Bill's Energy Adventure

We've talked a little about the weak points of both versions of this pavilion.  

The Universe of Energy was quite dry, with the dinosaurs really feeling almost like a non sequitur, only tangentially related to energy.  The sponsor model and ties into an oil company lead to a very fossil fuel centered attraction.

(speaking of non sequitur, I'm watching an episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos series, and it just stepped right into climate change.  Episode 9 if you want to chase it down)

Ellen's Energy Adventure was a step in the right direction, adding humor and updating some of the energy sources to at least pretend that it was not a fossil fuel centered pavilion.  It did however sidestep climate change in a massive way, and one that really rings hollow with what Epcot Center used to do in the past.  

So let's talk parameters here on an update.  First, we need to tackle climate change.  Second, it needs to be entertaining, engaging, and informational, leaving us to think about our part in helping to solve one of the most important puzzles in our lifetimes.  I'd like to try not to have to add onto the showbuilding, but the bonus here with this pavilion is that we actually have the space to do so if needed.

If you don't spend a good portion of your time staring at Google Maps satellite views of Epcot like I do, here's a quick reminder of what we're looking at space-wise.

Here we go.  Bigger than Wonders of Life, bigger than Mission Space.  Should be enough to work with

Once again, let me throw out the disclaimers.  If you thought my artwork on The Living Seas was bad, just wait till you see this crap.  I threw them together in just about an hour with my kid's art kit while my wife has her book club in the other room.  I really need to get myself some tools to do this better, or I have to stop subjecting you to my artwork.  Thankfully, I can't get the second picture to show up right in this blog right now, so you are spared a picture that my kid could have drawn.

This pavilion is going to have one of the more major updates in my entire series.  I do my best to work with what they've given me to try and keep things a little sane, but here we are going to have to do a gut rehab.

I mentioned this in my last post, but this update is the end of the dinosaurs.  I might just have to name this "Project Chicxulub" (named after the crater from the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs).  I think that the focus on fossil fuels need to go, and I also feel that the dinosaur section has handcuffed previous efforts to improve the pavilion in the past, having to build it's story around this trip through the diorama.  By shipping the dinosaur animatronics over to Animal Kingdom, we can improve an attraction over there or create a new one, and open up our space to any sort of new project.

I still want to keep Bill Nye involved, but I want him to be the star of the show.  Energy is a topic that can be fairly dry.  Sahara dry.  Bill Nye has the passion for the subject, and the energy and knowledge to make the topic entertaining, while still grounded in fact.  Bill should consult on the project, helping to write the script, or at least have a final cut at it.

Now, what do we do here?  We have Bill Nye, and no dinosaurs.  What does that mean?

Some of you may know about the trackless ride technology that Disney has used at some of it's overseas parks.  Mystic Manor in Hong Kong, Pooh's Hunny Hunt in Tokyo, Ratatouille in Paris.  This ride system is different than those here in the US in the fact that there is no set track.  Most rides here follow the same path time and time again, there is no variability.  The trackless system changes this by using a computer controlled system to manage the paths of the carts, and each can turn, move, and shift on different paths each and every ride.  For a good example of this in action, YouTube has some good ridethrough videos of Pooh's Hunny Hunt, and it's bright enough in there that you can see how the other cars are moving.  

I think that the trackless system gives us a few benefits here. 

  • It is not currently being used in any US park, so it has novelty
  • The unpredictable nature of the ride system will work very well in concert with Bill Nye's dynamic delivery of content
  • The hectic feel will play well with the concept of using many different sources and technologies together to solve our future energy needs, and that each one will play an important role.  A linear ride implies order.  A random ride does not.
  • It is a bit of a nod to the current ride, as the giant theater cars in the current ride is technically trackless.  It is not random, but it operates without a track

In regards to the last point, I'd also suggest making the ride cars very reminiscent to the current attraction's theater cars, only smaller.  One family sized, fitting between 4 and 6.  Visually nod to the past while moving towards the future.

Also, we should start out with a film, like currently.  Each group of ride vehicles should be moved into a film section, with Bill Nye talking about climate change.  I very specifically want this topic covered and focused on (see previous post), but I also think that it should not be the middle or the end of the ride, it should be the start.  The setup.  Bill Nye's next book is about solutions, and we should have this too.  One or two film segments should be used to show the science behind climate change, and it's impacts that we are already seeing, and those we may see in our lifetime.  Lets say a couple minutes per screen, a few screens.  Maybe we even go to 3 screens with travel time in between them so that the ride is constantly moving.

Yes, that is supposed to be Bill Nye.  I suck.

Yes, that is supposed to be Bill Nye.  I suck.

From this section, Bill moves us into the real trackless portion.  He is now introducing us to the different energy technologies that are all going to play a part in meeting our future energy needs.  Solar, Wind, Algae, Hydroelectric, Electric, Fossil, Nuclear, etc.  Each one working together in concert to create the energy that we need.  

This can really take advantage of the trackless system.  As each will play a part, we can randomly bounce between each piece.  The frantic nature of the ride matched by Bill Nye's delivery.  Talk about the technology, talk about it's limitations, talk about some interesting implementations.  Make it fun.  We should be bouncing back and forth around the room, hitting a technology, moving along.  Heck, maybe we don't hit all of them on each ride, leave some behind for a person to do a follow-up ride to get to see.

Hit the skyscrapers that are being built with algae windows or solar windows to help generate energy for the building.  Hit different windmill technologies, improvements in solar collection and battery storage technologies.  It can't be too specific, as it needs to last years, but even in generalities he should be able to make it entertaining and educational.  Hit on the concept of thinking outside the box to solve the problems, not on specific solutions themselves.  Make it specifically general if you can follow my random train of thought.

After the trackless section, we go to a final film section tying it all together.  It should be uplifting, truthful, and it should stress how we all need to play a part in this to make sure that we have a planet that is safe for our children, and that we can meet the energy needs of an exploding population.  It should leave us wanting to know more, it should leave kids thinking about energy, and it should not be something that people go into just to sleep.

The format and ride vehicles pull from Epcot past.  We have film-ride-film, just in a more entertaining and informative way.  The topic is hopefully interesting and thought provoking, and the ride system makes repeat rides something that a visitor might want to do over and over again.  We need music intertwined with motion, visuals and effects (wind blowing for the wind section, heat from the light of the "sun").  Get all portions of the brain working at once, as the more activated the brain is, the more likely the topic will resonate.

Hopefully this gives an idea on what to do on the inside of the pavilion.  Later I'll hit the outside, but that'll come with a more overall thematic change to Future Worlds landscaping.