UPDATE: Universe of Energy at Epcot Likely to Close Soon for Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction

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With some clarifying from inside sources, it seems likely that the Universe of Energy at Epcot will be closed to be replaced with a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.

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While we had reported that it was Mission: SPACE that would be overlaid with a Guardians of the Galaxy theme, it seems that rumor was incorrect as instead there are currently plans for a lavish update to Mission: SPACE on hold from Walt Disney Imagineering. While we can’t say much about that project yet, it seems the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction that will replace the Universe of Energy has already been approved and is moving forward.

The Universe of Energy is an original pavilion from EPCOT Center, opening in 1982 and moderately updated to Ellen’s Energy Adventure in 1996. While the 1996 refurbishment changed the music and most film portions of the ride, it otherwise has remained very similar to the original attraction and has been enjoyed by Epcot guests for nearly 34 years now. Barring some unforeseen complications, it is likely the building will be gutted or demolished and replaced with a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.

Rumors indicate that Bob Chapek, the new chairman at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was key in the decision. Chapek spent 3.5  years in charge of Disney Consumer Products, but this is his first role in the Parks and Resorts division of the company.

The Universe of Energy could close as soon as the Fall of 2016, but Disney has made no announcement of any closure as of yet.

Stay tuned for any further developments should they become available.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.

100 Comments

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  • Update attractions? Sure.

    But why will Disney not cater to its die hard fans who want a future-themed park that’s an ongoing showcase of the awesomeness and optimism of tomorrow? Disney is going exactly in the wrong direction with this.

    • I completely agree, they need to create another thrill ride, that might have an underlying message, that isn’t connected to a film(test track and Soarin’ for examples). Some films work in Epcot, like Nemo, whereas Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t fit in Epcot at all. If they could theme a roller coaster well, then that would be great, but very difficult to do in Epcot.

  • While I agree that this ride needs an update, and I love Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t see how this fits into EPCOT. I know Nemo and Frozen are there too, but they more or less fit the theme of the places they are. This just seems weird.

    • On one hand, it doesn’t seem educational but on the other hand, it could be a possibility of what life in space might be like…similar to that specific ending of Spaceship Earth where you might have space tourism. Then, you have Peter”s Walkman which teaches history similar to the Papyrus or PC lesson in Spaceship Earth!
      I agree with Tomorrowland…if we don’t give kids a positive future to hold onto, how are they going to be excited about it? What’s going to inspire them to CREATE that future for themselves?
      That was the whole point of EPCOT, that we could start making that tomorrow for ourselves TODAY.

  • The EPCOT that was is fading away, but I’m excited about its future – if IPs can give it a relevance injection, full steam ahead. In my eyes, the only untouchable attraction in Future World for a while has been Spaceship Earth, and it’s not going anywhere. So bring on the E-ticket injections – the park needs it, and WDW in general needs it. This is an overdue mercy killing for U of E – it served us well for a looooooooooooong time. “Indiana…. let it go”

  • I don’t give one hoot where the imagineers choose to put a new attraction as long as it’s entertaining and worth a few repeat visits. All the whinging and whining about what does and does not belong in a wholly imagined environment is intellectually ludicrous! Don’t even get me started on how “educational” Epcot supposedly was or is…

    • EPCOT Center (pre ~1994) was chock full of edutainment, but has since been dumbed down over the years to the stale park we see today. GotG would be a great idea for a fun ride. Just not in EPCOT, it doesn’t belong.

  • I agree this ride needs some attention (as does future world as a whole), but this feels all wrong. If Disney feels compelled to wedge another movie property into EPCOT, I’d prefer to see the Tron coaster.

  • It’s a huge building. What do they have in mind? I would hate it to be another simulator ride. Must be a fun E-Ticket dark ride. I wonder how they will get away with putting Marvel in Epcot.

    • GotG is exempt from the universal contract. Thats why they were able to have a Starlord meet and dance party when the movie came out.

