Joined: Sep. 2001
||Posted: April 05, 2004, 12:41 am
I cast my vote for Spaceship Earth. Today it may seem a bit tired, and it may not have the repeat value of Pirates, but it has a number of features that I think qualify it as the attraction from the list that best exemplifes Imagineering at it's best.
1. Unique structure - The geosphere is still the only one of its kind on earth, has served it's function well without major structural repairs or even a paint job (except for the legs). While not the most efficient structure perhaps, its double duty as attraction and park icon put it in a class with Disney's castles.
2. Omnimover - The Omnimover system was developed by Imagineering to provide a semi-private attraction experience to vast numbers of guests simultaneously. With continuous load/unload, the capacity is on a par with auditorium shows, but with the intimacy found only when riding with a small number of friends or family.
3. Animatronics - I've never bothered to count, but if this attraction doesn't have the largest number of human Animatronic figures, it's surely close. While limited to "Mark II" figures by the date of it's design, they effectively convey the story without *becomming* the story.
4. Multimedia - In addition to the Animatronics, the show includes slides, film, television, "Pepper's Ghost," fiberoptics, lasers, mist projectors, scent, and the impressive planetarium projector at the top of the geosphere. It's quite the tour de force of technologies, each used appropriately.
5. Story - As Disney once said when asked how to design a show, "First, you start with a good story." History is always going to be a difficult story to write, and the future even more so -- especially as it has the tendency to catch up with you. The storyline of SSE has endured 25 years without major change, which is hard enough for history, much lest futurism.
6. Change - Shows do occasionally need to change, especially those addressing current and future events. While we all have our favorite of the three major editions of this show, the fact that it was so easily enhanced and updated shows the Imagineers had that possibility in mind during design. Most shows get ripped out and replaced rather than updated, but SSE is clearly of the same high caliber today as it had when it debuted.
7. Family Friendly - Especially in an eara that's seeing more and more attractions aimed at smaller segments of the audience, thrill rides especially, it's nice to see an attraction that's suitable for all members of the family: young and old, healthy and frail, walking or wheelchair. Walt wanted a place where the family could have fun together, and no attraction worthy of this award could fail to include everyone.
8. Popularity - Imagineers must strike some chord with their audience, and the long lines that form each morning beneath the silver sphere demonstrate that this show still has what it takes to reach and even move its audiences. Not every show has that ability, as recent replacements in Future World and Tomorrowlands demonstrate.
Spaceship Earth may not be the newest flashy, high-speed, attendance drawing high-tech marvel from Imagineering. It is exactly as planned, a signature attraction, a park icon (which really doesn't need that silly wand), and a touchstone for generations of Park guests that all can enjoy.
Co-host of "Iago & Zazu's Attraction of the Week"