Spaceship Earth Soft Opening Reports December 2007

A few lucky folks at the right place at the right time have been able to experience the newly rehabbed SpaceShip Earth. After weeks of rumors of December soft openings, there have been some recent windows of opportunity to experience Epcot's icon attraction.

The ride really is in soft opening phase. This means that it is closed more than open and there are no guarantees. Several folks reported waiting for a couple hours to see if they could ride and it did not open. It really is the luck of being in the right place at the right time.

SPOILERS AHEAD. If you don't want to read about the changes, end here.

Hubby & I noticed that they were allowing people to see SpaceShip Earth. I had never been inside before so we were excited. All the figures were so lifelike, you even could smell the smoke at the Rome section. The ride did stop a few times but I think it may have been to let a handicapped person on or off. I am so puzzled at the previous comments about the end of the ride. We didn't find the touchscreen annoying at all. When the video came on "starring" us, we laughed & thought it was brilliant! It seems that everyone else on the ride with us had the same reaction. Our only disappointment was that they did not have that little video on sale for us to purchase. 🙁 We thought it was the bomb!!! (Cindy D, 1/30/08)

I thought the ride was improved, but didn't think it was great. The narration was a little boring, although I thought it explained things better than the previous narration. The cartoon at the end was cute, but they could still add some scenery when you look around on your "trip back to Earth", needed a little bit more visually. It was fun to get to ride it before the actual opening, I am curious to see if they do anything else to it before they officially open the ride. (Debra Miller, 1/19/08)

We were able to ride Spaceship Earth during our trip this past week. We were in Epcot on three different occasions and each time Spaceship Earth was open. The ride enhancements are great. The audio was much better and most of the animatronics seemed to be updated with either new movements or new dialogue. Also, the new interactive screens in the vehicles are not only fun, but they make your "return trip to earth" much better than just a boring backwards descent. It was a great update. All six members in our party agree that Spaceship Earth is now better than ever. (Mike, 1/15/08)

We rode Spaceship Earth multiple times on our trip to Disney 1/6-1/14. I did not like the ending of the "robot" part of the ride (as my 4 year old son calls it). I felt as if something was missing when we left the 1980's garage and moved into darkness…I asked a few castmembers if something would be added cause I felt as if it ended abruptly, they said too they felt the same way! I did enjoy the touch screen and the times that our faces showed up in the cartoon in the end were a hit with our family! (Karen Koser, 1/14/08)

The interactive screen took the pics taken of the riders and at the end of the journey you were asked to answer a few questions on the touch screen. Several seconds later, a short film appeared on the screen in the car with the riders' heads in the film! We all got a real kick out of seeing ourselves on the screen- a nice way to end the ride. (Jen LaCava, 1/14/08)

I was reading all the comments about Spaceship Earth's soft opening. I noticed many negative comments. We just came back from a trip to Disney World from December 27 – January 12. The first week we got to ride Spaceship Earth and we didn't know why our picture was being taken either. We also thought that the touch screen was boring. We gave the ride the thumbs down. Then on January 10 or 11 we went on the ride again. They took our picture at the start of the ride. At the end the touch screen asked questions then showed what our future would be like. But this time our faces were on the cartoon characters. My family thought this was great. You could hear everyone laughing. We got off the ride and went back on two more times. Each time making a different silly face. We then gave the improvements the thumbs up. (Anne Corsi, 1/12/08)

My family was able to board Spaceship Earth on Friday January 11, 2008 around 1 pm. There was a line of about 20 people out front with a cast member encouraging us to go inside. The ride was pretty much the same in the beginning like other reviews have stated with the exception of a couple of new scenes. The part where the city is burning was very realistic because the smell of burning wood was so intense. The last half of the ride was dark with little fiber optic stars all over the ceiling and walls and looked like they just didn't know what to do to finish it off. Our car stopped 3 times while we were on it, once fully leaning back while going down. We prayed the tracks held the car in place. The LED screen had a cute little story my 6 year old son loved because it put a picture of his face in it which involved him. Overall, not impressed with the new ride. Some rides should just be left alone and I think this was one of them. (Robin Ecklin, 1/11/08)

This regarding the Spaceship Earth ride at EPCOT. Parts of the ride were still blacked out due to reconstruction. Some new additions were up and running thou. A scene with huge computer systems and people with 70's attire, Steve Jobs working in his parents garage, to name what I recall. I still enjoy this ride and I am glad there were no changes to the early eras as those are my favorite. It seems the theme is more about communication and its changes through the centuries. Overall, I really did like the improvements. Thought you would like to know. (Angela L. Hartzell, 12/23/07)