      • Disney and Universal would have to agree that Guardians of the Galaxy is excluded. Otherwise, the lawsuit will be big and Disney will lose. Guardians of the Galaxy was not mentioned in the contract. Only the Star-Lord and Gamora characters appeared at the meet and greet and it appears they didn’t use the Guardians of the Galaxy brand to sell the event. Disney is on the edge of breaking their agreement.

        • Your just wrong..why write something when u clearly have no clue..Disney owns all right to GotG worldwide and can do as they wish..

          • You have no clue. “Any character who is only used as a costume character will not be considered to be “being used by MCA” unless it appears as more than an incidental element in MCA’s marketing.”

            That’s why Disney can do the Guardians meet and greet.

  • Judging by how slow Disney takes to create a parking garage, this ride probably won’t be done for 4 years. Look how long it took for them to repackage Maelstrom with Frozen wrapping paper.

  • I think the essence of Epcot is being lost. First, they make Frozen the star attraction of Norway – which should be in MK – because the ride doesn’t teach me about the country. I’m ok with Agent P’s missions for kids & characters making appearances in the lands (representing those lands) but Frozen is complete fantasy.

    If the Guardians were to teach us about Energy or provide some other optimistic view of the future, it could work but to give them an attraction because they’re popular right now? Really shows Chapek’s colors from consumer products. He needs to sit down & learn what Epcot is meant to be.

    Otherwise, stick Guardians in Hollywood Studios with the other movies.

  • Have they never considered using Wall-E at Epcot? Good IP as well as thematic unity with the park concept of science and environment.

    • Wall-E for the land id say. The lands ‘lecture style’ ride on plants and agriculture is not that great. Wall-E is about keeping that plant alive to show we can habit the earth once again. If Wall-E promotes being green, planting trees and recycling and other environmental issues with say the captain of the axiom to provide the wording, id watch that.

      • What’s good about Epcot is that nearly all rides aren’t based on films. The Living Lands ride is enjoyed by everyone, it is interesting, and a break. Epcot shouldn’t have many rides based on films.

  • love the change… but why cant they do it in body wars? have a whole pavillion sitting empty just rotting. Soon Body wars is going to be the next river country.

    • To extend on the rumor I have heard that if the ride proves popular they will expand it into body wars a la Toy Story Mania. Not sure what that means since we have no idea what the ride is but just putting down what I’ve heard :)

  • They are turning a teaching and learning park into the Magic Kingdom II. EPCOT was supposed to be showing us the past, present and future. Disney is hitting a dull, can’t think of something new like before Eisner was CEO. This October trip maybe our last for a while.

    • Magic Kingdom gets about 9 million more visitors each year than Epcot, so they should make it more like their first park.

      Kids don’t want to walk around attraction less pavilions that have just restaurants and stores. The only entertainment they can get from Germany, Italy and Morocco is seeing adults get wasted on beer and wine and acting like fools.

  • look people what in the world are you negative people talking about. EPCOT does not mean a place for old people to go and relax. Gardens of the galaxy is in freaking space!!! how much more do you need for a world of tomorrow. EPCOT needs some changes. The place has not changed much since I was 8. EPCOT needs TRON and Gardens of the galaxy. These with test track and a Ratatouille ride in France will make this park really cool. Just think into the future when star wars land & toy story land is done. Along with Avatar Disney world will be incredible. Some of these rides that are over seas need to come to Disney World. Lets put something in the body wars pavilion and we really have a cool place to go!!!!!!

  • There comes a point in time where some of the attractions just need updated or demolished Disney is coming to the realization of what works and what doesn’t and having a ride that half the people that go in the park don’t even acknowledge compared to a ride that will bring in more people and will be a staple for the park is a huge step in the right direction. Well done EPCOT!!!

