounds like it would be a welcome replacement for Captain EO. This film sounds like it would be much more appropriate for Imagination than anything that has been shown in this theater so far. I wish you had been a little bit more detailed about what it was about. The brief synopsis was almost too teasing.
Your reconception of Imagination sounds like a brilliant, exciting experience, keeping some of the best from the old pavilion but introducing a blast of new technology and new life into it.

AJ Hummel: Another very aggressive rethinking of a popular pavilion. You really took the entire pavilion apart and reconceived every part of it. I like how you considered the problem with the Land, how Soarin' has become the centerpiece and the rest of the pavilion a giant waiting room (a very entertaining and educational one, but still a waiting room), and how you intended to address that problem. In this, I think you made a good attempt to address that problem, but only partially succeeded.
I'm not sure how anything can compete with Soarin', especially with how you have improved it with "Soarin' Around the World". This new production would be a butt-kicking new experience, one desperately needed. I would have suggested doubling the number of theaters showing it, to decrease the wait time and give visitors more time to spend in The Land pavilion enjoying the other new attractions you are proposing.
While I think that "Living With the Land" is in desperate need of an update, I think you threw the baby out with the bathwater. Why pitch real plants and replace them with fake ones when you can keep the real thing, expand on them, incorporate animatronics where appropriate and give guests the best of both worlds? I'm not sure if you intended this and the other two attractions mentioned ("Living Laboratories" and "The Greenhouse Effect") to be three separate stand-alone attractions, but I would strongly encourage them to be interconnected, to keep guests involved, educated and entertained without wandering off to do something else. Speaking of that, it is a rather sad commentary on modern society, but as important as these topics are to our future existence people want to be entertained and not just educated. "We're at frickin' Disney World! I don't wanna have ta' learn nothin'! I jest wanna have fun!" This entire section seems rather heavy on the education and light on the entertainment.
"Disneynature Presents" would not be a super popular attraction, but I for one was glad to see you retained the theater and updated the presentations in it. The Land needs to have an educational section that is unapologetic in its purpose, and this theater would fill that notch. Would it be a Fast Pass attraction? Not in a million years, but it would be a classy part of The Land.
The Fruit Basket was a bit startling to find in The Land, but you are right in that it would provide a welcome diversion for families, although all those fruits spinning around would probably earn it the nickname of The Smoothie Machine!
The dining and merchandise areas are really just redressing of the same spaces, but with everything else in The Land being remodeled they would have to be rethemed also.
Your choice of The Land was a brave one, because it is hard to fix something that is relatively not broken. Some of your proposals were outstanding ("Soarin'), some were unexpected but original and welcome (Fruit Basket) and some not the best choice ("Living With the (artificial animatronic)Land". You presented a well-written and complete proposal, one that considered every part of this pavilion and offered a new way of looking at it.

David L.: When I first started to read "Our Universe of Energy" I was a bit confused, because it seemed to be a very slight "variation on a theme of Ellen DeGeneres" but I soon realized that it was just using a familiar starting point to lead guests into something new and original.
"The Great Energy Adventure" is a much more comprehensive attraction than the oil-focused earlier versions of this pavilion. It would be more of an adventure and less of a ride-through diorama, and would show more types of energy available than just the fossil fuels that are so prevalent today. It is only recently that we have been so reliant on them- for thousands of years there were other sources of energy that we relied on, and that are still available if we learn how to use them efficiently. The time-travel adventure would make this attraction more entertaining for those who are not really into learning, and would keep younger children entertained if somewhat confused. I am concerned that the educational parts would be buried in the adventure parts, and that guests would be too busy looking around at the scenery and would miss the message. That is the weakness of the present attraction at Ellen's Energy Universe- riders forget the movie, look around at the dinosaurs, and don't really come away with anything other than memories of animatronic dinos and a theatre that becomes a ride vehicle. Your ride would be fun, but would be hard to focus the riders' attention on the bigger picture.
Mechanic-Energy would be an interesting idea for showing how mechanics can be converted into movement, but I am not clear how visitors would be able to understand what they are seeing. Most Scramblers are not really covered anyway, and with it spinning around it would be hard to focus on and understand how it physically is working. To most guests, it would be a flat ride, familiar to most but one that would seem a bit out-of-place in Future World.
The restaurant seemed a bit superfluous to me. It would be difficult to make a deep fryer or grill seemed exciting, and specifying that most of the food would be on the greasy side would lead to inevitable comparisons to cooking oil and motor oil. I would have liked to have a restaurant focusing on cooking with renewable fuels (wood-burning ovens, solar cooking, electricity from solar panels, etc.).
The smaller attractions section was interesting, esp. in the restrooms. I'm not sure how comfortable people would be seeing educational attractions in the bathroom, but some of the others exhibits mentioned (unsafe energy, how other organisms use energy, etc) have great potential.
Your concept of "Our Universe of Energy" was a basically good one, quite different from what is now there with a nice introduction blending the old with the new. I liked how you weren't locked into the idea that all energy comes from fossil fuels, but that you focused on a wider variety of other sources and how they are used practically in our present lives and in future needs. More detailed explanation would have made this very good proposal into a great one.