I have always been a huge fan of S.E. so we were very excited to see the updates. Now I know many reviewers have been thrilled about the updates, but I must say, that my family and I were a little disappointed. The attraction began with many of the origional favorites and I truly enjoyed the new animatronics. Definitely more realistic that the older ones. I was also impressed with the two added sections of the computer lab and the garage. However, where the attraction took a turn for the worse was the whole interactive portion, which is completely in the dark. In my opinion, that entire portion could have been replaced with more animatronics and/or scenes of the "evolution of communication". Afterall, that is the theme for S.E. and I feel that the whole interactive "future prediction" portion veers away from the whole theme of the attraction. Im a big fan of tradition and! I believe in "if it isnt broke, dont fix it!" 🙂 Sure, some parts were a little outdated, causing for a refurbishment, but as I said, the whole "descent" portion could have been utilized better. Still, its Disney and you have to love it for that fact! (Brad Duplechien, 12/20/07)

In the evening on the way out the doorway was open and a castmember standing vigilantly and though they weren't making a big fuss, if you went over they welcomed you in. My daughter and I got in. Seems to me they're mainly still working on the forecourt area in front of Spaceship Earth getting it finished. The ride seemed to go through without any apparent gaps in the story. We were happy to see at least some on the familiar scenes still there although there might have been tweaking with clothes or characters to some degree. The theme of course was still communication. The little interactive portion of the ride did not provide me with anything although I suppose to some young kids they'll find it neat. It will take some getting used to to hear Judy Dench voice. Hers is a more realistic sounding voice and provides an upbeat view of tomorrow. Was glad I got to see it. (Alan G., 12/16/07)

I was a little disappointed with the beginning of the ride. Much of the first half seemed to be the same as before, although a few things did change. You don't really see any changes until the middle, and I do like the new changes. I do not like the new narration, I feel like it tries to be cute, but it's not. Whoever scripted it did not do a good job in my opinion. The interactive part is OK, but it doesn't take that long to get through and then you're stuck on a really long boring ride backwards. I'm glad to read though that they're still working on the end because it needs something -music, something to look at -no narrator though! (Erin, 12/15/07)

Finally on Saturday, 12-15 (our last day there) we stopped by Epcot after leaving MGM. As soon as we walked through the gates, I spotted the wall open and people going in… We ran like fools, kids in tow, to get in the gate.. Well we did. The line was wrapped around through the 'corral' almost to where they had the wall opened, but surprisingly the line moves pretty fast. I like the new cars, but I have to say the touch screen is very distracting. I like the new narrator, but I am not sure that I like the read. From what I remember about the old one it really 'made you feel the experience' now it feels like a tour guide that won't shut up (like the MGM movie ride). Also there were several places where it seemed there should have been narration that there wasn't. We really liked the new and upgraded areas of the ride. My wife was amazed by the smells of Rome burning. The ride even captured the attention of our 2-year old. I was thrilled up to the point that we started the descent from space when that &^%$ touch screen came on. That was truly annoying. If anything maybe they could add an option to turn the thing off. The thousands of lights strung in the ride are blurred out by the extremely bright LCD playing a cartoon of your future. So all in all, one of the highlights of the vacation was being able to ride SE. The only drawbacks to it are the narration needs some tweaks, and the LCD's have to go… (Stephen King, 12/15/07)

Our group was lucky enough to find the gates open at 11:30a. I enjoyed the ride very much and thought everything was updated nicely. I also enjoyed the touch screen questions and the little movie after. But I feel that there is too much traveling through blackness. I want more things to look at. There was one blank room at the end before the questions started and I am really hoping Disney throws in a final fantastic scene. Maybe something like the old Horizons ride (loved it & miss it). (Carolyn Strum, 12/14/07)

They opened up the ride around mid day and kept it open for some time, people were still going in when we left the park around 4pm. My mother and I both really liked the new animatronics – the Greek teacher was so lifelike- and freshening of the sets. However we weren't that impressed with the new touch screens or the movie they show you on the descent (seemed like a personalized version of the "Jetsons"). Other than the video, they have removed any scenes from the ride down which is very bland. For being closed such an extended amount of time, we expected more new elements and were disappointed they didn't delve much into technology of the future, the ride remains primarily a history lesson. We also never figured out why they take your picture during the initial ascent….A good ride but it won't knock Soarin out of our #1 spot at Epcot. (Katie Bellairs, 12/11/07)

