Tomorrow’s Child

The conclusion of Spaceship Earth has changed over the years with varying excitement and wonder for the future.  Let’s start with the script written in 1977.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

The world lies waiting. The buried truths wait to be found. You find them with your mind. You shape them with your hands. You be the future that must know and love and change itself! Then write it in the new Instruction Book! Carve it on the new walls! And send it forth into the Future World!

Your life is yours to own and be. The world is yours to shape and change. The stars are yours as just reward.

Let us gather, record, disseminate – Process new concepts from many lands and people. Let us share their information about energy. Their understanding of The Land. Their hopes for The Seas. Their dreams for tomorrow and beyond…enter the Future World!

The idea was to not only include a message about our responsibility on Spaceship Earth, but also as an introduction to the rest of the Future World in EPCOT.  The theming is just perfect.  Let’s see now how the first incarnation played out.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986
Narrated by Larry Dobkin

Now our Future World draws near -and we face the challenge of tomorrow. We must return and take command of our Spaceship Earth. To become captains of our own destiny. To reach out and fulfill our dreams.
Our journey has been long. From primal caves we have ventured forth traveling the endless corridors of time seeking answers to our tomorrow. With growing knowledge and growing communication, we have changed our lives, changed our world. From the reaches of space to the depths of the sea, we have spun a vast electronic network linking ourselves as fellow passengers together, on Spaceship Earth.
Today our search for understanding is unbounded by space and time. Vast stores of information, knowledge from everywhere, standing ready at our beck and call to reach us in an instant. With our great network, we harness our knowledge, give it shape and form to serve us, to help create and communicate a better awareness of ourselves, and our world. Ours is the age of knowledge, the age of choice and opportunity.

Vintage Spaceship Earth scene from the ride vehicle descent with images of future medical imaging.

Tomorrow’s world approaches, so let us listen and learn, let us explore and question and understand. Let us go forth and discover the wisdom to guide great Spaceship Earth through the uncharted seas of the future. Let us dare to fulfill our destiny.

This conclusion was a tad ominous with no musical score to inspire us on our journey. There were screens showing satellite imagery, thermal images, and other computer based communication tools.   Toward the end of the descent, both walls were mirrored, and string lights hung vertically, making the lights look like they were going further back deeper forever (1).

The update from 1986 changed the feel with the addition of a theme song. Listen to Tomorrow’s Child as you read through Walter Cronkite’s narration.  For an interesting history about the singer of Tomorrow’s Child, check out the Tiara Talk Show Podcast!

Clip about scene from 1982 Spaceship Earth Guide
From 1982 Spaceship Earth Guide

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994
Narrated by Walter Cronkite

Today, our search for understanding is unbounded by space and time. Centuries of information stand ready to reach us in an instant … our link with the past … our hope for the future.

In the information age, our knowledge and tools of communication will continue to grow and improve. We’ll discover new ways to share our ideas and dreams, to create a better world for today, tomorrow and tomorrow’s child.

Vintage Spaceship Earth Scene of images of children and the future

Yes, tomorrow’s child … embodying our hopes and dreams for the future, a future made possible by the information age. The technologies of this new era will extend our reach, expand the capabilities of the human mind and help us shape a better tomorrow.
Ours is a time of unprecedented choice and opportunity, so let us explore and question and understand. Let us learn from our past and meet the challenges of the future, let us go forth and fulfill our destiny on Spaceship Earth.

There were still some nebulous images at the start of the decent and that met up with geometric patterns with projections on them.  Each block is connected with fiber optic strands that light up showing the transfer of ideas (1).   This song had such a nice feel to it and you left the ride with a positive vibe and inspiration.  To quote Buckminster Fuller –

Our children and their children are our future days.  If we do not comprehend and realize our potential ability to support all life forever we are cosmically bankrupt.

While inspirational – it was terrifically 80’s which seems cool now but in the mid-nineties was woefully unappreciated so a new descent was created for the 1994 version.   The score wasn’t as uplifting but the visuals made up for it in a way that appeared to be influenced by Horizons and included some peppers ghost vignettes.

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007
Narrated by Jeremy Irons

Wondrous new tools will help us learn more about ourselves, each other, and the planet we share. Spaceship Earth will become our virtual classroom.

Spaceship Earth virtual bike ride through another town in a virtual classroom

As we greet the 21st century, yet another revolution in communication is upon us – as profound as all the progress that has come before. By using our new communication tools to build better bridges between us, we will discover we all share the common bonds of hope and sorrow, dreams and joys.

Spaceship Earth earlier version showing video calls

Since the dawn of recorded time, communication has revolutionized our lives and changed our world. We now have the ability and the responsibility to build new bridges of acceptance and co-operation between us; to create a better world for ourselves and our children as we continue our amazing journey aboard Spaceship Earth.

Instead of the nebulous clouds we were greeted with screens of global news reports.  Then a virtual classroom where students use a type of virtual reality that they create.   Then the vignettes begin, all related to video chat – something common place for us today.  The uses for the video chat included virtually tucking a child into bed, virtually attending a graduation ceremony, virtually sharing a baby’s sonogram, and finally, an archaeologist virtually sharing his findings (1).

Even though these scenes were removed our site in 2008, they were merely covered over with a sheet.  A ride evacuation on October 26th, 2019 documented on Twitter shows the vignettes of the woman on travel using video chat remains.

Original woman on a video call from ride

These beautiful displays of humanity were then brought together with citi-scape, reminiscent of Progress City with fiber-optic lights acting as bits traveling along currents to delivery information.   The fiber-optic wave then grew and passed over the riders as they became part of the web.   It was an inspirational way to involve the guests and conclude a message of hope of our Spaceship Earth.

Vintage Spaceship Earth scene of world cities connected by fiber optic lights

In 2008, a less inspired adaptation to the descent was added involving interactive touch screens.  I could see the potential of this as it could be interchangeable however it has remained the same.   The older visual aspects were covered with black drapes although you do still get to travel through the star field.

February 15, 2008 – current
Narrated by Judy Dench

For the first time in history, all of us can have a say about the kind of world we want to live in. The choices we have made for the past 30,000 years have been inventing the future one day at a time. And now, it’s your turn…

Spaceship Earth image of screen on ride vehicle

So here’s to the next 30,000 years on Spaceship Earth. While no one knows for sure what we’ll see or do. I do know it will be quite an adventure, an adventure that we’ll take and make together. See you in the future!


Clip about scene from 1982 Spaceship Earth Guide
From 1982 Spaceship Earth Guide

The journey aboard Spaceship Earth has been an incredible tale for the human species.   The challenges we have overcome and the creativity to solve problems and develop technology is incomparable.  I don’t know of any other attraction where in 15 minutes you can be given the perspective of how far we have come and the inspiration to wonder and create the technology we will use tomorrow to further the progress and health of our Spaceship Earth.  After all…

“There are no passengers on the Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” – Marshall McLuhan