Spaceship Earth

Watch the on-ride POV
Spaceship Earth
Location Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
Coordinates 28°22′31″N 81°32′58″W / 28.375278°N 81.549444°W / 28.375278; -81.549444
Showman / operator Bell System (1982-1984) AT&T (1985-2004) Siemens (2005-2017)
Park section World Celebration (Formerly Future world, but not a specific side)
Status Operating since October 1, 1982
Theme Looking back to the past, history of communication, the future
Designer / calculations WED Enterprises
Capacity 32 vehicles seating 4 guests each
Hourly capacity 2,400
Height 180 feet
Diameter 165 feet
Track length 1,525 feet
Animatronics 65

Spaceship Earth is an omnimover Dark Ride located at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA. Built inside of a geodesic dome, the ride is an educational journey through the origins of communication, and the ramifications of communication in the future. The ride opened with the park on October 1, 1982, and has been through 3 different sponsorships throughout the years, with different narrators each time. The ride is the main attraction of the park.


When Walt Disney died in 1966, the company at the time did not know what to do with the EPCOT Project now that Disney wasn't there to guide the project. The project was overtime converted to become a theme park about man's achievements and the countries of the world, which is how the park would be built today. Fast forward to the late 1970s when the park was in the concept stages, they needed a ride to anchor the entrance to the park.

They settled on a one-of-a-kind geodesic sphere, which inside would contain a dark ride about human communication and its history. The structure of the ride was designed with the help of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who also helped write the original story. The term, "Spaceship Earth', popularized by Buckminster Fuller, was selected as the ride's name. In 1979, the park, along with its other attractions, including Spaceship Earth, began construction. It was during this time that Bell System was chosen as the ride sponsor and operator.

Construction took 26 months to complete the sphere. Extending upwards from the table held up the geodesic sphere where small "quadropod" structures holding a steel skeleton shell, with support beams facing away from the skeleton shells. There was also a special walkway built incase maintenance needed to be done on the attraction itself or the exterior. The steel was welded together and done via early computer designing technologies.

Spaceship Earth, along with Epcot and its other attractions, opened on October 1st, 1982. The ride took guests on a fanciful journey throughout the history of Mankind's communication techniques and its future. For the first 4 years, the ride remained practically unchanged aside from some props being deactivated and abandoned. In 1984, Bell System ended its sponsorship and AT&T became the new sponsor for the ride. In 1986, Walter Cronkite replaced Vic Perrin as the ride's narrator, and some scenes were changed alongside the ending scene. The ride remained like this until late 1993, when the ride underwent a large overhaul for the upcoming 1994 renovations for the park.

The ride reopened on November 23, 1994, with AT&T remaining as the ride's sponsor. Jeremy Irons replaced Walter Cronkite as the ride's narrator. The ride's original ending soundtrack, "Tomorrow's Child", was replaced. Some scenes were replaced, and animatronics were removed or updated. A new orchestral composition, based on Bach's Sinfonia No. 2 in C Minor, was composed to play for the entirety of the ride. The ride's ending was completely replaced, updating the Earth's projection and removing the Space Station scene from the planetarium. In its place were miniature architectural buildings with fiber-optic color cables, and blinking lights, representing electronic communication pathways.

To celebrate the year 2000, for the millennium celebration, a 25-story tall structure with a Mickey hand holding a wand was built next to the sphere. On top of the structure was a large cut out of the number "2000". The structure was constructed to last close to 10 years, and as such it was left standing after the celebration, with the "2000" simply being replaced with the word "Epcot". The structure was eventually removed in late 2007, as it was an eyesore to the park, and did not fit the upcoming sponsor's image.

AT&T ended their sponsorship on January 1, 2003, with the post-show being boarded up for the following years.

On July 5, 2007, Epcot Vice president at the time Jim MacPhee announced that Spaceship earth would be restored to how it once looked, and that the Magic Wand structure was to be demolished and removed. Siemens, who had been the sponsor since 2005, would completely revamp the ride's entrance sign, give the exterior new colors, and add a completely brand-new post-show. The vehicles were fitted with new screens that allowed guests to construct their own future, and Judi Dench replaced Jeremy Irons as the ride's narrator. Cam Clarke narrated the screen ending. The animatronics inside were refurbished, updated, and renovated with new movements and cosmetics, and the ending scene was mostly removed, with only a mostly dark setting in its place. In the new post-show, guests can interact with various exhibits, and see a virtual globe showing where each rider onboard at the time was living at.

On June 10, 2017, Siemens announced they would end their sponsorship of the attraction. Following the end of Siemens sponsership on October 10, 2017, the ride has been without a sponser.

In early 2021, a new look for spaceship Earth was introduced. LED Lights were placed on each hole of the dome, and the old prism that used to be at the front entrance was brought back for Epcot's 40th anniversary. A couple years prior, in 2019 it was announced that Spaceship Earth would undergo a massive refurbishment and would be renamed Spaceship Earth: Our Shared Story. The ride was updated with a new narrative about the human experience and the art of storytelling. An ethereal "story light" would guide guests through the attraction. The refurbishment happening is unknown, as the update was postponed indefinitely, although in late 2022, concept art was leaked showing new reimagined show scenes for the attraction.


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