Spaceship Earth – Industrial Revolution: Radio

A crucial achievement in communication technology – wireless communication!   Radio brings us long distance transmission without the wires (you know, like your magic band!).

rfspectrum

The technology was around in the early 1900’s and was a useful tool for Naval communications where putting up wires between ships wasn’t feasible.  In 1920 the first commercial radio station in the US started and by 1925, 1 in 6 homes had a radio.  The radio became so popular that interference of the signals became an issue – the Radio Act of 1927 resolved this by assigning specific frequencies to broadcast stations (1).

Radio Electronics

The studio equipment on display looks to be authentic replications or actual old pieces.   There is SO MUCH electronic equipment associated with radio – resistors, condensers, inductors, frequency measures, oscillators, amplifiers, signal generators, meters etc (3). This is a good wide shot of the recent version that shows the ming green color of the studio.

1xxd

Looks like a transmitter station to the right of the broadcast engineer.  Above is a cathedral radio receiver next to the “on the air” sign.  The engineer is sitting at a mixer and the announcer is using a “type A microphone”  and the engineer is using a “type B microphone“. To the left of the engineer is a teletype machine for incoming news delivered to the station.  There are also a pair of turntables for either playing music or transcribing the show.

Radio for Entertainment

The image below is from the pre-2008 refurb.   In this scene, a man and a woman are acting out a radio show inside of a sound booth.  The sound engineer has a gong on his desk indicating this was more a playful/entertainment scene.  The microphone flag used was “WDP” (Walt Disney Productions).

Spaceship_Earth_Classic_068_122006

Radio for News

With the development of radio, extras became obsolete in the early 1930s, replaced with breaking news bulletins that would interrupt regular programming.

Things change in the latest version of this scene.   The radio actress is no longer in the scene due to a future promotion a few scenes ahead.  While I hate to lose a woman from a scene, the subject matter makes up for it.  Instead of providing entertainment, our scene now focused on delivering news.  The gong is replaced with the teletype and the radio announcer has the following news bulletin:

And today, we received word that Amelia Earhart* has landed safe and sound in Wales. Today, July 19th, 1928, will forever be known as the day that she flew across the Atlantic and into the hearts of people around the world. Amelia Earhart has gone where no other woman has gone before! (4)

Spaceship Earth-(10-2009)-032

*Fun fact!   Amelia Earhart was friends with Buckminster Fuller who popularized the term “Spaceship Earth”.

Broadcast Networks

Another change in the latest version – the announcers microphone flag has been changed from “WDP” (Walt Disney Productions) to “WDI” (Walt Disney Imagineering).  Stations eventually became part of larger networks like NBC or CBS and stations installed more antennas as the networks grew.

sse-11-2

To send audio messages over electromagnetic waves we use transmitters  and receivers. Transmitters are antennas that turns electrical signals into radio waves so they can travel and receivers have antennas that catches radio waves and turns them into electrical signals that feed into the radio (2).

To the right of that is a radio studio is a tower with a red light blinking on top and an animation illustrates the radio waves emanating from the tip. On the wall behind it is a painting of another radio tower in the distance indicating radio’s expansion.

Twinsies!

Because animatronics are complex, time intensive to create, and expensive – its common to duplicate the models that are made and dress them differently.   In this scene – the Sound Engineer is said to also be the Mathew Brady in American Adventure OR our telegraph operator from a few years ago (5).  Since we can’t see his face we will just have to rely on his stature from the previous scene!

brady operator head


  1. Hillstrom, K. & L.C. (2007).  The Industrial Revolution in America: Communications  Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO
  2. http://www.explainthatstuff.com/antennas.html
  3. http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/Miscellaneous-Manufacturers/General-Radio-Catalog-J-1936.pdf
  4. http://www.disneyparkscripts.com/spaceship-earth-epcot-2008-version-dame-judi-dench/
  5. https://www.mouseplanet.com/10075/Some_Secrets_of_Spaceship_Earth
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Spaceship Earth – Industrial Revolution: Cinema

Look quickly to your right for the Cinema Scene because times they are a changin’ at a rapid pace!   This one has been a challenge to fit into the timeline before the 2008 refurb.  Let’s start with the original version.  It starts with a grand cinema marquee and a woman in a ticket booth.

sign

Original theater marquees had hundreds, if not thousands, of cluster bulbs (1)
advertising the theater.  This is before neon had become mainstream.  There is a classic ornate movie screen complete with the red curtain.   Curtains haven’t covered movie screens since theater owners realized the blank screen could be used as billboards – these screens are now a stream of constant ads (2).

under the sign

The theater screen is showing an iconic chase scene from a black and white silent film – Girl Shy from 1924 starring Harold Lloyd.  There were two other screens displaying films.

