25 May 2017

The Gift of Energy

The Universe of Energy has been active in the news and rumor mill for a couple of weeks now, but today I want to venture back to the dawn of the attraction. I want to talk not only about its first incarnation, but specifically about the show elements highlighted in the exterior and the pre-show theater before guests into the main traveling theaters. While I could ramble through this for a bit, the best explanation of these elements, to my mind, still comes from the guides given to Cast Members during those early years. So, we’ll turn you over to the folks at EPCOT Center for a bit.

“The Universe of Energy experience begins with our first glimpse of the building’s exterior. Its dynamic shape is itself an expression of energy. A wedge-shaped structure with the apex of its enormous triangle tilted toward the ground, it appears to be simultaneously rising out of the earth and driving into it.
“Warm bands of color, symbolic of radiating heat, alternate along its sides. As we approach we notice that this slanting roof glistens with a blanket of solar panels.
“The mammoth array of photovoltaic cells faces the sun, drawing in its energy and converting it into electrical current. This combination of the functional and the aesthetic is a subliminal statement of the pavilion’s overall theme; that by exploring and developing alternative energy sources we can build an energy-bridge to a better tomorrow.
“As we near the apex we notice a separate structure standing in front of the main building. Its mirrored surface reflects the images of rippling water from a pool below – the reflections seem to suggest energy in motion. Beyond the reflecting pool is the main entrance. 
“Our exploration of Universe of Energy begins with a kinetic multi-image pre-show entitled ‘Energy, You Make The World Go Round.’
“Emil Radok, an accomplished Czechoslovakian filmmaker/artist designed the long ‘magical’ screen situated above the queue area. Five 35mm motion picture projectors cast rapidly changing images onto 100 separate three-foot square sections of the screen. These screen sections, controlled by a microprocessor, rotate in sync with the projected images, exposing a black side, a projected surface, or a combination of both. The effect transforms the flat film images into a three-dimensional, moving mosaic as dynamic as energy itself. 
“The eight minutes of imagery serves as an ‘Energy Primer’ and an introduction to the Energy Story. It begins with designs representing the elemental forms of energy. Atoms and crystals whirl around the screen. Galaxies form… lightning bolts flash… life begins… humankind appears on the scene.
“From primitive man to modern man the show reveals the techniques we have learned in order to control energy, and portrays the dramatic advances of civilization motivated by this powerful knowledge. As the presentation ends we are reminded that sooner or later fossil fuels, our present energy source, will not satisfy the worlds growing energy demands. Only by continuing to expand our knowledge and understanding of the many ‘faces’ of energy can we build a more secure energy future.”

The bands of color along the outside of the building were changed when the attraction was transformed into Ellen’s Energy Adventure. However, the original radiating heat coloration was returned in 2009. The mirrored mosaic, along with the entry hallway’s mural depicting the sun and its heat waves, dinosaur topiaries, the solar array at the top of structure, and the rotating film panels made the guests’ introduction to the Universe of Energy something special. As with most things EPCOT Center, those early glimpses and reveals left a mark on many of us that continues to shape how we view the park and its pavilions to this day.

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