My picture threads consist of images I have taken that focus on the architecture, landscape architecture, planning, design, and theming of the facilities highlighted. They may also contain short descriptions and commentary, but will not focus on construction progress or special events or memorabilia or food selections or my traveling companions. Hopefully these threads are a good introduction for those who have not seen these places yet. All killer, no filler!
Universe of Energy, Mission: SPACE, and Test Track photographed in February 2008 and January 2010:
I have artificially subdivided the 8 pavilions of Future World at EPCOT into three threads because this land is too large to cover thoroughly with one and eight separate threads would be too many. This thread focuses on the three adjacent pavilions on the East side of the land. EPCOT is divided into two lands, Future World and World Showcase, the former being a collection of 8 pavilions that each focus on one aspect of the future. They are each housed in a large modern building (or two) with at least one major attraction (several are almost entirely one attraction); in addition, some of them feature activity galleries or a shop or restaurant. They form a roughly circular symmetric layout centered on two of the pavilions.
UNIVERSE OF ENERGY:
This is the only pavilion in Future World that is composed entirely of one attraction with no accompanying exhibit area, shop, or restaurant. It is housed in a large stepped wedge-shaped building covered mostly with mirrored surfaces and photovoltaic tiles. Inside, the 45 minute attraction is called Ellen's Energy Adventure and features a story starring several celebrities on an investigation of past and future energy sources. The first room is a wide standing area for gathering prior to the attraction; once the guests are inside, a short introduction film is projected on a wide series of screens. Then guests enter an even larger theater to be seated in a strange flat arrangement that is actually composed of 6 massive ride vehicles on a turntable. A relatively small screen is in front and begins the next short film segment, and then the theater rotates to face a much wider film segment projected on another wide series of screens. The theater rotates again, a curtain lifts, and an eerie prehistoric three-dimensional panorama is revealed. The 6 ride vehicles then separate one at a time to journey through a realistically detailed series of robotic dinosaur scenes (to illustrate the source of fosiil fuels) before rejoining each other in yet another widescreen theater. Another film segment plays, another curtain lifts, and all together the vehicles advance back into the original starting room where film segments play on the previously seen screens before the attraction ends. That is alot of movie! Despite the potentially boring subject matter, the experience of this massive moving theater and presentation is impressive.
FORMER WONDERS OF LIFE:
The next building is the shell of a former pavilion called Wonders of Life which is closed but its central interior space is used occasionally for special events.
This pavilion features a thrilling simulator ride by the same name with two different motion intensity options. It is themed to a flight training center for preparation of a journey to Mars. The exterior of the pavilion is truly futuristic and a great fit for the space flight theme; its scale and proportion and flowing details make it one of the greatest architectural achievements in the entire company's collection of buildings.
The interior of the building is nicely detailed as well; the most memorable feature is a spinning gravity simulator set next to part of the waiting area.
The ride takes place inside these small enclosed pods arranged in a circle and attached to a lifting armature for motion simulation.
Inside the simulator, guests sit at one of four individual control panels with a video screen directly in front for watching the film synchronized with the motion.
Advanced Training Lab:
After exiting the ride, another attractive gallery is reached with these interactive exhibits.
Unfortunately, Mission:SPACE's adjacent neighbor is the least attractive pavilion in the land and focuses on a theme of road vehicle testing more tailor-made for its corporate sponsor than the park. It is composed of a large circular flat-roofed building surrounded by an elevated outdoor course for the ride and fronted by a clumsy spaceframe canopy. Detailing consists of standard road signs and symbols both outdoors and inside the large queue area for the ride, filled with demonstrations of current vehicle safety testing techniques in a garage-like space. The ride of the same name is the main attraction and it is certainly thrilling and fun; 6 passenger cars are ridden through an extensive series of sets simulating various testing conditions and maneuvers before going outdoors for the fastest portion of the track which eventually curves around a steeply banked section in front of the entrance before racing back inside.
Inside Track Discovery Center:
The following exhibits are all part of the display gallery part of the pavilion.
After exiting the ride, guests walk through this weak factory reproduction.
Fuel Cell Display:
More interesting is this exhibit of actual future technology.
A nice presentation of current corporate sponsor car models, some of which appear on rotating stage sets revealed with baffled curtain walls. Too bad the concept is ill-conceived and it is a waste of space!
Just outside is a corporate sponsor soda stand; for what it is, it is perfectly matched to the theme of the adjacent pavilion.
This special events food facility sits next to Test Track on a lake that terminates this side of Future World and leads to World Showcase. The monorail circles the middle of Future World, nicely reflected here.