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Energy – A Few Of Its Faces

One of the first attractions to begin construction at EPCOT Center was the Universe of Energy. Exxon had been one of the first sponsors to sign on for Future World, and so the design of the pavilion had been locked fairly quickly. Renderings from 1977 show a concept fairly similar to the building’s final appearance in 1982; the only alternate concept that appears to have had any traction in those early days was an idea to make the pavilion a parabolic solar collection.

With its design determined so early in the process, there were few changes over the years to the pavilion’s angular appearance in park renderings. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t minor cosmetic tweaks.

This Imagineering model from 1981 shows an Energy pavilion with a very familiar shape and structure, but very different surroundings and a cool blue vibe that never made it into the actual park. There’s also a lot more water; while the final pavilion would have a triangular reflecting pool surrounding the front marquee, the pools on this model surround the pavilion and extend forward at an aggressive angle. The pools reflect the mirrored sides of the pavilion, which on the model are polished to a bright shine. On the actual building, much of the mirrored sides would be replaced by strips of colored siding.

All in all, while the show and building would be the same, the cool blues, rippling waters and polished mirrors would give this version of the pavilion a very different feeling. The lack of greenery surrounding and overwhelming the pavilion would also help get across the intent of the building’s design – the feeling of something geological, bursting from the ground. I bet it would have been awfully hot to be around on August days, though!

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9 comments to Energy – A Few Of Its Faces

  • Mark W

    “…the pools on this model surround the pavilion and extend forward at an aggressive angle.”

    Hmmmm… Pools that are aggressively angular. Perhaps the perfect pools for angular people to aggressively enjoy?

  • Oh my gosh! You cracked the code! It was pre-ordained!!!

  • Smaha

    I get kinda bummed about the approach to the UOE pavilion. Seems hidden these days, and a corner of the park nobody really has any interest in spending time in. That whole stretch with Space, Life and Energy is a giant dead zone (and hot when the low afternoon sun gets blazing). Could be a good use of dollars to try to build up that area with some pedestrian-friendly areas, retro merch and maybe some food options.

  • RO93461

    Could it be that people flow naturally toward the right side (drive and walk to the right) so those pavilions are ignored on the left? I know Emporiums are on the left as they are designed to capture you from the right as you exit the park.

  • Adam, "MarkTwain"

    That’s funny, my family and I usually walk on the left side of Main Street when leavng the park at night.

    I wonder if it has to do with guests feeling they ought to be moving “toward” through the park throughout the day, ie toward World Showcase, and moving back to Energy from Innoventions feels like regression. That might also explain why the Living Seas got overlooked for so long.

  • I think the main reason Energy feels so forgotten is that the Ellen show is about 10 years past its prime.

  • Smaha

    The whole right/left idea is an interesting one. Come to think of it, entering the park and walking to the right of SE seems to be the dominant line of path. I also imagine most will “turn right” to experience Soarin’ and the Seas before planning the rest of their day.

    I also imagine there’s little incentive to hold people in Future World towards the end of day given the heafty revenue areas in World Showcase.

    It’s just unfortunate. I love the energy (pun intended) of Tomorrowland after dark, but Future World just doesn’t have the same appeal. Can’t a guy get some neon, a place to sit, some 80s retro area music and something to munch on after the sun goes down?

  • Mark W

    Very interesting, Eddie. The left side at night thing obviously wouldn’t work in Future World because Illuminations holds people in World Showcase past closing. What’s more, Energy closes at 7pm, so even people who leave before Illuminations and go to their right on their way out wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience Energy unless they left pretty early.

    I can’t imagine Park Ops is too upset about this though – there’s no gift shop/tie-in merchandise, and the inclusion of ’90s looking Ellen, mustachioed Alex Trebek, & Bill Nye makes this one of the most embarrassingly dated attractions on property… As much as I love the ride vehicles, the primeval world tribute, and the fact that this is one of the few attractions left in Future World that attempts edutainment in any meaningful sense, it desperately needs an update.

  • Mark W

    Additional thought on updating – I believe Michael has said this before, but there are few (if any) pavilions in Epcot that are more relevant to real-world problems right now than UoE. There is so much that Disney could do with this theme. Of course, I’m sure that also makes the idea of updating this pavilion terrifying to TDO – the fact that it’s such a relevant issue that ties into politics, big business, and ongoing tragedies makes it almost impossible to tackle this topic without offending someone.

    While I doubt it’ll happen anytime soon, I’d love to see what WDI could do with the energy theme if set free.

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