Space Mountain



Space Mountain is a popular enclosed roller coaster ride at five Disney theme parks. The enclosed design allows controlled lighting to selectively hide portions of the track. This greatly increases the element of surprise experienced by riders, which can compensate for the absence of some of the track elements typically required to make outdoor coasters exciting. The building has the distinctive feature of having the roof supports on the outside. This allows the ceiling inside to provide a flat surface for projecting stars and elements onto it. It also gives the building a very modern look that has stood the test of time.

Space Mountain premiered at Magic Kingdom Park in 1975, Disneyland in 1977, Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, Disneyland Paris in 1995, and Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005. When the Paris installation opened, it became the first completely enclosed, themed roller coaster with a synchronized sound track. The Disneyland installation was upgraded in 1996, making it the first completely enclosed, themed roller coaster with a synchronized sound track in America. The layouts and soundtracks vary from installation to installation. For example, the Magic Kingdom version has two intertwined tracks, and its construction is similar to the Matterhorn rollercoaster in Disneyland Park. The Paris version features a launch and two inversions.

Walt Disney World's Space Mountain was the first Space Mountain built at any of the "Disney" parks. It was the world's first rollercoaster ride that was completely controlled and operated by a computer system. It was originally conceived to be partially outdoors, but it was changed after research proved that the Florida weather would not work well with the coaster. The attraction is very different from all of the other incarnations in that there are actually two separate tracks (very similar in design to Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds) instead of just the one, although both tracks on the attraction are nearly identical. Also, the rockets used on the Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom version carry visitors single-file instead of being side-by-side like in all of the other Disney Space Mountain's.

The queue area inside the Magic Kingdom Park's mountain is also much larger and more spacious and wide-open than the other versions. The loading dock is located in the same room as the actual track itself, although it is beneath the actual ride in a lower-leveled area. This gives the visitor a chance to preview the attraction before riding and also offers exciting views of the glowing rockets in the dark whizzing by on the track high above. Where as at Disneyland, the loading area is an entirely separate enclosed area all by itself. The special effects in the Florida version are also very different, including the lift hills, the main ride itself and the exit tunnels.

The original rockets also had seat belt restraints, but by 1978 they were replaced by newer rockets with upgraded lap bars restraints. The rockets' safety restraints were again upgraded sometime in 1998 to a more improved T-bar design. Also, since the attraction was designed before Disneyland's, it is slightly slower, not nearly as dark and is also not quite as smooth. These differences are even more apparent after Disneyland upgraded their Space Mountain in 2005.

In the post-ride area, riders used to hear clips from two Esquivel songs: "Music Makers" and "Sentimental Journey". It has since been changed to similar music found on Space Mountain at Disneyland Exit. Which is a modified version of the theme heard while riding up the three lifts at Disneyland. From 1975 to 1994 guests would hear the RCA theme "We Come So Far" while on the Speed Ramp Exit.

For many years, the ride featured extensive theming to highlight sponsors, which included at one time, RCA and later for a time, Federal Express. During the RCA years, the exit showcased the Home of Future Living featuring video baby monitors, large screen projection televisions, video disc players, and other comtemporary electronics that RCA was selling at the time.

The animatronic RCA dog can still be seen in the attraction during the exit show just before you enter the area with the escalator.

During the FedEx years, the Space Mountain queue entertained guests with the futuristic but funny "SMTV" with its space news program (comic writer Michael Carrington portrayed one of the journalists), "Crazy Larry"'s (actor Charles Fleischer) used spacecraft dealership ads and the Dick Dale Ghost Riders in the Sky music video, but SMTV left Space Mountain after FedEx ceased sponsorship of the American Space Mountains in 2003, shortly after the closure for refurbishment of Disneyland's version. As of 2006, this temporary reduction in theming is still present, leaving some conspicuous gaps.

When the ride is down, the lights inside are turned on, leaving guests on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (which passes through the building) with a view of the ride lit up.

After the success of Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain, The Walt Disney Imagineers made plans to build Space Mountain on the west coast. Walt's original "Space Port" plan finally opened more than ten years after the original plans and his death. The ride was different from its Florida counterpart as it features only one track, side by side seating in the rockets, and faster, smoother, more thrilling ride. The onboard audio was added in 1996 after the success of the system at Disneyland Paris. Track fatigue from the heavier weight of the on-board audio systems and improperly manufactured steel track was one of the reasons of the two-year refurbishment.

