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Spaceship Earth at Epcot

While looking through my Disney pictures for inspiration on which ride or piece of scenery to write about next I noticed that I had taken about 89 pictures of Spaceship Earth while we were in Epcot. I decided that their might be a reason so I set out to learn more. After all, the largest geodesic sphere in the world is something of a marvel. It photographs well from all over the park and it is quite the landmark. It captures the eye and the imagination and draws you to it. It’s stunning, really. From Epoct’s opening in 1982, Spaceship Earth has entranced park goers, but what’s really going on inside this ball of goodies? Let’s take a look.

Photo Feb 22, 8 51 14 AM

Time to learn about the world’s biggest golf ball.

The sphere itself stands 180 feet high, is 165 feet in diameter and has no less than 954 triangular panels made out of anodized aluminum that has been bonded on each side with a core of polyethylene at its center. This is called alucobond. It appears to be hovering in the air thanks to 6 steel legs. It is actually held an impressive 15 feet above ground.

Photo Feb 22, 5 16 55 PM

Although, in this photo is it held in Carl’s big hands.

Go a bit deeper and you’ll find that the whole thing is actually two separate spheres. One on the outside, one on the inside. The inner sphere is weatherproof to protect the ride and is composed of steel arranged in a giant triangle. It is also the piece that houses the spiral route of the ride itself. The outer sphere is just for show and is held two feet away from the inner sphere. Interestingly though, halfway up the sphere is a gutter system. It collects water and takes it down the sphere, through the supporting legs and underground until it eventually replenishes the World Showcase Lagoon! Oh science. You’re the best. This is doubly important as, if not for this system, water would pour down on guests every time it rained. Thank you Spaceship Earth for keeping my head dry. You’re the best.

Photo Feb 22, 9 28 06 PM

Oh, that is one sexy circle.

There’s an urban myth that the surface of Spaceship Earth is so reflective that when the sun hits it just right, it sets grass around it on fire. Folks also say that if those rays hit you they can severely burn your skin.  Sorry conspiracy theorists, this one just ain’t true. The material was chosen, however, because during the day it would reflect the guests below, while at night, it reflected the stars above.

Photo Feb 22, 9 22 04 PM

Mmm, Star power. So good.

The original story for Spaceship Earth was drafted by the formidable Ray Bradbury. From here, 17 scenes outlining the life and times of communication were put together and research began to find out how to make each scene feel super authentic. In less than a week after opening, upwards of 100,000 guests had ridden Spaceship Earth and within the first year, it hit a whopping 7.5 million.

Photo Feb 22, 8 59 14 AM

And with creepy scenery such as this, who wouldn’t ride it?

Something else fun to know is that many of the animatronics are copies, re-clothed and repurposed in order to save money. Many of these included presidents from the Hall of Presidents. Notice something familiar about the Roman Senator. That’s your buddy Teddy Roosevelt! Hmm, where have I seen that monk before? Oh right, it’s John Adams. Many animatronics from both Hall of Presidents and the American Adventure were copied to save on costs for Spaceship Earth.

Photo Feb 22, 3 32 00 PM

Just looks good from anywhere in the park.

There’s so much to know about Spaceship Earth. From the authenticity in the sights and sounds to the little tiny details but I’ll save some of that for you to discover on your own. It’s a wonder and a modern marvel. It fascinates from the outside as much as it does on the inside. Next time you pass it by, make sure to give a friendly wave. It represents progress and growth and inspiration and does all of that while keeping you dry from the rain. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Photo Feb 22, 8 52 24 AM

We made sure to say our hellos as well.

For more Disney related news, reviews and history, click on these nicely colored letters.

11 replies »

  1. Great post, Jaysen. Epcot is certainly different to the other parks. It’s unique.
    Incase you’re interested I put up a couple of posts about my trip to Epcot last year. I managed to find some cool videos about the opening and construction. The links are here if you want a peek. Look out for a surprise guest in the Epcot opening video.
    http://swlothian.com/2015/04/22/epcot-walt-disney-world-florida-part-1/
    http://swlothian.com/2015/05/28/epcot-walt-disney-world-florida-part-2/

    • Oh awesome! I’ll check it out for sure. I watched a few of the videos in researching this one. So fascinating.

  2. Haha, the first time I rode this as a kid (early 90s), my uncle tried to tell me it was a big rollercoaster in the ball. I didn’t like coasters then, but apparently I got on anyways, and when we started going up that first incline, he was still teasing me, telling me we were about to get to the top of the hill and go zooming down. Now I think it would be awesome if there were a coaster in there!

    Spaceship Earth is such a great ride; I remember as a kid being awed by the ideas it presented for the future, like video calls haha. I like that they’ve updated it slightly through the years, and I hope they keep doing that.

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