The second screen first showed the Cheek to Cheek scene from Top Hat, the 1935 film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  It was later changed to the first full length animated feature film, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937.

The third screen features Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from 1954 starring Kirk Douglas.  I can’t remember if other scenes were ever on display and watching old ride throughs it can also blend in with the images from the TV scene ahead.

The cinema is great and 1924 – 1954 are certainly important years – but what does this have to do with communication?  Enter the Newsreel and the most recent refurbishment!

Newsreel

Americans received breaking news from the newspaper and extra editions with with minimal visual parts to the story.  Enter the Newsreel, a brief update on what’s going on in the world with moving pictures. Newsreels were commonly shown prior to the main feature and was the only way most people first saw actual film footage of events like the Hindenburg explosion or the Olympic games (2).

Spaceship_Earth_043_122007

This particular newsreel is brought to us by “Movie News” but in reality after 1926 there were 5 big newsreel companies: Fox Movietone, Paramount, Universal, Warner-Pathe (owned by RKO after 1931), and Hearst Metrotone (released by MGM, renamed News of the Day in 1936) (3).  This newsreel tells us of Jesse Owens winning the Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Spaceship Earth-(11-2010)-048

The woman in the ticket booth is now featured reading the newspaper, the New York Daily, the same news outlet from the steam-press days 70 years ago.  This version eliminates the secondary screens in favor of the audience silhouettes watching the newsreel (4).

After the newsreel, moviegoers expected a cartoon before the feature film.   This typical arrangement is advertised explicitly on the sandwich board.

sandwichboard

This day in 1936 is showing Disney’s first full color Mickey mouse cartoon short The Band Concert.

 

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

N/A 

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

N/A

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

Radio and movies inform and entertain millions.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

N/A

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

N/A


  1. http://www.signindustry.com/electric/articles/1999-MakingStars.php3
  2. http://mentalfloss.com/article/52164/11-things-we-no-longer-see-movie-theaters
  3. http://sunnycv.com/steve/filmnotes/newsreel.html
  4. http://www.themagicinpixels.com/2007/12/changes-made-to-spaceship-earth/
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Spaceship Earth – Industrial Revolution: Telephone

On the left we see the next big thing in communications – the electromagnetic transmission of human voices AKA – the telephone!  Making a telephone call is about converting energy from sound to electricity, carrying the electricity down a very long wire, and then turning the electricity back into sound (3).

We see a bunch of telephone wires connecting to homes.  Based on how well lit the homes appear to be from the windows, we might also guess this is an urban area with electricity in their homes too.  This amount of wires is NOT an exaggeration!

1xgh

Check out this photo below of Pratt, Kansas in 1911.  The wires are no joke!  Reminds you of the Second Act in Carousel of Progress!  By 1920, 13 million phones were in use – that’s 123 phones for every 1,000 people (1).

pratt kansas

Continuing on, there is a switchboard operated by three women.  Yes, finally some professional women on display!  The switchboard was first developed in 1878 and it was soon realized that the job of operator was best suited towards females. A woman’s voice was more patient and reassuring to the users of this new technology.  As better communicators, female operators quickly became the norm, one of the few occupations a respectable young woman could enter, along with teachers, nurses, store clerks (1) and computers.

IMG_4838

These women are working on a magneto switchboard that was fabricated from an actual model circa 1898, supplied by American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) (2). The operators connect any person’s phone to anyone else’s by switching around the connections on the board—which is why it was called a switchboard (3).

Magneto (hand-cranked generator) telephones allowed subscribers to ring anyone on their circuit line.  If they wished to speak with someone on a different line, that call was connected through a magento switchboard at a central office (4). The magneto in the telephone set generates currents to notify the operator at the switchboard of the user’s call request (5).

bf4c425509ac2ca466d256245bf2592e

We can hear the ladies at work:

I’m sorry, that line is busy.