I got to go on a sneakpeak of the new spaceship earth ride–2 times! The scenes have been updated and the art and animatronics are great! A cast member told me that the ending of the ride is still being worked on–that the picture that is taken of each rider will be incorporated into the "future we design" at the end of the ride. I enjoyed it and love the updates. I do think, however, that it tends to be a bit "wordy" on the last half of the ride. Look for sneakpeaks after 2pm generally. In the morning you may catch a cast member outside of the wooden walls inviting you to stop back later that day. This happened to me on Wed. (Shelley Najpauer, 12/11/07).

We rode Spaceship Earth about 12:15 pm!!!!! My daughter Erin(8) and I had gone to EPCOT for EMH . As we were heading back to hit the pool Erin said "Mom where are those people coming from?" They were exiting Spaceship Earth so we hurried closer to the front. I could hear a commotion on the other side of the construction barrier our pace picked up we were both excited!! When we got to the front there indeed was a CM letting people in!!! There was a bit of a line but it was maybe 10 minutes. Once inside we noticed right away the vehicles had screens in them. Off we went. I don't want to give any spoilers so let me say the what was done I thought looked really great. Really thought the new scenes were very well done the freshen up on the old scenes also nice. Really liked the interactive questionnaire at the end although I think it got one of my preferences incorrect but hey it's not done yet…Overall we loved what we saw and can't wait to go back and see the finished product!!! We never saw the dream squad yet we had one of our dreams come true!!! (Julie Tessel, 12/11/2007)

My wife and I got to go on Spaceship Earth. We kept asking the cast members around Spaceship Earth if anyone would get to ride it that day, and they were usually vague about their reply. But one fellow told us they were trying to get the ride going and it might take anywhere from five minutes to eight hours. Five minutes later, as we were walking away, he came after us and said they got it running. It broke down twice while we were on it, but it was worth it. Even if it's not running, you can still go in the new Future section (which is not part of the ride). When they get the ride completed, it will take your picture near the end of the ride. (Doug, 12/10/07)

Approximately 1:00 pm I was walking by Space Ship Earth with my wife and two children. They were very quietly letting people on. At the very beginning of the ride it broke down for 10 minutes. It got going again,but broke down 3 more times at 3 minutes each time. The changes were at the beginning with cavemen and a mammoth. And the very end was different with choosing your own future on a touch screen, based on your answers to questions. There was also a "quiz" on what you just saw on the ride, but the touch screen computer was not working properly. It was as if this part was not finished yet. Later in the week they were just letting "cast members" ride when we tried to get back on. Overall, it is tough to determine the total aspect of the ride, because it kept breaking down so often, we would lose our continuity. (James Bartlett, 12/10/07)

The new, NOT improved, Spaceship Earth. My mom, 21yo daughter and I had the opportunity to ride Spaceship Earth. The first thing I noticed was the updated ride vehicle, the screen seemed cool until it told me to look up and smile. Sorry, SE is NOT a photo-worthy ride and this was too campy. Nothing against Dame Judi Dench (because she didn't write the script, I hope), but the narration was dreadful. The Cronkite and Irons narrations were story-telling and you rode through the scenes as a listener to that story. The new narration was more like a tour guide who didn't quite know what she was talking about. I kept wondering where the yellow flag was we were supposed to be following. The Romans invented the first world wide web??? Puhlease! The scenes were great, bright, and appealing, the music was beautiful, and thank goodness the burning of Rome still smells like Olive Garden's mozzarella fonduta ;). The descent was even more dreadful than the narration. The touch screen asked a series of random (dumb) questions, then showed us some cartoon with a chick who falls off a cliff smiling the whole time even though her arm is broken and how they can remotely repair the break (while she's still smiling and somehow miraculously survived the 400 foot fall). Seriously bad. My daughter was on the verge of tears and all she could say was, "They ruined it. I can't believe they ruined it" It was bad enough that we took time to go to Guest Services and wait in line to express our disappointment and pick up a contact card. I wrote my letter this morning. If the narration doesn't change, SE will go from a 25 year favorite to an "if we're bored and have time to kill" on our itinerary. (Dawn Gray Dobson, 12/10/07)

