An Appreciation of Spaceship Earth’s Mirror Column

By EPCOT Explorer

Sometimes you just get a strange idea about something very simple and fairly obvious. This is one of them. A few months ago, I visited EPCOT to say goodbye to Maelstrom. As I always do, I took numerous photographs of Spaceship Earth, but this time I focused on the mirror column that graces the front of the structure. And as I did so, I realized how many people stopped to take a picture of themselves, reflected on the structure. Noticing that sparked this odd but, hopefully interesting line of thought: Spaceship Earth’s mirror column offers an architectural trick to make the building seem like it is floating… but it also offers a chance for symbolic introspection. Continue after the page break for more…

“Man and his Spaceship Earth” was the original title for the communication pavilion as early as 1978 when Ray Bradbury was brought into WED to serve as a creative advisor for EPCOT Center. “Man and his Spaceship Earth” as both a phrase and an idea come true when you see yourself reflected in the column. That you see this image of yourself before you enter the park, proper, and are faced with (what once was?) a showplace of limitless optimism and futurism is a subtle thematic turn. Where, at a base level, Future World could be seen in lacking in humanity and relatable emotions, a mirror stands at the entrance in which you can indeed see yourself in a futuristic environment, denying this criticism any breadth. Spaceship Earth might be seen, from afar, as a monolithic symbol and almost as a monument, but when you are closest to it, you and your peers are reflected at ground level.

 
 

I think that this possible and subtle symbolism truly illustrates EPCOT Center’s original intent and aims in exposing the better parts of humanity. I would like to think that WED placed the mirror column in the way that it did at least on a subconscious level so as to affect this sort of introspection and symbolism. While the ideas expressed in Future World were grand and lofty, at the base level, the place was about people and their interactions and reflections on a grander future world to come.

Your EPCOT Explorer on his first visit to EPCOT Center. Notice that the Mirror Column has the Spaceship Earth pavilion logo on its side, that its base is surrounded by planters, and that the crystalline pylon fountain in front of it almost echoes and softens the architectural motif.
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EPCOT Explorer has been visiting the Walt Disney World Resort since he was 2 years old and has recently just made his first visit to Disneyland. EPCOT Explorer’s first ‘Disney’ interest is the history of EPCOT Center of his youth and the brand of optimism, futurism, and culture that was originally found in the park. Other interests include the thematic interplay of design elements in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdoms that make these theme parks repositories of culture and Americana. EPCOT Explorer is also interested in the World’s Fairs for their connections to EPCOT and tiki culture, since the return of the Enchanted Tiki Room to Walt Disney World in 2011. EE’s writings often focus on the minutia of Disney’s enterprises and attempt to uncover how and why the parks function in the manner that they do. EPCOT Explorer is currently a graduate student and Teaching Assistant in History at Florida International University. EPCOTEXPLORER.TUMBLR.COM
 
 
 

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