20 years ago children were introduced to a wacky and highly-enthusiastic brainiac who wanted to share his love of the scientific world with everyone. Meet Bill Nye, who started his career as a Boeing engineer, but later became a pop culture icon through hosting a ’90s-era educational show. Bill Nye the Science Guy aired around 100 episodes during its run, and the man, who sports that signature bow-tie, continues to make his mark in Disney’s world.
Here are some examples of how Bill Nye is in many ways a Disney guy.
Bill Nye the Disney Theme Park guy
Did you know that you can find Bill Nye in at least three different locations in Walt Disney World (as of the release of this article)? Well, yes, you can. Guests can watch Bill Nye in action as himself in Ellen’s Energy Adventure, one of the most underrated attractions in the resort. The ride/film, located in Epcot’s Future World, has taken guests on a wild time-travel adventure for over 17 years. Filmed in 1996, this attraction that meshes together a movie and ride stars Bill Nye alongside Ellen DeGeneres. Nye teaches DeGeneres about how energy proves vital in all areas of the world and how we progress as a society. Animatronic dinosaurs enter the picture, too, in the massive set-piece where guests ride through a primeval environment. Funny and enlightening, this 40-minute experience never ceases to entertain with its sharp humor and fun facts. Props to Bill Nye for his role in helping us all remember that brainpower is the one form of energy that will never run out. Catch Bill in action in this special appearance at Epcot in 2011, when he presented a science demonstration and answered questions from the crowd.
But Bill once had a presence in two Epcot locations simultaneously. During the late ’90s, in addition to his role in Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Nye also took shop in technology-focused Innoventions in the form of a short-lived exhibit. This was at the peak of Nye’s popularity, and both Disney and the science guy saturated the resort with his recognizable excitability. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which opened in 1998, featured Nye in the company of even more prehistoric creatures. Nye provides the narration in the queue of Dinosaur, the thrilling attraction once known as Countdown to Extinction. Additionally, guests can check out Nye in Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest indoor theme park as the host of CyberSpace Mountain, a virtual roller coaster ride. See, Nye is “virtually” everywhere in Walt Disney World. Nevertheless, he has not taken residence in Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios – yet. There is still hope.
Bill Nye the Television Guy
Indeed Bill Nye has spread his knowledge and personality across the theme parks, but television was the platform in which most young viewers were exposed to him. Each episode focused on a different topic, educating children – and likely their parents and teachers, too – on concepts ranging from magnetism to earthquakes. The material, always presented in a non-condescending manner, incorporated absurdity, interesting trivia and more than an ounce of good, old-fashioned info straight from the textbooks. Nearly each episode included a music video spoof, set to lyrics with a science spin. Forget “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” as the Nye version would be translated to “R-E-C-Y-C-L-E.” The series aired first-run episodes from 1993 – 1998 before being shown as re-runs on The Disney Channel and via home video. Yet Bill Nye the Science Guy continues to thrive 20 years after its first appearance.
Disney Educational Productions sells the episodes to teachers as DVDs to share with their students. Countless kids from the 90s develop YouTube videos where they sing or play the unforgettable theme song. Many viewers even watch old episodes once recorded on their VHS tapes. ’90s cheesiness, zingers and all, Bill Nye the Science Guy may have certain elements stuck in a decade long gone, but its charm and entertainment value knows no time. Catch Bill in action in this out-of-this-world clip.
More recently Nye returned to the Disney family by participating as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Though his dancing days were short-lived, as Nye was eliminated after only three performances, his comedic skills and personality helped him pull through the judges’ criticism. Of course, this being Bill Nye on Dancing with the Stars, the scientist injected some tongue-in-cheek into his first dance, appropriately set to the “Weird Science” song. Watch Nye cha-cha-cha his way into our hearts.
Here’s wishing that Bill Nye remains a guy in the Disney atmosphere for 20 more years to come.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom!