We have all heard the saying, “If you can read this, thank the Phoenicians” at one point or another, but why is it associated with Spaceship Earth in Epcot? Let’s take a quick journey through Spaceship Earth in order to understand the meaning behind this iconic phrase.
Spaceship Earth has been a “must-do” ride for guests since 1982. Located in the 18-story (180 feet), 16 million pounds “Geosphere”, also known as Epcot ball to some guests, this ride is an excitement since it takes you through the history of communication while inside the Geosphere. Fun fact! Spaceship Earth is actually inside one of two spheres in this Geodesic Sphere. One sphere holds the ride, while the second sphere is the exterior which is made up of 60 isosceles triangles with each of those divided into 16 equilateral triangles.
Originally sponsored by the Bell System, Spaceship Earth has undergone some notable changes. The first change is the changing of sponsors with AT&T before landing its current sponsor, Siemens. Another notable change is that the ride has undergone four different narrators since it’s opening in 1982. Originally Spaceship Earth was narrated by Vic Perrin before changing to Walter Cronkite in 1986. The ride would soon change again in 1994 to Jeremy Irons from 1994-2007 and then again to the current narrator, Judi Dench. Also included in the changes are the new musical scores, added scenes and technological upgrades to reflect the times.
Ask guests embark on their journey into Spaceship Earth they will travel through time from the beginning of civilization to today. Guests board the slow-moving Omnimover as they prepare for a sixteen-minute journey into the past complete animatronic wonders and Imagineering design.
We start our journey with the era of cavemen. Here we will witness the invention of fire. According to the Smithsonian, there is evidence that suggests early humans had fire more than a million years ago! In fact, there is also evidence suggesting that human ancestors were butchering meat and burying ancestors more than 200,000 years ago! In addition, about 40,000 years ago, there is evidence of paintings on cave walls on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Next, we witness an unknown Egyptian inventing the first paper, called papyrus. However, paper as we know it today, made from rag and fiber, was invented in China. The invention of paper made it much easier to write on objects other than cave walls, just ask the Sumerians who wrote in wet clay!
As we continue our journey through Spaceship Earth, we will witness the “creation” of the alphabet by the Phoenicians. While the first real alphabet made of 22 consonants was developed in Syria around the 11th century, the Phoenicians did have a hand in creating the alphabet. The Phoenicians, who traded with civilizations around the Mediterranean and beyond, created a simple common alphabet adaptable to most languages. So as the saying goes, “If you can read this, Thank the Phoenicians”.
Next, we will pass into the Italian Renaissance and the Sistine Chapel before our senses will start to tingle as we enter into the dark ages of the destruction of Rome while we smell it burning. Soon we will enter into the Age of Enlightenment, the invention of the printing press and man walking on the moon for the first time.
As we continue on our journey through Spaceship Earth, guests will be introduced to the invention of the computer and the home computer. How does this computer compare to the computers we have today? Technology has definitely evolved.
As guests reach this area of the ride, they have reached the top of the Geosphere! Spoiler alert! At this point in the ride, your seat will turn backwards as you make your descent back down the Geosphere. As you descend back down the screen in your car will light up as you are asked various questions about your ideal vacation and home. At the end, guests will be “presented” a little treat based on their answers to these questions.
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