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Walt Disney World Resort - Epcot, Part 2

Future World, Part 2


Innoventions plaza
The Innoventions Plaza in front of The Fountain of Nations. Remarkably empty for 1pm...
If you really look at a map of Future World, it's modeled on a series of concentric circles, driven by the monorail beam which passes through Future World on its way to the Epcot Station. At the center of these circles is a fountain, called The Fountain of Nations, but it seems nobody really wants to admit to its name. Anyway, during the Grand Opening of Epcot, participants from countries around the world poured water from their home country into the fountain, symbolizing, well, something. The stage around the fountain is occasionally used for special events or shows.

Otherwise, the Fountain Of Nations hosts water jets and will dance to several tunes throughout the day and night, every 20 minutes. (The nighttime versions are worth waiting for on a non-windy night.) You can find some video here.


Epcot Map The inner circle which surrounds The Fountain of Nations has Spaceship Earth at the North end. The rest of the top-half of the circle is Innoventions, appropriately named "Innoventions East" and "Innoventions West".

Innoventions is probably the single pavilion in Epcot that tries to live up to the original Future World vision. Its ever changing displays are showcases to the latest in innovation, technology and entertainment.

Every once in a while, they have a major fail, like Habit Heroes. If you search, you'll find out why. On the other hand, all the exhibits here are relatively small and more hands-on accessible. You can take in a 3-D movie about tornadoes and how to secure your house from damage, try out Disney's latest video games, and even test drive a Segway.

Innoventions is also especially nice on those hot, humid days, since it provides a small short-cut through an air-conditioned, carpeted walk from just past Spaceship Earth on the way to Universe of Energy/Test Track or The Seas/Land pavilions...

The Southwest quarter of the inner-circle holds a character meet-and-greet, and Club Cool, a presentation by Coca-Cola which lets you sample a half-dozen popular carbonated drinks from around the world. It's always worth stopping here on a hot day if you're thirsty. Best of all, it's free. Okay, let's just say there's no additional charge. ;-) Of course, if you want a real Coke, you have to pay for it...

The Southeast quarter of the circle is a building mostly dedicated to a place named "Mouse Gear", the main Disney/Epcot merchandising store. When crowded, this place can become a madhouse. Now, when I say "main store", I mean it. There are very few places in Epcot where you can't walk for 60 seconds and arrive at a place that sells something...

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Universe of Energy

The Universe of Energy.
Epcot Map Universe Of Energy, has one attraction, and that's Ellen's Energy Adventure, starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy with appearances by Alex Trebec, Stupid Judy (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Albert Einstein (a silent Johnny Gilbert) -- playing the same game of Jeopardy since 1996. And if you try to take pictures or video, Ellen'll feed you to a dinosaur, or something like that. I'm sure it's a copyright issue.

It's a 40 minute adventure, and a rather unique one at that. However, once on the ride vehicle, you can't get off. Go to the bathroom if you need to before heading to the show. :-) The Universe of Energy Pavilion is unique in Future World, as it has no public bathrooms, nor any place to buy anything. Not even a pin or vinylmation doll... You should arrive in time to see the pre-show, else be admonished for being late, and not knowing why you're in Ellen's dream. (Yes, you're in Ellen's dream. How else could you get Albert Einstein on Jeopardy?)

The attraction is all about energy, in case you didn't get some sort of idea from the name of the pavilion or the attraction within. It follows Bill Nye leading Ellen (and the rest of us) from the Big Bang to modern day, with emphasis on the dinosaurs and prehistoric vegetation which would eventually become our primary energy source, to today's power alternatives such as solar, water, nuclear, etc. All to beat Stupid Judy after Ellen (and Al) gets smeared in the first round of Jeopardy.

The actual concept of the attraction is much like Carousel of Progress, where the audience is transported from one theater to another. However, instead of a circular ring, an audience of up to 400 to 500 guests in six massive ride vehicles moves from the one theater to another, with a (still) impressive dinosaur animatronic display between. It's the original and much less violent Dinosaur. (No, I'm not counting the Grand Canyon scene on the Disneyland Railroad.)

The attraction can accommodate two sets of ride vehicles at one time, giving Universe of Energy a throughput of around 1300 guests/hour. After one set of ride vehicles enters the dino- diorama, the second set moves from the second theater back into the main theater, where the finale (Final Jeopardy, donchaknow) is shown, and ride unload (and load) occur.

The massive vehicles move so smoothly because they're actually floating on a cushion of air. When the attraction was first built, the concrete floor was actually too porous, and the vehicles didn't "float". They had to tear out the floor and pour a denser concrete, which eventually worked. The vehicles have a self contained (battery) power source and follows a wire in the floor as they move through the building. When in the main theater, the vehicles come to a rest and charge themselves. It's all actually very impressive in action, if you're into that sort of thing...

I understand for maintenance reasons, there's a control box you can plug into the vehicles and drive it independently from the wire system. You could have time trials around the pavilion. Races. Think of the possibilities.

