UPDATE: Spaceship Earth Will Close for Over Two Years, Part of Massive Overhaul of Epcot’s Future World

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A few weeks ago, we told you there were rumors that Spaceship Earth at Epcot would once again be reimagined, this time as part of the ongoing overhaul of the park to make it “more timeless, more relevant, more family friendly, and more Disney.” Some new details have emerged on the project that reveal the massive scope of the park overhaul, and that we won’t be able to take a ride through the grand and miraculous attraction for quite some time once things get underway.

Concept art for “Project Gamma”, the re-imagining of the center area of Future World. Note that these plans have radically changed since this was released at the last D23 Expo.

While the concept art is now out-of-date and not accurate to what the project will actually entail, Disney is still moving forward with a complete overhaul of the park entrance and central area of Future World as part of “Project Gamma” (as Walt Disney Imagineering is calling it). Included in this project will be the overhaul of Spaceship Earth, as well as a lot of new and interesting changes for the main thoroughfare of the park that are still very much in development.

As far as Spaceship Earth is concerned, the overhaul will be so thorough that it will require the ride to close from early 2020 until the park’s 40th anniversary in the second half of 2022. That’s basically two and half years without Spaceship Earth in our lives. Why would a project like this take so long? Well, needless to say, there’s a lot to it. Spaceship Earth is aging and it is about time for the entire ride track to be overhauled. As well, Disney will use this opportunity to extend the length of the attraction with new load and unload areas that may not be in the same places that they are now. It also sounds like the current post-show building that houses Project Tomorrow will be removed and an entirely new structure built. It is quite the project in scale and scope, as you can see.

The structure behind Spaceship Earth could look very different in 2022 if the load and unload for the ride are moved and the ride path extended. The ride portion inside of the sphere would remain the same in layout.

As we previously reported, the ride inside of Spaceship Earth will see a refreshing of all scenes leading up to the Industrial Revolution portion (where newspapers are being printed as a young boy sells them steps away), with changes on a grand scale coming to every scene following that, all the way to the end of the ride. Sources also indicate that the scene in the dome at the top of the attraction where guests look back at Earth from space will be drastically reimagined utilizing the latest in projection mapping technologies. As far as the exterior of Spaceship Earth, they will indeed be working on setting-up projection mapping there as well, covering the entire geodesic sphere with projections during the ride’s lengthy downtime and the redevelopment of the area around it. It should make for quite the nighttime display.

So, what do you think? Can you survive 2.5 years without Spaceship Earth in your life?

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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Gibs
Guest
Gibs

Do we have any more details aside from SSE about Gamma 2.0?

Stacey
Guest
Stacey

NO!! This is one of my favorite rides, and like the Carousel of Progress, some things are better left as they were created.

Me
Guest
Me

You must admit, the last scene of the carousel of progress is a bit outdated. They need to change the last room. I agree that this is a classic, and parts of it are timeless, but it’s such an impressive structure, there is so much potential to do so much more with it with newer technology.

John Romano
Guest
John Romano

……maybe the last scene in Carousel Of Progress can have everyone in the family looking lovingly at their smart-phones ….and ignoring the dad’s narration. That’s be pretty realistic and up to date

Wiliam
Guest
Wiliam

This is it’s forth incarnation, though. It is most definitely not “as it was created.”

danlb_2000
Guest
danlb_2000

Space Ship Earth currently isn’t as it was created.

Judi
Guest
Judi

I think Carousel of Progress is one of the most underrated rides – I just love it! That song gets stuck in my head every time!! LOL! I’m a little concerned that the article says they are going to make SSE “more Disney.” That sounds like a code word for sneaking in something related to Frozen – or some other way to promote some other Disney related enterprise. But then again, I’m also disappointed that so many of the rides in EPCOT’s World Showcase now have either a connection to Frozen or throw in Disney characters just for the heck… Read more »

Dimitri LaBarge
Guest
Dimitri LaBarge

It hasn’t been left as it was created since 1985. :)

C
Guest
C

:-(

Well, that’s a long time.

