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The Spaceship Earth Story

Part and parcel of Disney’s pride in its new theme park, Epcot Center, was the seemingly endless amount of documentation the park received when it opened in 1982. Not only did Disney want to promote its new and exciting offering, but each attraction had a major sponsor; these were the companies who had paid for the park, and it was important to keep them happy by giving each pavilion the PR treatment.

This wonderful little video seeks to present the tale of Spaceship Earth, the park’s visual icon. Is it a machine? A vehicle? A monument? You’ll find out.

There’s a lot to look for in this, aside from some really nice talking heads with various WED and PICO personnel. There are some great aerial shots of the new park; aside from the big empty lot where The Living Seas would later be built, you can make out a number of small infrastructure differences from today. The “rose garden” path from Journey into Imagination into World Showcase had not been built yet; neither had the path from World of Motion to the Odyssey. Look for the satellite dishes on the lawn next to CommuniCore East! And, of course, there’s the beautiful original entrance plaza, with its signature fountain.

The video features a brief but nice walkthrough of the attraction’s development, from early consultations with the Annenberg School at USC through to the engineering process. Ray Bradbury speaks a little of the park’s inspiration, although I find his version of history to be, perhaps, ever so slightly embellished. Keep an eye out for the Nautilus submarine in Ray’s office; that submarine – along with a similar amount of clutter – was still in his home study as of 2009. It was sitting in the corner, propped up against the wall; everyone has a Nautilus sitting around, right?

It’s neat to hear Claudio Mazzoli speak about the creation of that mural which we all have probably walked past a million times over the years. And some peeks inside the ride itself offer a look at the original 1982 staging; the Renaissance scene, in particular, has been changed over the years.

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8 comments to The Spaceship Earth Story

  • Bravo! Thank you so much for posting this. Spaceship Earth has long been my favorite part of the world- and seeing this was an incredible treat.

  • Professional Dreamer

    I was hoping to hear more about Richard Buckminster Fuller, someone i heard a lot about while in college and later at WED. He was the man who invented and popularized the term Spaceship Earth and Synergetic before this example was created, and was an inspiration for it. His presence in the WED Model shop was one to remember. The first self supporting geodesic dome here at EPCOT is a 40th anniversary WED monument to his death in 1983. Rest in peace Valeri.

    • I agree! It would have been nice to hear more about “Bucky”, I agree. I had heard he had paid a visit to WED and that it was pretty remarkable – any particular memories?

      I’m sorry to hear that about Valeri. I was wondering about her since I’ve seen her turn up a few times in Epcot-related videos.

      • Tim

        If you’re a Richard Buckminster Fuller fan it is worth a visit to his Dymaxion House at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. While your there enjoy the Museum and Greenfield Village too. It’s a wonderful place!

  • [...] Progress City, U.S.A. posted a great video of the Spaceship Earth story. [...]

  • Tim

    I don’t recognize the Audio-Animatronic at around 12:02 in video. Where is it from on the ride?

    • I was wondering that too, since I don’t think it’s from Spaceship Earth. I’ve seen that brief clip many times in Epcot-related videos. I’m not sure what it’s from; for some reason I thought it might be from World of Motion, but I’m not really sure.

  • Professional Dreamer

    The Spruce Goose was also in a specially designed geodesic dome designed just for it and Disney managed it for a while along with the Queen Mary which might have become part of Westcot. A lot of the ideas became Tokyo Disney Seas which has no dome, but we all know is a Big Hit. Long Beach lost out.

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