“Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the history of time.” A Walt Disney World classic, Spaceship Earth has entertained millions since it opened in 1982 and continues to today. The icon of the park, Spaceship Earth really represents Epcot’s original concept at its core. The icon represents the exciting possibilities that we can achieve through advancements in technology and our desire to communicate our achievements of the past and future. Spaceship Earth allows guests who are entering Epcot to walk under an icon that also represents our own planet. The 18-story geodesic sphere is one of the most recognized landmarks in all theme parks across the world. Today, the sphere is suspended off the ground allowing guests to pass under, but originally, engineers pushed to have the sphere supported on the ground itself. Imagineers knew this was not what they wanted and instead pushed the engineers to build a sphere eighteen feet off the ground, supported on three sets of double legs.
Inside the sphere is housed one of my favorite attractions at Epcot. The attraction takes you back in history through the use of time machines that allow you to take a look at the landmark moments that have made today’s communications technology possible. When creating the attraction, Imagineers had to ask, “Where did we come from? How do we get there?” From that, a script was created that is very similar to what we have today. Imagineers consulted with the academic community to identify three components: the most crucial key periods and events in world history that advanced our ability to spread communications, civilizations that made quantum leaps forward, and what people wore during the times being represented.
A crucial part of Spaceship Earth is the narration that takes place to explain the key moments that the guests are observing while traveling through time. The first voice of Spaceship Earth was televison actor Larry Dobkin from 1982 to 1986. Following that, legendary American broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite was cast as the new voice from 1986 to 1994. Next up was the voice of Jeremy Irons, who many Disney fans know as the voice of Scar in The Lion King, 1994-2007. In 2007, the narrator was once again changed and today, Dame Judy Dench who still voices the attraction.
During the 13-minute ride through history, you see various moments in history including the first cave drawings, Johannes Guttenberg’s printing press, and the first time humans experience space travel and the moon landing. The ride system itself is built on a table that is suspended one-fourth of the way up the sphere. While traveling through time, the attraction takes you up into the sphere winding its way through the various scenes until you reach one of the best at the top of the sphere. This scene creates a dramatic feel as your time machine spins around and the Earth and stars are revealed in a very glorious fashion. After this very beautiful and exciting reveal, the time machines spin backwards and you head back to “Earth”. In today’s version of the attraction, the journey back to Earth is very exciting as new technology allows you to create “your future” and the possibilities we may have as we make even newer advancements.
- Spaceship Earth is often referred to as a golf ball. If it were a golf ball it would take the person hitting the golf to be 1.2 miles tall for it to be proportional.
- In the Egyptian scene, the hieroglyphics are actual recreations of authentic representations of real hieroglyphics.
- The sphere itself is a giant draining system that collects water that hits the sphere and funnels it through a gutter system to World Showcase Lagoon. There is never any water that drops off the sphere.
Alex Larson is recent graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a huge fan of everything Disney. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, he has loved Disney since he was born. Making annual trips to Walt Disney World since the age of three, the parks have become a very special place to him. His love for the parks is due to the memories he has had, attractions, the endless things to explore, the food and the sense of happiness every Disney fan feels while there.