One moment please.

One moment, I’ll transfer you.

We can now communicate within minutes and not months and also hear the voices of our loved ones from afar.    Having a telephone was a social life line for rural farmers who could talk with far away family and also take orders from stores and learn quickly about what crops were needed.


  1. Hillstrom, K. & L.C. (2007).  The Industrial Revolution in America: Communications  Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO
  2. https://www.mouseplanet.com/10075/Some_Secrets_of_Spaceship_Earth
  3. http://www.explainthatstuff.com/telephone.html
  4. http://www.vias.org/albert_ecomm/aec10_telephone_exchange_009.html
  5. http://parallel.park.org/Japan/NTT/MUSEUM/html_f3/F3_menu_3_final_5_e.html
  6. American School of Correspondence, Chicago (1919). Volume 1 of Cyclopedia of Telephony and Telegraphy Chicago, American School of Correspondence
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Spaceship Earth – Industrial Revolution: Electric Telegraph

First – check out this Q&A about Optical Telegraphs.  Optical Telegraphs were a system of communication by means of visual signals using towers and shutters.  They are really neat and the precursor to the Electric Telegraph.

Science!

The electric telegraph system sent and received electrical signals over long-distance wires and revolutionized communications in the 1900’s.  It took a newly found understanding of electromagnetism to achieve its success.  In 1820 Hans Christian Ørsted observed a magnetic field is generated when an electric current travels a wire.

wave_movie
Joseph Henry discovered that by insulating the wire, the electric current is able to travel long distances without diminishing.  He was also the first to coil the insulated wire tightly around an iron core in order to make a powerful electromagnet (3).

The real key to the longer distance transmission of current as used by the telegraph was with a relay device which is powered by the aforementioned electromagnet (1).  The relay works by taking a signal that arrives from one circuit and re-transmits it as an amplified signal to another circuit (4).

Railroad Alliance

There is good reason that the telegraph office in this scene is along rail road tracks.  In 1843 a grant from Congress was awarded to build telegraph lines parallel to rail tracks.   Later, during 1852-1860, about 23,000 miles of wires were hung and 3/4 of the telegraph stations were located in train depots (1).

IMG_4837

This telegraph office was run by the Western Union Company.  The map on the wall of the office maps out the locations of the telegraph stations.

1xgL

The locations of the stations look like constellations – our first web or network  if you will.   This web spared steadily and by 1866 the first underwater wire between US and Europe was installed – The Atlantic Cable.

web

Telegraph Stations in the United States, the Canadas and Nova Scotia Barr, Chas. B., Published 1853. From : The Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Telegraph Operation

Here we see a telegraph operator at the telegraph key.  The key is the push lever that connects and disconnects the circuit in order to transmit signals.  The operator presses and releases the level according to the morse code patterns. Short pulses made a dot, slightly longer pulses a dash.

Spaceship_Earth_Classic_063_082005

The telegraph operator can also read incoming messages that come through the register or recorder.  These gentlemen are currently receiving a message that “the golden spike had been laid at Promontory Peak”  – a ceremonial spike to join the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad across the United States (5).

The telegraph message is about news from 1869 however the details on the slips indicate that this scene is from the 1890’s.

1xgE

Since 2008 this telegraph office has really picked up in business.  They added a relay to their setup as well as a type writer.

Spaceship Earth-(10-2009)-030

Here is an attempt at a zoom in with the telegraph equipment in use.

Telegraph

Important information about birth/death and travel plans can be shared in a matter of hours, not days to months.  The newspapers would also use the telegraph for breaking news.

1xgf

The system was revolutionary but had its limits.   At first, the wires would get clogged with congestion but more automated methods eased this burden.   It could also be costly as the customers had to pay per word and these messages had to be shared with the telegraph operators which would raise privacy concerns (1).

Twinsies!