Universe of Energy
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Event Pavilion (nee Wonders of Life)

Epcot Map Once upon a time, there was a pavilion called "The Wonders of Life", a pavilion dedicated to the Human Body. It was originally supposed to be where the Imagination Pavilion is today, but no sponsor could be found for it. (However, Kodak was ready to go...)

It opened in 1989 with Epcot's first thrill ride, an attraction called Body Wars, a motion simulator (much like Star Tours) where you're miniaturized and injected into a human body (ala Fantastic Voyage). Stuff goes wrong, you have to go through the heart to get saved, and eventually you live happily ever after. This is Disney after all.

The other major attraction was Cranium Command. (There is video of the entire attraction, including the pre-show.) It was about a character named Buzzy, who happens to be the brain of a 12-year old kid. While Buzzy was an animatronic, all of the organs and glands were movie projections of some oddly familiar characters.

Wonders of Life's popularity slowly dropped, and the pavilion started to become a seasonal attraction, then it finally closed for good. (I've also heard there is some foundation problems due to the swampy land.) It became the last to arrive, and the first to depart.

These days, however, The Wonders of Life Pavilion has become the Event Space Pavilion, serving as meeting space and sales area for the springtime Flower and Garden show and the Autumn Food and Wine show. I suppose it could be used for other special events and a private party area for larger groups, but that seems to be reserved for World Showplace in World Showcase.

There is a rumor of a complete re-imagining of the Northeast part of Future World, razing both Universe of Energy and Wonders of Life, the two oldest pavilions on the East side. This would give Disney a considerable amount of space for something new...

Wonders Of Life
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Mission Space
Epcot Map Mission:SPACE (the ':' is silent) is the latest thrill ride in Epcot, an intense ride that simulates a mission to Mars. (Mission to Mars... Hmmm...) They simulate lift off and breaking G-Force's by spinning the ride vehicles and letting centrifugal force (think tilt-a-whirl on steroids) replace the linear acceleration you would normal feel on takeoff. What I believe they're doing is rotating the vehicle to counter the lateral forces, so it never feels like you're spinning. By manipulating the speed at which you spin (and again, the angle of the ride vehicle), it does an amazing job of simulating a craft from take-off to near weightlessness.

When the attraction first opened, I'm not sure what's more intense, the ride or the stress from reading all the signs about how intense this ride is. There's a reason I refer to this ride as Mission:Spew. (There are now "motion sickness" bags in the ride vehicles. Just don't chuck those cookies during the highest G-forces. It could be unpleasant for all involved.)

The first time I experienced this attraction, my brain was thinking "That was cool," but my legs and stomach were saying, "You did something to me, and if I ever find out what it was, you're going to pay for it..." I never got sick (however I skipped breakfast that morning specifically because I knew we were going to ride, and this was the first attraction of the day), but I can see why someone would. This is probably not a good attraction to do right after a meal. Just sayin'...

After a couple of unfortunate incidents in which guests with a pre-existing conditions died after being on the ride, Disney came up with Mission:Spayed, a tamed down version with reduced G-forces. I've been on it, and it's still provides a decent experience.

Each vehicle holds four "crew members", each of which has their own video screen. A part of the experience, each crew member is given a function to perform, which amounts to pushing a button, but under high G-forces, so you can feel the effects of higher gravity. (There is no penalty should there be less than four riders, or if a crew member can't push the button.) By the way, this is not the ride for the claustrophobic. You are in a very small, dark, enclosed space, made even smaller when the vehicle is closed.

No, it's not really called Mission:Spayed, nor Mission:Spew. The two versions are called the "Orange Team" for the intense side, and the "Green Team" for the less intense side. If you've never been on the attraction and are unsure about the experience (like you get motion sickness easily), it might be a good idea to try the Green Team side before the Orange Team side. The only real noticeable difference is the amount of G-forces you experience, so if Spayed is okay with you, then try Spew.

There is also a complete after show named, "The Advanced Training Lab", which doubles as the waiting area for those too short or those who don't wish to have their internal organs squished together. Don't forget to send your friends a video postcard...

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Test Track

Test Track
Test Track, one of the more popular attractions in Epcot
Epcot Map Soon after Universe of Energy got it's upgrade in 1996, the Imagineers set their sights on a new attraction, something that Epcot desperately needed, a thrill ride. So General Motors and Disney Imagineers got together and created an attraction based on an automotive test track, the kind automakers use to test chassis dynamics, durability, and livability over differing terrains and environments.

Thus, Test Track was born in 1999. This ride seems to break down a lot (it seems it used to be about a 25% failure rate of *something* during the ride, but got much better as time went on), but when it's all working smoothly, is a pretty cool experience. Just think of it as the world's largest slot car track. Because it is.

There's video of this attraction from walking in the door to leaving the gift shop. You can get it on my Video Page.

As of Spring 2012, the attraction had a makeover. It reopened with new themeing, but the slot car track hasn't changed.

Test Track
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End Epcot - Part 2.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9

  • 05/09/2010 - Page Updated, pictures re-imaged, pictures added
  • 07/12/2012 - Complete replacement
  • 12/31/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 09/01/2014 - Update to v3.2
  • 06/21/2015 - Rewrite and update