Today In Disney History ~ May 26th
Spaceship Earth is the iconic and symbolic structure of Epcot, the second of four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort. One of the most recognizable structures of any theme park, it is also the name of the attraction that is housed within the 18-story geodesic sphere that takes guests on a time machine-themed experience using the Omnimover system. The 15-minute dark ride demonstrates to guests how advancements in human communication have helped to create the future one step at a time. Passengers journey back in time to witness the origins of prehistoric man, then travel forward in time to witness important breakthroughs in communication throughout history—from the invention of the alphabet to the creation of the printing press to today’s modern communication advancements, including telecommunication and mass communication. At the conclusion of the ride, passengers have the chance to design their own future using touch screens that are embedded into the ride cars.
The structure was designed with the help of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who also helped write the original storyline for the attraction. The term “Spaceship Earth” was popularised by Buckminster Fuller who also popularized the geodesic dome. Construction took 26 months. Extending upwards from the table are “quadropod” structures, which support smaller beams which form the shell of the steel skeleton. Pipes stand the aluminum skin panels away from the skeleton and provide space for utilities. A small service car is parked in the interstitial space between the structural and cladding surfaces, and can carry a prone technician down the sides to access repair locations. The shop fabrication of the steel (done in nearby Tampa, Florida) was an early instance of computer-aided drafting and materials processing. Spaceship Earth was originally sponsored by the Bell System from 1982 until 1984, when it was broken into smaller companies in 1984, and its parent company, AT&T, became an independent company. AT&T sponsored Spaceship Earth from 1984 until 2004. From 2005 onwards, the German company Siemens has been the sponsor of Spaceship Earth.
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