Spaceship Earth is actually a slow-moving amusement park ride that exists within the giant geodesic sphere. This giant sphere is dedicated to communication and technology.
The ride is a slow trip through time, showing you how mankind developed technology over the ages. It also has a trip into the near future, and it updates from time to time to ensure that it is staying ahead of the curve.
The decision to make Spaceship Earth a large sphere can be found all the way back to the Montréal Expo in 1967. During that Expo, there was a large dome, known as the Montréal biosphere that was created at the United States Pavilion. Spaceship Earth was designed with this in mind.
The original sphere that existed in Montréal was destroyed in a fire in 1976. More specifically, it was the acrylic bubble on the exterior of the sphere that was completely destroyed but the ironworks that held things together stayed in place. The sphere still exists but these days, it is a museum.
The Montréal biosphere caught the eye of Disney, as well as Disney designers and they decided they would build something similar to it into Epcot. Rather than just using a portion of the sphere, they decided to use the entire globe.
Constructing the sphere was no small project and it took a full 26 months to build from the ground up.
It was quite an achievement and one that brought a lot of attention to the park in 1982 with people wondering “what is the Epcot ball supposed to be”. The rainwater from this fascinating building is collected and drained back into the world showcase lagoon.
What Does The Spaceship Earth Golf Ball Represent?
Since the Epcot ball, Spaceship Earth was designed after the Montréal biosphere, it was really representative of the achievements of mankind. In going with the full sphere, they really showed the ability of the designers to create something that was unique and the builders to follow up on it.
A lot of work went into the creation of Spaceship Earth, and they even incorporated the use of MIT engineers to make sure that it could be built properly. After all, nothing like it had ever been created even at the magic kingdom and they wanted to make sure that it didn’t simply roll away or fall to the ground off of its pedestals.
Another concern about the sphere shape for spaceship earth was that wind would be a large issue.
It was thought that the wind may come off of the sphere at such high levels that it would easily knock someone over who was standing underneath it. Fortunately, that isn’t the case.
The concept of having such a large sphere was new, to say the least. They wanted it to attract attention to the park but they also wanted to attract attention to something else, mankind’s achievement in communication.
- When Spaceship Earth officially opened in October 1982, they were sponsored by Bell Systems, a large communications conglomerate. It was really an interesting choice for the pavilion, considering that it had communication as one of its major themes.
Eventually, Bell systems became many smaller companies after it was broken up at the time. AT&T, the parent company then took over as the sponsor of Spaceship Earth. They continued to follow the same general theme, and that is for the large sphere at Epcot to represent communication and mankind’s achievements in technology.
- Generally speaking, the Epcot ball represents mankind’s achievements in communication and technology. The sphere itself, however, is an amazing achievement and it is a project that was never done before and has not been completed again to such a large extent.
What Was Epcot “Giant Golf Ball” Supposed To Be?
The Epcot ball is exactly what it was designed to be. It is Spaceship Earth, a slow-moving ride through history to highlight the technological and communication achievements of man. It also is a shining beacon to welcome you to the Epcot theme park.
Take a look at this YouTube video that shows some of the ride! If you can’t visit at least you can now virtually ride spaceship earth!
Epcot, however, has certainly changed over the years. At first, it was going to live up to its full name of the ‘Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.’
For many years, Walt Disney had Epcot as the apple of his eye. It was to be a part of the Florida Project, which would be just a portion of what the overall Disney experience was in the Orlando area.
Walt Disney was going to control every aspect of Epcot, which would be built around a large transportation system. It was to be a community for Disney employees, and it would have everything necessary for living.
- Epcot was also to be a community that was forward-thinking and would show how communities could be in the future.
Disney was so interested in seeing Epcot developed in this way that it is reported he was still thinking about it even in later years. Shortly after his passing, however, Disney designers decided to go in a different direction, and eventually, the theme park was developed.
Take a look at my photo below to see inside Spaceship Earth.
Spaceship Earth, the large sphere inside of Epcot was a relative newcomer to the scene. The inspiration for Spaceship Earth didn’t come around until the world’s fair of 1967, and the reality of Spaceship Earth didn’t happen until 1982.
