Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Grand and Miraculous Spaceship


Every day, thousands of people walk right by it, but how many actually consider the mural at the entrance to Spaceship Earth? Not enough!

It’s a gorgeous painting, showcasing many of the images that await on the journey through the geosphere. It also tells a beautiful story on its own, about man’s constant quest to share information and communicate with others.

Dramatic and bold, easy to digest in a glance -- but at the same time wonderfully detailed and worth studying closely, the mural also serves as a beautiful reminder of what EPCOT Center aspired to be: intelligent, adventurous, compelling and most decidedly “un-Disney.”

Seeing the mural always brings a little joy to me, because it’s one of those traces of EPCOT Center that hasn’t been wiped away and Mickey-ized. Grand and miraculous (well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch) itself, the Spaceship Earth mural reminds us that exploring our world, our universe, isn’t boring – it’s an enormous adventure through time and space that can spark the imagination and lead to fantastic discoveries.

Let’s hope the mural never goes away!

23 comments:

Trevor said...

I love this mural, it harks back to the earlier and more progressive EPCOT. It also makes me lament the loss of Horizons (and it's fantastic mural)... and, of course, Mary Blair's mural in Disneyland.

They really should clean it up though. The last time I saw it it was covered in splatters of child-spit and lord-knows what.

And, no, "clean it up" doesn't mean paint over it with something crappy and half-assed, Mr Disney Executive.

Oh, and while you're at it, please take those horrible brown decals off of Spaceship Earth's legs.

Gil said...

I don't know. Couldn't this mural use more magic wands?

Anonymous said...

The mural is very beautiful. I must try some time when I go back to WDW in January and try to take pictures of it at nightime with the original 1982 yellowish glow from the lights!

Last time I was taking a picture of the mural, two kids in front of me probably through I was just a rediculous tourist taking photos, little do they know that since I'm an artist, this mural, it's kinetic movement and inspiration is very eye catching. I do agree it needs a clean-up.

The Siemens swashes along its legs to compliment the blue and green tones of the painting, let alone the original yellow lighting, and blue panneled roof above the entrance door.

However, I still don't know why the orange symbol of spaceship earth, was changed for a blue symbol. It seems the orange symbol would due much better standing out against the Siemens green.

What's interesting about that mural is that the satelite is no longer there at the climax of spaceship earth in the planteterium.

It was originally to be saved in the 1994 rehab, but they took it all down, thinking they could move it somewhere else, the but the budget was very fixed, and thus nothing maybe except for the frame on the ceiling that held the wires *which is too dark to see from your vehicle* could only be the thing left of it.

What's very ghoostly if not disturbing is that once you head down backwards past the current newsbroadcast tv "floating" in space, you are actually in this octagonal room that used to be dimly lit with red and pinks. It was a spacestation room, that served a purpous as the satelite was to dock near it.

All that is left of this room is its frame, which is now painted black, and one very large window where a little girl used to look out at us as we traveled in space. This very large almost TRON-like window still exists.

As you descend past the floating tv screen, look behind you, and if the lighting is just right, you may catch a glimpse of it. It's freaking scary looking all alone up in that room!

Twirlnhurl said...

A few months ago, I was on Spaceship Earth, and the ride broke down on the backwards descent to earth. Unfortunately, when the ride came to the final stop, we were just past the electronic classroom screen. I did not notice what you are talking about, even after the lights turned on and we were escorted down the stairs. Darm, if only we boarded the ride a few second's later...

Anonymous said...

Yeah the electronic classroom is actually past what I am taking about. To get to the electronic passroom, you have to go through this square door frame. Above this square door frame is the space station window. You can only see it if you look behind you aka turn around as the vehicles are heading down backwards to see the window over the square doorframe.

I guess the only thing that grabbed peoples attention from 1982-1986 was that it was lit up and people would turn their heads to see it.

It actually was installed improperly!

Anonymous said...

woops I mean 1982-1994

dean said...

Thanks for that nice tribute to the entrance mural. It has become a classic part of Epcot and deserves to remain in such a prominent location. Here's hoping that under Siemens' sponsorship that Spaceship Earth gets the TLC that it has earned.

Mr Banks said...

Where's Mickey's Wand in the mural. I don't see Mickey's Wand. Isn't Mickey's arm and wand supposed to be in the mural? Isn't this a ride about Mickey's Magic Wand? Isn't this the Mickey Controls The World ride? Where's Mickey's giant arm?

WED52 said...

I love that mural. I don't think a lot of people actually stop and take a look at that mural - it's hand-painted! I really think that all the Future World pavillions should have a mural, visually telling the guest what is to come. Sice Siemens came in when AT&T shipped out, I have a lot of hope for this attraction. I just hope they'll update it - or at least give it a better post-show!

Anonymous said...

Riht now if you look above the post-show construction walls, you can see some curtains hanging from the ceiling hiding something.

I'm sure it's a small version of the wand so that people can have their pictures taken with it.

It's all about the wand.

Anonymous said...

