Depicting the fascinating and dynamic journey man has taken in communications, Spaceship Earth debuted Oct. 1,1982.
Guests visiting the geospheric attraction in the mid-1980s were entertained by the voice of legendary CBS journalist Walter Cronkite, who narrated the attraction for nearly a decade.
The attraction was revamped in 1994 with narration by actor Jeremy Irons, along with a new show storyline theme of communication bridges the barriers between us; new musical score; show lighting upgrades; re-staging of some of the historical scenes; newly created scenes; hi-definition virtual classroom and future communications vignettes; and laser-driven special effects.
In July 2007, Walt Disney Imagineers began the third reimagining of the visual and thematic centerpiece of Epcot. Reopened this month, Spaceship Earth now gives Guests the opportunity to imagine their future and discover how each generation of mankind has shaped the future for the next generation and how the spirit of innovation has moved people from caves to the cosmos. The adventure ultimately leads to the very top of the geodesic dome, where Guests arrive at the present.
The attraction has been transformed with new show scenes, lighting effects, costumes, set decoration and a new narrator, Academy Award-winning English actress Dame Judi Dench. Also, a new musical score, conducted by Emmy award-winning composer Bruce Broughton, features a 63-piece orchestra and 24-voice choir, and infuses each scene with musical styles and instruments appropriate to the time period.
This was not an easy task, according to Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Senior Show Producer Bob Zalk. To have the new scene music transition smoothly as vehicles travel from one time period to the next was extremely difficult, he said.
The first time we rode through the attraction accompanied by the new music, we were amazed. Bob says he was especially excited to work on the Spaceship Earth project now because the attraction was one of his first projects in 1981.
I personally feel Ive come full circle as an Imagineer because I worked on Spaceship Earth as a sound engineer with WDI in 1981, he said. Its like coming back to an old friend. On the personal side, I feel real good about facing the challenge of taking this classic iconic attraction and giving it enhancements without compromising the story and elements that made it great to begin with. Jeff Woy, a project manager with Facility Asset Management, said his group touched just about every part of the building during the project. We worked both on-scene and behind the-scenes, partnering with WDI, he said.
We installed a new system of catwalks to make it easier to fine-tune lighting, made enhancements to animation, show lighting,props, special effects and [added] new entrance lighting and landscape package. Behind the scenes, we replaced all the major components of the air-conditioning system and upgraded several facility safety systems and ride components, including the control system.
The refurbished attraction also features a new post show presented by Siemens. As Guests disembark the time travel experience, they are invited to visit Project Tomorrow: Inventing the World of Tomorrow, where interactive exhibits bring to life the ideas and technologies Siemens is developing to help make the world a better place for the future. The space is filled with fun, interactive games and displays that showcase innovative technologies. Here Guests step into the world of tomorrow and glimpse the future of medicine, transportation and responsible energy management across the globe.
The reimagined Spaceship Earth retains the rich elements that make this iconic attraction a classic experience enjoyed by generations, said Epcot Vice President Jim MacPhee. From the enhanced scenes and post-show game offerings to the interactive element that lets Guests imagine their own visions of the future, Spaceship Earth helps Epcot enthusiasts discover how one generation can influence and inspire the next.
This enhancement is another exciting opportunity for us to make Epcot an even more dynamic and family friendly park. Since Spaceship Earth opened more than 25 years ago, it is estimated that 300 million Guests have experienced the attraction.