This month, as Epcot celebrates its 30th birthday, we here at Your Highway in the Sky raise our glasses in salute! We share a fondness for this park! So, throughout the month of September, we’ll be sharing our memories, our favorites, and our love of Epcot with you, our readers. If you have special memories or favorites, we hope that you’ll add your thoughts in the comments section (or over on our Facebook page).
We’ll kick off our salute by sharing our Favorite Future World attractions . . .
Do you see that “giant ball”? Even if you’ve never been to Walt Disney World, you’re most likely familiar with this infamous structure. Its “real” name is Spaceship Earth, and it’s the icon of Epcot. But what is it really?
For starters, it’s the first thing that I remember seeing at Epcot when we made our first trip to WDW in 1988. I remember being shocked to find out that a ride/attraction was housed inside that giant ball. Seriously?!
What it really is, structurally, is an 18-story geodesic sphere. Yes, I said sphere. It’s not simply a dome – it’s a full sphere, held up by 3 sets of legs. I could go into a lot of details about the outside/covering of the sphere; but, unless you’re a mathematician, it probably wouldn’t mean much to you. Suffice it to say this – it’s magnificent to see! Ray Bradbury (science fiction author and Disney fan) helped design the structure (he also helped write the original dialog for the attraction).
As far as the attraction goes, Spaceship Earth is basically a time machine. Guests board ride vehicles for a dark ride that starts with the beginning of time. The focus is on human communication throughout the ages. Some of the scenes that you can expect to see include an Egyptian temple, a Greek math teacher, Gutenburg and his printing press, the painting of the Sistine Chapel, and the introduction of the telegraph, telephone, and radio and so much more! Here are a few of my favorite scenes:
Bell Systems sponsored Spaceship Earth until 1984, when AT&T took over the sponsorship for the next 20 years. Currently, Siemens AG sponsors the attraction.
Over the past 30 years, the attraction has had various narrators, including Vic Perrin, Walter Cronkite, and Jeremy Irons. During the most recent upgrade in 2008, Judi Dench took over as narrator/host. That upgrade also came with a new musical score by Bruce Broughton. The ending of the ride now features interactive touchscreens where the Guests can see themselves in a future that THEY create!
Upon exiting the ride, Guests enter into an area called Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future. Here, they can play games and view interactive displays showcasing the latest advances in medicine, energy management, and transportation.
While I know that lots of people bypass Spaceship Earth, it’s definitely worth a visit! Lines are generally short around mid-day, and the educational value of this attraction is well-worth your time!