Spaceship Earth’s History: Thank the Phoenicians

I am super excited to chat about one of my absolute favorite attractions at Walt Disney World and a true classic, Spaceship Earth at EPCOT.

Beckoning you to enter EPCOT, a park inspired by a utopia that Walt himself envisioned for the future, is Spaceship Earth. It can be seen from various parts of Walt Disney World Resort and stands as the icon for the park.

Spaceship Earth represents a huge aspect of the human race, communication, and is a piece of technological marvel.

Today, I will be sharing the ride’s fascinating history, Instagram worthy tip and tricks on how to explore this wonderful and beloved attraction! Let’s take a journey into the past.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO. Thank you!

Epcot theme park with globe

History

Spaceship Earth remained the one thing that always remained constant during the time of EPCOT’s creation. This dark ride that showcased the evolution of mankind and communication was originally sponsored by Bell Systems and was to only house the finale of the ride.

Imagineers decided to place the entire attraction inside instead.

The ride opened in 1982 with EPCOT on October 1st and took two years to complete. Imagineering would actually consult MIT to assist with engineering studies in order to figure out how to build it.

Epcot Telegraph Scene Spaceship Earth
Epcot Telegraph Scene Spaceship Earth Photo: Florida Memory

The Smithsonian was also contacted to assure historical accuracy for the scenes.

Since it started greeting guests 38 years ago, it has undergone quite a few changes, including its narrators, scenes and sponsors.

Narrators of Spaceship Earth Over the Years

Vic Perrin was narrator from 1982-1986 with Walter Cronkite taking over until 1994. Jeremy Irons took over until 2007 and Dame Judi Dench currently holds the title of Narrator.

Rumor says she will be replaced with the upcoming refurb which was pushed back due to the 2020 global pandemic.

AT&T, formerly Bell Systems, ended its sponsorship in 2002. Siemens took over in 2005 but ended abruptly in 2017. Since then, there hasn’t been a sponsor. But despite all the changes, it still is a beloved EPCOT classic.

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What to Expect on Spaceship Earth at Epcot

The attraction itself is a geodesic polyhedron supported by 3 legs but it is in fact a dome inside of a dome. It is covered with 11,324 shiny alucobond panels and has a unique drainage system where no rain falls off the sides.

Instead, the rain collects into the system and funnels in World Showcase Lagoon.

The attraction itself truly is a architectural marvel with a height of 180 ft. along with its diameter of 165. When weighed its 15,520,000 pounds! The best part is its majorly easy to find as it’s the first attraction you’ll see.

Epcot Spaceship Earth Bottom View with Mirror

You are greeted by a huge painted mural before you enter created by Italian Artist, Claudio Mazzoli.

Ride Vehicle

You will be boarded into an omni mover system, which is familiar to frequent guests who have ridden rides such as The Haunted Mansion. Each vehicle can seat 4 guests and 2 per row but not to worry, everyone has a great view.

Spaceship Earth at Epcot Green Omnimovers

Storyline

You are then taken back in time to see how mankind evolved. you are experiencing 15 mins of this as we see Egyptians and Phoenicians creating written word and the alphabet.

We also see the rise and fall of Rome, the renaissance of Europe, Post-Civil War Era, the revolution of 20th century communications and a glorious finale where you return to the present.

Spaceship Earth at Epcot Entrance Evolution of Mankind Painting

As you descend backwards to the present, the touch screen on your omnimover entices you to share information about yourself and creates a future for you based on the options you picked.

Project Tomorrow

Once you depart from the omnimover, you exit into the “Project Tomorrow” room that features interactive games and activities that shows the future of energy management, medicine and transportation.

Spaceship Earth glistening in the Florida sun.

A special last-minute feature for my Instagram friends is the Bubblegum wall. As soon as you exit Project Tomorrow, it will be right there for you to snap a pic with!

This ride is a great time to learn, relax from the Florida heat and explore. It’s also a great family ride as the height requirement is nonexistent.

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Awesome Tidbits

As you could imagine, this amazing structure has some cool tidbits regarding it. For example, the original script and storyline of the attraction was done with the help of Ray Bradbury.

