With the closure of Walt Disney World lasting through the announced May closing date for Spaceship Earth, it was unclear if we would ever see the current version of the ride again. Then, much to our surprise, it was announced that Spaceship Earth would be open when EPCOT returned on July 15, 2020. On top of that, the project’s segment was removed from the EPCOT Experience preview center show (along with the now cancelled Mary Poppins project for the United Kingdom pavilion). Some suspected the project to overhaul EPCOT’s iconic centerpiece attraction was cancelled, but in fact, it was just delayed.
Mass layoffs at Walt Disney Imagineering did delay the project indefinitely, coupled with the stalling on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. It is likely that the France expansion would’ve opened in late-May 2020, counteracting the loss in ride capacity with Spaceship Earth being closed. With Remy delayed and Imagineers on the Spaceship Earth project canned, there was no rush to close the ride. Now, Ratatouille has an opening date, October 1, 2021, paving the way for SSE to be shuttered.
According to several sources, the Spaceship Earth refurbishment is back on schedule and the attraction will close sometime in the next few months. If you’re asking why Disney seems to be rushing to close a ride just as capacity is increasing, well, the rehab can’t be delayed much longer. The updates to Spaceship Earth will not just be in the show, but will focus on rebuilding most of the ride system—which is now almost 40 years old—and repairing the structure itself in some places. This work is long overdue now.
Disney has yet to announce any of this, so as with any rumor, take it with a grain of salt until it actually happens. If it does come to pass, EPCOT will be without its most beloved attraction when its 40th birthday rolls around on October 1st, 2022, but the attraction also missed the park’s 25th anniversary in 2007.