Since its grand opening on October 1, 1982, Epcot has changed quite a bit. From Walt Disney’s original idea for the park to what it will be at the end of its multi-year transformation, Epcot’s evolution is probably the greatest of all the Disney World parks. Along the way, several attractions have been updated to remain relevant at the park, but a lot of others have just been retired.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure
Ellen’s Energy Adventure was is operation at Epcot for 21 years, open from 1996 through 2017. In 2011, it surpassed the original Universe of Energy attraction as the longest-running version of the ride ever. The attraction, which replaced (opening day attraction?) Universe of Energy, was a funny and informative ride focused on the origins of fossil fuels. The star-studded attraction featured Ellen Degeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Alex Trebek, and Johnny Gilbert.
Housed in a traveling theater system, the unique attraction was a light-hearted lesson at energy resources, the history of energy production, and the search for new energy resources.
The journey started with an 8-minute preshow film that showed Ellen’s dream sequence. She was participating in an energy themed episode of Jeopardy competing against her old college rival Judy Peterson (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Albert Einstein. Ellen knew nothing about energy and trailed Judy terribly in the first round of the game. During the commercial break, Bill Nye offered to teach Ellen all about energy. This is where the preshow ended and the attraction began.
When entering the traveling theater, guests were seated in six sections. The seating area rotated 180 degrees to face three large movie screens. The first film of the series was a four minute animation that followed Bill and Ellen traveling back billions of years in time to watch the big bang and the formation of Earth. Eventually, they ended up in a prehistoric jungle where Bill explained the formation of fossil fuels.
After the film ended, the seats rotated 90 degrees to face a curtain that rose to reveal a primeval diorama. The theater seats moved into the diorama and broke into six vehicles to take guests on a 7-minute trek through the diorama. During this journey guests got right up close to a variety of audio-animatronic dinosaurs including an Edaphosaurus, a family of Brontosaurus, a Stegosaurus fighting an Allosaurus, an audio-animatronic Ellen fighting off an Elasmosauraus, and more.
On the way out of the diorama, the vehicles entered into a second theater where they reassembled back into the original theater structure. A 12-minute live-action film played on the giant wrap-around screens showing Bill Nye and Ellen taking an in-depth look at current and future energy resources across the country.
After the video, the screens rose and the whole seating area moved back into the original location. The two-minute finale showed Ellen back on Jeopardy using all of her new knowledge to beat Judy in round two of the game show.
The attraction closed for good on August 13, 2017. Although the closure was planned, the ride actually broke down mid-ride on its last day of operation and guests were allowed to linger in the diorama and take photos with the dinosaurs before being evacuated. The Universe of Energy pavilion is currently under construction to make way for the all-new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction set to open in 2021.
Captain EO premiered in the Magic Eye Theater at Epcot in 1986. The 3D science fiction film experience starred Michael Jackson, who was at the top of his career at the time.
The 3D movie followed Captain EO (Michael Jackson) and the crew of his spaceship on their journey to deliver a gift to the “Supreme Leader” played by Anjelica Huston. When they arrived on her planet, Captain EO and his troop of aliens were captured by the Supreme Leader’s henchmen. She ordered the crew to be turned into garbage cans and sentenced Captain EO to 100 years of torture in a dungeon.
In an attempt to “unlock the beauty” inside the Supreme Leader, Captain EO sang his song “We Are Here to Change the World” before getting taken to the dungeon. The struggle between Captain EO’s crew and Supreme Leaders cronies became a dance-filled battle that ended with EO using his power to make the Supreme Leader and her trash-filled planet beautiful.
The 17-minute movie experience featured many special effects that were cutting edge at the time, including laser impacts, smoke effects, and starfields.
Captain EO came to a close in 1994 and was replaced by “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience”. After Michael Jackson passed away in 2010, Captain EO was brought back to Epcot for a “limited engagement” and ran at the park until December 6, 2015.
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience opened on November 21, 1994 in Epcot’s Future World. The 3D show, sponsored by Kodak, replaced Captain EO. As viewers entered the Imagination Institute theater for the Inventor of the Year ceremony, they were given 3D goggles to wear for the presentation.
