Do you know these fun facts about Spaceship Earth? Brush up on your Walt Disney World knowledge and learn about the unique background of this eye-catching landmark.
If you think of THE icon of EPCOT, it’s undoubtedly Spaceship Earth. From most locations across the theme park’s sprawling acreage, from the parking lots to World Showcase, the massive sphere can be seen with the gorgeous Central Florida sky in the background. And while the image of this textured white sphere may be embedded in your brain, do you know all of the fun facts surrounding its creation, its history, and its presence at EPCOT? To get you up to speed, we’re sharing some super cool fun facts about Spaceship Earth you may not already know!
1. Spaceship Earth is Made Up of an Impressive Number of Triangles
It’s common knowledge that Spaceship Earth is a sphere made from triangles, but here’s a fun fact: It’s made up of thousands of little triangles. Do you know exactly how many triangles? What we’re looking at is 60 giant isosceles triangles that each have 16 small triangles equaling 960. Each of these are then divided into four triangles, which are divided into three more triangles.
Do the math and that’s a great, big 11,520 triangles! But that’s not the final tally – you also have to take into account details like hidden doors, which bring the total number of triangles that make up Spaceship Earth to 11,324 individual triangles.
2. It’s Record-Breaking in Size and Weight
If you always wondered what the largest free-standing sphere in the world is, you need look no farther than EPCOT – Spaceship Earth wins the award! Coming in at an enormous 165 feet in diameter (who wants to make a belt for it?!), it clocks in at180 feet tall and almost 16 million pounds in weight.
3. Spaceship Earth is Made Up of More than a Single Sphere
We’ve covered the triangles that pattern the exterior of this Disney World icon, but did you know that it’s also not just one big sphere? Spaceship Earth might look like it, but it turns out the park weenie is made from two spheres, actually. The exterior sphere is more like a shell and sits two feet away from the interior shell, which houses the slow-moving ride.
4. It’s Specially Designed for Florida Rain
Have you ever been caught in the rain in EPCOT and used Spaceship Earth as an umbrella until the storm passed? There’s a super cool reason why this theme park icon keeps us all dry, and that’s compliments of its unique gutter system. The exterior shell of the giant sphere has small holes in its surface, which take in the rain water and drain it out into the gorgeous Showcase Lagoon.
For Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, those innovative holes dotting the sphere’s surface were put to a slightly different use. In honor of the big celebration, each of the four theme park icons were given a makeover. For example, Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom had the additions of pretty golden-hued ribbons and an “earidescent” 50 in place of the clock. But for Spaceship Earth, not only did we get a nighttime show titled “Beacon of Magic” that includes catchy music, but its makeover included 1,861 points of light that twinkle along with over 11,000 beams that side fire to create the colorful patterns.
5. The Omnimover Inside Used to Require Manual Spins
When EPCOT opened on October 1, 1982 (11 years to the day of Magic Kingdom’s opening!), Spaceship Earth opened right along with it – much to the delight of Guests. It took 26 months from project start to completion and almost 41,000 hours of labor was invested to create the sphere and the attraction inside. However, when Spaceship Earth welcomed its very first riders, it was a bit more manual than you might expect!
These days, when you hit the top of the attraction and spy earth, you automatically get slowly turned backward to make the descent to disembark. Yet originally, that turn wasn’t automatic. Instead, a Cast Member had to turn each car around by hand. Considering the Omnimover takes 16 minutes from start to finish (moving at a speed of 1.24 miles per hour, mind you) and a typical day can be 12 hours, that’s a lot of spins!
6. It’s Not a Howitzer, It’s a Smellitzer
I adore the fact that Walt Disney World pumps in scents to make each of its theme parks even more immersive than it already is. But did you know there’s a fun term used for the machine that does it? It’s called a “smellitzer.” Named after a Howitzer cannon, the machine shoots out puffs of scented air – and the first time it was ever used was for the burning of Rome scene in Spaceship Earth.
7. There’s a Secret VIP Vantage Point Inside Spaceship Earth
At World Showcase in the Mexico Pavilion, if you’ve ever been lucky enough to go to the top of the Mayan Pyramid, you’ll know there’s a room with a gorgeous view – and it’s also where the nightly fireworks show is controlled from. But did you know there’s another secret spot to catch a stunning view of EPCOT, its fireworks show, and more?
If you’re a true VIP, you may have had access to the very special VIP Lounge hiding inside Spaceship Earth. Formerly a place for the sponsor of Spaceship Earth’s pavilion and their guests, it’s been used for everything from receptions to meetings to presentations. While not everyone is able to step inside, it’s truly a special experience you won’t want to miss if you have the chance.
8. Four Narrators Have Voiced the Ride’s Soundtrack
In my lifetime, I’ve only had the pleasure of hearing two distinct narrative voices when riding Spaceship Earth – and you may have only heard one or two as well! But there actually have been four separate narrators who’ve delighted our ears and imaginations in this attraction:
- Vic Perrin: The first narrator on opening day, Mr. Perrin was a well-known actor for radio, television, and film back in the 1980s. He narrated Spaceship Earth from 1982 to 1986.
- Walter Cronkite: The voice of America’s nightly news, Cronkite was the CBS Evening News anchor for 19 years. He narrated the attraction from 1986 to 1994.
- Jeremy Irons: Still popular to this day, Mr. Irons was the voice of Scar in The Lion King. His tenure as Spaceship Earth narrator lasted from 1994 to 2007.
- Dame Judi Dench: “Remember how easy it was to learn your ABC’s? Thank the Phoenicians – they invented them.” Ms. Dench is the attraction’s present narrator, and she’s been its voice since 2008.
For more fun facts about Walt Disney World icons like Spaceship Earth, keep reading: