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).
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!