  • Universe of Energy was the ride that made me fall in love with EPCOT when I was young. It’s still the attraction that captures a young mind’s imagination that it was in 1982. And educational to boot. Terrible decision; now kids will get an attraction that not only lacks the ability to inspire the imagination but will encourage educational regress. Why don’t we just call this the beginnin of EPCOT’s transformation into Universal Studios?

  • Unless they cut a deal with universal this is all bunk. The contract states no marvel properties can be used as rides in any theme parks east of the Mississippi. That’s why the avengers monorail was on the magic kingdom line instead of Epcot since it physically goes into Epcot. There have been rumors that Disney is trying to make a deal to get the rights but that hasn’t happened. And since they just remodeled the hulk coaster don’t expect it soon.

    • It did say there was approval already and has not yet been officially announced by the Walt Disney Company so I think something in the contract may have changed

      • GotG is exempt from the universal contract. Thats why they were able to have a Starlord meet and dance party when the movie came out, at DHS.

        • Disney and Universal would have to agree that Guardians of the Galaxy is excluded. Otherwise, the lawsuit will be big and Disney will lose. Guardians of the Galaxy was not mentioned in the contract. Only the Star-Lord and Gamora characters appeared at the meet and greet and it appears they didn’t use the Guardians of the Galaxy brand to sell the event. Disney is on the edge of breaking their agreement.

    • The contract states that no Marvel property that is FEATURED at Universal can be used. The Avengers are featured at Universal so the monorail could not enter the park. Guardians is NOT featured at Universal so it can be used at WDW.

      • The contract also states that absolutely NO attraction based on a Marvel IP can be built within 60 miles of Islands Of Adventure (regardless if Universal has the character rights), and no Marvel based IP attraction can be advertised in any manner 300 miles of IOA, to include national marketing that can been seen in the 300 miles zone. So even if Disney could build the attraction in WDW, they couldn’t advertise it at all… Which would defeat the purpose. So no, it’s not as cut and dry as you seem to want to make it Brian.

        • You may want to read the contract again. The 60 mile restriction applies to specific things like simulator rides. And as for the advertising restriction: ” regional (i.e. covering a multi-state geographic region) or national television or print media buys, or brochures WOULD NOT BE PROHIBITED within such 300 mile radius. “

  • From what I heard the contract states characters who aren’t Spider-Man, X-Men, or Avengers/Fantastic Four and a few others sprinkled in. Guardians of the Galaxy were one of the few that they could use mainly because they weren’t really well known at the time the contract was drafted up.

    • The contract says the characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are part of the agreement. The issue is whether making a movie with the label Marvel brings the characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think this is a gray area, which if litigated, Disney will lose big. Recent new Marvel movies include Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and Big Hero 6. These were once mere comic books and now have been produced into movies. Ant-Man was also seen in the last Marvel Captain America Civil War movie, thus the link to the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t a theory anymore. It is the reality. There are rumors that Guardians of the Galaxy will join Avengers in a Marvel sequel. Thus, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded greatly.

      I would think Disney will try to negotiate with Universal to exclude certain characters like Guardians of the Galaxy and Big Hero 6 to eliminate the gray areas, but there will be a price ($$$) and enforcement mechanisms. Universal won’t just fold without assurances that they won’t be tricked and have a way to sue to roll the agreement back. It might be too late to exclude Ant-Man, but who knows… Just more money to pay Universal. The other route is just make attractions of the comic book characters that were never in a movie. Or make a television or animated show for cable or network broadcast. I love Daredevil and seen Jessica Jones on Netflix. Unfortunately, Daredevil, Electra, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones are too dark to be made into a theme park attraction.

        • The Marvel Universe includes the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They come from the same source. To suggest Guardians is somehow separate despite marketing best attempt is naive. Disney/Marvel fully intend a crossover with Avengers and Guardians to make Universal’s claim to exclusivity.

