Take a journey through time on Spaceship Earth at Epcot.
Travel back to the dawn of humanity, when our ancestors communicated through paintings on cave walls. Then turn the corner and watch new ideas spread like wildfire with the invention of the Gutenberg printing press.
Witness the landmark moments of amazing innovation that made cellphones, the internet, and WiFi possible, and then take a peek into the future of communications. You can see it all while riding within one of the most famous symbols of Walt Disney World!
Keep reading for our complete guide to Spaceship Earth.
Spaceship Earth Quick Facts
Spaceship Earth is impossible to miss as it is located inside the giant golf ball right as you enter Epcot in World Celebration. You can see Spaceship Earth’s location below.
How to Ride Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth has a Standby Line and a Lightning Lane. There is no Single Rider Line.
Do I need to use Genie+ at Spaceship Earth?
While Spaceship Earth does offer Genie+, it is not an early priority when making your park plans.
Many people want to ride this attraction right when they arrive, so the wait at the beginning of the day can be long, but after about 2 p.m. it drops off dramatically.
Genie+ availability for Spaceship Earth also rarely runs out so you can always grab your reservation later in the day if necessary.
Be sure to check out our touring strategies for Epcot for more Genie+ advice.
Rider Switch/Child Swap
As there is no height requirement for Spaceship Earth, this attraction does not offer Rider Switch.
Rider Switch is Disney’s system that allows guests with small children to take turns riding bigger rides, while another person/people wait with the little one.
You can learn more about Rider Switch via our handy guide.
What to Expect when you Ride
As you walk underneath Spaceship Earth, you’ll see the exterior queue. To the right of the ball heading into the park is the standby queue, while the left is for Lightning Lane.
After wrapping back and forth beneath the ball, you come to a straightaway ramp that leads right inside. Once you get to the top of the ramp, step on the moving walkway to board your ride vehicle.
Each “Omnimover” ride vehicle has two rows, seating two guests per row.
On the back of the seat in front of you, or in the front of the vehicle, is a small television screen that will show you illustrations of the future near the end of the ride.
While there are no safety restraints, the doors on the right side of the car where you board will slide shut to ensure guests stay seated.
On Spaceship Earth, guests in ECVs must transfer to a wheelchair, then to the ride vehicle. Be sure to ask a Cast Member for assistance.
Handheld captioning is available for those who need it and service animals are permitted on Spaceship Earth with caution.
On the Ride
If you prefer to experience Spaceship Earth without spoilers, you may want to skip this section.
Academy Award winning actress Dame Judi Dench narrates 30,000 years of history in Spaceship Earth.
Through detailed audio-animatronics and stunning, elaborate sets, you’ll learn just how we became the advanced society we are today, able to connect across the globe with the push of a button.
Board your “Omnimover” ride vehicle and be transported back to the time of early humans, when man discovered verbal language as a way to communicate and survive the harsh landscape.
You’ll witness the invention of papyrus in ancient Egypt which allowed people to record history as well as transport knowledge.
But as language develops, so does the divide between civilizations, which is why the Phoenicians create the common alphabet that we use today. Have you thanked the Phoenicians yet?
Hundreds of miles away, ancient Greeks establish public schools as well as the practice of mathematics, which leads to amazing technological advances. In Rome, the Romans build a network of roads, connecting civilizations for the first time.
But when Rome falls and the Library at Alexandria is burned, all seems lost.
However, in the Middle East, copies of the books have been watched over by scholars creating – as Dame Judy puts it – the first backup system! And our recordings of early history are preserved.
As monks toil endlessly to record books by hand, the invention of the Gutenberg Moveable-Type Printing Press in 1450 sparks the beginning of a new age of innovation known as The Rennaisance.
You are then transported to the industrial revolution and on to the invention of the telegraph, the telephone, radio, movies, and television – all modern methods of communication.
You’ll see astronauts land on the moon in 1969, the invention of computers, and a recreation of Steve Jobs’s garage, where the first consumer computer was invented.