On our way out of Epcot my son looked back and noticed there was a small gap in the fence around Spaceship Earth. We looked in and saw other people going in. We weren't even sure we should be there, but I saw a castmember inside the fence and she told us it was a preview and to go on in. Like previous reviewers, we were pleased with the updates. The interactive screen activity was fun, but only one person can participate. At this point the only thing to see outside your vehicle is a dark sky with stars and it seemed like something was missing. My 8 and 10 yr olds really liked the interactive exhibits after the ride (similar to Innovations). Overall, great improvements. We enjoyed it. (Cathy Reed, 12/9/07)

On our first night through Epcot we asked about Spaceship Earth. The cast members told us they do not know when it will open until it opens. So the next night through we saw the same workers and the door was just opening as we were exiting the park. YES we rode and thought it was a good change with updated dialog etc. I felt there were gaps and things to keep working on but overall an improvement. On our last night on the way in, the door was open again and so yes we tried it one more time. Same cast members were around and the ride was good. Our screen did not work on the end question time, so our car reset with a blackout and then windows reboot. Made us both laugh as we are mac people. BUT we still enjoyed the show and it will now be fun to see the 'final' product on our next visit. The doors were shut after only about a 30 min window. Our friends were the last ones on and it was shut down the rest of the night. (Theresa Heyward, 12/2007)

My 5 year old daughter & I were in the right place at the right time. I detoured us past the entrance to Spaceship Earth (for the 3rd time that day). This time it was open! I was thrilled. She was not because she remembered the terrible smell in the burning scene from when she rode it over a year and 1/2 ago. I told her it had probably changed but unfortunately for her it had not. The old familiar scenes look great and the new ones bring some new life to the ride. I especially liked riding through Steve Job's garage. The 'story' is much better on the way up. The ride into space is very much the same. Although it looked like there is still more to be done. Several wall panels were down and you could still see construction equipment sitting around. On the way down, everything is gone. Your attention is focused on the touch screen panel in your car. I could see at least 3 cars ahead and everyone was viewing something different. Another addition I noticed was a camera at the beginning of the ride that took your picture during the ascent. I don't know what the purpose was for the picture but I'm sure there was a good reason that has not been worked out yet. I was thrilled to get a 'sneak peak' at the updated Spaceship Earth. It was a perfect ending to a great day. (Tim Dawson, 12/9/07)

We walked in the park about 10 am, and SE was open, so without hesitation we got in line. I really liked the changes I saw. While they used many of the same scenes, it was fresh. I especially liked the part where the narration said that Rome created the first "information highway", and when Rome burned the middle eastern scholars had copies of much of the literature that had been destroyed in Rome. They called it the "first back-up". Very entertaining! At the end of the ride getting to choose the future was fun! Definitely a much needed improvement to one of our favorite attractions. (Patsy Hendricks, 12/9/07)

On the Mousefest morning of Dave Koenig's EPCOT tour, they were letting people into the ride. Lucky for me, as soon as the tour was over, they were allowing more people onto the ride. I found it to be beautifully updated while still keeping the integrity of the original attraction. The animatronic figures seemed to move more and more realistically. The touch screens offered a nice futuristic touch but I did find it kind of boring that there was nothing else to see during the descent from the top. The added scenes were great, I especially liked that the radio station's call letters were changed to WDI(a nod to Imagineering) and the addition of Apple's Wozniak working in the garage on his personal computer. I am sure that boardmember Steve Jobs may have had something to do with this. Overall the unfinished version of the ride was great and I look forward to riding the finished product as soon as possible. (Justin Shearin, 12/8/07)

The new ride contains some new scenes, updates to old scenes and new audio. I found the audio to be too loud as usual since the speakers in the ride vehicles are right at your ears. Some scenes are completely new and there are noticeable changes to a lot of the others, while a few remained the same. I found it funny that while passing by the Alexander Graham Bell scene that no audio was given to even acknowledge what you were looking at – I guess a factor of having Siemens as the sponsor who would prefer not to acknowledge the invention of a competitor. I thought the ending was a little disappointing. You are now given a chance to answer some questions at the end of the ride on a touch screen in the ride vehicle. It asks you questions on your preferences on different adventures and then designs an adventure for you to enjoy. While it is an okay activity in and of itself and focuses your attention on the screen in your vehicle, the attraction around you at this point in the ride is not very enthralling and lacks any of the former lighting effects. It is very bland. Overall, good improvements, liked the ride, but I hope they plan to give more attention to the end of the ride. (Cindy Garfinkel, 12/2007)