Because animatronics are complex, time intensive to create, and expensive – its common to duplicate the models that are made and dress them differently.   In this scene – the Telegraph Operator is said to also be the Mathew Brady in American Adventure (3).

brady operator

The Telegraph Reporter is said to also be the Store Owner in American Adventure.

store owner reporter

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

N/A 

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

N/A

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

With electronic communications, we can send messages instantly over long distances. Signals and voices criss-cross the nation.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

N/A

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

N/A


  1. Hillstrom, K. & L.C. (2007).  The Industrial Revolution in America: Communications  Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO
  2. https://www.mouseplanet.com/10075/Some_Secrets_of_Spaceship_Earth
  3. https://www.aps.org/programs/outreach/history/historicsites/henry.cfm
  4. http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_706365
  5. http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Little-Details-Make-A-Big-Story-Impact-In-Epcots-Spaceship-Earth&id=6450011
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Spaceship Earth – Industrial Revolution: “Extra! Extra!”

Fast forward 350 years! This scene of the ride introduces us to the start of the Industrial Revolution – where communication changes from word of mouth over trade routes and books to the daily dissemination of information.


Steam Printing Press

After Gutenberg’s press not much changed for over 100 years! There were further developments over time that increased the productivity of the printing press. In 1620 we were introduced to the Blaew Press  with a  modified screw and a rolling bed.  Various iterations of the press were developed between 1798 with the Stanhope Press made of cast iron through Samuel Rusts’s “Washington Press” in 1827 which introduced a toggle and a lighter frame (1).

The first attempt to mechanize printing was around 1823 when Daniel Treadwell added gears and power to a wooden-framed platen press.   In order to print in large numbers quickly a rotary press was invented in 1844 by Richard Hoe.  A rotary press prints on paper when it passes between two cylinders; one cylinder supports the paper, and the other cylinder contains the print plates or mounted type. The first rotary press could print up to 8,000 copies per hour (2).

“The foundation and growth of newspapers first published periodically, and finally each day, created a demand for machines which should print with rapidity.”

William Bullock of Pennsylvania created the first printing machine to print from a continuous roll of paper in 1865 (around the time of the end of the civil war) (1).

Bullock Press

Copyright Hoe, R. (1902). New York, Roe Printing Press

In this scene we are in a New York City newspaper printing shop as a pressman works on the daily newspaper.   According to Jim Korkis, the printing press here was designed from the actual patent drawings filed by William Bullock in 1863 (3).   It certainly appears to be a rotary press however its difficult to see the giant roll of paper if it exists.

press

The Newspaper

There were some subtle changes to this ride post 2008.  Before  2008, the background of the press was in darkness and the previous newspaper didn’t show a prominent headline which was accurate for this era of newspaper printing.

End of the Civil War - New York Times Front Page Reprint

End of the Civil War – New York Times Front Page Reprint

 

 

The addition of the prominent headline makes sense for show purposes as it helps to define where we are in the timeline.  The new version of the scene also shows many more newspapers available from the press.

The Library of Congress has online archives of various newspapers from this era that show similar, less prominent headlines.

paper

Newspapers became the primary means by which community leaders, political activists,  writers, religious leaders, business owners and others shared their issues over distances both large and small (4).  Even with daily newspapers, news had a lag where foreign correspondents would send their stories via letter that took weeks to arrive at the editors’ office.

The Pressman

This fella has had a makeover – got a haircut, added some glasses and facial hair.   I can’t quite tell if its the same animatronic or if he just had a makeover.

version1 version2

Regardless, the pressman is African American and this is very important because this time was the beginning of the African-American Civil Rights Movement with The Civil Rights Act of 1866 granting citizenship and the same rights enjoyed by white citizens to all male* persons in the United States “without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude.”

*Women are still getting the shaft here!   Its important to note that this was about 150 years ago from present time – which is the blink of an eye compared to the rest of this ride’s timeline.  Something to think about, not just for women but any underrepresented group.

Extra! Extra!

Congress created the U.S. Post Office in 1792 with he legal responsibility to circulate knowledge of all kinds across throughout the nation (4).  For those not getting their newspaper delivered, there were newspaper street vendors.  Special issues of newspapers outside the normal print were called “extra” editions, hence the term “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”.

Spaceship_Earth_Classic_061_062007

This paperboy won’t the hearts of so many time travelers!   Unfortunately, after the 2008 refurb, the paperboy was turned away.   With the additional lighting in the back of the press the point of view of the time traveler is that of a more behind the scenes so the paperboy is now selling papers towards the street.  It must be cooler in that corner because he’s wearing more sweaters than before.

extra extra

1982-1994

Extra! Extra! New York Daily!