Space Mountain was closed suddenly at Disneyland on April 9, 2003, as the roller coaster inside the mountain was being replaced with a completely new coaster, identical to the original layout. The official reopening was scheduled for July 15, 2005 - two days before the park's fiftieth birthday, although as of June 25, 2005 the ride had been open to the general public yet (this is known as a soft opening).

After being seated in the rocket sleds, riders are first brought to a control tower where they see one or two Disneyland cast members and they listen to a small-recorded warning spiel. The rocket sleds then turns sharply to the right and climb into a long tunnel with fiber optic like projection of comets flying by on the walls. Then after another quick turn the rocket sleds would climb up the second and longest lift filled with a red rotating spot light shining down the entire length of the lift tunnel from the top of the lift. Creating effect as as though the rocket sleds were being pulling up by this red rotating light. At the top the rocket sleds would make a 200 degree turn to the left and pass by a red-orange glowing geodesic sphere, there's a slight calm before the rockets climbed a short third and final lift in the vast openness at the top of the ride's dome.

After the 1996 refurbishment, the audio portion of the attraction would begin at this point. Slowly, the rocket sleds dive and the music changes to a hard-rocking Dick Dale surf guitar rendition of "Le Carnival Des Animaux: Aquarium" ( The Carnival of the Animals ) by Camille Saint-Saëns. Riders are thrown about in almost complete darkness, faint lighting hinting at the dense metal scaffolding that seems to fly within feet over the heads of the riders. As the ride gets faster with each turn and is building up to a dramatic climax. The ride ends as the rocket sleds take a sudden left turn into a rotating tunnel with red-orange lighting effects to simulate re-entry. Then the music changes to a less foreboding variation of the original theme (Disney's form of a musical happy ending) as the rocket sleds re-enter the station.

On July 15, 2005, only two days before Disneyland's official 50th Anniversary, Space Mountain reopened from a major refurbishment that started in April, 2003. The new Space Mountain features new rocket sleds, a new queue, new music (composed by Michael Giacchino), new special effects and a storyline. The completely rebuilt track is the exact same layout as originally designed by Imagineer Bill Watkins in 1976. The original track was removed and the foundation was laid 30 feet deeper, making the ride much safer than ever. It is worth noting that Disneyland's rockets no longer glow in the dark like they previously had in the past.

The attraction begins in Space Station 77, a reference to the year Space Mountain opened, where riders board their "rocket" and are sent into a series of tunnels and lifts that are themed to get your rocket sleds energized and sent to the proper "launch coordinates". The first lift and room, is lit with red and orange lighting. At the top of the lift, as you enter a long tunnel, riders experience electrical sounds and light effects presumably beginning to transfer energy to your rocket sleds "power cells".

Inside the tunnel is a series of blue strobe lights flashing around the riders, and is definitely a reference to the Magic Kingdom Park's Space Mountain launch tunnel. The electrical sounds and the flashing blue strobe lights transfer all the "energy" your rocket sleds will need for the journey through space. The rocket sleds then take riders into the second and longest lift with video screens all around. This is where the rocket sleds get their launch coordinates. And on the screens, red bars extend over the stars, and stretch by the riders and begin to spin, making it seem as if the rocket sleds are rotating. Here the rocket sleds are once again being pulled up the by a tractor beam (this time the effect is being done digitally). Riders see a spiral galaxy directly ahead, (some argue it is actually a black hole or worm hole) and when the rocket enters the mountain, the galaxy swirls up and disappears.

The rocket sleds ascend up one final lift hill, and then descend into two minutes of sharp turns and dips. The re-entry tunnel was formerly just orange lights spiraling around riders, but now the rocket sleds appear to zoom by stars, but the effect's highlight is when the stars suddenly start zooming forward, implying that the rocket sleds have stopped and the stars are traveling in their normal fashion. At this point, the souvenir picture is taken, with the bright flash causing momentary blindness. Moments later, riders return safely to Space Station 77.

On June 25th, 2005 Disneyland surprised its guests by announcing the early reopening of Space Mountain to the general public. While the complete storyline was not introduced, the ride ran much smoother and faster.

Also part of this major "new" Space Mountain was a nighttime transformation of the attraction to RockIt' Space Mountain, in which the calmer soundtrack of the attraction in daytime hours was to be replaced at night by a driving rock soundtrack, and different special effects. A special version of RockIt' Space Mountain premiered for Grad Nite 2006, with a track by rock group Hoobastank.

