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RUMOR – Will Disney turn Spaceship Earth into a Roller Coaster?!

Strap in for another round of Disney rumors. This one is truly frightening, and I hope it never comes to pass. Are you sitting down for this?

Disney might consider gutting Spaceship Earth and turning it into a roller coaster.

Say what?!

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Entertainment Earth

No, your eyes do not deceive you. There’s a rumor going around that with the sweeping changes coming to Epcot’s Future World, nothing is sacred — not even the “big golf ball.”

The word from some insiders on WDW Magic is that the reason the details of the re-imagined Future World released at D23 were so spartan is that Disney is still deciding what stays and what goes.

One well-known insider — marni1971 — says that one of the ideas currently being kicked around involves “irreparable damage” to the park. “In five years the area known as Futureworld could be a shell of its former self. Literally. We’re on the cusp of possible irreparable physical damage being done to the park. Like a few other things if it happens you’ll know what I mean. (…) There’s more that’s proposed demolition-wise than just Innoventions. I can’t say more for now but that’s what I mean about irreparable damage.”

Speculation has ensued as to what could be such a terrible loss to Future World to be deemed “irreparable damage.” The first thing that came to the minds of many was the park’s icon, Spaceship Earth.

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“But Disney would never do something stupid to Spaceship Earth,” you say.

“It’s the park icon,” you say.

“And it was featured in the Future World blue sky D23 concept art,” you say.

“Blue Sky” artwork of the re-imagined Epcot Future World from D23. (Disney)

Yes. “The golf ball” was indeed in that artwork. But it’s what’s inside that I’m concerned about.

Enter Project Gemini

Earlier this month, we talked about Project Gemini. It was a proposed overhaul of Epcot from the early 2000s that never came to fruition (not completely) but shared a lot of similarities with this “blue sky” artwork. Among those similarities were an open central spine, a “hedge maze” and an Amazon rain forest area near The Land pavilion that may or may not contain a family thrill ride.

Some of the proposed changes did come to pass, such as Soarin’ coming to The Land pavilion and IP being added to The Living Seas (but it was Finding Nemo, and not The Little Mermaid as originally proposed. Finding Nemo was not yet released when Project Gemini was on the drawing board.)

But another wild proposal did not come to pass… yet.

Time Racers: The Spaceship Earth Roller Coaster That Never Was

Yes, some people at Disney felt Spaceship Earth was much too slow of an attraction for today’s audiences and wanted to kick it up a few notches. The plan would retain the trip through time theme, but it would be at a breakneck pace… a roller coaster race through human history.

Here’s what Disney insider Jim Hill had to say about it circa 2003…

So what’s the name of the exciting new attraction that will zooming around inside Spaceship Earth once October 2006 rolls around? “Time Racers,” Epcot’s latest and greatest thrill ride, sponsored by Microsoft. And what’s “Time Racers” supposed to be like? More importantly, what’s this attraction supposed to be about? Well, you can say “good-bye” to that herky-jerky omni-mover trip through the Ages of Man that AT&T used to sponsor. The next attraction to make its home inside “The Ball” will literally send Epcot visitors racing across time. Using time lapse photography as well as cutting edge technology, the Imagineers hope to give WDW guests the impression that they’re fast-forwarding through all of human history. Rocketing forward from the time when we were all still living in caves right up today’s modern age … and beyond.

Obviously, it didn’t happen. A few years later, Siemens sponsored Spaceship Earth and the attraction was safe (save for a new narration and a lame ending.)

Oh, but Siemens is gone.

Yes, Siemens ended their agreement to sponsor Spaceship Earth. In fact, they left like thieves in the night and not on very good terms with Disney, from what we’ve heard.

So what does that mean?

It means anything is on the table, and those “park icons” aren’t terribly sacred to Disney. Because…

RIP Great Movie Ride

Yes, Disney suddenly pulled the plug on The Great Movie Ride after their contract with TMC was up. It happened quickly and without much warning. We sounded the warning bells a few months ago, and people laughed.

“It couldn’t happen,” they said.

“It’s the park icon,” they said.

“It’s the last opening day attraction, and they wouldn’t dare,” they said.

“Stop making up stupid rumors!” they yelled.

Well, who’s laughing now? The last time I checked our Facebook page, there were quite a few tears over the loss of The Great Movie Ride.

But time “races” on. And time may be running out for the Spaceship Earth we’ve come to know and love.

You’ve been warned.

Other Candidates for “Irreparable Damage”

Alright, so they may spare Spaceship Earth. Maybe we’ll just get a much needed update including a new narrator (I vote for Morgan Freeman) and a return of the classic descent. Let’s be optimistic here.

So what other “park icons” could be on the receiving end of Bob Chapek’s bulldozer?

Living with The Land

You know, Living with the Land went down for a few days over the weekend. Something about a tree falling. Or maybe it was a survey crew taking some time to measure for new drapes? It’s doubtful that The Land pavilion would go away completely because it houses Soarin’, but you can’t see it in the new concept art. Unless Soarin’ stays and they somehow knock the rest of the pavilion down around it…?

Journey Into Imagination

The attraction is a ghost of its former glory, and rumors have been around for years that point to it being replaced by Inside Out… or being demolished completely to make way for something new. Again, I can’t make out this pavilion in the concept art, so it might be going away. Whatever the case may be, don’t look for a return of Dreamfinder anytime soon. Although its what most parks fans want more than anything, Disney is all about IP these days. Unless Dreamfinder stars in a movie that makes a billion at the box office, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever get his ride back and will be relegated to retro Epcot merchandise forevermore.

Something More Insidious?

Maybe there are some other plans afoot for Epcot that we’re not aware of? Whatever the case may be, it set off some alarms with Disney insiders. So it must be something huge.

Maybe it’s not all doom and gloom…

The word is that very little of Future World’s re-imagining as been finalized (aside from Guardians of the Galaxy) and that there are some EPCOT Center fans in Imagineering fighting the good fight to keep the good stuff as-is.

Epcot is not Hollywood Studios. It’s never been in such a dire state that they had to scrap nearly everything and start over. It just needs some attention, some updates. I’m hoping Disney keeps what works and strikes a balance between keeping oldschool fans and young families with children happy.

And again, these are all rumors. Take it for what it’s worth. But big changes are absolutely coming to Epcot. Let’s just hope they’re changes for the better.

[Sources: WDW Magic, Jim Hill]

 

 


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