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The New Spaceship Earth at Epcot
Epcot is my favourite park and Spaceship Earth, that amazing iconic sphere that dominates the skyline as you approach the gates, has been reborn again after 5 months of refurbishment.
As a bit of a wimp where roller coasters are concerned, Spaceship Earth has always been on my priority list of things to do, as it is a nice gentle, totally un-scary ride, which even my husband can manage without having a heart attack. I always feel that I am really at Disney when I see that huge silver sphere appearing in the distance, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the slow and relaxing journey through communication through the ages. With no harnesses or safety belts it is one ride where you can be sure you won’t be hurled at the speed of light up a steep incline, sent speeding backwards down a slope or inverted in pitch darkness.
I liked the slightly old fashioned animatronics which told the story of communication from the stone age, through the Egyptians and the Romans, showing the ancient monks painstakingly illuminating books, leading to the birth of the printed word with Caxton and his printing press, and taking us into the world of the future – children communicating with each other from opposite sides of the world, a mother having a scan taken of her baby, or a family linked via the internet. Ok, so it had been overtaken by technology and all those things which 10 years ago were just in the embryo stage are now available to everyone, but it was a good entertaining half hour or so.
However, all that has changed. The old narration, read by Jeremy Irons, has been scrapped, and a new and updated script has introduced. That great British lady of the theatre and silver screen, Dame Judi Dench, now guides us through the latest story. The theme is no longer communication through the ages but ‘innovation and inspiration. ’ Thankfully, they have retained many of the familiar scenes which we know and love, the Egyptians, the burning of Rome with its smoky aroma, the switchboard and all scenes up to the 1960’s living room (and yes, I can remember such a room myself, but now the focus is on the moon landing on TV with the famous Walter Cronkite narrating ‘live’ on screen).
Each element has new lights and costumes and the Audio-Animatronics have been updated to appear more lifelike. However, it is as you approach the top of the sphere that the changes become most apparent as there are new sets devoted to the invention of the computer, and the personal computer. There is still a darkened downward half of the experience, which I used to love, as the twinkling lights appeared and the little carriages made their slow winding progress back to level ground. But now there is an interactive experience where passengers are asked 7 questions about their future on a touch screen. The answers you give are made into a cartoon for each row.
I simply can’t wait to see what Spaceship Earth has become, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will get a sneak preview before we leave for home. Spaceship Earth is due to open to the public early in 2008 so watch this space!
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