From Jeff Elliott
Posted August 5, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Chad H – Universe of Energy Pavilion– I like what you have done here and thematically, you are right on track. Instead of one attraction that is listed in the worst three attraction at the park, you have replaced it with 7 attractions. The problem is that adding quantity doesn’t necessarily make up for lack of quality. In your own write-ups you mention that you only have 1 D ticket attraction and one C-D ticket attraction, one being a centrifuge and the other a simulator. While the simulator ride might attract some guess back to this pavilion, the centrifuge ride is going to do no such thing unless it is billed as a smaller and friendlier version of Mission Space, at which point it becomes a C ticket attraction. This kills me because thematically I think you are spot on, but I keep looking for the marquis attraction that is going to form a line out the door of this pavilion and I just don’t see it here. In fact I would venture to say that if I was going to visit this pavilion, I would probably spend most of my time watching the Perpetuball machine in the atrium. I really like the breakdown of the different topics into the different floors. In fact, I like everything here, except for the huge hole caused by the missing of a headliner attraction.

Bryce McGibeny – Imagination Pavilion – I really like what you have done here. You have a single main marquis attraction that could be one of the best attraction in the park, while also opening up the second floor with a nice mix of new and refurbished attractions. While the space requirements and technology requirements are definite concerns when it comes to your Imagination Exploration attraction, we can at least pretend that it will work perfectly since the technology is not too far into the future of possibility. I like your choice of replacement movies, using Mickey is an inspired choice, since originally Epcot was designated as a Mickey free zone, but then moved back in about 10-15 years ago, but never had an attraction to call his own. I can think of about twenty different directions that movie could go, which is always the sign of a good setup. I think my only complaint, and keep in mind this is an extremely minor complaint, would be to have a bigger crowd drawing attraction up on the second floor. The reason why it was shut down in the first place was because no one knew it was there and skipped over it, if you had some sort of bigger draw to the area, it would make the other attraction prosper just a little bit better.

AJ Hummel – The Land Pavilion – You took on The Land which was going to be a little trickier, since there are things still left to do here, to include Soarin’ and what to do with a theater and a greenhouse water ride. Let me be extremely blunt here and say that I don’t see what you have done as a major improvement and probably not worth the money that you would spend on getting this done. You have added only 2 walkthrough attractions and a teacups ride, while rerouting the greenhouse boat ride out of the greenhouses and spending a ton of money on new animatronics. What you have done to Soarin’, I think is a stroke of genius, I think I would concentrate more on the places where tourists come from and feature their wonders, but the list that you have is a very good one and does have quite a few of those wonders. You mention that you wanted this pavilion’s attractions to be more than a time waster while people wait for their FastPass to mature, but I don’t think you have done that here.

David L – Our Universe of Energy Pavilion – I think it is a very strange choice to make people sit through a movie who are trying to gain access to the pavilion. If everyone went through the pavilion sequentially and experienced everything without getting out of line, then it would have been a great idea, but since some people watch the video early in the day, or have seen it before, there needs to be some way to skip the movie and still get your theme across once people make it into the main hub. Your new Great Energy Adventure is going to be a much better draw than Ellen’s Energy Adventure, but I wonder what people are going to think about old technology being brought in for a new ride. You can almost bet that the Universal folks will have an advertising campaign slamming a new ride with old technology as they open their Transformers Ride and London side of Harry Potter. That is the competition that you are going up against, and even though it fits inside Epcot very well, once you start looking at the bigger picture, it doesn’t take much to see how Universal could exploit such decisions into their favor. I would have liked to see either a bigger E ticket ride or much more support from the other attractions. I think with the money that you spent on these upgrades, I would still skip this pavilion.