- Parts of the original plan that Walt Disney had for Epcot can still be seen in different ways. This includes the multifaceted transportation system, which is a large part of the theme parks and resort areas of Disney.
That transportation system is what makes getting around at Disney so easy because you have buses, boats, monorails, and other options available.
Although originally, Epcot was going to be a community of the future, it ended up being more like a world’s fair than such an all-inclusive city. It also includes the world showcase, so it is more like a worldwide community than a tightly knit local community, as Disney had envisioned.
Originally the park did have a future world element, however, during recent updates, the focus has become more on nature. One of the new areas of Epcot is to be called d world nature, with World discovery another new “land”
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What’s Inside The Epcot Golf Ball At Walt Disney World?
Spaceship Earth is undoubtedly the most recognizable feature of Epcot. Most people recognize it for what it is outside, however, and they don’t really consider what is on the inside.
When you look at the large sphere of Spaceship Earth from the outside, it is beautiful. Looking at it from the inside, however, shows you that there is much more than what meets the eye.
Perhaps the most notable interior feature of Spaceship Earth is the ride. It is a slow ride inside this geodesic sphere that traverses through the entire interior of the giant ball and eventually, releases you into the bottom near the shops.
Even to this day it still amuses me when walking into Epcot from the parking lot and hearing people call Spaceship Earth the epcot ball!
If you are looking for thrills and excitement, then the ride on Spaceship Earth is not going to fulfill that desire. It is a slow-moving ride, but it is well worth enjoying.
Inside Spaceship Earth the ride is particularly enjoyable when the midday summer heat in Florida is beating down on you. They keep it very cool inside.
The ride is only one of the features inside of Spaceship Earth, but it is also one of the only features that most people ever get to see. Here are some other features that are behind-the-scenes:
Elevator – There is an elevator that goes from the ground floor all the way to the top of spaceship earth. It is reported to be behind the glass doors underneath Spaceship Earth. It is thought to be used by maintenance crews or in case of emergencies.
World Showcase Lagoon And Spaceship Earth
Drainage System – If there weren’t any thought given to a drainage system on Spaceship Earth, then you would have water shearing off the sides in great amounts. In actuality, there are tiny holes all throughout the exterior of the sphere that direct the water safely into the World Showcase lagoon.
In addition to keeping people from getting soaked while walking under Spaceship Earth during a rainstorm, the drainage system also prevents water from pooling and works along with the efforts Disney puts forth to keep mosquitoes at bay.
Sphere inside a Sphere – When you are riding the ride at Spaceship Earth, it appears as if you are looking at the walls on the outside of the sphere. In reality, you are looking at an inner sphere.
The inner sphere was created first and then the outer sphere was created overtop of it. It is the inner sphere that houses the spaceship earth ride and any other hidden items that may be inside of it.
Is The Epcot Ball Being Removed?
One of the most common questions that are asked about Spaceship Earth is if it is being removed.
Rest assured, Spaceship Earth is not going anywhere. It has been a part of the park since it opened in 1982 and is one of the most recognizable features of Epcot or any of the Disney parks.
Removing the ‘Epcot Ball’ would be similar to tearing down Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom!
Of course, there are updates that take place to Spaceship Earth, just as there are updates that take place to any feature at a Disney theme park. As ever Walt Disney World is an ever-evolving land. The rear of Epcot features the “world showcase” it is designed to be a world celebration, and has some great photography locations for Spaceship earth.
A huge update to spaceship earth was slated to get underway in May 2020 and would last for two years. Disney decided to put it on hold, so the ride is still open and operational at this time.
Eventually, they will close the ride to update many of the features on the inside. It will be a major overhaul, but it is all part of keeping Spaceship Earth up-to-date and current with the foreseeable future.
There was also recently an update to the lighting system on Spaceship Earth. It was a programmable LED lighting system that was added.
Thousands of beacons of light were added to Spaceship Earth or Epcot Ball as it’s often still called, and they will be revealed as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration.
If you have the opportunity to be at the park on October 1, 2021, you can be one of the first to see these lights in action.
Take a look at how the beacons of light show looks in 2023 on the geodesic sphere know as Spaceship Earth.
As they say at Disney World, Have a magical day!