Blog — February 21, 2013 7:23 pm

Obsession of the Day: Spaceship Earth

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Thanks to a deep discussion (limited to 140 characters at a time) on Twitter, I have EPCOT on my mind.  In particular, I am thinking about Spaceship Earth from the Walter Cronkite era of the ride (1986-1994).

 spaceshipearth01Arguably the most iconic structure at Disney World.

I’ll offer a little background information for anyone who has never experienced Spaceship Earth.  Essentially, the ride consists of non-stop moving vehicles that pass through historical scenes as depicted by state-of-the art (for 1982) animatorinics.  All the while, an ominous voice narrates, acting as your future-bound tour guide.  The theme?  Communication.

When I was seven years old, I can’t say that I fully understood the educational aspect of the ride.  I simply appreciated all the hard work that went into creating each scene.  The effects were a sight to behold and the music was pretty catchy, too.

Every few random number of years, the ride is revamped.  In 1994, Cronkite’s narration was replaced by the voice of Jeremy Irons.  Some of the “future from the perspective of 1982” scenery from the ride’s ending was updated to reflect the impending force of electronic communication.  Keep in mind that when the new ending was added, most people still didn’t know what the Internet was.  It was pretty mind blowing stuff.

Fast forward to 2004 and now that futuristic ending was humorously quaint.  Instead of building new robots and designing new sets, though, the park decided to end the ride with a cheap animated Flash cartoon.  On Spaceship Earth, we’ve traveled hundreds of years, showcasing the progress of man just to discover we’ve gotten cheap and lazy?  What a letdown.

Thanks to the magic of the future of electronic communication — I mean, the Internet, we can at least relive a few of the memories.  Below is “Tomorrow’s Child”, the song played during the ride’s end of the Cronkite era.  The scene associated with this song involved a laser show projected on mirrors.

 

Good luck getting this song out of your head.

Spaceship Earth was usually my last ride of the night on EPCOT trips and the music at 3:27 in the above clip always brought it home for me.  Something about the lone sound of those glockenspiels put my day into perspective, making me feel as if I had been part of something special.  If there is any aspect of “magic” that comes to mind when I think of Disney World, it’s that ten second snippet of music.

I should probably note that, before Cronkite, there was yet another incarnation of the ride hosted by Lawrence Dobkin.  Can’t say I have any recollection of that one, though.

Do you have an EPCOT memory to share?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

7 Comments

  • My Spaceship Earth experience was more traumatizing than most–not because I was afraid of the animatronic dinosaurs or anything, but because I SHIT MY PANTS. For some reason I feel comfortable telling you this.
    I was seven years old and it was my family’s first trip to Disney World. We had spent our second day walking around Epcot, which for a seven year old, isn’t nearly as fun as Magic Kingdom. I remember complaining a lot about how bored I was, and to shut me up, my Mom and Dad just kept buying me junk food. By the time we got to do Spaceship Earth–which was the last ride of the night before the park closed–my stomach was churning something awful. I kept warning my parents that I had to go to the bathroom REALLY BAD but they were so fed up with my all-day whining, and Dad was starting to get that crazy Clark Griswold complex where he just wanted everyone to have the most fun possible whether you like it or not, goddammit, and the idea of leaving Epcot Center without a ride on Spaceship Earth was preposterous.
    So they chose to ignore me, of course, and we got on the ride. About halfway through, I just couldn’t hold it any longer. I shit my pants DURING the ride. But it wasn’t just normal shit, it was upset-stomach-ate-nothing-but-corndogs-and-ice-cream-all-day diarrhea shit. And keep in mind, this was in the middle of summer in Florida, so I’m wearing SHORTS. My mom flipped the fuck out and jumped OUT of the moving vehicle with me in tow, and we spent the next fifteen minutes wandering the dark corners of the interior of the Spaceship Earth ride where park visitors are never supposed to go, feeling our way in the dark, desperately looking for Exit signs while shit was literally running down my legs. To this day, I still don’t know what the rest of that ride is like.

    • shezcrafti That is quite the traumatizing experience!  You’ll have to remind me to tell you my Epcot unfortunate poop story sometime…

      • smurfwreck  Hey, remember that time you told us to remind you to tell us your EPCOT story?

        • soapsite Long story short, Ellen’s Energy Adventure is way to f-ing long, and having just eaten a cantaloupe and ham pizza in “Italy”, I shouldn’t have gone on it.  I learned two things that day.  When put to the test I have a Herculean control over my sphincters, and two anuses can rip in the happiest place on earth… #EpicshitCotStories…

    • shezcrafti Egad, that’s quite a story!  Thanks for sharing that memory.
      I
      don’t know what it says about me that, as traumatizing as an experience
      as that probably was for you, my immediate thought was “Wow, you got to see
      behind the scenes of Spaceship Earth!  Jealoussssss!”  Sorry if I come across as geeky
      and insensitive.
      PS: With the current ending of the ride being what it is, you may want to reenact this if you ever go back to avoid sitting through it.

      • My Mom and I eventually did make it into some type of back room where I remember seeing a bunch of insane-looking control panels and monitors, before some official-looking guy jumped up from his station and called park security on us while my mom frantically tried to explain the situation. But somehow I don’t think the security guys will be as lax with a women in in her 30s versus 7-year-old me. 
        Oh and did I mention the part where I was sobbing uncontrollably as disgusted park visitors stared at me?

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