That is really scary -- could it be Siemens doesn't "get it" either? Or are we the ones who don't? I'd hate to think that.

Anonymous said...

The wand!! Who at Disney has this preoccupation with Claes Oldenburg and big things??!! Big wands, big birthday cakes, big sorcerer hats, big swans and dolphins, big everything at the All Star resorts... It's a cheap, easy gag and definitely something that you never would have caught Walt Disney or Marc Davis doing. All this stuff came about during Eisner's reign. Perhaps he was making up for certain inadequacies...??

Pete said...

I've told my friends many times that one of my simple goals in life is to take a bucket of soapy water, a scrub brush and a vacuume to Spaceship Earth and give it the care and attention it needs. The light grid below the mural and the painting itself are always covered with stains and what not, and the carpets in the rider load and unload areas have been populated with dust bunnys for so long, I'm surprised Disney hasn't made a collectable pin about them... I was watching some videos on you-tube that were made during Epcots opening and it's amazing how positive and classy Epcot was. I remember it them. I still love it, of course, but I wish Disney loved it as much as I do. Disney needs to attend to the details in Spaceship Earth. Keep the junk off the operators stations, re-paint quickly when rails and walls get chipped, and most of all realise that the story of Spaceship Earth is the key to the whole park. Nothing is possible without communication. The future world, the showcase of nations, all depend on communication. It's the reason it's right up front, and our world today is desperate for better communication and more understanding.

Jaime said...

Hello everyone. I am going to rant a bit and its not per se about EPCOT or this post. I have been following this blog and others like it for about 6 months now. My fiancé and I moved to Florida and couldn't wait to get our annual Disney passes...well what we did not realize is how much has changed.
My fiancé came across these blogs after our first trip down as FL residents. We spent most of the time at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT and were amazed at how much of the magic has been lost.
I am 6 years younger than my fiancé but we have the same Disney memories; Mr. Toad’s wild ride, 20,000 leagues under the sea, the living seas, the original Pirates of the Caribbean and all the classic Disney attractions. What's left? None of that and that is what saddens me. I don't want to go to Disney World to see a movie trailer for Nemo (in reference to the destroyed late living seas), or play "where's Johnny Depp" on pirates of the Caribbean. It is just so sad that people need entertainment to be this so dumbed down!
I think my biggest disappointment so far has been at MGM. The big gaudy hat is blocking the beautiful Chinese theatre! And then once inside the theatre, once you navigate your way around the monstrosity, the Great Movie ride is in poor condition. I bet that the poor girl is next on Disney's "kill" list. SO the thing that really got me going was that we went to the new Chronicles of Narnia attraction...aka stand in line to stand and watch the movie trailer...I've seen the dang movie! SO why couldn’t they have used the money they used to create that waste of space and put it into 1) taking down the dang hat and 2)fixing up the movie ride...I don't get it at all. (Note: when we went to Disney this past week, the Narnia thing was closed...hopefully due to complaints!!
I am sad about the many losses we have suffered on behalf of “evil” Disney, but there are still many good things left. Our new philosophy when visiting DW has been to ride everything classic just in case it is our last chance. We go there now and remember Walt for his creative genius and his passion. I want to help save Disney, I just don’t know how. I just hope we can share it with our future children before WALT Disney is lost and gone forever :-( Thanks for listening!

Mak said...

Wow, what a wall of text, here are a few bullet points in rebuttal:

-Walt Disney World is not a museum

-If you weren't fretting so much over the Captain Jack AA's, you would have noticed all the major refurbishments and enhancements through the attraction.

-The Sorcerer's Hat is blocking Mann's Chinese Theatre because of a rumored Intellectual Property conflict between Disney and Mann's.

-The Great Movie Ride is in dire need of updating or removal. Something must be done other than "fixing it up".

-The Narnia walkthrough attraction was temporary. Its promotional period was over, so it was removed.

Anonymous said...

The hat is there to serve not only as a symbol of a TEMPORARY celebration, but as merchandise franshie throughout the park. The hat and shop could do much better outside the main gate or as the entrance to fantasmic as it involves sorcerer mickey and elements of fantasia more than the arguable quick fantasia clip in the great movie ride.

Had this been the case with the real chinese theater, then the replica probably wouldn't be there.

The hat completely ruins a meticulous and wonderful setting.

It just needs to be moved elsewhere, pleasing bothside that the hat remains albiet somewhere else in MGM, and the view of the theater is once again preserved.

Twirlnhurl said...

I just got back from a trip to Epcot to ride the new Finding Nemo ride. It was pretty good. I don't think it is the best ride in the park, or even the most Epcot-ey, but as an individual attraction, it works well. The effect at the end where the nemo characters are projected into the acquarium is very effective and quite impressive. Does it fit in Epcot, though? Maybe not, but it's definately not an insulting ride, and it leads into the main pavillion quite well. I have not seen the original Sea Cabs ride, but my friend who had said the current ride is an improvement. Don't go in expecting am enlightening expierence, but as a Finding Nemo ride, and as a ride that inspires you to be excited about the ocean, it is not too bad. Ride it with an open mind, and you may be suprised. I was.

