Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I need to get this out: My Spaceship Earth Rant

Today I feel I need to jump on top of my soapbox, clear my throat and begin a rant that has been stewing within me for probably about three years. Spaceship Earth, the icon of  Epcot (Center), which has seen many changes, refurbishments, and renovations since it first greeted guests in 1982 needs a new storyline once and for all. Though it is three years too late I fear I cannot stay quiet about this anymore. The attraction, once a thrill to visit upon entering the park has become a barren wasteland within its geodesic sphere. I cannot believe that almost four years have past since Siemens completely ruined this attraction. It is not just the terrible script read by dame Judi Dench (who I do not blame or have ill will toward over this disgrace), but rather the "minusung" that took place in the design. It had always been Walt Disney's quest to "plus" his attractions, never letting his parks and resorts become museums, and many guests have embraced that aspect of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, as well as the parks outside of the US. It is here that Disney allowed this attraction, the face of a park, to be steered in the completely wrong direction. But who is to blame. Well lets see.

One could take the easy way out and simply blame Bruce Broughton, the composer, or even Judi Dench for "dumbing down" the entire script. But to understand what happened here is to look deeper. After the AT&T sponsorship ended, Disney found a new sponsor in Siemens. There idea was to completely revamp the attraction, complete with a new score, narration, and new "interactive" elements. To my knowledge Disney was kept pretty much out of the loop, and because they were not paying for the renovation it seemed as though they were ok with this. It seems that the blame falls onto the sponsorship because they seem to be completely to blame for the lack of a finale, which many people thought was a joke, or an unfinished part of the attraction. After four years it is official, Spaceship Earth is completed in its current state. There is absolutely no chance of this changing anytime soon, especially with Siemens having a 12 year sponsorship agreement with Disney that was signed in 2005. By my estimation, we may see changes in 2017.

So past the obvious sadness many had when the Mickey wand overstayed its welcome

we have now been subjected to four years of an attraction that has already overstayed its welcome. Though the attraction has its positive elements, (i.e. the early animatronics in the stone-age scene, the Romans, etc) the attraction to me seems to be a lost cause right now, and as long as the sponsorship holds up we are in for more of the same. So long Walter Cronkite. Good-Bye Jeremy Irons. See you later Larry Dobkin. We shall see you again.


  1. Agreed 100%. They have absolutely RUINED that attraction.

    I can never quite make my mind up on the whole "plussing" business. I am partial to viewing themed attractions as works of art and that, accordingly, it is disrespectful and indeed morally wrong to tamper restrospectively with another artist's work. Then again, the fact that Marc Davis was given free-reign by Disney in the early 60s to go into Harper Goff's Jungle Cruise and play around with it would seem to quash it.

    I think, ultimately, these additions are acceptable if they are made in GOOD TASTE and with full respect for the material. Spaceship Earth, as it stands, fails on both fronts. I have found myself listening to the Jeremy Irons narration more than a few times recently, and it is stunning. To describe a theme-park ride as "epic" is not something I do very often, but the Spaceship Earth of 'old' was an awesome experience - in the original, proper sense of the word.

    I just flat-out avoid it now, as I also now avoid the bastardised Living Seas. If they really want expansion at the resort, burn EPCOT to the ground and start again.

  2. See my feelings are similar... I think Uncle Walt had it right when he proclaimed that his parks were not museums... The fact that all things should never remain as they were originally intended is ok just as long as the integrity of the original attraction remains... The problem too many times is that attractions get the "sexy" overhaul and many times it ruins the attraction (tiki room anyone)... My biggest issue has been and always will be that the imagineers at WDI today (or from5 years ago) forgot the true meaning of the past imagineers... Spaceship Earth is an example of this... Even if Siemens paid for the attraction it should not mean that Disney would allow a company that never designed anything for park guests to do so... It is inconsequential that they are an electronic engineering powerhouse... Fact is they don't know guests like Disney does...