Five Facts About Spaceship Earth
This year, Epcot celebrated its 35th anniversary. That’s three and one half decades of Figment, World Showcase, Spaceship Earth, and a whole host of attractions large and small that have delighted and educated Guests from around the globe.
Of course, the story of Epcot didn’t start in 1982 but in the mind of Walt Disney. In his original vision, Epcot was meant to be a city of the future. More accurately, it would be an Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Walt wanted to show the world how a city should and could work, utilizing cutting edge technology and urban design. After Disney’s death, the Epcot concept evolved into an educational park that would focus on innovation, science, and world culture.
As Disney Cast Members and Guests alike celebrate the park’s birthday, we thought it would be fun to spend a few weeks learning more about some of the park’s iconic attractions. No Attraction is more closely associated with, or better embodies the philosophy of Epcot than Space Earth.
1. The Sponsors
A number of companies have sponsored Spaceship Earth over the years, beginning with corporate giant Bell Systems in 1982. The breakup of Bell Systems was mandated that same year and took effect in January of 1984. AT&T, formerly part of the Bell System, took over nas sponsor from 1984 until 2004 when Siemens became the Attraction’s Sponsor.
2. Earth Station
After exiting the Spaceship Earth Attraction, Guests originally entered Earth Station. The area functioned as the park’s Guests Services center. Guests could use the touchscreens on the WorldKey Information kiosks to watch videos, interact with Cast Members by two way, closed circuit video, and make Epcot dining reservations. Earth Station also had large video screens previewing Epcot’s coming Attractions.
3. Lawrence Dobkin
Spaceship Earth has been narrated by a host of different voices over the years, including Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, and broadcasting legend Walter Cronkite. For the first four years the attraction was narrated by actor and screenwriter Lawrence Dobkin. In addition to his work on Spaceship Earth, Dobkin served as the narrator for the Hall of Presidents between 1971 and 1993.
4. Buckminster Fuller
The name Spaceship Earth was originally popularized by theorist, futurist, and architect Buckminster Fuller. In 1968, Fuller wrote a book titled Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, which described the Earth as a spacecraft and humans as astronauts travelling with it. Imagineers also took inspiration from Fuller’s work with geodesic domes when planning the shape and design of the attraction. In 1967, Fuller designed the Montreal Biosphere for Expo 67, and the Spaceship Earth Attraction bears more than a passing resemblance to Fuller’s creation.
5. Ray Bradbury
Walt Disney enjoyed a long friendship with science fiction author Ray Bradbury, author of such classic works as Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Illustrated Man. The two met in 1963 when they almost collided while walking down a street in Beverly Hills. Over the next three years, the two exchanged ideas about the future and events like the 1964 World’s Fair.
Years after Walt’s death, Bradbury was invited to help write an attraction that eventually became Spaceship Earth. His original script ran for several years, but was later tweaked by Tom Fitzgerald to make the language more accessible to Guests.
In 1982, Bradbury spoke passionately about the Epcot concept and Walt’s vision for the future.
“Everyone in the world will come to these gates,” Bradbury said. “Why? Because they want to look at the world of the future. They want to see how to make better human beings. That’s what the whole thing is about. The cynics are already here and they’re terrifying one another. What Disney is doing is showing the world that there are alternative ways to do things that can make us all happy. If we can borrow some of the concepts of Disneyland and Disney World and Epcot, then indeed the world can be a better place.”