Just got back from WDW (Dec 7-12) and we were lucky enough to get a ride on Spaceship Earth. I didn't realize how lucky we were because on subsequent days we tried and never got the chance again. I believe they open up when they are at a point where they need riders to test the finale. (SPOILERS) Overall, there were quite a few nice additions to the audio animatronics and other touches throughout the ride. Similar to the Haunted Mansion update….keeping the same feel but just making it better. There is now a video screen in front of your seats. They take your picture on your way up into the ride and we are thinking that they will be using that picture on the way back down. The entire scene that shows our "current" or "future" is entirely different. Up until that point, there were very cool touches added here and there, but keeping the overall feel the same. There is an interactive part on the way back down but it didn't work quite right for us. They gave several options to see and the one we chose wasn't the one we ended up seeing on the screen. They ask different questions and depending on the answers, will put together an ending. There are cartoon-like characters and we are thinking that somehow they'll put the guest face on the cartoon characters and we'll be able to see ourselves on as the character on the screen. Not quite sure because it wasn't working. Overall, we enjoyed the changes. (Rochelle Kryger, 12/2007)

My daughter and I were lucky enough to get a "preview" around 8p.m. This was the third preview they did that day. A cast member standing in front of the boarded up area tipped us off to return later that evening, and it paid off. Overall, the improvements are great, although we were less than "wowed" with the interactive part at the end. After answering the questions about what we'd like to see in the future, some of the responses it gave were the opposite of what we had chosen – still a few glitches I guess. The first half of the ride, though, is really nice now – updated scenes, improved animatronics, and new scenes too…it was fun to spot the changes – some obvious, some not so obvious!! I thought the track was smoother also…not the annoying clunking every couple of seconds. Overall, a great improvement to an old favorite!! (Kristen deHaan, 12/8/07)

We were apprehensive going on Spaceship Earth being big fans of the former ride. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The integrity of the original show was kept while updating it for the future. The auto animatronics were definitely improved. The greatest changes were after the "TV room" where the computer age was added. (Lynn Hamrick, 12/8/07)

My husband, Jay, and I were lucky enough to catch a ride on Space Ship earth. They would open the wood fence, let people in for about 10 minutes and then close the fence again. The narration is better with a focus on building the future rather than just communication. Some of the scenes have changed and classic scenes were given significant rehabs (the sleeping monks and hidden Mickey are still there). The animatronics move more. The movie theater scene and the family watching TV is the last scene from the old ride. The rest includes new scenes and the ride interaction portion. The cars are the same with an added touch screen for each row that is used for the interactive part. Rather than completely in the dark this part was done surrounded by 1000s of LED lights — like blue stars. My husband and I would have done the interactive part differently so we have agreed to alternate who is in control of this feature with each ride. All in all a great upgrade with excellent narration — and the animatronics were definitely an improvement. (Terri Stovall, 12/8/07)

We got a sneak preview of SpaceShip Earth this morning (Saturday). Turns out the ride is fundamentally the same. They have added some new audio-animatronics – they are so life like you'd swear a cast Member was actually in the ride. They expanded the section of the Alexandria library burning and not all was lost. They've expanded on the history in several places. There is new music in the Sistine Chapel segment. There is a new scene with Steve Jobs in his garage building the first apple computer. The second half of the ride is completely in the dark. You turn around in the vehicle. There is an interactive screen right in your ride vehicle where you make choices such as would you like to live in the country or the city, do you like to travel. And then it shows a cartoon based on your responses of what your future will be like. All in all a very fun ride. (Mr. and Mrs. Towncrier, 12/8/07)

We got to ride Spaceship Earth, it was only open for about 20 minutes. They gave the whole thing a face lift without destroying its charm. Animatronics were awesome. (Think Jack Sparrow caliber on Pirates) The interactive stuff at the end looked neat. (We didn't have time to stay and play ~ had to pack for the drive home to NH in the morning, BRRR!) They had a 3-D surgery thing that I want to check out next time. Guest Relations were the ones who told us it was opening. Check with them ~ it doesn't hurt to ask! (Kristen, 12/6/07)

The ride has many of the old scenes and story line. They have added a short film as you begin the ride and have changed the last scenes. The cars are the biggest upgrade. You have a touch screen in the car that quizzes you on your interests and knowledge. A video is then designed specifically for you showing how technology may change the way you eat, exercise, care for your pets, etc. (think George Jetson) Once you exit the ride you enter an awesome interactive room. We loved the new improvements and can't wait to ride again! (Felicia Thomas, 12/6/2007)