From Jeff Elliott
Posted August 5, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Week 9 Results

1. Bryce McGibeny – Imagination Pavilion
2. Chad H – Universe of Energy Pavilion
3. AJ Hummel – The Land Pavilion
4. David L – Our Universe of Energy Pavilion

Once again, the three judges were unanimous on the last place.

David L, you are fired.

From Tim W
Posted August 5, 2012 at 4:14 PM
My critique will be up either tonight or tomorrow morning. Sorry for the delay due to work and power outages.

From Tim W
Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:08 AM
Chad- I thought you had the most ambitious project this week, making an entire new pavilion out of a single ride. The inclusion of multiple experience, similar to the Land, works much better and doesn’t dissuade guests from a 40 minute show. The levels clearly showed energy in multiple lights, starting with creation, leading to a further understanding of energy in our world. This revolution era makes way to the crisis section, where we have clearly overused our energy resources. The pavilion ends appropriately with the future of energy, with the Centrifuge ride that could possibly be marketed as the e ticket attraction to this pavilion. One issue I do have is an overabundance of attractions in your pavilion. It should probably contain around 3 to 4 attractions, but you have included 6, which may be a bit overwhelming for guests. I found your proposal very interesting in breaking down all these energy topics, and placing them in the pavilion to educate the guests. I think this would be a welcome addition to future world, rivaling the other multi-exhibit pavilions.

Bryce- Your pavilion seemed to be a fresh take on the hopeless Imagination pavilion. The Imagination Exploration was obviously the highlight of the pavilion, but I’m not sure how I feel about figment being pushed to second chair in the Imagination pavilion. This ride you have created is 100 times better than the current Journey into Imagination attraction, bringing in more guests for sure. The option system that you have included was a great idea for this attraction, giving guests the power of their own imagination. The scenes would easily create multiple different adventures for the guests, encouraging revisits to this attraction. The 10 different show rooms would create greater ride capacity, and lessen the wait times, as compared to Soarin. While this was my favorite part of the pavilion, I thought the other areas were quite weak, needing improvement. The Wonderworks sounded like a rehash of imageworks, which many people do not even visit now. I just fear that most people would not make the trip upstairs to visit an experience like this. I also wish we had a bit more explanation about Imagic, since all I understood was that it is a show featuring Mickey. You definitely had the best ride this week with Imagination Exploration, but I did feel the rest of the pavilion fell a little short.

AJ- I’m going to be honest, I thought the proposal was edging on predictability this week. I’m not sure that you approached this with an adventurous thought in mind, as a majority of the pavilion seemed to keep the same exact concept. Living with the Land hardly sounded like a different attraction at all, besides the greenhouse being removed, and being placed in a walking tour instead. I did think an improvement to the pavilion was the Disneynature Presents film, but I would avoid making this seem like a trailer reel. The Fruit Basket did bring some mild thrill to the pavilion, while adding another attraction to divert guests away from Soarin. I thought the concept was interesting, and would eagerly attract children. While I would personally love a Soarin over the World, I think you basically took this concept, and didn’t do much to the ride itself. You did however have an interesting choice of scenes, slightly stretching away from the rumors that are floating around for this ride. I do wish we did get some explanation as to what effects (scent, wind, etc.) would have been included. While you did make improvement to the pavilion, I thought you did take a rather safe approach this week.

David- I think this was your chance to build something spectacular for the energy pavilion, but you stuck with a new take on the current ride show, still using Ellen DeGeneres in the beginning. In reality, I thought the pavilion to be a bit of a downgrade of the current attraction. The Great Energy Adventure, while original, seemed to lack much of a connection for me. I’m not sure I would be motivated to see a ride where the story and actors are foreign to me. The use of real effects, as in the dam scene did make this show a bit better, and was a wonderful effect. Moving past the Energy Adventure, I think the inclusion of the other ride would be a welcome addition. It introduces a thrill, that might attract people more so than another long ride show. The Restaurant Efficient sounded like a great proposal, and I think it would be an excellent dinner show concept, showing how energy relates back to the food you eat. Getting to the smaller attractions, I actually found many of these to be interesting, and could have been placed on a higher scale during your proposal.

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