The current version of Spaceship Earth at Disney World will be closed starting on May 26, making way for a dramatic overhaul of Epcot’s centerpiece attraction. 

The long-rumored makeover was confirmed by Disney at the 2019 D23 Expo. The ride’s focus will shift away from communication and technology and feature new scenes, narration, and a redesigned exit space. 

“The next iteration of Spaceship Earth will focus on the story of humanity, following our long journey from prehistoric humans to today brought to life with magic and depth that only Disney can deliver,” Walt Disney Imagineering site portfolio executive Zach Riddley said on the Disney Parks Blog. “Many of the moments you know and love will be updated in amazing ways, blended with brand-new scenes to tell a story about our human experience.”

The announcement came with new concept art depicting a redesigned Egypt scene, which Riddley described as “an Egypt like you’ve never seen before, transformed through the power of light.”

Concept art for new Egypt scene in Spaceship Earth (Disney)

What the blog post didn’t include was any sort of timetable for the project, saying only that Spaceship Earth will be closed “for a time” starting May 26. 

This is the fourth major update for Spaceship Earth since it opened with Epcot in October 1982. The first version lasted until 1994, though a small update in 1986 replaced the original narration with one delivered by Walter Cronkite. The second ride experience ran, narrated by actor Jeremy Irons, ran from November 1994 to July 2007. Spaceship Earth 3.0, featuring narration from Judy Dench, has been in place since February 2008.   

The overhaul is part of a multi-year transformation project for Epcot. The changes will see the park add two major attractions (Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure this summer and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in 2021) and a new “play” pavilion in the former Wonders of Life building. The ongoing work is hard to miss; the central hub of the park behind Spaceship Earth is currently closed off to guests as crews build a three-level structure to act as the park’s “festival pavilion.”

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