ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter is a "theater-in-the-round" attraction in the The Galaxy section of the DisneyQuest indoor themepark at Disney Universe Resort.
The queue winds through a futuristic facility.
Guests are ushered into the "Interplanetary Convention Center" for a demonstration of new technology from an alien corporation known as X-S Tech. The company's chairman, L.C. Clench (Jeffrey Jones), sets the attraction's subtly sinister tone with a pre-show welcome that includes his corporate philosophy, "If something can't be done with X-S [excess], then it shouldn't be done at all."
Before the start of the pre-show, the television monitors describe other events taking place at the Interplanetary Convention Center, including "The Chamber of Commerce presents 'X-S Tech'", "Mission to Mars: History or Hoax", "Championship Pet Show", and "The Walt Disney Company's Pan Galactic Stock Holders Meeting" featuring a holographic transmission from "Lunar Disneyland—The Happiest Place Off Earth".
Guests proceed into a second area where they are introduced to an X-S robot known as Simulated Intelligence Robotics, or S.I.R. for short. He proceeds to demonstrate the company's "practically painless" teleportation technology using a cute little (animatronic) alien named Skippy. The creature's charred and disoriented appearance after being teleported a short distance across the room suggests the technology is flawed. While teleporting Skippy back across the room, S.I.R. pauses the process, demonstrating how the technology can be used to suspend subjects in teleportation indefinitely.
Finally, guests are seated in harnesses within a circular chamber surrounding an enormous plastic cylinder, the "teleportation tube." Clench and two bumbling X-S Tech employees, Spinlok (Kevin Pollak) and Dr. Femus (Kathy Najimy), communicate "live" from across the galaxy via video screens. Initially, a single guest is to be teleported out of the chamber for a meeting with Clench. Instead, Clench is "seized" by inspiration and decides to have himself teleported into the chamber to meet the entire group.
Clench's impatience and the unexpected change of plans cause the teleportation signal to be diverted through an unknown planet. As a result; a towering, winged and carnivorous alien is beamed into the tube by mistake, as chaos and confusion ensue and the technicians panic. The creature quickly escapes, however, as intermittent darkness and flashes of light reveal the shattered and empty teleportation tube. A power outage then plunges the chamber into total darkness as guests sit helplessly restrained in their seats. A maintenance worker attempts to restore the power, but is mauled as the alien's shrieks resound throughout the room and a spray of fluid flies out into the audience hitting the guests' faces. After the spray of fluid, the guests feel their seats rumble and shake as the alien makes its way swiftly through the crowd, during which time the guests also feel the "breath" of the alien on the back of their necks and drool dripping from its mouth.
The power finally comes back, and with assistance from the two X-S Tech technicians, the ravenous alien is ultimately driven back into the broken teleportation device, but overpowering the tube causes the alien to explode right before the tube closes. Guests are then released from their seats while the two technicians bid them goodbye and resume their search for the misplaced Clench. On the way out, guests can see the sign "What a Way to Go" and are wished "a nice tomorrow."
Alien Encounter takes place in total darkness while the attraction operates on the guests' non-visual senses. Most of the effects came from individual units mounted on the shoulder restraints behind audience members' heads. The most common effects were binaural cues which came from the highly separated speakers arranged next to each ear. These speakers bolstered many of the other effects with foley, creating unique effects like positional audio from the monster, and created general atmospherics to keep the audience tense, including the murmuring and screams of other audience members, pink noise, and heartbeats. The theater's circular design allowed these positional audio effects to be particularly effective, as it prevented individual guests from perceiving that their experiences were not unique.
Binaural sound effects and moving shoulder restraints suggest that the alien is moving through the chamber above the audience. When the alien was meant to be traveling on the far side of the room, "several banks of 1,800-watt-per-channel servo-driven subwoofers" and transducers mounted in the seats made pounding vibrations meant to simulate the footsteps of a powerful monster. Warm moistened air was used gently, to simulate the alien breathing down your neck; and forcefully, to induce a more acute reaction from the audience. Water sprinklers and air blasters mounted in the row in front (like the ones used in Disney's "4D" movie theaters) were used to simulate the dripping of either the creature's drool or blood from an attacked worker in the scaffolding above the theater (played by a cast member carrying a flashlight using pre-recorded dialog) and to simulate the explosion of the monster in the finale when the blast shield does not close in time. Soft textile tubes had air blown through them, causing them to slap against the back of the head of the audience member. This was the most direct physical effect, used in conjunction with the hot air blowers and olfactory emitters to suggest the alien's tongue was licking the audience member's head.
During lighted segments, the show used lasers, rear-projected screens, and audio animatronics for the alien, S.I.R., and Skippy (both normal and deformed).
- Saftey Restraint: Harness
- This is a version of the defunct ride at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.