One of the biggest stories coming out of 2019’s D23 Expo was the radical reimagining of Epcot. The renovation, which Disney is calling the largest they’ve ever done to one of their theme parks, will touch nearly every corner of the nearly 37-year-old park. However, while the company gave in-depth details on many of the new attractions and experiences coming Epcot, they were curiously vague about one of the most emotionally-charged changes coming to the park: the renovation of Spaceship Earth.
For those unaware, Spaceship Earth is the large geodesic sphere – or what many call “the golf ball” – has served as Epcot’s primary symbol since the park opened. The sphere contains an omnimover ride of the same name that uses animatronics and detailed show scenes to detail the history of humanity from cave paintings through the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and all the way to our modern age. The ride has spurred an appreciation for the Phoenicians, whom we mustn’t forget to thank for “creating” the alphabet.
While the attraction has been updated several times, most notably in 1994, these had been mainly cosmetic and slight thematic changes to the ride’s narration and ending, leaving a vast majority of the ride’s core show scenes intact. This continuity, as well as Spaceship Earth’s role as Epcot’s centerpiece, have made it an icon for many hardcore Disney fans, who see it as one of Walt Disney Imagineering’s greatest achievements. Which is why many are so worried about what was — and wasn’t — said at D23.
During the convention’s Parks panel, it was announced that Spaceship Earth would be drastically updated. Disney Parks Blog discussed the renovation, explaining that “at World Celebration in Epcot, Spaceship Earth will remain the Park’s grand icon, but the journey will be transformed with new scenes reflecting the universal nature of the human experience. A new guide and all new narration will focus on the storytelling that brings people together.”
This emphasis on storytelling will be achieved by focusing the ride on a new feature known as the “story light” which will “come to life” and guide guests through each show scene. While it was noted during the panel that SOME (emphasis ours) of the attraction’s classic show scenes would remain, it’s unclear exactly which these will be and just how much the addition of the “story light” will alter them.
Disney’s caginess about which elements of Spaceship Earth will remain have led many to believe that the company plans to change the ride dramatically. And to be fair, the company has considered doing so before. During the early 2000s there was a plan to redevelop Epcot called Project Gemini. As part of the project, Spaceship Earth would have been gutted and replaced by an indoor thrill ride known as Time Racers that would have rocked guests through and out of the sphere on a roller coaster-like adventure through time.
Perhaps thankfully, Project Gemini was never green lit due to budget issues. However, the fact that Imagineers considered turning Spaceship Earth into a thrill ride has many Disney fans worried that they could be doing it for real this time.
What do you think about Spaceship Earth’s renovation? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to learn more about Epcot’s transformation? We can help!
- Epcot's Tram Pick-up/Drop-off Locations Moved During Transformation
- Epcot’s Transformation Continues with New Entrance and New Play Pavilion
- Goodbye IllumiNations, Hello Epcot Forever: Dates Announced
- New Creperie Announced for Epcot’s France Pavilion
- New Space Restaurant to Offer “Out-of-this-World” Dining Experience at Epcot
- New Restaurant Coming to Epcot’s Japan Pavilion
- New Film, Awesome Planet, to Come to Epcot’s The Land Pavilion as Part of Park’s Transformation