Opened: Originally opened October 1, 1982. Newest iteration opened February, 2008.
Location: Future World, inside of the “golf ball” near the front entrance
Extra Magic Hours: Morning, Evening
Type: Dark ride
Similar To: Haunted Mansion, Journey into Imagination with Figment
Scary Factor: Minimal. The ride stops from time to time, not because anything is wrong with it, but because a slower rider needs to get in or out of their vehicle. Don’t be alarmed. The ride is dark and at times steep, but you’ll never be traveling fast and there are no drops. Nonetheless, preschool age children may be antsy or nervous throughout the ride.
When To Go: Lines are short throughout the day, but this is a rare popular ride that actually has shorter waits later in the day. Spaceship Earth is right along the path from Epcot’s main entrance and many guests entering in the morning and afternoon will ride it on their way into the Park. It’s best to return in the afternoon or evening, after experiencing most of Future World’s other attractions. Spaceship Earth is also about 15 minutes long, which is too much time to spend early in the morning when time is more precious. There’s simply no reason to do Spaceship Earth early in the morning.
Expect to Wait: Waits of ten minutes or less are common. It’s rare to see a wait that exceeds that, other than extremely busy holidays.
Length: 15 minutes
What to Expect: Spaceship Earth is a slow moving, dark omnimover ride that takes guests as high as 16 stories inside Epcot’s famous geodesic sphere. Visitors ride past more than 20 animatronic displays featuring scenes from the past 40,000 years and several looking ahead into the future. The emphasis is on the many ways humans have communicated in the past and will communicate in the future. Disney has made “improvements” over the past several years and each vehicle now includes an interactive device with a variety of questions that riders answer during their journey. Your photograph will be taken during the ride and a fun video of how you might end up in the future is played on screen as you descend into Project Tomorrow.
Where to Sit: Each row seats two adults with room to potentially add a child. There isn’t necessarily a major advantage to sitting on the left or right side. I prefer the left side because the scenery always seems to be more interesting over there. But most riders will appreciate what’s happening on both sides of the attraction roughly evenly. With waits ordinarily less than ten minutes, it’s usually easy to ride twice consecutively in case you feel like you missed something.
Fun Facts: Ray Bradbury, author of “Fahrenheit 451,” helped design the sphere that encloses Spaceship Earth and co-wrote the original story. The sphere is made of 11,324 tiles that collectively weigh 15,520,000 pounds.
Embarrassing Fact: When your author was a young boy, he thought that all of Epcot was enclosed inside of the “golf ball.”
Commentary: Spaceship Earth, while not new or particularly thrilling, remains one of the best classic attractions at Disney World and is a must-ride for all visitors.