Way, WAY back during the 2019 D23 Expo, Disney announced a massive renovation coming to Spaceship Earth as part of EPCOT’s transformation. The refurbishment, which included reimagining several scenes within the ride, would mean a temporary closure of the park’s flagship attraction.
As we know, a LOT has happened since late 2019, and the timeline of Spaceship Earth’s renovation has been called into question. Let’s recap what we know about the renovation!
What will happen during the refurbishment?
When we first learned about Spaceship Earth’s renovation, our minds were suddenly overflowing with questions! Mainly, what exactly will be included in this refurbishment and how different would “Spaceship Earth 2.0” look compared to the current version?
Bob Chapek announced at the 2019 D23 Expo that the “new Spaceship Earth will still feature great moments of human history, but instead of inventions and technology, we’ll focus on something that binds us all together — storytelling.” The new plot is designed to include a “story light” which will come to life throughout the attraction.
In addition, the renovation was said to include a fresh narration (bye bye, Dame Judi Dench) and even some new scenes!
How long has the renovation been put on pause?
Eventually, we learned that Spaceship Earth was scheduled to begin its temporary closure on May 26th, 2020. We were never able to confirm how long Spaceship Earth would be closed for, but it seemed like it would be quite lengthy.
Before we knew it, Disney World began its temporary closure in March of 2020. Many of us wondered whether or not we rode Spaceship Earth for the final time two months earlier than we anticipated, but it was announced during the closure that Spaceship Earth’s renovation was delayed and the current version of the attraction would reopen with the parks!
After EPCOT reopened, we learned that Spaceship Earth’s renovation was being shelved — at least for the time being. So, for now, you can still ride the current version of Spaceship Earth during you visit to EPCOT. Since that announcement, Disney has been pretty quiet on what their future plans are for updating the ride.
What is still happening in and around Spaceship Earth?
While the ride’s massive renovation may be temporarily paused, a lot is still going on as part of EPCOT’s transformation! For starters, we learned last fall that the exterior of the attraction would be getting a new, programmable lighting design! Imagineer Zach Riddley shared that the design will “activate this area of the park like never before” and “perfectly encapsulate the park transformation.”
The lighting design has yet to materialize in the parks, but we’re expecting to see something similar to the newer lighting effects around Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom!
We’ve also seen some permits being filed for Spaceship Earth, indicating to us that while the renovation is shelved, it’s not completely off the books just yet. Last fall, Walt Disney Imagineers filed for an “installation of source power and control equipment” with the address linked back to Spaceship Earth.
We also saw a couple of permits be filed in December for that programmable lighting design. The first permit was filed by Pro Sound and Video, a firm that does show lights, for the installation of “lighting controls, equipment, and low voltage terminations.” The second permit was filed by InterAmerica Stage, Inc. and addresses the “installation of lighting supports.”
So, at the very least, we could see Spaceship Earth the building get a fresh, new look while we wait for Spaceship Earth the ride to begin its refurbishment. And, of course, let’s not forget about the gorgeous new fountain that greets guests as they enter EPCOT, which compliments Spaceship Earth beautifully!
Be sure to keep an eye on DFB as we continue to cover any and all news about Spaceship Earth as we await for more announcements regarding its transformation!