The very first thing you’ll see when you visit Epcot is Spaceship Earth. At it’s opening in 1982, it was the world’s first geodesic sphere and is still the height of Disney Imagineering today. Spaceship Earth is impressive to look at, but don’t just walk past, there’s an attraction inside! A slow moving omnimover ride will take you on a journey through the history of human communication from the Stone Age to the computer age. This is where you’ll find some of Disney’s most iconic audio-animatronics. Hello there, groovy scientist!
Science fiction author and Disney fan Ray Bradbury was commissioned to write the original story for the attraction. Today, you’ll hear the pleasing voice of Dame Judi Dench as the narrator to your ride. Spaceship Earth is the last standing attraction from Epcot’s golden age. I fell in love with this quintessential ride on our first family trip to EPCOT Center in 1983 – and it still fills me with joy.
At the time of it’s construction Spaceship Earth was a highly complex project to complete. The engineering was based on the patented mathematics of Buckminster Fuller. The outside surface of this geodesic sphere is 150,000 square feet and the inside volume is 2,200,000 cubic feet. The structure is held up by six legs, each of which is supported by pylons driven between 120 and 180 feet into the ground. At its lowest point Spaceship Earth stands eighteen feet high. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was hired to engineer and test wind loads to make sure that the walkway below would not become a dangerous wind tunnel.
The design of the exterior cladding is also impressive. It’s made up of 11,000 triangles of Alucobond which is a thermal polyethylene core bonded to aluminum. When you look closely you’ll notice a one inch space between each panel. This spacing allows for expansion and contraction in the Florida heat. It also allows for water to flow in between the panels and directly into a gutter system that empties into the World Showcase Lagoon. An essential design feature to keep guests from being doubly drenched during a Florida downpour!