The name Spaceship Earth serves two purposes - it describes the hugh 18-storey sphere which dominates Epcot, and is also the name of the attraction housed within.
The attraction is a slow-moving 15-minute journey on a spiral track, passing through scenes depicting the development of human connection and communication from prehistoric times through to the present day. Following a major refurbishment in 2008, the narration is now provided by Dame Judi Dench and the final section of the journey allows guests to imagine their own future through the use of interactive acreens within the vehicles.
At the start of the ride, the vehicles ascend into a tunnel where guests are asked to have their picture taken to be used later in the ride. The first scene then shows a prehistoric scene and talks through the development ofcave-painting and spoken languages.
Cave-painting allowed early mankind to record experiences, but the images were not portable, the next scene represents the invention and use of paper in Ancient Egypt. Phoenician merchants are then credited with the development of a 'standardised' written alphabet which allowed communication across borders.
The journey progresses through the invention and development of road networks (the first world wide web) to the cultural development of Ancient Greece. Through the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, the invention of the printing press, the telegraph to the rapidly accelerating progress of the 20th century - radio, television, cinema, computers.
At the climax riders can look skywards to see a projection of Earth at the top of the attraction, whilst the narration reminds us that we are all in this together, travelling through space on our 'Spaceship Earth'.
The 'return to Earth' section of the ride allows guests to use the interactive screens within the vehicles to imagine their own personal future, finishing with a funny video which superimposes the riders own image (from the picture taken at the start of the ride) on the characters.
Spaceship Earth Narration
This is Spaceship Earth control. On behalf of Siemens, welcome aboard. On the map in front of you, please show us where you’re from while we input your time travel coordinates. Now locate the monitor overhead to the right. Make sure your head is clearly visible and wait for the flash. Good. Sending photo to the future. All systems are go. Linking you now to your guide.
"Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time. And for a brief moment, we have been among its passengers. But where are we going? And what kind of future will we discover there? Surprisingly, the answers lie in our past. Since the dawn of recorded history, we’ve been inventing the future one step at a time. So let’s travel back in time together. I’ll show you how our ancestors created the world we know today. And then it will be your turn to create the world of tomorrow.
Here in this hostile world is where our story begins. We are alone, struggling to survive, until we learn to communicate with one another. Now we can hunt as a team and survive together.
It takes fifteen thousand years to come up with the next bright idea: recording our knowledge on cave walls. There was only one small problem: when we moved, the recorded knowledge stayed behind.
Now let’s move ahead to ancient Egypt, because something is about to happen here that will change the future forever. This unknown Egyptian pounding reeds flat is inventing papyrus, a soft paper. Papyrus in turn creates better record keeping of plans, designs, and unfortunately taxes. But it also brings with it the dawn of great civilizations.
At this point, each civilization has its own form of writing which none of the others can understand. But the Phoenicians, who trade with all of them, have a solution. They create a simple, common alphabet adaptable to most languages. Remember how easy it was to learn your ABC’s? Thank the Phoenicians.
The ancient Greeks were great inventors of the future. First they established public schools, and then begin teaching an intriguing new subject called mathematics; and with math comes mechanical technology and the birth of the high tech life we enjoy today.
With lessons learned from the Greeks, the Romans create a powerful empire. To move their armies around, they built a system of roads all over the known world. Rome built the first World Wide Web, and it’s leading us into the future.
But then we hit a road block. Rome falls and the great library of Alexandria in Egypt is burned. Much of our learning is destroyed, lost forever- or so we think.
It turns out there were copies of these books in the libraries of the Middle East being watched over by Arabic and Jewish scholars. Call it the first back up system. The books are saved, and with them our dreams of the future.
In the meantime, here in Europe monks toil endlessly recording books by hand.
But that is about to change. In 1450, Guttenberg invents the movable type printing press. Now knowledge can travel as fast as these new books, and travel they do. Books make it easier to invent the future in every field, and the result is an incredible explosion of innovation we call the renaissance.
Now communication technology races headlong into the future, and soon people all over the world are sharing life’s most important moments faster than ever before. By now we’re all communicating from anywhere on Earth, and in 1969 from somewhere else.
To send a man to the moon, we had to invent a new language spoken not by man, but by computers. At first very large and very expensive computers, but we see the potential. What if everyone could have one of these amazing machines in their own house? There’s just one problem- they’re as big as a house.
The solution comes in 1977 in of all places a garage in California. Young people with a passion for shaping the future put the power of the computer in everyone’s hands, and once again we stand on the brink of a new renaissance.
After 30,000 years of time travel here we are. A truly global community networked online poised to shape the future of this, our Spaceship Earth.
Attention. Your Time Machine is rotating backwards for your return to Earth. In preparation for your return to Earth, your Time Machine is now rotating backwards.
For the first time in history, all of us can have a say in the kind of world we want to live in. The choices we have made for the past 30,000 years have been inventing the future one day at a time.
And now it’s your turn. On your computer screen, answer a few questions. Then we’ll add a little future technology and show you a new world custom made just for you. Are you ready to create the future? Let’s get started.
Well done. And now I believe your future is just about ready. Let’s take a look shall we?"
Welcome back, Time Travellers. Now Siemens invites you to visit Project Tomorrow; an exciting world of new ideas and innovations made possible by Siemens ingenuity. Your vehicle doors will open automatically. Please keep your hands away from the doors and step carefully onto the moving platform.