Those who are made uncomfortable by enclosed, dark spaces should not ride.
Spaceship Earth is an educational attraction that takes guests into the past, present, and future of communication technology.
While the narration and some of the show scenes have changed over the years, Spaceship Earth has consistently been about the evolution of communication. Beginning with ancient civilizations and looking forward into the future, Spaceship Earth has always highlighted the advancements that humans have made and will make in the future.
At the 2019 D23 Expo, Disney announced that a refurbishment is coming soon to Spaceship Earth where the focus will shift from communication to storytelling. Details on those changes are minimal at this time.
The current version of Spaceship Earth is hosted by Dame Judy Dench, and her narration (italicized below) explains the story behind the attraction.
As guests board the attraction they prepare for the trip back in time. Prior to that time travel, the on ride monitors ask guests to input their language preference as well as where they’re from. Additionally, a photo is taken of each guest to be used in the attraction’s future finale. Following the photo, the vehicle continues in the darkness where guests are joined by the attraction guide, Judy Dench.
Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time; and for a brief moment we have been among it’s passengers. But where are we going? And what kind of future will we discover there? Surprisingly, the answers lie in our past. Since the dawn of recorded history, we’ve been inventing the future one step at a time. So let’s travel back in time together. I’ll show you how our ancestors created the world we know today, and then it will be your turn to create the world of tomorrow.
The vehicle emerges from the dark, but star lit ascent to face a large screen featuring cavemen and women battling against a mastodon. Extreme weather is projected on the screen as well as the narration continues.
Here in this hostile world is where our story begins. We are alone, struggling to survive until we learn to communicate with one another. Now we can hunt as a team and survive together.
The next scene features figures cavemen and women illustrating cave walls and the illustrations themselves periodically move as well.
It takes 15,000 years to come up with the next bright idea: recording our knowledge on cave walls. There is only one small problem, when we move, the recorded knowledge stayed behind.
The next scene features an Egyptian forming the first form of paper. The surrounding scenery features hieroglyphics along the walls.
Now let’s move ahead to ancient Egypt, because something is about to happen here that will change the future forever. This unknown Egyptian pounding reeds flat is inventing papyrus, a sort of paper. Papyrus in turn creates better record keeping of plans, designs and unfortunately taxes. But it also brings with it the dawn of great civilizations.
The scene continues with other Egyptians now seeing the value of this paper. The scene transitions to several Phoenicians on a boat. These represents the various trade routes used by the Phoenicians.
At this point each civilization has its own form of writing which none of the other’s can understand. But the Phoenicians, who trade with all of them have a solution. They create a simple common alphabet adaptable to most languages. Remember how easy it was to learn your ABC’s? Thank the Phoenicians, they invented them.
The main action switches to the right side of the vehicle where a Greek scholar is educating others.
The ancient Greeks were great inventors of the future. First they established public schools, and then begin teaching an intriguing new subject called mathematics. And with math comes mechanical technology and the birth of a high tech life we enjoy today.
The scene transitions back to the left side of the vehicle where two Romans stand before one of many roads that made up the vast network of roads that led in and out of Rome.
With lessons learned from the Greeks, the Romans create a powerful empire. To move their armies around, they build a system of roads all over the known world. Rome built the first world wide web, and it’s leading us into the future.
A burning scent emerges from the ruins of Rome that are showcased in the next scene.
But then we hit a road block: Rome falls, and the great Library of Alexandria in Egypt is burned. Much of our learning is destroyed… lost forever… or so we think.
The burning of Rome transitions to three Arab scholars sitting and talking while monks are writing at desks. One monk is heavily snoring at his desk. The dialog continues:
It turns out there were copies of some of these books in the libraries of the Middle East, being watched over by Arab and Jewish scholars. Call it, the first back-up system. The books are saved, and with them: our dreams of the future.
In the meantime, here in Europe monks toil endlessly recording these books by hand, but that is about to change.
Scenes continue on the left of the vehicle as individuals work at the first printing press. Opposite that scene is a man reading a book to another man.
In 1450, Gutenberg invents the movable type printing press. Now knowledge can travel as fast as these new books, and travel they do.
The next scenes feature artists painting and sculpting before transitioning into the Sistine Chapel. The narration continues:
Books make it easier to invent the future in every field, and the result is an incredible explosion of innovation that we call the Renaissance.
The Industrial Revolution is capped off by a giant steam press while a paper boy sells papers indicating the Civil War is over. The narration for this scene is as follows:
Books it seems were just the beginning. Now communication technology races head long into the future, and soon people all over the world are sharing life’s most important moments faster than ever before.
As new forms of communication like the telephone and television are highlighted in the next scenes, the narration continues at a family’s home watching the moon landing:
By now, we’re all communicating from anywhere on Earth and in 1969 from somewhere else.
