The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (often abbreviated Alien Encounter) is a former Tomorrowland "theater-in-the-round" attraction in the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort. It was a darkly humorous science-fiction experience that used binaural sound to achieve many of its effects.
A warning outside the attraction's entrance alerted guests that it was very intense; parents were recommended to not bring small children into the attraction.
It opened briefly for previews on December 16, 1994 on the site of the former Mission to Mars attraction, but was ordered closed for retooling by then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner in January 1995. It opened officially on June 20, 1995 as part of the New Tomorrowland and closed permanently on October 12, 2003. It was replaced by Stitch's Great Escape!, which uses much of the same technology and set pieces.
While the attraction was short-lived, it developed a cult following among Disney fans. Some praised it for its sophisticated tone, a sharp contrast to a lot of the attractions at Disney's theme parks.
Guests are ushered into the "Tomorrowland 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.
Next, guests proceed into a second area where an X-S robot known as the Simulated Intelligence Robotics, voiced by (Tim Curry), or S.I.R. for short, demonstrates the company's "practically painless" teleportation technology using a cute little Animatronics alien named Skippy. The creature's charred and disoriented appearance after being teleported a short distance across the room suggests that the technology is flawed.
Finally, guests are seated in harnesses within a circular chamber surrounding an enormous plastic cylinder - the "teleportation tube." Clench and two 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 change of plans cause the teleportation signal to be diverted through an unknown planet. As a result, a towering winged, carnivorous alien is beamed into the tube by mistake. 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.
During the portions of the attraction that take place in darkness, binaural sound effects suggest that the alien is moving through the chamber, menacing the guests and even devours a maintenance man. In-seat vibration, air-blasts and other effects contribute to the illusion, with the alien appearing to be breathing and at one point licking the guests. "Blood" spattering in the dark is simulated by the spraying of water.
With assistance from the two X-S Tech technicians, the ravenous alien is ultimately driven back into the broken teleportation device and destroyed. Guests are then released from their seats.