Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, Epcot’s flagship attraction beckons guests from all sides. In the original EPCOT Center, Spaceship Earth focused on communications and was just one of multiple Omnimover rides covering various topics like transportation and imagination. It’s now a unique throwback to the park’s glory days. This means that it’s even more crucial to maintain the highest quality. The current version is a great experience, but there is room for improvement.
I don’t expect Disney to do anything with Spaceship Earth in the near future, so this is a pipe dream. However, I still picked updates that aren’t outlandishly expensive. These are mostly minor upgrades to fix some quality issues. It’s similar to what I proposed in July with fixing the final scene of the Carousel of Progress. These aren’t moves that will draw huge crowds, but you can’t underestimate the value in providing a better guest experience. Future World needs its stars to function at the highest level. There is no reason to stick with the 2008 update forever.
One other caveat is my recognition that Siemens is the current sponsor. They want the attraction to focus on technology and innovation. So a shift to focus on communications or another topic won’t be happening. We’ll also leave the Judi Dench narration intact for the most part. It’s not as warm as Cronkite’s or wonderfully ethereal as Irons’, but it does the job. Plus, having female voices at Disney attractions is rarely a bad move. Let’s make our future a better place!
Step 1: Do Nothing with the Ascent.
This may seem obvious, but I don’t trust Disney to make the right updates. Our budget and time is limited here, so let’s focus on the real issues. The animatronics look great, and the Bruce Broughton score still works. We’re keeping everything up through the tunnel leading into the dome at the top. You’ll still be able to thank the Phoenicians and learn about the world’s first back-up system for quite a long time.
Step 2: Bring Physical Sets Back into the Dome.
Earlier versions of Spaceship Earth through the 1994 update included a space station that appeared while you turned backwards for the descent. This physical location added more depth to the climax. These sets appear to just have barriers in front of them today. Why not open up this scene to add a refreshing new touch? There could even be a connection to the International Space Station in this spot. If new structures are needed, it shouldn’t break the bank. No lazy show, Disney!
Step 3: This Attraction Needs a Song!
A hallmark of classic Disney attractions is a catchy theme song. There’s a reason that so many fans gobble up music CDs with clips from the parks. EPCOT Center had memorable tunes in all its Future World pavilions, including “Tomorrow’s Child” at Spaceship Earth. I’m not requesting for that song to return either; we’re looking ahead, not backwards. Music definitely still has a place in Epcot. The success of “We Go On” at the end of Illuminations is a perfect example. This new tune would begin in the dome and carry us through the back half of the ride. Guests would leave the attraction singing along, and it would set just the right mood. This tune would be about the future and innovation, which would fit with the overall theme.
Step 4: Build New Sets and Add Projections for the Descent.
Epcot fans remember the sets from the Irons version, but I’m looking for more than a retread. We currently spend the descent staring at a small screen; we do that every day! Disney should use this space to create a stunning view of our future. We could still see possible technologies that are coming, but they would be grand and bold. Epcot’s flagship attraction should not end with a movie that feels cheap! Disney should strive for more than cheap laughs. They have become experts on using projections, so Disney could use both sets and images to deliver a believable future. When combined with the new song, it would build to a rousing and optimistic view of our future.
Step 5: Use the Vehicle Screens to Complement the Sets.
It would be easy to remove the screens from each vehicle and forget they existed. But that’s backward thinking! Let’s find ways for the screens to support the action. I know that this move violates Step 1, but the screens could offer details on what we’re seeing during the ascent. In the descent, the monitors could employ videos and designs that expand our understanding of futuristic technologies. We should not be filling out bland surveys on Spaceship Earth! That isn’t the type of interactivity that we need. Let’s employ all the tools in place to build a better tomorrow.
Let us Go Forth and Fulfill Our Destiny on Spaceship Earth
A key factor in these suggestions is the amount of time that’s needed for the updates. Judging by past time frames, Disney should be able to incorporate these changes in six months. The attraction runs well and usually has reasonable lines, so these enhancements would just improve the results for guests. They would want to ride Spaceship Earth repeatedly and draw crowds away from other headliners.
The components are in place to make Spaceship Earth click from start to finish. The final scenes are what we remember most, and they just don’t match the rest of the attraction. Disney is spending big dollars for expansions at other parks. In the meantime, they can enhance the current attractions at Epcot and make them even better. Guests are starting to avoid Epcot, and that’s a real shame. Come on Disney! Let’s make Epcot the standout park that it deserves to be once again.
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