Following the family scene, the vehicle enters a room where guests are surrounded by a large mainframe computer. The narration continues:
To send a man to the moon, we had to invent a new language, spoken not by man, but by computers. At first very large, very expensive computers, but we see the potential.
The next scene features a young bearded man working at the first personal computer. It is never specified, but it is assumed this is either Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak from Apple.
What if everyone could have one of these amazing machines in their own house? There’s just one problem: They’re as big as a house. The solution comes in of all places, a garage in California. Young people with a passion for shaping the future put the power of the computer in everyone’s hands. Together we form a super network that goes with billions of interactions, and once again we stand on the brink of a new Renaissance.
Following the garage scene a projection dome/tunnel circles the vehicle with images of data streams flowing overhead. The narration continues as the vehicle emerges from this tunnel to reveal the planet Earth emerging on the horizon.
After 30,000 years of time travel, here we are, a truly global community, poised to shape the future of this, our Spaceship Earth.
This begins the descent of the attraction and the vehicles rotate backwards. A voiceover warns of the change, and the vehicle descends while stars line the ceiling overhead.
For the first time in history, all of us can have a say about the kind of world we want to live in. The choices we have made for the past 30,000 years have been inventing the future one day at a time. And now, it’s your turn.
A matrix of blue lights breaks up the stars while the narration directs guests to computer monitors:
Let’s have some fun creating the future, shall we? On your computer screen, answer a few questions for us. Then, we’ll show you a new world, custom made just for you. Ready?
At this point, the monitors turn on and guests can create a custom video featuring the photos of themselves taken at the beginning of the attraction. Each option presents a different series of questions, and a cartoon video is generated based on these selections. The photo from the beginning of the attraction is placed on top of the cartoon body in the 80 second video. The first question that’s asked is as follows:
Show Questions What are you most interested in? Each category has a series of six questions that follow, the questions have changed since the new version debuted but the current questions are: Home Other questions that appeared under “Home” included: Work Health Other questions that appeared under “Health” included: Leisure Hide Questions
What are you most interested in?
Each category has a series of six questions that follow, the questions have changed since the new version debuted but the current questions are:
Other questions that appeared under “Home” included:
Other questions that appeared under “Health” included:
Once complete, the narrator returns:
Well done! Now along with your answers let’s add in some amazing new technology that we happen to know about.
Animation continues on the screen with the text, “Stay tuned… We’re building your future.” The narrator indicates the beginning of the film with the following:
And now I believe your future is just about ready. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Following this, a film is created that features the guest photos from the beginning of the attraction. Those photos are placed on top of cartoon people and the film is determined based on the responses to the preceding questions.
After the video, the vehicle approaches the unload area where the narrator finishes the attraction:
So here’s to the next 30,000 years on Spaceship Earth. While no one knows for sure what we’ll see or do. I do know it will be quite an adventure, an adventure that we’ll take and make together. See you in the future!
Is a SLOW-MOVING journey to the past, that explores how the future was invented – one step at a time.
Guests of all ages, but it is skewed towards adults.
TIMES GUIDE - OPENING/CLOSING
This attraction opens with the park.
Spaceship Earth is one of the low range demand Fastpass+ reservations in the park. Availability will exist well into the day, but usage can be a moderate time savings.
Despite being one of the low range demand Fastpass+ options, it is among the highest of the “Tier 2” Fastpass options, trailing only Mission: SPACE for demand.
The queue is partially covered switchbacks that surround the ramp into the attraction. There is minimal theming aside from a mural right before entering the attraction as well as landscaping.
The vehicles seat two per row and each car has two rows. The cars are all connected with dividers spaced every few vehicles as well. The seats are blue plastic with a video monitor for each row and speakers in each headrest.
- Siemens: November 8, 2005 – December 31, 2017
- AT&T: May 26, 1986 – January 1, 2003
- Bell System: October 1, 1982 – 1986 Refurbishment
The attraction has evolved over the years with different changes being accompanied by new narrators. While many show scenes remained the same over the years they have been enhanced or modified. The links below are for the full scripts of each version of the attraction.
October 1, 1982 – 1986
May 26, 1986 – August 15, 1994
November 23, 1994 – July 9, 2007
December 2007 – Present
Many of the attractions that were similar in scope and education have since been retired. These included Horizons and World of Motion. The scenes are as detailed as Pirates of the Caribbean, but the themes are different. The ride system is similar to the omnimover system used in attractions like The Haunted Mansion, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
The below video is used with permission from the YouTube channel Virtual Disney World. These videos allow users to manipulate the camera a full 360 degrees using their cursor or directional arrows on their computer. Users on a smartphone or tablet can also manipulate the camera by moving their device in the direction they wish to look.