Every Guest who visits the Walt Disney World Resort is familiar with Spaceship Earth, the iconic structure and symbol of EPCOT that can be found just inside the main entrance to the Disney Park in the World Celebration neighborhood. The attraction opened with EPCOT on October 2, 1982, and has seen some minor changes throughout the years while maintaining a focus on the history of communication for mankind.
After boarding their Time Machines and taking a quick photo to send to the future, Guests move further inside of Spaceship Earth for a slow-moving journey that begins at the dawn of time and works its way to the modern day. Along the way, important discoveries and inventions in communication are shreds, including the Phoenicians inventing the common alphabet, Gutenberg’s printing press, and the invention of the modern-day computer.
Spaceship Earth is absolutely a classic attraction that many Guests consider to be a must-do while in EPCOT, but the attraction holds many wonderful details and unique theming that often goes overlooked by even the most seasoned rider. Let’s check out some amazing details to not miss on your next visit to Spaceship Earth at the Walt Disney World Resort!
The queue for Spaceship is entirely outdoors and has Guests wind their ways back and forth on either side of the structure before heading up a short ramp and into the loading area just inside of the door. While the queue is honestly never long, Guests who find themselves underneath Spaceship Earth during one of Florida’s famous thunderstorms will always remain dry thanks to a clever drainage system. During design and construction, Disney Imagineers created a drainage system just underneath the iconic silver triangle panels on the exterior of Spaceship Earth that collect rainwater as it falls and redirects it underground to the World Showcase Lagoon. Not only does this effectively help to keep World Showcase Lagoon full, but it also stops water from running off the structure and soaking any Guests standing underneath.
In its forty-plus years of operation, Spaceship Earth has undergone several minor upgrades and refurbishments to keep several scenes more current and add effects. With some of these refurbishments also came changes to the narration, with each new voice and script providing an entertaining guide for Guests enjoying the attraction. Spaceship Earth’s first narrator was Vic Perrin from 1982 through 1986, and his voice could also be heard at the nearby Universe of Energy. Next came famous news anchor Walter Cronkite who provided the narration from 1986 through 1994 and can still be spotted today on a television in the moon landing scene. The third narrator of Spaceship Earth from 1994 through 2007 was Jeremy Irons, who is widely known for voicing Scar in The Lion King, followed by Dame Judi Dench, who took over in 2008 and can still be heard today.
After boarding their Time Machines and moving into some of the first scenes of Spaceship Earth, Guests will find that they have immediately immersed themselves at that moment in history thanks to beautifully designed and decorated sets. Disney Imagineers took great care to only choose props that are authentic to the time period being recreated in each scene, and some wonderful examples include hieroglyphics used during specific Egyptian dynasties, instruments from the Renaissance, and more.
Spaceship Earth is one of the most audio-animatronic-filled attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort, and Guests who pay close attention to the characters might find that some of them look a little familiar. During the construction of EPCOT, Disney Imagineers decided to reuse some of the animatronic molds from The Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square and the in-development American Adventure that would soon open in EPCOT’s World Showcase. Guests can notice characters from The Hall of Presidents, including John Adams as a monk, Dwight D. Eisenhower as a mandolin player, Teddy Roosevelt as a Roman, William Taft as an Egyptian, and James Buchanan as Gutenberg, as well as characters from The American Adventure like Chief Joe as a Shaman, Andrew Carnegie as a printing worker, and the banjo player as a steam press operator.
Guests who love to hunt for Hidden Mickeys while enjoying a Walt Disney World Resort vacation can spot several throughout Spaceship Earth, including several on the left-hand side of the Time Machines. When passing by the sleeping monk in the Renaissance scene, Guests can look back at his paper to spot a classic Hidden Mickey formed by an ink stain. Just moments later, in the same scene, another classic Hidden Mickey is formed by three paint rings left behind on the painter’s table. The final Hidden Mickey to be on the lookout for on the left-hand side can be spotted in the scene depicting scholars in the Middle East, and those who look closely can spot three scrolls arranged on a shelf to form a classic Hidden Mickey.
After moving through the scene depicting the invention of the personal computer in a garage in California, Guests are treated to a dramatic and grand reveal of Earth from space, and those who can look away from the beautiful sight can actually spot something a little more functional. The scene takes place at the very top of the structure, and Guests who look off to the side closely can spot a set of black utility stairs that provide access to the literal top of Spaceship Earth. The stairs are painted to blend in with the scene, and Guests who aren’t paying close attention would never even notice them!
“There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”
The final detail that Guests love on Spaceship Earth is a reference to the beloved Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress which can be found in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. The attraction features the Sherman Brothers’ song “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” and Guests can hear the main line from the song in the cartoon vignettes enjoyed at the end of Spaceship Earth. Depending on how Guests answer a series of questions, they are provided with short cartoons depicting their future, and several scenarios declare that there will absolutely be “a great big beautiful tomorrow!”