That gorgeous golf ball is actually a 16-million-pound structure, coated with 11,324 aluminum-bonded panels and sheathed inside with a rainproof rubber layer, that’s supported by a table-like scaffolding. Think of this 180-foot-tall Buckminster Fuller sphere as a direct descendant of the Perisphere of the 1939 World’s Fair or the Unisphere of the 1964 World’s Fair, which were the icons for their own parks. No mere shell, it houses an eponymous ride using the OmniMover system of cars linked together like an endless snake. The ride slowly winds within the sphere. It’s hard not to fall in love with this sixth-grade-level journey (narrated by Judi Dench) cheerleading the history of communications, from Greek theater to the telegraph. In a bit of unintended kinesthetic commentary, once computers were invented, it all goes downhill. At one point, Dench tells you to thank the Phoenicians for inventing an alphabet (and some riders do so—it’s a tradition here), but once you get off, you can’t explain what you learned, if anything. This, of course, makes it essential Epcot. This is the one pavilion that still shows what the 1982 park was like—its robot-populated sister pavilions about transportation and the future were razed in the 1990s to make way for flashier stuff. This glorious ‘80s creaker was scheduled for a total renovation, but pandemic budget cuts gave the precious throwback a stay of execution. Long may we thank the Phoenicians.
Do not miss seeing Spaceship Earth at night, when its exterior is illuminated with hundreds of dazzling coordinated LED lights.