1994-2007

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Radio, telephone links two continents. Read all about it. Telephone crosses Atlantic. Get your evening paper here! (5)

2008 – Present

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Lee surrenders at Appomattox! Civil War is over! Extra! Extra! (6)

Twinsies!

Because animatronics are complex, time intensive to create, and expensive – its common to duplicate the models that are made and dress them differently.   In this scene – the Pressman is said to also be the Banjo Player from the Depression scene in American Adventure (3).

version1  bajo

 

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

Books it seems were just the beginning. Now communication technology races head long into the future, and soon people all over the world are sharing life’s most important moments faster than ever before.

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

On this wave of inspiration, we sailed into a bold, new era of communication bringing an explosion of tools and technologies which would bridge people around the world as never before. And as our appetite for information and knowledge grew, the world began to shrink.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

On this wave of inspiration, we sail into a bold, new era. An age of astounding inventions and ever increasing progress in communications.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

The Renaissance, a beacon through the mists of time, guiding us to a new era. A time of invention and exploding communication.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

We built new towns – we made machines and powered them with steam. Around the World small campfires grew – became a massive blaze. Each campfire gathered millions in – Many faces, many Colors – many Tongues and Cultures joined…And then we asked ourselves: How in a world so vast as this — how keep the Campfires lit, how stay in touch to make So many men and women talk and think and move toward common dreams?


  1. Hoe, R. (1902). A Short History of the Printing Press and of the Improvements in Printing Machinery from the Time of Gutenberg Up to the Present Day  New York, Roe Printing Press
  2. http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/educator/modules/gutenberg/books/printing/
  3. https://www.mouseplanet.com/10075/Some_Secrets_of_Spaceship_Earth
  4. Hillstrom, K. & L.C. (2007).  The Industrial Revolution in America: Communications  Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO
  5. http://www.intercot.com/edc/SpaceshipEarth/spscript.html
  6. http://www.disneyparkscripts.com/spaceship-earth-epcot-2008-version-dame-judi-dench/
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Spaceship Earth – The Majesty of the Sistine ceiling

The style of painting, sculpture and decorative arts identified with the Renaissance reached its zenith in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, in the work of Italian masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling’s most famous panel, entitled “The Creation of Adam.” is painted before our eyes by Michelangelo Buonarroti as we are surrounded by the sounds of Hallelujahs.

sistene

Still photos of this scene do not do it justice as there are some subtle movements that make the act of painting look pretty realistic.

Creación_de_Adán_(Miguel_Ángel)

In reality, the size of the entire Sistine ceiling is about the size of 2 basketball courts done in fresco.   The section being worked on, The Creation of Adam is about 9 ft 2 in x 18 ft 8 in (1).  There are a few interesting points of controversy that have been raised from this scene.

Left or Right Handed?

In previous ride versions, Michelangelo is presented as painting with this left hand.  There are numerous sources claiming that Michelangelo was left handed and there are others that dispute this by studying his art.

Spaceship_Earth_Classic_057_082005

Its possible that like my older left handed relatives he had to train to use his right hand as dominant.  Either way, the latest depiction of the scene shows Michelangelo painting with his right hand but also holding  a palette with the left.

twohands

Laying Down or Standing Up?

Michelangelo and his assistants used wooden scaffolds that allowed them to stand upright and reach above their heads. Michelangelo himself designed the unique system of platforms, which were attached to the walls with brackets. The impression that Michelangelo painted on his back might come from the 1965 film “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” in which Charlton Heston portrayed the genius behind the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling (2).

ⓒ Ronald Grant Archive / Mary Evans/YOONIQ Images

Charlton Heston as Michelangelo ⓒ Ronald Grant Archive / Mary Evans/YOONIQ Images

Of course the concept art for the ride by illustrator Claudio Mazzoli also shows Michelangelo laying down (3).

epcot rend 13

Below is a more likely depiction of how the painting took place.

jack-hayes-michelangelo-buonarrotti-painting-the-sistine-chapel_a-g-7681468-8880742

Michaelangelo Painting the Sistine Chapel. Original artwork for illustration in The Bible Story or Look and Learn by Jack Hayes © Look and Learn

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

Books make it easier to invent the future in every field, and the result is an incredible explosion of innovation that we call the Renaissance.