Anonymous said...

In response to the person that stated that the oversized hat in front of the replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theater is a result of a legal conflict with the Mann theater chain.

This is absurd. Here’s why.

1. Litigation is a matter of public record. If there were any, it would be easy to prove via Google. Where’s the proof?

2. If The Walt Disney Company, a global entertainment organization, managed to ignore copyright law and construct the building (which is highly unlikely considering they were given the original plans for the building according to “The Making of the Disney/MGM Studios” which aired on the Disney Channel in 1989) it seems unlikely that the infringement would go unnoticed for 12 years.

3. If the infringement were to go unnoticed for 12 years, it seems like a ridiculous coincidence that the solution for the infringement (the hat) would conveniently coincide with the 100 Years of Magic Celebration.

4. If the infringement went unnoticed for 12 years and the hat’s construction conveniently coincided with the 100 Years of Magic Celebration, the Chinese Theater facade is still there in full view of guests and within a gated park, how does the hat address a copyright infringement of the Chinese theater?

5. Perhaps the infringement is not about the building itself and is instead about the right to use the building’s image on merchandise? If this were true, Disney would no longer print the Chinese Theater’s image on merchandise, but it does.

6. The hat was designed by Eric Jacobson, Sr. Vice President at WDI. He is a very powerful person within WDI and he likes the hat. Ironically, he also designed the Great Movie Ride. Within WDI the feeling is...if Eric doesn’t have a problem with the hat, why should anyone else. This is why WDI has not done anything about the hat. (Mr. Jacobson also designed the wand over Space Ship Earth.)

7. The main reason the hat (and the wand) have not come down is the cost involved to do so. From the point of view of the management of WDW, the expense of taking these objects down will not result in any revenue...so there is no motivation to do it. This is why WDW has not done anything about the hat (or the wand).

Jaime said...

Thanks for all of the information everyone. It is hard to know what is right, and everyone has an opinion. I just love the feeling of Disney over any other park. It never used to be carnival like and you always felt that when you walked inside those gates you were indeed in another world. I think I dislike the hat, and wand, so much because in what real world would you see a giant hat or wand? It causes the part to lose a little of its mystique. Thanks again for all the information.
ALso, I still think that the Great Movie ride is fantastic. Classic movies will also be classic! I suppose you could add a few more..but it doesn't need it. Riding it inspires me to go home and pull out the VHS classics and watch them!

SilentSpectre said...

To the last anonymous:

From what I understand, the contract between Mann's and Disney states that the Chinese Theater cannot be used as the symbol of the park (like Cinderella Castle to the Magic Kingdom). Originally, the symbol of MGM was the Earful Tower; it was changed to the hat after the 100 Years of Magic celebration.

I personally believe that the hat disrupts the feel of the Studios. My opinion of it is basically the same as my opinion of the wand: it was fine as a temporary symbol for a celebration, but should have been removed once the celebration was over.

Anonymous said...

This is a different anyonymous, but then the chinese theatre was never the symbol of the park after all. Sure it was a focus of the main drag of DisneyMGM stuidous, but the earful tower really is an apropriate symbol.

The earful tower should have been outside the entrance to MGM, easy enough to take pictures, and with some small fake facades of wearhouses next to it, before guests enterened the entrance facade to MGM under the pan pacific auditorium.

The earful otherwise serves decently but not greatly on the backlot tour because other than the great movie ride, the backlot tour was a much longer, and overall staple attraction to the park.

I've never thought of the chinese theater as the parks symbol, rather a focal point. Mickey's sorcerer hat cannot at all represent the disney mgm studious. The earful tower appropraietely does because it symbolizes the disney company with roots back to great water towers over the old hollywood lots of yesteryear with the respective company's decal on their watertower.

Epcot82 said...

While this is, of course, supposed to be an EPCOT Center blog, I appreciate the debate about the Chinese Theater.

Had Disney simply torn down the theater and built the hat in its place, it would have been a major change, but not nearly as insulting or wrong-headed. Not only is the Socerer's Hat out of scale with everything at the park -- resulting in a visual "shrinking" of Hollywood Boulevard and a crowding of the main entry -- but it's simply in the wrong place. To block what was clearly designed to be the "weenie" at the end of the street, to show callous disregard for the theming of Disney-MGM Studios (whether it was designed by Eric Jacobsen or someone else), to so aggressively and blatantly hype "Disney" (it's fitting, with today's corporate mentality, that the hat simply houses a store) ... I think these are the things that cause people to object.

It's the wrong thing in the wrong place. If the Earfull Tower was such a crappy symbol, why did it work so well as the park's icon for such a long time?

I'm seriously considering addressing this issue during the Q&A session of the upcoming annual meeting ...

Jaime said...

Yeah, sorry about that. I didn't mean to take the topic off of EPCOT. I apologize for that, but I am glad to have heard some other views on the stuff going on there. Sorry again, and thanks for the information.