Spaceship Earth is not just another attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot. It’s an iconic symbol, a testament to human innovation, and a journey through time that spans from the dawn of civilization to the present day and beyond. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the history, design, and experience of Spaceship Earth, providing you with an all-in-one understanding of this incredible attraction.
Spaceship Earth is a geodesic sphere and iconic attraction at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Florida. It’s a ride that takes guests on a journey through the history of human communication, from the dawn of civilization to the present and future. The structure was inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome and the term “Spaceship Earth” which he popularized.
The History and Construction of Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth is a geodesic sphere that serves as the centerpiece of Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The structure was designed by the Wallace Floyd Design Group, with the structural designs completed by Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts. The concept of the geodesic sphere was inspired by Buckminster Fuller, who also popularized the term “Spaceship Earth” and the geodesic dome. Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury helped conceive the architectural design and wrote the original storyline for the attraction.
The construction of Spaceship Earth took 26 months to complete. It consists of two domes, one on the bottom and one on the top, with a ring in the center of the structure holding up the top dome. The bottom dome hangs down from the ring, which is made from six trusses that form a hexagonal table-like structure. The sphere is supported by six columns and an internal tower. Spaceship Earth is 180 feet tall and has 11,324 individual triangular panels on its outer layer.
The Ride Experience
Inside the sphere, guests embark on a slow-moving journey through the history of human communication and technological advances. The ride features audio-animatronic scenes, a narration by Dame Judi Dench, and an interactive post-show area called “Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future”.
The ride begins with scenes depicting the early days of human communication, such as cave paintings and the invention of language. As the ride progresses, guests witness the creation of papyrus in Ancient Egypt, the development of the alphabet by the Phoenicians, the construction of roads in Ancient Rome, and the invention of the printing press during the European Renaissance. The ride also explores the rise of machines during the Industrial Revolution and the invention of computers in the Information Age. Finally, Spaceship Earth offers a glimpse into the future of communication and human innovation.
Updates and Renovations
Since its opening in 1982, Spaceship Earth has undergone several updates and changes. The attraction has had four narrators, including Lawrence Dobkin, Walter Cronkite, Jeremy Irons, and Dame Judi Dench. The ride has also seen updates to its scenes, music, and post-ride experience.
The most recent major refurbishment took place in 2007, which introduced touch screens to the ride vehicles, new scenes, and an updated post-ride area. A complete overhaul of Spaceship Earth was announced in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the refurbishment was postponed.
Interesting Facts and Trivia
Spaceship Earth is filled with fascinating elements that make it unique. For instance, the sphere is made up of 11,324 individual triangles, and it has a built-in drainage system that collects rainwater through small holes in the surface. The collected water is then channeled into a hidden gutter system near the “equator” of the sphere and carried out to the World Showcase Lagoon.
Spaceship Earth is also home to a VIP Lounge, which was formerly used by the attraction’s sponsors and their guests. Some of the animatronics inside Spaceship Earth share face molds with figures from the Hall of Presidents attraction.
Spaceship Earth is more than just an attraction; it’s a symbol of Epcot and a testament to human innovation and communication. It offers a unique ride experience that takes guests on a journey through time, highlighting key moments in the history of communication. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a Disney veteran, Spaceship Earth is a must-see on your next trip to Epcot.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the duration of the Spaceship Earth ride?
The ride takes approximately 15 minutes from start to finish.
Is there a height requirement to ride Spaceship Earth?
No, there is no height requirement for Spaceship Earth. It’s a slow-moving ride that is suitable for all ages.
Who were the sponsors of Spaceship Earth?
Spaceship Earth has had three corporate sponsors since its opening: Bell System from 1982 to 1984, AT&T from 1984 to 2004, and Siemens from 2005 to 2017.
Is Spaceship Earth wheelchair accessible?
Yes, Spaceship Earth is accessible to guests in wheelchairs and those with mobility disabilities. However, please note that guests must transfer from their wheelchair or Electric Conveyance Vehicle (ECV) to the ride vehicle by themselves or by assistance from their party.
Can you still see Spaceship Earth during the evening?
Yes, Spaceship Earth is beautifully lit up in the evening and is a stunning sight to see after dark.