Disney Shares Story Behind This Photo of the First Time Spaceship Earth Was Lit Up

What an incredible photo! DisneyParksBlog has a special series called “Behind the Camera”. Today, they’ve shared a photo of EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth from the first time it was lit up at night. Check out the full photo and details from the photographer, David Roark, below.


Prior to the grand opening of EPCOT back in 1982, I was patiently waiting to see Spaceship Earth at night. We all knew even then what an iconic symbol that massive geosphere would be for Walt Disney World Resort, but I wanted to see it for myself. 

It did not disappoint. I took this photo the very first time Spaceship Earth lit up at night, and the way the light bounced off the geodesic panels was amazing (then and now). And then to top it off, we had a fantastic full moon that night, as well – a bit of Disney magic! So to capture both those icons in all their glory in one image, I decided to try using a multiple exposure technique. 

Spaceship Earth lights up the night at EPCOT for the first time in 1982

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Back then, we didn’t have digital imaging software (or digital cameras, for that matter). If I wanted a multiple exposure, I had to create it in the camera itself on a single frame of film – the definition of “old school.” Working on a tripod, I attached a super-telephoto 400mm lens to the camera to capture the moon. Then, I pressed a button on the camera that would not advance the film when I clicked the shutter. I then switched back to a wide-angle lens to capture Spaceship Earth on that same frame. 

Because it was all on film, I had no idea if it worked until I returned to my darkroom the next day and developed the shot. Wow, how times have changed! Lucky for me, this experiment turned out pretty well, and proved to me just how fantastic Disney icons look under celestial bodies – a motif I’ve played with over the course of my nearly four decades as a Disney photographer. 

Source: DisneyParksBlog

About Mike and Jamie Sylvester

We are Disney nerds. Two kids at heart who love the magic and the memories of Walt Disney World! We follow all things Disney and have great experiences with Disney Vacation Club and RunDisney events in particular. We enjoy the vacations, day trips, weekend getaways and geek out over the planning of such events. From lodging to dining to Fastpasses we have a spreadsheet for every occasion. Mike’s frivolous Disney goal is to acquire a magic band of every style while Jamie’s goal is to experience as many Disney desserts as possible. Usually there isn’t a day that passes without some discussion of the master plan of our next trip to the happiest place on earth. Most people think we’re normal – until they travel to Disney with us. We have been married for 15 years and are blessed with a daughter and a son who have already learned the importance of planning ahead! As a family we thoroughly enjoy the magic and the memories at Walt Disney World and are here to help others experience the magic as well.