          • Guardians is separate in the sense that they are not being used by Universal and thus can be used at WDW. See below

            After such 2 year period, MCA’s exclusive rights will be subject to “shrinkage” or “expansion” as follows:

            1. If no action is taken by MCA, such exclusivity shall be limited as follows:

            i. East of The Mississippi – any other theme park is limited to using characters not currently being used by MCA at the time such other license is granted.

          • Featuring characters in a crossover movie would have no effect on the contract. They have crossed over hundreds of times in the source material (the comics) and it has not changed the contract.

  • If one thinks Epcot was ever “educational” I’d really hate to see what they think a good school looks like. No wonder the state of intellect and true education in our country is lacking.

    It’s a theme park, people. It’s entertainment, not a university. Who cares what they turn it into? If you don’t like it, stop wasting money on it.

  • I am deeply saddened by this news. I have always loved this ride, its funny, educational, and it’s a great way to get some rest after a long hot day in the park. A petition should be started to make this not happen. Please, Disney put the GOG at one of the other parks. Keep EPCOT more educational. Universe of Energy is an iconic EPCOT ride.

  • It is actually Spaceship Earth that will become a Guardians of the Galaxy ride. Universe of Energy will become an undisclosed Marvel/Netflix CU attraction featuring Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist.

  • Watch Walt Disney’s original concept presentation for EPCOT and you will understand why tbis does not fit in the with overall vision of the park. Stay the course and add pavilions that are forward thinking and can modernize the world. That’s what EPCOT is.

  • Universal has rights for the avengers characters…so in 2018 when the next avengers movie comes out and guardians become a part of the avengers, then what does that mean for this attraction? Did they strike a deal with universal already?

  • We have Annual Passes specifically to go to EPCOT. MK is fun, but we enjoy the educational branding of EPCOT, and Ellen’s/Universe of Energy is among our favorites.

    Yes, the location and shorter hours make Energy less popular. If they put a big, animated (mechanical) dinosaur out in front, as a preview of what’s inside — instead of Energy looking like a bland office building — that update would certainly increase visitors.

    I hate to see EPCOT lose its branding. Yes, it has been slipping away, but if I want semi-educational (maybe) attractions based on trending, pop culture icons, I’ll go to Universal.

  • I always hoped for a Wall-e attraction here. It could have, like the film, educated about looking after our planet, and renewable energy sources/an eco-friendly earth, whilst carrying the wall-e IP. Would have been perfect, especially for epcot. meh

  • The original vision for Walt’s EPCOT was a city of the future. Well that idea passed when he did. When EPCOT Center opened it was the 80s, future technology and learning was a grand idea and it really worked well. That concept has been gone for many years. The Seas has a few tanks and a few blurbs about fish. Soarin’ teaches you that this is NOT what it is like on a hang glider. Test Track has become Tron Track. Mission Space is based on the Disney movie Mission to Mars. Living with the Land is kinda educational but only if you take the behind the seeds tour. Journey into Imagination is a shell of itself and doesn’t really get any message across of imagination. Spaceship Earth teaches us our ABCs. Energy is about outdated methods of producing energy.

    The park is gone. At this point I will take whatever I can get to add life into this park. Sorry, refurbishing this to be more up to date is not going to interest too many kids. The technology at our fingertips is why EPCOT has lost its vision. It was a different world in the 80s, most kids don’t want edutainment anymore, I know some do, but not on the average. They have iPads/iPhones in their faces playing mindless games, they don’t want a bunch of fruit and vegetables telling them how to eat. EPCOT Center will always be the home of some of my best memories, but nothing is left from my childhood except for Spaceship Earth. Maybe I’ll get to take my kids on that someday if it is still around but if not, I’ll deal with that. This park needs life, if they have to close it for 2 years to redo everything I’d be fine with that too. Sorry the EPCOT of old is gone, but in case you missed it, it left us a long time ago.

  • Sad…

    Although this ride is dated and obsolete, it was a classic.