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

Scientists, explorers, and scholars spread their discoveries in books and essays. Poets, musicians, and artists fueled by the passion of the age created timeless works of beauty and majesty.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

The Renaissance, a time of renewed interest in the worlds of poetry and music, science, philosophy and art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

Our books fuel the fires of the Renaissance. It is a time to discover anew the worlds of poetry and philosophy, science and music. As our minds soar, our hands find new expression in the flourishing world of art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

N/A


  1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Creación_de_Adán_(Miguel_Ángel).jpg
  2. http://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-sistine-chapel
  3. http://disneyandmore.blogspot.com/2012/09/epcot-30th-anniversary-celebration.html
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Spaceship Earth – Renaissance: Music, Painting, and Sculpture

Start out this scene with some background Renaissance music:

Renaissance Music

According to Jim Korkis, experts in the field of Renaissance musicology like Genette Foster from Occidental College  were engaged to consult and perform the music in this scene (1). The entire Spaceship Earth score was composed and arranged by Edo Guidotti.

musicians

Post 2008 refurb with more color and music stands for sheet music

Making music for private family pleasure or small gatherings played a major role in the 16th century and required new print technology to print musical type which became an important sector for the European book trade (2).

We’ve seen these hedges before.  While it helps to indicate they are outside, they worry me that they are more about park construction. Regardless the male musician is shown playing the lute (plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back) and the female musician is playing the lira da braccio (like a violin, but with a wider fingerboard and flatter bridge) (3).

Spaceship_Earth_Classic_052_082005

Prior to 2008 refurb


IMPORTANT NOTE:   I would like to point out that the musician on the right is only the second female animatronic to appear since the Ancient Egyptian scene.   That’s about 2500 years in time without women representation.  Get it together Disney.


Painting

We see a fella mixing some paint.  I can’t tell if he’s just mixing colors or if he’s mixing pigments with a mortar and pestle.  During this time, oil paints were used and that’s what the painter in this studio appears to be using.

Spaceship Earth-(11-2010)-032

Our painter is working on a still life of fruit, cheese, and a bottle.  Still life work was considered artisanal rather than artistic talent but by the Renaissance, several artists (Caravaggio, Figino) had challenged this convention.   Work typically depicted fruits, flowers, eating vessels, bones, and skulls (4).  This explains the skull on the upper shelf.

Spaceship Earth 33 painter

I think its pretty cool that the imagineers need to set up the display with painting to match. The updates made to this scene were to include more detail and color in the painting and also provided more art on the artists shelf.  There is an additional portrait pinned up on the shelf along with the portrait he did of the sculptor in the same studio.

Sculpture

The Italian Renaissance returned the female nude to the forefront of creativity, in both fine art painting and in sculpture (5). Before the 2008 refurb we had a sculpture of the female nude in the works.

Spaceship_Earth_Classic_054_042008

Pre 2008 refurbishment

The 2008 refurb covered up the exposed breast with an awkward mass of marble in its place.   This is unfortunate because its not a lewd act by the sculptor or original imagineer. The female breast has been used as an exterior symbol of the female heart: a symbol of the many types of love and nourishment which spring from that source – not a primary sexual content (6).

Even when sexuality was a prominent element of meaning in an image including exposed breasts, they still remained a multi-purpose symbol, retaining their associations with maternity and security and love. – Anne Ashton (6)

Scenes in Spaceship Earth attraction in Epcot's Future World.

Covered up – Renaissance Sculpture post 2008

Lame move dudes!

Twinsies!

Because animatronics are complex, time intensive to create, and expensive – its common to duplicate the models that are made and dress them differently.   In this scene – The lute player is said to also be the Dwight D. Eisenhower from the Hall of Presidents (1).

eisenhower   lute

Triplets?!

If you find this fella to be especially heartwarming, there is good reason!  He is also your host from the Carousel of Progress!

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

And the female musician playing the lira da braccio is the daughter from the Carousel of Progress!

girl      daughter

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

Books make it easier to invent the future in every field, and the result is an incredible explosion of innovation that we call the Renaissance.