S
Guest
S

Wow, big news! Two plus years is a long time to go without one of our must do Epcot rides. Sounds like the are some very positive changes though. Hope they don’t skimp on the project and they make it as grand as you think.

Aubrey Romines
Guest
Aubrey Romines

No not sure

Austin Vaughn
Guest
Austin Vaughn

I mean, I’ll definitely miss SE during those years, but I am super excited to see how they can enhance it! Top 3 ride at EPCOT for me for sure.

mark
Guest
mark

People were excited to see what they would do with Journey Into Imagination, too… For a long while, the number one ride at EPCOT…. Most people who saw it in its original state would still say it’s screwed up, badly.

Brittany
Guest
Brittany

Saw it in its original state, can confirm, it is horrific and VERY short. Journey Into Imagination turning into a hunk of junk is why seeing this news is freaking me out.

Steve A
Guest
Steve A

I don’t know if I’ll make it 2 years without it. I may have to freeze myself for that time. Either that or get really into illegal drugs.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Bittersweet.

Bad Spaceship
Guest
Bad Spaceship

The last time I rode it (6 years ago?) I remember thinking it wasn’t a very good ride and had zero interest in going on it again. I know others love it, but I’d certainly welcome a change.

Jim
Guest
Jim

I blame the Venetians.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Phoenicians.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

You slayed me.

Frank
Guest
Frank

At first I was really depressed reading the title fearing an IP invasion, but with your details I’m all for it if that’s what’s necessary. Yes I will miss it, but the more recent scenes seem really dated, especially when they’re supposed to be the most innovative and modern part of the ride.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Seems the work is overdue at “Spaceship Earth” but anyone aware what will happen to the “Leave Au’ Legacy “ display ??? #thanks

McGee
Guest
McGee

Very excited to see the new experience!

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

you can thank the Phoenicians

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Since they’re keeping the original concept of the ride around, I can wait this lengthy downtime in order for it to get the attention to detail that it deserves. So happy to hear they aren’t making this a Marvel ride, etc.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Hear hear

Progressive Music Lover
Guest
Progressive Music Lover

This is outrageous and unacceptable! There seems to be no end to the overabundance of unnecessary construction projects that currently populate WDW, and their solution is to begin another. These projects do nothing more than line the pockets of the contractors and incredibly lazy construction workers while providing an unpleasant and unsafe environment for the innocent families and children that visit the parks daily. Also can anyone explain to me how a simple refurbishment will take up to 30 months? No doubt we will be subjected to two and a half years of witnessing construction workers lay about doing little… Read more »

Nicholas
Guest
Nicholas

That narration is the one thing I desperately want gone!

Ajhsys
Guest
Ajhsys

By the same token, without these “unnecessary construction projects that currently populate WDW,” you would wind up in a few decades with an aging amusement park that has a once great wooden roller coaster and a nice old carousel that needs paint. There are plenty of them around America. I vote for the construction and a few delayed rides.

Linda Martin
Guest
Linda Martin

I love the comment about making things more disney (not) if they wanted that get rid of star wars so not Disney

Fred Pilch
Guest
Fred Pilch

Well considering I’m not a huge fan it helps me avoid the ride as my son wants to ride it every time we go there, which is often. Totally looking forward to the new and improved experience and hope more details will come out at D23.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Spaceship Earth is my favorite attraction at Disney World.
I’ll certainly miss riding it on a couple vacations.
But this is GREAT, GREAT news!!

Melanie B.
Guest
Melanie B.

“more timeless” It’s already Epcot’s icon and signature attraction, and captivates riders today just as it did in the 80s “more relevant” This I could understand, by bringing the history of the ride up to modern day. However, we’re in a time of constant change, and there isn’t room to keep adding more and more scenes as the decades go by. Not sure why just going up to “the digital age” isn’t enough. “more family friendly” This ride is already rated G and is enjoyed by the youngest and oldest riders. The only people who appear to be upset by… Read more »