Facts at a Glance About Spaceship Earth:
|Park: Epcot. Location: Future World East Height Requirement: None Fastpass: Yes|
|Quick Notes: Ride through a 180-foot geosphere with Audio-Animatronics, scenes and displays that depict the history of human development.|
|Disney Warnings: Due to the nature of the experience, Guests with service animals should check with a Cast Member at the attraction for boarding information. Spaceship Earth is a SLOW-MOVING journey to the past, that explores how the future was invented – one step at a time. Those who are made uncomfortable by enclosed dark spaces should not ride.|
|Cautions: Includes periods of darkness, flashing lights, smoke odor. The ride is slow, but travels uphill for much of the ride and backwards downhill for the return. The ride car bumps over the track. Some people have difficulty with being reclined against the hard seat and headrest during the backwards portion of the ride. Some portions go through spots that are dark and appear tight. The headrest includes speakers, so the narration for the ride is coming from behind the guests’ heads. See below for details and more cautions.|
|Length: Rides last about 15 minutes.|
|Special Needs & other info: Unless you can walk for a short distance, you must transfer from your ECV to a wheelchair and then into the ride car. Service animals are allowed on this ride, but check with a cast member to see if there’s anything your animal will have a problem with. Handheld Captioning, Audio Description. Children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 years or older.|
Overview of Spaceship Earth in Epcot
The massive 180-foot geosphere building that houses this attraction is spectacular. Sci-fi fans will love that science fiction writer Ray Bradbury helped design the iconic sphere. Just standing under it and looking up is exciting. At night it’s lit up, and it makes for a fantastic view from across the world showcase Lagoon.
This attraction inside the sphere depicts the development of mankind through time as we’ve struggled to develop and advance. Starting with cavemen, you’ll ride “time machine” ride cars upward through scenes that depict man’s progress to the present, and then end’s in the “future.” It’s a calm ride. An orchestra and choir accompany Dame Judi Dench as she narrates. After receiving an upgrade the attraction reopened with some of the most advanced Animatronics characters anywhere in the world, as well as many other impressive alterations.
Queue, ride car and boarding information for Spaceship Earth
Lines tend to be shorter in the afternoon. As people come into the park, it’s the first attraction they see, so the lines can be huge early in the day. To minimize your wait, skip this in the morning and come back later on. The queue is outdoors. There’s a covering but the line sometimes extends beyond it into the sun.
If you go through the regular queue, there’s a moving, inclined ramp. You must be on foot and will need to step onto a moving platform to board the vehicle.
Wheelchair and other special needs info: Those with wheelchairs or ECVs should enter the exhibit exit in the rear of the building. If you’re entering the park, you’ll encounter the front of the building with the main queue first. Walk to the right and head towards the rear of the building. You’ll enter through the attraction exit, walk past some activity areas and find the ride exit. There will be a cast member with a clipboard. Give the cast member your name and party size, then take a seat on the nearby benches until your name is called.
Guests with a DAS should speak with a cast member at the entrance. You may or may not enter in the same place as those with wheelchairs, depending upon what your needs are. For example, if you need a quieter place to wait, you may be better off going through the regular queue. Those with visual disabilities may do better with a more direct path, so they may be asked to enter at the exit along with guests in wheelchairs. Those with mobility related issues such as people who need the moving walkway slowed may be asked to enter at the exit also.
Unless you can walk a short distance, guests in ECVs must transfer to a wheelchair and then into the ride car. If you need to transfer to a wheelchair, they’ll supply one for you here. Several parties are called at once. You’ll walk or ride to the boarding area where there’s a level, moving walkway.
There are a couple of ride cars that have wider entry doors which allows guests in wheelchairs to transfer more easily. The ride car seat is approximately standard chair seat height. They often automatically slow the moving walkway for guests with disabilities, and most guests with disabilities are able to board that way. If it’s necessary, they can slow the walkway to a crawl or even stop it.
Guests transferring from a wheelchair are able to bring the wheelchair onto the moving walkway very close or even touching the ride car, if they can’t walk. A cast member will move it out of the way after you’re in the ride car, and they’ll bring it back to the ride car when you unload. Whatever you think you need, be clear and let the cast member know.
Additional details about Spaceship Earth
The ride cars are hard seats with a neck rest that may be too low for taller people. It’s hard, and its angle may feel awkward to some people.
As the ride takes off you move into almost total darkness and the cars go up an incredibly steep upward slope in a narrow space for some time. This may trigger claustrophobia in those who have that problem. However once you get to the attraction displays, the sloping becomes much less steep, and there’s adequate light for most of the time. There’s also plenty of space so you don’t have a closed-in feeling. For many people with claustrophobia, it may feel reasonably comfortable from this point on until the last stretch. Then during the backwards descent at the end of the ride you’ll travel through an area with a fairly low ceiling and close walls. Though it’s not particularly tight, it may trigger claustrophobia in the very sensitive.
During the backwards descent there are no exhibits to view, but the screen in your ride car automatically turns on. Guests are encouraged to play an interactive game on touch-screen monitors mounted in front of each row in the ride vehicle. This can help distract anyone with claustrophobia since they can focus on playing the game and viewing their monitor rather than looking at their surroundings.
The steep angle of the backwards descent combined with having to watch the monitor with its mounting position could cause some discomfort. Additionally, those prone to motion sickness may have difficulty reading in a moving vehicle. Feel free to ignore the monitor and lean back in your seat if this is more comfortable.
Though this is a fairly slow-moving attraction, we find that the ride car continuously pops and jerks over the track harshly throughout the entire ride. It jerks more than most other comparable rides and can bother those who are sensitive with pain issues. We also hear that people who are extremely thin, even those without pain issues, often feel discomfort on this ride because of the jerking.
Tip: The ride car travels uphill very steeply and then downhill and backwards very steeply. The neck rest is uncomfortable for some people. Bring a sweater or towel to use behind your head and neck to make the headrest more comfortable and to add more support.
The ride cars may pause unexpectedly, but it’s usually a brief stop to assist disabled guests. Considering the length of the ride, this means that almost everyone on the ride is likely to experience a brief stop for disabled loading.
There’s a wide assortment of light effects. These include some flashing or pulsating lights. There are twinkling lights that look like stars. There are dark areas of the ride where you pass by multiple bright video screens while moving at a slow speed. There’s a bright flash when your picture is taken towards the beginning of the ride. There are small, flashing lights on a movie marquee, old-time movies that seem to strobe a bit, flickering lights behind windows, what seems like thousands of blue lights creating a never-ending grid before you, and there are television monitors in front of your seat. There’s fragrance pumped in, particularly that of smoke at one point.
Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future: when you get off the spaceship earth ride, your let out into an interactive game area. The game themes showcase the new technologies in medicine, transportation, and energy management. Wheelchairs should have plenty of room to navigate, and should be able to participate in most of the games. This is a minor attraction with plenty of corporate sponsor promotion, but it can keep you busy and entertained for a while.
Check out Spaceship Earth on video:
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