An iconic Disney World attraction will close this week at EPCOT, fueling some Guests’ concerns that news about the fan-favorite ride’s demise is inevitable.
On Monday, Disney Parks announced a brand-new line-up of events and happenings coming to EPCOT in celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary. EPCOT will be the hub of the Disney100 celebration at the Central Florida Disney Parks, and not only will the celebration serve to mark a century of the magic, imagination, and innovation of Disney, but it will also serve as the wrap-up to a multi-year transformation at Disney World’s second park–one that saw the dissolution of the former Future World and the addition of new three new “neighborhoods:” World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature, in addition to World Showcase.
But Monday’s announcement isn’t the only news about Walt Disney World Resort’s second theme park. On Sunday, travel site Gotta Go Orlando posted an announcement about EPCOT’s most iconic ride experience:
Walt Disney World has revealed that Spaceship Earth will close at EPCOT on Wednesday, July 19, and remain closed for one day only, with the attraction scheduled to reopen to Guests on Thursday, July 20.
Ride closures at Disney World can last for days, weeks, or even months, depending on the reason for the closure. In this case, according to the announcement, the closure is scheduled to be very brief, and with such short notice given about the planned closure, it’s possible that the Spaceship Earth attraction is experiencing an easily addressed–but urgent–maintenance issue.
While the announcement claims that the closure of Spaceship Earth this week will be very temporary, it also fuels the fears of diehard fans that the “grand and miraculous spaceship” will ultimately close for good. Rumors of the removal of Spaceship Earth have circulated from time to time, but in recent years, those rumors have grown in “popularity,” especially since Disney announced that Future World would be replaced by EPCOT’s new World Neighborhoods.
As of the time of this publication, however, there’s no word from Disney Parks that substantiates any of the “Spaceship Earth gone forever” rumors.
More About Spaceship Earth, the Beacon of EPCOT
When EPCOT first opened to Guests in October 1982, there was much at which to marvel, but none so marvelous as the astonishing, awe-inspiring, impossible engineering feat called Spaceship Earth. If you’re one that rushes past this phenomenal feat of balance, engineering, and seamless design (or if you forgo EPCOT altogether, aka “worstparkers”), it’s got to be because you just don’t know about the amazing effort, time and sheer genius that went into erecting the structure, not to mention keeping it upright, in one place and above the ground.
To the untrained or distracted eye, Spaceship Earth appears to be held up by the six legs beneath it, but from an engineering standpoint, that would be impossible as the legs would buckle under the load. Instead, the six legs were driven into pile groups more than 150 feet underground, and hexagonal trusses were built atop the legs. This created a platform. The trusses actually support the load of the behemoth sphere. The lower 1/4 of the sphere is suspended from the platform, and the upper 3/4 is supported by the platform.
An Engineering Marvel, Even By Today’s Standards
The enormous structure sits above the ground floor as Guests enter EPCOT–15 feet above the ground, to be exact. It is 160 feet in diameter, and the highest point of the sphere is 182 feet high.
Spaceship Earth is so big that it took more than 1,700 tons of steel to construct it. The entire structure encompasses a whopping 2.2 million cubic feet of space, and its outer structure is punctuated by more than 11,000 perfect isosceles triangles.
Projections called for EPCOT to be built in 6 years, from breaking ground to completion, but the park was completed in half that time. Spaceship Earth itself was built in 26 months.