  • Every major EPCOT attraction has a special VIP lounge for the sponsor at the time and Siemens still has theirs there today, despite them no longer being the attraction’s sponsor.
  • A wand was added to the top of the attraction to celebrate the year “2000” and the wand would represent the Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene in Fantasia. In 2007, the wand was removed in time for the park’s anniversary.
  • Everything down to the machines, documents and even the hieroglyphs in the Egypt scene is completely accurate and/or perfect replicas.
  • There is so much to do within these 2 geodesic spheres! Yes, one sphere houses the physical attraction which sits in the second sphere which we see on the outside. There is so much to appreciate, do and see so its worth multiple rides for sure.

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Top Tips for Your Epcot Trip

Before we hit the FAQ section, allow me to share some tips for your next trip!

1. Plan Ahead

As I always state with my posts, planning is key! Be sure to utilize the My Disney Experience app to keep an eye on wait times. This attraction is the icon of the park, meaning everyone is clamoring to ride it, first timers and park veterans alike.

EPCOT Spaceship Earth Golf ball with Wand at the Top
Wand added to the top for the year 2000 celebration!

2. Figure Out the Best Times to Go

If this ride is a must do for you, my suggestion would be to rope drop ride. Meaning go to it as soon as the park opens, during the lunch hour between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or an hour before the park closes.

Personally, I usually shoot for the later of the two.

Guests usually have already done the ride towards the end of the day and get it out of the way so they can go straight out of the park on their way out.

Spaceship Earth at Epcot Entrance

There are less crowds during lunch hour since families usually return to the hotel to rest and/or other guests are fueling up for the rest of their park day.

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What to Know Before You Go

Now that we have the basics down, let’s go through a few of the most commonly asked questions.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival with Mickey Mouse in front of Space Earth Globe
Epcot Theme Park

Is Spaceship Earth Scary?

This attraction is a dark ride and therefore takes place in settings with minimal and dimmed lighting. It could be a bit scary for a small child but for the most part, it is a slow-moving ride with no height restrictions so all ages can ride.

Is this ride ADA friendly?

This ride utilizes audio description and handheld captioning. Guests must transfer from a wheelchair to the vehicle in order to ride.

Guests who use service animals can get in the omnimover with its owner as long as it can walk along the moving conveyor belt to board. The vehicles are a bit snug so larger dogs may be in a tight fit.

Should I get a Fastpass+ for Spaceship Earth?

I will always recommend you grab a FastPass for this attraction, as it’s a classic and usually one of the busiest in the park. Unfortunately, all Fastpass+ across all four parks has been temporarily suspended due to the global pandemic related issues.

You can use your MagicBand to book Fastpasses in the park or to redeem Fastpasses at attractions.
You can use your MagicBand to book Fastpasses in the park or to redeem Fastpasses at attractions. Copyright Disney.

Are there Ride Photos Taken?

There aren’t any keepsake ones taken on this ride, but they do take your photo as part of the future building activity done towards the end of the ride. There will be an announcement prior to the photo being taken so you can have a few seconds to say cheese to the camera!

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Final Thoughts

Spaceship Earth is the perfect family ride, but also a great ride for solo travelers, particularly history buffs.

Many fans, especially the hardcore EPCOT fans, really enjoy it and see it as a beacon of the utopia that Walt once dreamed of for the future, but never go to see come to be.

Fans appreciate its beauty and its connection to the original conception of edutainment that Epcot once drew its crowds on. Others see it as a quick nap or escape from a hot day but one thing for certain is that everyone comes out thanking the Phoenicians.

The best way to discover its wonderful ability to bring comfort and education to all is to go experience it for yourself!

I love riding this attraction alone for the peace and moment of solitude while having the ability to appreciate that Imagineering brought a unique visualization of how far we have come as a society and how much more we have to continue to strive for. Just like Walt always did.

One final tip, be sure to take a moment to look at the new additions to the entrance in front of Spaceship Earth. They recently brought back the classic Epcot logo pylons and it’s a stunning sight.

Should you ride Spaceship Earth at Epcot

In the end, whether you’re a first timer, or a solo traveler who’s been there, done that, Spaceship Earth is always worth the time to see.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

About the Author

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

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