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Ride / ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter

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"My dear friends, you've just witnessed a small sample of the awesome power of X-S teleportation. But wait! There's much more. Imagine if the trip were not merely the width of this room, but the breadth of a galaxy! The span of a universe! Well, imagine no more. Because soon one of you will be taking that trip. One of you will seize the future with X-S! Bon voyage!"
— S.I.R.

The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (commonly abbreviated as Alien Encounter by its fans) was a "theater-in-the-round" attraction in the Tomorrowland section of the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort and one of Imagineering's various collaborations with George Lucas. A replacement for the 18-year-old Mission to Mars, it was a darkly humorous science-fiction experience that used binaural sound to achieve many of its effects. It officially opened on June 20, 1995 as part of "New Tomorrowland" and ran until October 12, 2003. It was replaced by the now-defunct Stitch's Great Escape! in 2004.

At Tomorrowland's Interplanetary Convention Center, shady Mega-Corp X-S Tech invites you to a demonstration of their new teleportation technology, however a carnivorous alien is mistakenly beamed into the auditorium and terrorizes the audience.

The pre-show underwent two versions: The original 1994 version (December 16, 1994 to January 12, 1995) was a little more comical and featured T.O.M. 2000, voiced by Phil Hartman. Shortly afterwards, at the insistence of Michael Eisner, the show was reworked to become much darker and Tim Curry replaced Phil Hartman as the voice of T.O.M., now renamed as S.I.R. The ride was not really greatly popular during its run, considering it was an adult-oriented attraction in otherwise family-friendly Disney, but it managed to gain a cult following from a number of Disney World fans who loved the dark, sophisticated, and terrifying atmosphere, which only intensified after its Lilo & Stitch-themed successor opened and got lambasted like there was no tomorrow(land).