    One of the first rides I ever rode my first trip to Disney when I was 5 years old…. 28 years ago.

  • Epcot purists hate it. The average park guest loves it. People will complain. Others will tell them to get over it. Guess what, that’s the story of Disney. You can’t please everyone. Enjoy it while it last

  • I can tell that this Bob Chapek is not Disney Legend material. Instead of acting pessimistic and do nothing about all this, can’t we try to do something and convince the park people why this isn’t such a good idea? It doesn’t hurt to try something.

  • WDW can use GOTG because none of their images or use are at Universal AND as you may notice on these rumor pictures, it cannot use MARVEL in titles. That is specifically in the contract. This is why any Avengers currently cannot be used but if in the future Marvel adds to the “family” they can. If there is no corresponding use at Universal and not part of a “family” of characters, it can be used. There may be possible litigation, as anyone can sue for anything, but WDC has a good chance of winning this one.

  • I would rather get a Wall-E attraction, but anythings better than Ellen’s Energy. My family only does it once every 5 or so vacations. Unless it’s really scorching hot outside.

  • well I guess the marvel fanboys will be happy about this. I couldn’t care less about Marvel and whether it’s apart of Disney or not. If it comes into the parks I won’t go on it.

  • I don’t believe this possible due to universal having the rights to marvel in the parks east of the Mississippi.

  • Seems much more appropriate to have at Hollywood Studios, you know, since it has to do with Hollywood and all…

  • A wise man once said “Around here we don’t look backwards very long, we keep moving forward”. You people should bear that in mind before you start casting aspersions on what Walt Disney himself would think about the direction of EPCOT. Also, if you want to get an opinion this ride you should ask Bill Nye. He probably loses his mind when people mention this ride to him as it paints him as a shill for the oil companies and these days he’s a global warming whacko. Ellen is probably similarly dismayed at being portrayed as a mouth piece of “evil big oil”. By the way, if you think your little petition to stop this change will affect anything I suggest you ask Mr. Toad.

  • This could be cool. I’m a big Guardians fan, I just hope that they figure out someway to make it fit in future world. There should be some aspect of it that makes it fit there better than Studios or the Magic Kingdom. I kind of agree with the comments saying that this — or — anything — should be put into the body wars building.

  • A Guardians ride would be cool at Epcot. Comic book superheroes are basically the most talked about and have become so popular among kids and adults. GOTG is also futuristic. However, I never really liked Universe of Energy. It was always a snooze-fest for me. But the thing is, it is very educational. However, it’s very, very outdated. I think it needs to be updated. If GOTG were to be there, I wouldn’t be sad nor happy. Replace the old Wonders of Life pavilion. It’s only open seasonally and it’s barely used. Another ideal place to put it at is in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom. It fits perfectly there. Get ride of the Stich ride. As much as I love Stitch, his ride isn’t all that great.
    I do think Disney really needs to improve with the mindset of Epcot. Needs more “future” factor.

  • I have to agree – more rides are needed to energize Epcot’s attendance numbers.

    Oh yeah – I…HATE…ELLEN !!! I haven’t been on Universe of Energy since Ellen ruined it – her screechy voice alone would prevent me from sleeping through the ride (she sounds too much like Hillary Clinton). If GotG has licensing issues, how about Tron – or WALL-E – or keep the same ride with Ludwig Von Drake instead of Ellen (we haven’t seen much of Ludwig Von Drake for a while). ANYTHING is better than Ellen. She makes me sick.

    The original EPCOT (all caps) – Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – died with Walter Elias Disney. Roy Disney decided that EPCOT was Walt’s baby, and he did not feel comfortable administrating over an entire city. After Walt died, the Imaginers were split – some wanted an international world showcase, and some wanted an educational showcase. In the end, they used both ideas to create today’s Epcot (only one cap), a theme park with a literal split personality. I would have stuck with a MUCH larger world showcase, if it were up to me.

