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#DisneyMagicMoments: Behind the Camera – Spaceship Earth Lights Up the Night at EPCOT for the First Time

David Roark

by , Manager of Photography, Yellow Shoes Creative Group

Prior to the grand opening of EPCOT back in 1982, I was patiently waiting to see Spaceship Earth at night. We all knew even then what an iconic symbol that massive geosphere would be for Walt Disney World Resort, but I wanted to see it for myself. 

It did not disappoint. I took this photo the very first time Spaceship Earth lit up at night, and the way the light bounced off the geodesic panels was amazing (then and now). And then to top it off, we had a fantastic full moon that night, as well – a bit of Disney magic! So to capture both those icons in all their glory in one image, I decided to try using a multiple exposure technique. 

Spaceship Earth lights up the night at EPCOT for the first time in 1982

Back then, we didn’t have digital imaging software (or digital cameras, for that matter). If I wanted a multiple exposure, I had to create it in the camera itself on a single frame of film – the definition of “old school.” Working on a tripod, I attached a super-telephoto 400mm lens to the camera to capture the moon. Then, I pressed a button on the camera that would not advance the film when I clicked the shutter. I then switched back to a wide-angle lens to capture Spaceship Earth on that same frame. 

Because it was all on film, I had no idea if it worked until I returned to my darkroom the next day and developed the shot. Wow, how times have changed! Lucky for me, this experiment turned out pretty well, and proved to me just how fantastic Disney icons look under celestial bodies – a motif I’ve played with over the course of my nearly four decades as a Disney photographer. 

Comments

  • Magnificent shot done old school. I’ve tried that type of shot on my OLD Nikon quite a few times. never did work out perfectly.

  • Simply, amazing! Is this photograph available for purchase? Thanks.

  • Well time is getting near of the most magical place on earth . We all have one magical moment of this place., and it keeps calling us back to remember, especially in this time of so much turmoil May be we need this to help lift hearts, taking that 1st step to bring happiness to our childhood dreams and we don’t want to forget. The 1st time seeing It’s a small world at the world’s fair then in Orlando, seeing Disney in color on tv, I had two special magical times, the first time seeing my little boy entering the Magic Kingdom, and taking my 80 yr mom to the Disney and when she saw Tinker Bell fly over the guests from the castle. From that point on per visit she was in love with her, and “Tink” was her go to girl with all the items she bought, now this year is the time to remember with my mother in law at 90, she is ready to ride the roller coasters, so another great year of more magical memories to remember in our family , we can not wait to see it all happen in Sept. LET THE MAGIC BEGIN

  • This is an amazing photo and a great story about how you captured it. I took a Photography class in high school, and now the basics, but this is something that I could not pull off with my current knowledge. I really appreciate you sharing this on the Disney Parks Blog, because this is truly something special.

    And I’ve gotta go along with Lowell. If you make this available for purchase, I would absolutely buy it.

  • What a beautiful shot. It shows us that there is still beauty and hope for all of us.

  • Amazing film work – I shoot a little film at Disney on a Nikon FG20 from my childhood. It’s no easy task the way you shot this and it’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Spectacular! Waiting for its “new” re-opening, hopefully just as magical!

  • What an absolutely wonderful picture and the story behind it makes it even more special!

  • Just to be historically correct, it should be “Prior to the grand opening of EPCOT Center back in 1982…”

  • Beautiful! Just love EPCOT.

    We have been going to WDW since 1975 and miss going this year. We have our memories and will be back! Thanks for sharing such a great photo!

  • The new Epcot is already here ? Or it will come later ?