What’s new with the Spaceship Earth Refurbishment?
When the Walt Disney World resort announced that it was planning a multi-year Spaceship Earth refurbishment, many were excited. Spaceship Earth has been EPCOT’s flagship attraction since it first opened its doors on October 1 1982.
Disney said it will debut during the park’s 50th anniversary world celebration this year and will feature a new programmable story light system, among other updates. To incorporate all the planned improvements, the Spaceship Earth attraction was set to be closed for refurbishment last May 2020.
It was not reported how long Spaceship Earth would be closed. Given all the proposed improvements and based on its three previous reimagining since its opening in 1982, it would be a lengthy closing.
All these announcements and plans came over a year ago. There was no COVID-19 pandemic then. A lot has happened since, but little to nothing had to do with Spaceship Earth refurbishment.
While the iconic Spaceship Earth closed on May 2020, it was not to give way to renovation. It was due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The whole park closed along with it. When the park reopened in July, Spaceship Earth resumed operation as well.
What has happened to all the planned improvements?
Spaceship Earth Refurbishment on the Outside
While business considerations halted the planned Spaceship Earth refurbishment inside the geodesic sphere, some enhancements have been made and are still being done outside.
First is the new prismatic pylon fountain at the entrance plaza, right in front of Spaceship Earth. The construction walls have been brought down, revealing three acrylic pylons, each one standing over 16 feet tall. Each structure features the park’s logo, and in the middle of them is a fountain.
The entrance plaza now looks better than ever as the new features blend perfectly with the surrounding greenery as if saying that technology can coexist with the natural world harmoniously. It brings back memories of why the EPCOT Center was created in the first place.
Aside from the entrance plaza, there are other activities that will have to be done in the near future, although they would have nothing to do with Spaceship Earth refurbishment. For one, the attraction has some overdue track issues that will have to be dealt with, regardless of how the reimagining will go.
More to Come
Front and center in the planned version of the attraction is the new programmable lighting system designed by Walt Disney Imagineering. It consists of interconnected lights that will shine through the sphere’s reflective panels and resemble the stars in the night sky. It will be the defining feature of the icon attraction long after the “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”
Another improvement lined up for the Spaceship Earth reimagining is the focus of the attraction. The new version of the attraction will still highlight the human journey, from prehistoric times all the way to the present. Instead of concentrating on inventions and technology, it will focus more on storytelling.
Many of the existing scenes will be retained, but new scenes will be incorporated. Also, new technology developed by the Imagineering team will be used to better tell the story that all humans share. The combined effects of the programmable story light and new and improved scenes will make you feel like you are in a place inspired by Mary Poppins.
Aside from the new and improved visual elements, the narration will also be updated. This means you might have to say goodbye to the voice of Dame Judi Dench.
The Biggest One Yet
As per the Disney World Imagineering team’s pronouncement in a Disney Parks blog, the impending Spaceship earth update is the biggest one yet. It is set to begin on May 26 of this year.
The improvements are so comprehensive that the attraction will be closed at least until the tail end of 2022. It could possibly last until the following year.
Aside from the updates for the reimagining, there are other repair activities that need to be done. And given the Spaceship Earth attraction is aging and that the last refurbishment was done more than a decade ago, the anticipated long downtime is understandable.
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