Lauren If someone asked me to create a 13-minute ride showing the advancements in human communications from the origins of prehistoric man to now (and even a bit into the future), I’d throw up my hands in defeat. How do you explain how we got from killing wooly mammoths to the world wide web? But after you walk off Spaceship Earth, you get it. It all makes sense. And you realize (and this seems to be the theme of EPCOT) what an amazing thing the world is.
The 18-story golfball-like structure was actually designed by Ray Bradbury, and he helped write the storyline, too, which begins taking riders up inside, staring with a foggy scene of a cave man trying to spear a wooly mammoth. I always think about how much it must have sucked to be a caveman. All you want to do is survive and eat and have sex, and you’ve got these wooly mammoths running around trying to kill you.
The ride then takes you through the Egyptians, communicating with hyroglyphics on cave walls and the Phoenician Merchants (who invented the ABCs– can you believe we still learn the ABCs, a system of language that was created in 1050 BC?), Roman Roads (“the first world wide web”), Jewish and Arab Scholars saving documents when Rome fell, the Gutenberg Press, the Renaissance, the Steam Press, the telegraph, telephone, radio, cinema, TV, the first computer, and the internet. When you’re going through Rome burning it actually smells like fire. And I have been on this ride maybe 100 times and I am still always inspired by what happens next.
Obviously, since the ride addresses the future of communication, it has to be renovated often to keep up with our fast-changing technology. At one point, it was getting a little out-dated, since it was sticking to a story line that was written in 1982. (“One day,” the narrator said, not too long ago, “we will be able to communicate with people on the phone while we see them via computer screens.”) And when I heard about the latest renovation I got nervous. I’m a goddam Disney traditionalist, and I don’t want them to change it so much that the Spaceship Earth I love so much is lost.
But the newest renovation they really spruced up the animatronics and tweaked the story seamlessly to include the latest in communication advancements. The latest version of omnimover “time machines” have interactive touch screens that ask you how you would like to live and work and play in the future, using face recognition technology to get a glimpse of what you’d look like. It’s really fun, and every time my mom and I are in stitches when we see our faces on the cartoon version of our future selves.
Shocking, I know, but my mom and I often don’t go on a lot of rides in Disney World. We hate waiting in lines. But we go on Spaceship Earth every trip. At least once. Every time I walk away a changed person, thinking about the world in a new way. It is my favorite ride, hands down.
It doesn’t hurt that the hottest animatronic lives in the Greek section. He’s a curly-headed philosopher lounging on the floor speaking in Greek with some fellow toga-wearing intellectuals. I always wonder what they’re talking about. Maybe they’re saying, “look, guys, Lauren’s back! She’s come back, she’s home!” And they’d be right.