As times have changed, the Spaceship Earth attraction at EPCOT has changed with them. Opening in 1982, the ride received massive overhauls in 1986, 1994, and 2007, usually with the departure or addition of a corporate sponsor. With over a decade since the last reimagining, coupled with the 2017 departure of Siemens, Walt Disney Imagineering is ramping up for another round of changes to the park’s icon attraction.
Spaceship Earth is more than just the physical icon of EPCOT – it’s a symbol of how the park continues to evolve. The attraction is a crucial piece of the historic transformation already underway at EPCOT, and the team at Walt Disney Imagineering will officially begin implementing their new vision for Spaceship Earth starting May 26.
We first announced the closure back in October 2018, and still expect the closure to last about two and a half years as part of the park’s massive overhaul, which includes a new building for the exit of the attraction, and potentially a new name, as revealed during the 2019 D23 Expo: “Spaceship Earth: Our Shared Story.” As with all the changes overtaking the park, this reimagining promises to make the attraction––in newly-appointed CEO Bob Chapek’s words––“more Disney, more family, more timeless, and more relevant.”
The overhaul will be so thorough that it will require the ride to close at least until the park’s 40th anniversary in the second half of 2022, possibly leading into 2023. 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’s about time for the entire ride track to be overhauled.
As we’ve previously reported, the ride inside of Spaceship Earth will also 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 greater scale coming to every scene following that, all the way to the end of the ride. Today’s announcement comes paired with a new piece of concept art, which shows a heavily-altered Egyptian scene from the ride.
Here’s the full announcement from WDI:
This means Spaceship Earth in its current form will close for a time starting that day, and the ideas we are working on inside that geosphere will be well worth the wait. As we shared at last year’s D23 Expo, the next iteration of Spaceship Earth will focus on the story of humanity, following our long journey from prehistoric humans to today brought to life with magic and depth that only Disney can deliver. Many of the moments you know and love will be updated in amazing ways, blended with brand-new scenes to tell a story about our human experience.
Today we’re excited to share a few additional details of what you can expect when this icon returns. You’ll visit Egypt, which is part of the current version of the attraction, but it will be an Egypt like you’ve never seen before, transformed through the power of light.
Throughout the attraction, you’ll hear new narration and see how light plays a central role in our shared human journey, coming to life in dynamic ways in a celebration of the magic that’s possible when we all come together.
Walt Disney once said EPCOT “would always be in a state of becoming,” and Spaceship Earth has lived up to that vision for generations. This will be the attraction’s fourth – and most ambitious – update since the park’s grand opening on Oct. 1, 1982.