But in the end, how do you fit into all of this history? Spaceship Earth also endeavors to reveal your place in the global neighborhood.
Toward the end of the attraction, there’s an interactive display on the screen in front of you. Guests can select their desired answers on how they hope their future will play out.
Before exiting, a short video shows how your future will look according to the answers you provided. It includes a photo of you taken at the beginning of your ride.
You may actually recognize some of the technology already!
Emmy winner Bruce Broughton composed the musical score for Spaceship Earth and conducted a 63-piece orchestra and 24-voice choir to bring it to life.
If you listen closely, you’ll notice that the music for each scene features styles and instruments appropriate to the era, transitioning seamlessly into the next.
Is Spaceship Earth Kid-Friendly?
While there are periods of darkness on Spaceship Earth, there are no scary moments so guests of all ages can enjoy this iconic attraction.
There’s also a fun interactive play area little ones will love at the exit of the ride – Project Tomorrow.
You can access this area without getting on the ride. Just look for the “Project Tomorrow” sign around the corner from the outdoor queue near the Bubblegum Wall.
Strollers are not allowed in most queues at Walt Disney World.
Instead, you’ll need to leave your stroller in the designated stroller parking area outside the queue entrance at Spaceship Earth.
Spaceship Earth debuted on October 1, 1982, Epcot’s opening day.
For two years before it opened, Disney Imagineers worked with science fiction writer Ray Bradbury and a host of other consultants and advisors, including those at the Smithsonian Institute, to develop this iconic attraction.
In its first iteration, American film and television actor Vic Perrin was the narrator for the 30,000 years of global history covered in Spaceship Earth.
He was replaced by legendary journalist and news anchor Walter Cronkite in 1986.
With each update to the ride, came a new narrator. In 1994, Jeremy Irons, otherwise known as Scar from The Lion King, replaced Cronkite’s narration.
The ending to the ride was changed, more audio-animatronics were added, and the song that had served as the theme for the ride since it opened, “Tomorrow’s Child”, was replaced with an instrumental musical ending.
Then in 2008, Academy-Award-winning actress, Dame Judie Dench took over as narrator and the fourth edition of the ride debuted.
Though the attraction was scheduled for refurbishment in 2020, it was postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic closures.
Other Fun Details
- If Spaceship Earth were an actual golf ball, the golfer would need to be one mile tall!
- There is a secret lounge inside Spaceship Earth! You’ll find this VIP spot directly above the post-show area. Over the years it’s been used for corporate sponsors to relax and have meetings. It currently is available for weddings and conventions.
- If you stand under the dome when it’s raining, you won’t get wet. Disney installed a gutter system that diverts the rainwater off the shell and transports it to Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon.
- In 2000, to celebrate the new millennium, Disney created a huge 25-story Mickey arm holding a magic wand going up the side of the dome. It remained there until 2007. At 257 feet tall, the Millennium 2000 Icon was the tallest point at the Walt Disney World Resort, besting the 199 feet of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios.
- In the Renaissance scene there is an artist painting a bowl of fruit and if you look closely you will see a Hidden Mickey with the three grapes in the picture.
- You can find the famous “Bubblegum Wall” outside the exit of Spaceship Earth, which is also the entrance to Project Tomorrow.
- To save time and money, Disney repurposed some of the molds used for animatronic figures in other attractions, including those from The Hall of Presidents. The mold for Andrew Jackson was used to craft Gutenberg’s assistant, Teddy Roosevelt as a Roman Senator, John Adams as a Monk, and Dwight D. Eisenhower a mandolin player.
- You will also spot John and Patricia from Carousel of Progress as the lute and violin players in the Renaissance scene.
- At the top of the dome, there is a secret trap door that leads up to the roof for maintenance on the outside.
- The hieroglyphics on the walls in the ancient Egyptian scene of the attraction are authentic recreations of actual hieroglyphics. The words being dictated by the Pharaoh were taken from an actual letter sent by a pharaoh to one of his agents.
- The page of the Bible that Johann Gutenberg is examining is an exact replica of a page of the Gutenberg Bible on display in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.
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