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter provided examples of the following tropes:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: S.I.R. suffers from this so bad.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Not only the ferocious alien that tries to eat the audience (albeit being more of a hungry and likely frightened animal than anything truly malicious), but the corrupt corporate executives of X-S Tech fit this as well.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Clearly the X-S Tech people had no trouble learning it.
  • And I Must Scream: Implied to be Skippy's final fate. S.I.R. halts his teleportation signal "indefinitely", trapping him between the two teleportation devices. It wouldn't be so bad, except Skippy's screams can be heard even after he's been disintegrated, hinting that he may be conscious during the entire ordeal.
  • Black Comedy: To balance out the more horrific elements, the show had moments of dark humor.
  • Butt-Monkey: Skippy, the cute and fuzzy little alien gets painfully teleported from one tube to another, getting fried in the process, before having the entire procedure reversed. Double ouch.
  • Captain Ersatz: The alien was originally planned to be a Xenomorph from Alien.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive Chairman L.C. Clench, no matter how much he claims to be the opposite. Spinlok is a cowardly middle-management version too.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In this case, X-S Tech has received a fair share of checks and wants more for their technology.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Alien Encounter was far more adult-oriented than most other attractions in the park, being about a blood-thirsty alien getting unleashed among an audience of guests, with the attraction even giving the illusion of it licking you.
    • Yet, it's still Lighter and Softer compared to the original story proposal by George Lucas in which X-S brings the alien in on purpose to see its destructive capabilities by using a captive audience as guinea pigs. The alien then reveals itself to be an intelligent captive and breaks the guests out of the testing facility before the scientists try gassing the entire test facility. The exit area would have featured the sounds of the alien enacting vengeance on the scientists. (At least in this one the alien ended up being on your side.)
    • The pre-show was Lighter and Softer in its 1994 incarnation: T.O.M. was just learning how to use the teleportation machine and accidentally fries Skippy. In the 1995 version, S.I.R. fries Skippy on purpose.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Even if Clench had arrived successfully to Earth, he would've had to talk to an entire audience of parents and children about the benefits of future technology, and what if the teleporter hadn't returned him to his planet?
  • The Ditz: T.O.M. in the 1994 pre-show.
  • Evil Brit: S.I.R., played by Tim Curry.
  • Fate Worse than Death: S.I.R. sends the fried Skippy through the teleportation process yet again, except this time, with just a simple push of a button he suspends the process mid transportation, permanently. Poor Skippy, while still alive is doomed to remain in the seemingly painful dissembled state at the molecular level, forever.
  • Fun with Acronyms: S.I.R. stands for "Simulated Intelligence Robotics" and T.O.M. stands for "Technobotic Oratorical Mechanism".
  • Foreshadowing: The frying of Skippy during the S.I.R. pre-show makes clear that the teleportation technology is very flawed.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The female host in the pre-show counts, played by Tyra Banks no less.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The green-skinned aliens that run X-S Tech.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Upon the arrival of the lifeform on Earth...
    Spinlock: Ladies and gentlemen, live in person, Chairman Clench!
    Femus: Uh, Spinlock, since when does Clench have wings?!
    Spinlock: Wings?
  • Lack of Empathy: S.I.R. is very indifferent to Skippy being fried by the cross-room teleporter.
    S.I.R.: Oh shut up, Scruffy, you're not burned, you've just got a healthy glow.
  • Large Ham: S.I.R.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Chairman Clench interrupts the demonstration by insisting that he be teleported to Earth, much to Dr. Femus's dismay.
  • Mega-Corp: X-S Tech are a sinister interplanetary tech company.
    Chairman Clench: I know some critics have implied that we are interested in the Earth solely for commercial reason, for profit. but I believe we have an important obligation to help less fortunate planets upgrade their technology, profit is simply a biproduct we've learned to live with.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: S.I.R., the robot that sends poor Skippy through the teleportation process. This was an Invoked Trope by the Imagineers, who wanted to warn parents this was Darker and Edgier.
  • No Indoor Voice: T.O.M. in the 1994 pre-show.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Not that an interplanetary corporation would care about Earth's OSHA, but you think they would take more care when performing cross-planet teleportation. The audience isn't even encouraged to sign release waivers.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Because half the show is in the dark, the audience mainly hears the alien's roars and thumps, as well as feeling the saliva on the back of their neck.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dr. Femus panics when he realizes that they sent a "carnivore" instead of Chairman Clench; the alien they sent is going to eat the audience. The audience soon reacts the same way when they see the alien.
  • One to Million to One: How the teleporting works, unfortunately it's far from painless.
  • Only Sane Man: Dr. Femus is the sole voice of reason in the show, first warning against rushing the teleportation demonstration, then successfully protecting the audience and killing the alien.
  • Portmantitle: Extraterrestrial + Terror = ExtraTERRORestrial. Also a Pun-Based Title.
  • Red Shirt: A mechanic is called to repair the lights, so as to trap the alien in beams. He only lasts a few minutes against the alien, and his blood "drips" onto the audience.
  • R-Rated Opening: Well, not quite R-rated, but the Black Comedy pre-show, complete with the tormenting of a poor helpless adorable alien creature, was deliberately chosen by the Imagineers to ensure that parents would take the hint and not bring their young kids into this thing.
  • Schmuck Bait: A LOT of signs were placed in line warning parents that this was not a kid-friendly attraction. Too many parents didn't listen.
  • Techno Babble: One of X-S's fields is "cryo-cybernetics" which would be ice robots...
  • Teleportation Misfire: Clench's fate - a planet crosses the teleporter's transmission path, leaving Clench stranded. The original version of the show had them find Clench at the very end, but he's left stuck in the tube when guests leave.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • How the alien gets teleported instead of Clench. A planet crosses with the beam, but the doctors decide to send the subject in anyway because it "has" to be Clench.
    • Right after they see what they summoned, and the alien has broken the glass, the scientists try to calm the audience by saying it's trapped in the tube as long as the beams stay on. Then the power goes out.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: It's often referred to as "The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter", and the definite article was used in some official Disney media featuring the attraction (such as The Walt Disney World Explorer application from The '90s), but the official title is apparently just "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter".
  • This Is No Time to Panic: Dr. Femus tells the audience not to scream because the alien will probably eat whoever is screaming the loudest. Sometimes an audience member with a good sense of humor then screams, "Take her!"
  • Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: Next time, if you're trying to sell a new product to customers, use a robot that isn't so downright evil.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Subverted with the alien itself, as this attraction is much darker in tone than the other Tomorrowland attractions.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Clench goes Leeroy Jenkins when he heads into the teleporter because he wants to meet every member of the audience and extoll XS Tech's potential benefits.
  • Weaponised Teleportation: Dr. Femus overclocks the teleporter's power to explode the alien.

Alternative Title(s): Alien Encounter