Rockin' Space Mountain is scheduled to premiere during the "Year of a Million Dreams" Celebration, and will be promoted alongside Rockin' California Screamin, a similar modification to Disney's California Adventure's California Screamin' roller coaster in early January 2007. Disney Press Releases and the internal Cast Member "The Disneyland Line" have mentioned Rockin' Space Mountain as an attraction that will be a short term overlay, starting in early January thru mid-April of 2007. It will be offered during all normal park operating hours, and not the original idea of switching in the afternoon.

Rockin' Space Mountain will not use the Dick Dale soundtrack that many Disney fans enjoyed, but the Dick Dale Space Mountain theme makes one final appearance on Disneyland's 50th Anniversary 6-CD box set.

Tokyo Disneyland's Space Mountain is a clone of Disneyland's Space Mountain as it was in the early 1980s. Its track layout is exactly the same, but does not have any of the new elements of Disneyland's new Space Mountain. Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland opened with the park on April 15, 1983. In 2003, a rocket derailed about 10 meters from the loading platform. As the coaster was running at a slow speed, no major damage was reported. No injuries were reported, and everyone was safely assisted to ground level.

According to some Disney-fan sites, Tokyo Disneyland is rumored to get a small refurbishment of their Space Mountain in a period of six months between: October 30, 2006 - April 27, 2007. Nothing has been confirmed yet, whether it involves new musical or theming effects or just track rehab. This Space Mountain is the second oldest in terms of not recieving a full new track or rehab, so the rumors of new theming might be disproven with a rehab dedicated solely to maintenence.

Opened on June 1, 1995 as a revival of sorts for Discoveryland, Disneyland Resort Paris' interpretation of the traditional Tomorrowland, Space Mountain was recently dramatically refurbished for the Happiest Celebration on Earth and is now officially called Space Mountain: Mission 2. It fits the Discoveryland theme perfectly with the storyline being a look at space travel from a Jules Verne-era perspective.

In original plans, it was to be known as Discovery Mountain and would have featured more than one ride, all based on different books written by Jules Verne, including Journey to the Center of the Earth and From the Earth to the Moon. The giant dome would have also featured restaurants and shops. The plan was scrapped after Disneyland Paris ran into financial difficulties and Space Mountain was built in its place.

It is repeatedly featured as the favorite Space Mountain version for many Disney fans, and is the most outlandish of them all, featuring a 1.5G up hill launch at 42MPH, two inversions (sidewinder and corkscrew) and a partial inversion known today as an "Overbanked Turn" It was the first Space Mountain with onboard music (known as a "S.O.B.A.T" which stands for Synchronize On-Board Audio Theme) with the first SOBAT written and composed by Steve Bramson, and the new soundtrack was written by Michael Giacchino, along with a new SOBAT for the Space Mountain in Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Space Mountain was the basis for the 1995 BBC2 documentary, "Shoot for the Moon", which looked at the creative process and the history of Imagineers, technicians, and musicians of The Walt Disney Company, featuring project manager Tim Delaney and Disney Legend Ward Kimball.

The newest Space Mountain (not counting the two recent refurbishments of the Disneyland and Disneyland Paris) is based on the refurbished Space Mountain at Disneyland, with a similiar soundtrack and the same layout. It also features new show elements not presented in the refurbished California version (i.e. a "hyperspeed" tunnel). It will not feature the Rock It Mountain configuration that is featured in Disneyland's Space Mountain.

Unlike most Space Mountains, the boarding area for the attraction is quite small. Not present is a Space Station of its two most similar counterparts at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland. Instead a dark queue featuring neon earth-tone colored planets along with star patterns decorate the area.

It is the only Space Mountain to feature two Disney-implemented time-saving features, FASTPASS and Single-Rider, alongside its regular standby line. Also different than most Space Mountains, whose buildings pretty much stand alone, this incarnation features a building attached to it hosting a smaller attraction, but not visible from the ride itself.

Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom:

* Grand opening: January 15, 1975
* Designer: WED Enterprises
* Building height: 183 feet (56 m)
* Building diameter: 300 feet (91 m)
* Track height: 65 feet (19.7 m)
* Steepest drop: 39 degrees
* Track length:
o A) 3,186 feet (971 m)
o B) 3,196 feet (974 m)
* Top speed: 28.7 miles per hour (46 km/h)
* Height requirement: 44 inches (1.12 m)
* Ride duration: 2:30
o Former Sponsors:
+ RCA (1975-1985)
# RCA/GE (1983-1985)
+ FedEx (1996-2003)
* Ride system: Roller coaster

Disneyland:

* Grand opening: May 27, 1977
o Grand re-opening: July 15, 2005
* Closing date: April 9, 2003
* Designers: WED Enterprises
* Manufacturer: WED Enterprises and AMEC Dynamic Structures
* Vehicles: 12
o Vehicle theme: Rocket
* Building diameter: 200 feet (61 m)
* Track Height: 75 feet (22.7m)
* Largest drop: 17 feet (.5.15 m)
* Building Height: 118 feet (36 m)
* Track length: 3,450 feet (1052 m)
* Volume: 1.8 million cubic feet (51,000 m³)
* Top speed: 32 miles per hour (52 km/h)
* Height requirement: 40 inches (1.02 m)
* Ride duration: 2:45
* Ticket required: "E"
* Music: Space Mountain, composed by Michael Giacchino (2005-Current)
o Previous Music: Camille Saint-Saëns' Aquarium, performed by Dick Dale (1996-2003)
* Ride system: roller coaster

Tokyo Disneyland:

* Grand opening: April 13, 1983 (Opened with Tokyo Disneyland)
* Designers: Walt Disney Imagineering
* Vehicles: 12
o Vehicle theme: Rocket
* Building diameter: 200 feet (61 m)
* Largest drop: 17 feet (5.15 m)
* Building Height: 118 feet (35 m)
* Track length: 3,450 feet (1052 m)
* Volume: 1.8 million cubic feet (51,000 m³)
* Top speed: 30 miles per hour (48 km/h)
* Height requirement: 40 inches (1.02 m)
* Ride duration: 2:45
* Ticket required: "E"
* Ride system: Roller coaster
* Sponsor: Coca Cola, Ltd. of Japan

Disneyland Paris:

* Grand opening: June 1, 1995
* Closing date: January 11, 2005
* Grand re-opening: April 09, 2005
* Designers: Walt Disney Imagineering, Vekoma
* Vehicles: 5
o Vehicle theme: Rocket
o Rockets per train: 6
+ Passengers per train: 24 (or 4 per Rocket)
* Building diameter: 200 feet (61 m)
* Height: 141 feet (31 meters)
* Track length: 3280 feet (1000 meters)
* Top speed: 43.5 miles per hour (70 km/h)
* Height requirement: 51 inches (1.32 m)
* Ride duration: 2:27
* Music: Mission 2, composed by Michael Giacchino (2005-Present)
o Previous Music: De la Terre à la Lune, composed by Steve Bramson (1995-2005)
* Ride system: Roller coaster

Hong Kong Disneyland:

* Grand opening: September 12, 2005 (Opened with Hong Kong Disneyland)
* Designers: Walt Disney Imagineering, Vekoma
* Vehicles: 12
o Vehicle theme: Rocket
* Building diameter: 200 feet (61 m)
* Track Height: 75 feet (22.7m)
* Largest drop: 17 feet (.5.15 m)
* Building Height: 118 feet (36 m)
* Track length: 3,450 feet (1052 m)
* Volume: 1.8 million cubic feet (51,000 m³)
* Top speed: 32 miles per hour (52 km/h)
* Height requirement: 40 inches (1.02 m)
* Ride duration: 2:45
* Ticket required: "E"
* Music: Space Mountain, composed by Michael Giacchino (2005-Present)
* Ride system: Roller coaster

* The attraction will be seen along with the Rocket Jets in the upcoming Disney film Meet the Robinsons.

* Star Command headquarters as seen in the animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is a modified version of Space Mountain.

* Referenced frequently on an episode of The Golden Girls, in which Sophia Petrillo, a character in her 80s, tries to get her daughter in her 50s to take her on all weekend during a vacation to Disney World.

* Space Mountain is a nickname given to pro wrestler Ric Flair.

* In the UK TV Sitcom Spaced, the army-obsessed Mike Watt stole a tank and tried to invade Paris, but stopped off at Euro Disney and was apprehended at Space Mountain.

* On an episode of Chapelle's Show, Dave is given a house by MTV for their show Cribs. Dave mentions to the viewer that he has a piece of the material from Space Mountain and shows it to the camera.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home