Spaceship Earth- sometimes referred to as “the giant golf ball” which makes Disney fans cringe, has had a long and important history in Epcot that carries on today enthralling park guests, and history enthusiasts alike. Opening in 1982, Spaceship Earth was an innovation, and sponsored by a group called Bell System. Although we all know what Spaceship Earth is today and we all have our own attachments and feelings for this ride, having an attraction like this open in 1982 was amazing.
We all know that there are audio animatronics throughout the ride that help the narrator tell the story of the history of communication around the world. Who can forget Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or getting to see the Egyptian who was grinding papyrus into materials with which to make paper? At this time, the narrator was Vic Perrin who was famous for appearances in shows such as “The Twilight Zone” or “Star Trek”. For those of us that loved Jeremy Irons as narrator, he would not come along until 1994. Vic Perrin was narrator for the attraction from 1982-1986 when Walter Cronkite took over. This is also when Spaceship Earth got sort of a makeover.
What makes this ride so good and so memorable are not just the animatronics. While it is an incredible “journey” to travel back in time and learn about the history of communication, it is also seeing how the attraction has evolved over time that adds to its specialness and sustainability. Spaceship Earth has been through many changes over the years. There was the addition of the stars in the sky that the guest sees as he or she travels backward “through time”. This addition helped add to the feeling that the guest was actually viewing history in the making. Another thing that makes this attraction so special are in fact the narrators.
It is not just their other roles in television or movies that make them special. Each narrator from the beginning brought his or her own special touch to the story be it Vic Perrin at the beginning, Walter Cronkite, Jeremy Irons whom we all know as the deliciously evil and scary Scar, or Dame Judi Dench. Each of the narrators takes the story and adds their own touch to it. You know how they say that you never forget the first parade you see in Magic Kingdom? Well, you never forget your first narrator of Spaceship Earth either.
From its opening in 1982 through today, Spaceship Earth has left an impression on people that has been irreplaceable. For me, it had a huge impact. This was an attraction that I could ride for several reasons. It is dark and cool which makes it a great escape from the Florida heat, and I can learn something as well. For my son, it is a neat way for him to get a glimpse at what the future could look like as well as see some of the past and that fabulous Disney magic. With the thirtieth anniversary being just around the corner, I got to thinking of all the reasons why I love Spaceship Earth. I love it for the history, and I love it for the promise of what tomorrow will bring. This attraction really does make you believe that you are on a journey on a “grand and miraculous spaceship”- and truly, I believe we are.