The ceremony, which was supposed to honor Professor Wayne Szalinski, began with the show’s crew looking for Wayne. He flew on to the stage in a transportation device called a hoverpod and the audience could see that the professor had been miniaturized. While Wayne’s wife Diane is on the hunt to find him and bring him back to the stage, their son Nick and his pet snake try to buy some time with the audience by demostrating some of his father’s inventions. After a series of mishaps and hijinks, including the entire audience getting shrunk by one of Wayne’s machines, everything was finally put back to normal and the Professor accepted his award. Just when it seemed like the show was over, Diane ran out in a panic to announce that she had accidentally turned the family dog into a humongous pet. The show ended with Wayne frantically leaving the stage to bring the dog back to normal size before he destroyed the Imagination Institute.
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience ran at the park until May 9, 2010. It was replaced by the Captain EO Tribute, that returned to the park after Michael Jackson’s passing.
Kitchen Cabaret was an opening day attraction in The Land pavilion at Epcot’s Future World. The 13-minute musical revue/comedy show starred a variety of audio-animatronic characters including the show’s host Bonnie Appetite. The concept of the show was to promote healthy eating and teach the audience about the four food groups (meat, dairy, fruits/veggies, and grains) in an entertaining way. The show’s message was delivered by way of silly original songs such as:
- “Meal Time Blues” by Bonnie Appetite
- “Chase Those (Meal Time) Blues Away” by Bonnie Appetite and The Kitchen Krackpots
- “The Stars of the Milky Way” by Dairy Goods and his Stars of the Milky Way
- “Boogie Woogie Bakery Boy” by The Cereal Sisters
- “Meat Ditties” by Hamm & Eggz
- “Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit” by Colander Combo and the Fiesta Fruit
- “Kabaret Finale” by Bonnie Appetite and the whole cast – january 3, 1994
The lovable Kitchen Kabaret characters inspired lots of Disney merchandise including coloring books, tapes and CDs, postcards, pins, and more. Even after the attraction closed in January 1994, some of the characters still popped up around Epcot. Mr. Eggz made appearances at The Astuter Computer Revue and Backstage Magic, and the Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit crew reappeared as characters at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Kitchen Kabaret was replaced by another food-inspired musical show called Food Rocks in March 1994.
In 1994, Epcot’s Spaceship Earth attraction underwent a major makeover which included replacing the post-ride exhibit Earth Station with a new interactive experience called Global Neighborhood. The renovation was the result of AT&T renewing its contract with Epcot as the attraction’s official corporate sponsor. The exhibit was remodeled with a variety of new hands-on displays that showcased AT&T’s communications abilities.
Some of the fun activities that guests could explore in Global Neighborhood included:
- Interactive Wonderland: Led by Cheshire Cat, the virtual tour of Wonderland allowed guests to watch videos, activate commands, play games, and shop by tapping on various icons.
- You Don’t Say: Explained the meaning of common idioms and how they translated to other languages.
- Communication Breakthrough: Using a virtual paddle, players would break down “walls” of communication to reveal their opponent via video link.
- Story Teller Phone: Allowed guests to choose a background before placing a call so it sounded like they were calling from somewhere else
- Ride the AT&T Network: A standing simulator that took riders through an AT&T network, “surfing the fiber-optic highway of information”. During the ride, guests would be faxed, researched, talked about, x-rayed, and watched on demand.
In 1999, the Global Neighborhood exhibit became the NEW Global Neighborhood in honor of the upcoming new millenium. The activities did not change much, but Ride the AT&T Network was replaced by the Network Tree. The tree had multiple trunks and was made of 111 miles of fiber optic cable. It had holes for guests to take their picture in, which would then be displayed on the branch televisions. The Network Tree also features a Falcon Tree Hose and a 3D experience of the new rides coming to Epcot.
Global Neighborhood closed for good in 2004 when AT&T ended its partnership with Epcot. The current post-ride experience at Spaceship Earth, called Project Tomorrow, is pretty similar to the original exhibits with modern updates.
For more Vintage Disney, check out these long-lost Animal Kingdom attractions. Check out all the fun Epcot currently has to offer AND get a sneak peek at everything coming to the park with discount Disney World tickets from Tickets2You!