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

Scientists, explorers, and scholars spread their discoveries in books and essays. Poets, musicians, and artists fueled by the passion of the age created timeless works of beauty and majesty.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

The Renaissance, a time of renewed interest in the worlds of poetry and music, science, philosophy and art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

Our books fuel the fires of the Renaissance. It is a time to discover anew the worlds of poetry and philosophy, science and music. As our minds soar, our hands find new expression in the flourishing world of art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

N/A


  1. https://www.mouseplanet.com/10075/Some_Secrets_of_Spaceship_Earth
  2. Pettegree, A. (2010). The Book in the RenaissanceNew Haven and London, Yale University Press
  3. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/musicappreciation_with_theory/chapter/instruments-used-in-renaissance-music/
  4. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/sstl/hd_sstl.htm
  5. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/genres/female-nudes-art-history.htm#italianrenaissance
  6. Ashton, Anne M. (2006). Interpreting breast iconography in Italian art, 1250-1600. United Kingdom, University of St Andrews
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I love everything about this

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Spaceship Earth – Renaissance: Italy, Books, and Bowlcuts

Behold! The Renaissance, a time of renewed interest in the worlds of poetry and music, science, philosophy and art.  The printing press allowed the ideas of the era to spread far from their native cultures. The Renaissance led to a flowering of music, literature and art, and architecture (1).  Buckle up, because this one is a series of scenes that culminates in an animatronic extravaganza!

Statue of Sophocles

Sophocles

A statue of  Sophocles found in Terracina, Italy and is preserved in the Gregorian Museum of Profane Art, in the Vatican.

 

The first thing we see to the right after the printer press scene is a statue of Sophocles, the celebrated writer of tragedy plays in ancient Greece.  Prior to the 2008 refurbishment it was a play by Sophocles being portrayed in the Ancient Greece Theater scene.  He returns again at the start of the Renaissance scene to let us know that we have moved from Gutenberg’s print shop in Germany to Italy and to signify we are psyched about dramas again.

sophackles sse

Sophocles Statue from Spaceship Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sophocles

The pail next to Sophocles isn’t for park maps, its holding eight scrolls, a reference to his seven extant tragedies and one satyr play (2).  The statue was found after the Renaissance south of Florence Italy.

Florence, Italy

Within just a few years, printing presses were being estabslished all over Italy.   By the end of the 15th Century about 80 towns in Italy had printing presses.  Italy was responsible for almost 1/3 of the books published in Europe during this time (3).  One city in Italy didn’t do nearly as well as others for print and that city is Florence.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) in Florence by Filippo Brunelleschi

Florence was the “intellectual capital” of the Italian Renaissance as well as a producer of hand written manuscript books.   The elite were reluctant to adopt the new, less beautiful means of production from the printing press (3).

city

Spaceship Earth Renaissance Background

Books and Ideas

Despite Florence’s resistence to to print at the start, the first characters we see after the statue are two men reading from a pile of books.   They may be poets, philosophers, or scientists but regardless they are dressed in fancy pants!

lit

First Renaissance Scene post 2008.

Our friend on the left (above) looks an awful lot like future President, Andrew Jackson and a previous press operator from Gutenberg’s press.   Perhaps having an inside printer is what warmed these guys up to the idea of mass produced non-elitist texts.

sse-8-1

First Renaissance Scene pre 2008.

Previous versions of this ride featured someone reading to two people with bowl cuts.  If I was a betting’ woman, I would day these two bowl cuts went back in time to Ancient Greece for some re-schooling and fortunately for them, better hair.

Spaceship_Earth_Classic_049_082005

Renaissance, Italy Circa 1500 AD

dudes copy

Ancient Greece circa 400 BC

The next post will share the music these poets or philosophers get to listen to.  On a loop.  For all the days. (We were stuck at this part in the ride once for an extended period of time.)

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

Books make it easier to invent the future in every field, and the result is an incredible explosion of innovation that we call the Renaissance.