    Epcot is the “adult” Disney theme park, overflowing with shops, restaurants, adult beverages – and not many rides. The “Frozen” makeover will bring in the little princesses for a while. The Mexican boat ride REALLY needs a total makeover – it shows it’s age badly. England needs a ride (Beatles Yellow Submarine ride)? For France and Scotland – nothing. I hated both Ratatouille and Brave. They deserve their place in the bargain DVD bin. Japan – a Big Hero 6 ride would be very cool. Canada – lose Martin Short and get a theatre with…SEATS !

    Finally – lean on Coke-Cola to get them to bring back Smart Watermelon Soda – and have Smart 6 packs available for retail sale. Smart Watermelon isn’t available for resale in the US – I tried to find it online. You can replace Beverly soda with…well…anything ! More Beverly is thrown away than is consumed – though it’s fun to watch kids try it for the first time (heh, heh, heh – my evil laugh).

    I will be back again this fall for the Epcot food and wine festival. The kids can stand around with only a few rides to ride, while watching the adults around them get drunk. I told you that Epcot is the adult Disney theme park. You may want to take the little pirates and princesses to Magic Kingdom instead of Epcot while the Food and Wine Fest is operating.

  • Update? Yes guardians? No. how would they do it anyway doesn’t universal have something where Disney can’t put anything in flordia with marvel

  • The bottom line is adding attractions that would normally be for MK is a necessary evil. The Disney company has to do something to alleviate the over crowding of MK. It might not fit but is needed to attract families to the other parks.

  • I was at EPCOT for my senor class trip in 1982 and loved U of E. I enjoyed Ellen’s version of it too. I just returned last week after a decade. I enjoyed the nostalgia of U of E BUT….there was maybe 20 people in there, mid day, late August. There was not even a single laugh at the Ellen and BIll banter or the whole Jeopardy thing. While I still love the thing, the world has changed. These attractions cost 100M or more back then BUT…tech changes quickly now a days…you can’t go spending that kind of money every few years and people are getting harder to impress. WDW has a problem here and I am not sure they know how to handle it. To be honest, most EPCOT rides had no wait except TEST TRACK….which offers no education at all….Oh and FROZEN, which was simply a re-imaging of an existing ride using the same boat and track etc,….likely at minimal cost. This is the future of EPCOT I would guess. However, Disney is being short sigthted with GotG…I know the film made some money but to be honest I know few people who have seen it or know what it is about. If the next movie flops…Uh Oh. I think WDW should also be skeptical off the Avatar land they are building…no one seems to have a clue what that flick was about either..or even seems excited over it. It does seems WDW was lucky the new Star Wars was a smash…since it seems half the holywood studios is going Star Wars…lets see where that takes them over the next decade though…whats that they say about putting all your apples in one basket?

  • This breaks my heart. My grandfather was one of the designers of this ride, and it’s one of his last legacies left. He was so proud of it. I really hope I can make it there to ride it one last time in his honor before it closes.

  • Apparently the people involved in this decision went to rhe same marketung school as the ones who wanted to chane the original Figment. We know how that turned out!

  • I always loved this ride, been going since EPCOT first opened. Yes, a change may be in order, but can we please keep it in the same building!?

  • Ellen’s universe of energy is still one of my favorite attractions. It’s so nice to cool off and take a break and enjoy a long wonderful attraction at WDW. I’m glad my grandson got to experience it before it goes away. Thank you Ellen and Walt Disney for wonderful memories!

  • A GotG ride at Epcot wouldn’t work, they need to create another thrill ride, that might have an underlying message, that isn’t connected to a film(test track and Soarin’ for examples). Some films work in Epcot, like Nemo, whereas Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t fit in Epcot at all. If they could theme a roller coaster well, then that would be great, but very difficult to do in Epcot, a Time Racers roller coaster could work(a launched roller coaster that travels through time and goes through scenes from different time eras, much like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, maybe a bit more tame than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster though)