Let’s ask one of our favorite bears, Baloo! Could the Spaceship Earth refurb be a major overhaul or just the bare necessities? Yeah, we went there. With reports all over the board on what we should expect on the Spaceship Earth refurb, we’re going to try to find our way through the jungle. Alright Baloo, let’s head off on our adventure and see if this will be a king-size project!
What We Know
A date. No, we’re not talking about a Disney date night at our favorite restaurant, San Angel Inn Restaurante. We’re talking about a date when the Spaceship Earth refurb is set to being. Disney Parks announced Spaceship would be closing its doors on May 26, 2020. At the time of the announcement Disney has not set any type of duration or timeframe for the project.
Beyond the closure date, we know one other piece of information. The concept. At the D23 expo, the newly appointed CEO Bob Chapek (the other Bob) announced the overall theme for the attraction would become “storytelling”. It would be a shift away from communication or as we like to think of it as an elaboration on it. All great stories are “communicating” something.
Passholder Insights: We have reason to believe Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open a few days prior to the closure of Spaceship Earth. No announcement has been made by Disney, and this is our thought.
The Main Report
As we said, it’s a jungle out there. Many reports have the Spaceship Earth refurb closing down for a multi-year overhaul. In a previous article, we talked about the multi-year update. The reports include a variety of updates, from a redo of the entire track within the attraction to moving of the entrance to the current unload area, and update or make additions of all scenes within the attraction. The scenes that are slated for the major redesign are those after Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.
The ideas around the multi-year project were furthered by the update to the Disney Imagineering website back in the back half of 2019. In the background of one of the images is what is thought to be the concept work for the Spaceship Earth refurb. If true, it looks like the project would take multiple years.
Additionally, it’s expected the Dreamer’s Point with the new Walt statue could be on the backside of Spaceship Earth.
Passholder Insights: Spaceship Earth will be part of the new Celebration neighbor within Epcot, as the headline attraction.
You can never have too much information! Can you? Less than a week after Disney’s big announcement about the Spaceship Earth refurb, we’re getting more details on the project. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, the project may be more of a bare necessities update. With Walt Disney World gearing up for its 50th anniversary, the project may be trimmed down. At least in the short-term. This is dues the wetter than normal winter in Florida which has impacted the construction on others projects.
It’s expected that Epcot will be the focal point of the monumental celebration and Disney Parks would like everything ready to go. Using Epcot at the centerpiece is nothing new, as Walt Disney World followed a similar model for the Millennium Celebration. What Disney Imagineering could do with the project is split it into two projects. The first project would be a 6 to a 7-month project focused around minor updates to Spaceship Earth to make sure it’s ready for January 2021.
The second project would finish the major overhaul. Once the 50th-anniversary celebration culminates, Spaceship Earth would shutdown for a second time to wrap-up the project. How or if the project would be split up is still unknown. We should have more information as time progresses.
Passholder Insights: Disney World is using a similar model of breaking up projects into two small projects with the update to Cinderella’s Castle.
Options, so many options! Both ideas around how Walt Disney World could execute the Spaceship Earth refurb make a lot of sense. Overall, what is for certain is the attraction will be going through major changes in the coming year/years. There is never a good time for a major attraction update, as it impacts the guest experience. It would make a lot of sense for the attraction to be open for the 50th anniversary, as it’s projected to be one the busier years for the “world”.
If we had to guess, in the short term the changes we could see could be focused on two areas. The first being the moving of the queue to the backside of Spaceship. Now is the perfect time to make this change, as the center of Epcot is closed for the larger Celebration neighbor work. The second would be the updating of the current scenes. Disney Parks teased concept art for the Egyptian scene as part of the announcement.
For now, we will have to wait and to see what direction Walt Disney World decides to take with the Spaceship Earth refurb. Alright, we’re off. We’ve got to get in one last ride!