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

Scientists, explorers, and scholars spread their discoveries in books and essays. Poets, musicians, and artists fueled by the passion of the age created timeless works of beauty and majesty.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

The Renaissance, a time of renewed interest in the worlds of poetry and music, science, philosophy and art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

Our books fuel the fires of the Renaissance. It is a time to discover anew the worlds of poetry and philosophy, science and music. As our minds soar, our hands find new expression in the flourishing world of art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

N/A


  1. http://www.mrdowling.com/704renaissance.html
  2. http://www.vintageworks.net/search/detail.php/256/Robert+MacPherson/0/13402
  3. Pettegree, A. (2010). The Book in the Renaissance. New Haven and London, Yale University Press
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Spaceship Earth – Moveable Type Printing Press

Finally!  We get some help.  Some folks thought it was nuts to keep writing this stuff out and created a template by carving into a wood block.   This actually continued to serve well for illustrations but not for the text.  Remember all the rubbing when you had to do your first linoleum block in school?  Surely there must be another way!  Introducing the – the Moveable Type Printing Press!

IMG_4813

Here are some concept art pieces for this scene by Claudio Mazzoli.

epcot rend 10epcot rend 12

Instead of grueling copying and rubbing we have we now have the printing press.  It works like this:

Moveable Type

Letters are produced separately, then arranged into an infinite number of new combinations and can be reused (thus creating a font)*.  Eureka!  This process of casting the letters was not invented by Gutenberg, it was just applied to this process.

*Note that a study of the Gutenberg bible shows that the same letters were not reused through out.

letters

In the this large wooden tray (letter case), the different letters are kept organized (lowercase/uppercase) etc.   The straight edge on the table in front of this tray is a composing stick that is used to arrange the letters.  The composing stick was left there by a composer who didn’t return a later refurbishment.

4th letter

The composer reads from the text of a handwritten version of the text to be printed, then arranges the letters on the stick till one line is complete.  This is repeated until the full page of letters is ready and are loaded into a frame.  The frame is then loaded onto the bed of the press and ink is applied (1).

The Press

There are two parts to the press itself.  The first is the carriage that holds the bed. The press used is a screw press, the same used from winemaking.  The carriage has dampened paper placed above the frame of letters.  The carriage is slid into the press.  The handle of the press swings from left to right and back at 90 degrees so that a wood or metal plate could press the paper onto the ink.

Spaceship Earth-(11-2009)-014

Note the hand prints of ink on the sides of the press.  Remarkable detail for the print process including all the pages hung up to dry.

The Gutenberg Bible

This scene’s main character is Gutenberg seen examining a page of the Bible that has been printed.  This sheet is a replication from an actual original Gutenberg Bible in the Huntington Library collection.  There were approximately 180 copies made and about 50 can be accounted for (2).  One of them is at Harvard where I work!

Spaceship Earth-(11-2009)-015

An original paper Bible cost about 20 gulden – almost what a master craftsman would make in a year or about 1/4 the cost of a stone built house (2)!

Binding

The previous iteration of the ride showed the printed pages bundled together in stacks to be bound.   In the current version they are already bound – an art in and of itself.

bundles

Twinsies!

Because animatronics are complex, time intensive to create, and expensive – its common to duplicate the models that are made and dress them differently.   In this scene – The printer who is pushing/pulling the tray is said to also be the Andrew Jackson from the Hall of Presidents (3).

printer

ANDREW JACKSON

Johannes Gutenberg is said to also be the James Buchanan from the Hall of Presidents (3).

han        BUCHANAN

The pressman is said to also be the Andrew Carnegie from American Adventure (3).

PPPRINT      carnegie

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

In 1450, Gutenberg invents the movable type printing press. Now knowledge can travel as fast as these new books, and travel they do.

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

Finally, from the depths of the Dark Ages came the Age of Enlightenment: the Renaissance. And with this era, came a powerful new invention: the moveable type printing press.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

The dawn of the Renaissance brings a wondrous new machine, the printing press. Now books and authors flourish as never before.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

At last, a new dawn emerges. The dawn of the Renaissance-and a wondrous machine performs as a thousand scribes. Now for all: the printed word.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

We lit the walls with printed words, filled them with ideas that taught – informed – inspired. Some old – some new – ideas to share and spread to far and distant shores.


  1.  http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/educator/modules/gutenberg/invention/printshop/
  2. Pettegree, A. (2010). The Book in the Renaissance. New Haven and London, Yale University Press
  3.  https://www.mouseplanet.com/10075/Some_Secrets_of_Spaceship_Earth
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