Ok, the baby's asleep and hopefully I have time to share this story (and photos!) with you...
In another life, when I lived in Florida and worked as a Cast Member I got the chance to do some amazing things. One of them was an after-hours walking tour of Spaceship Earth and we got the chance to see the attraction up close and learn lots of things about it. But the best part were the photos we were able to take! Remember this was 1995 so the attraction has changed a bit since then.
So the tour started and there were about 7 of us if I remember correctly and we started by walking along the track, very carefully as there isn't an awful lot of room there! The good thing is that we can see perfectly as all the house lights are on which means that all the atmosphere is gone. But all the sound effects were still on so it was a weird mix of reality and fantasy.
Before long we found some maintenance guys starting their shift. They have a special cart thing that goes along the track and is also a great place to store their coffees while they work through the night. They seemed quite happy to be there!
Soon enough we were within the attraction itself and among the AI figures! We got great close-up looks at them and their props, so here I am looking over the shoulder of one of the monks:
David got a very good look at one of the sculptors and the work of art he was producing:
We then listened in to Morse-code guy and even read the books on his desk. They all have authentic details that regular guests will never get to see. A great example of the attention to detail that Imagineers are famous for.
This last one is my favorite photo: as you can see I'm listening carefully to whatever Renaissance man is saying!
The tour was a lot of fun and it was very, very informative. For example, we learned that most of the AI figures on Spaceship Earth were cast from the same models as the Presidents in the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom but with different hair and beards to look different and of course different costumes. I can't remember any details right now and I sure wish I was taking notes!
We also learned different stories about the attraction and a little about it's history. Remember those old WDW commercials where Mickey Mouse was standing at the very top of Spaceship Earty? Well, it was done for real, not with special effects or anything - at the very top of the ride (in the room with all the stars and the view of Earth from space) there actually is a small elevator that can take one person all the way to the top. According to our guide, Mickey at that time was performed by a girl and she was so scared being all the way up there, she actually had an accident while waving at the helicopter that was taking the aerial shots.
It was a fascinating evening and I'm grateful that I remembered to take some photos - but I do wish we'd taken some more!