Disney Attraction Examination: Space Mountain

After the success of the Matterhorn Bobsled’s Disneyland in 1959, Walt Disney thought that the next

After the success of his Matterhorn Bobsleds, Walt Disney turned his attention to a "Space Voyage"

After the success of his Matterhorn Bobsleds, Walt Disney turned his attention to a “Space Voyage”

attraction to utilize the tubular steel track should be a space themed roller coaster. “Space Voyage” would be the focal point of the new re-imagined Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Concept art was drawn up by George McGinnis, Herb Ryman, Clem Hall, and John Hench and in 1967 the concept was renamed “Space Mountain”. But, like so many things in Walt’s time the technology simply wasn’t up to date with his ideas and they were a little preoccupied with some project in Florida. After Walt’s death in 1966 the space roller coaster idea was slowly pushed into a corner for a while.

Less than a decade later the idea would surface again but this

RCA and Disney were a perfect match for Space Mountain

RCA and Disney were a perfect match for Space Mountain

time at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. Magic Kingdom was a great success in the early 70’s but guests were disappointed with the lack of thrill rides, Imagineers decided it was time to dream up the parks first thrill ride, and they decided that re-visiting the Space Mountain concept was most feasible for Disney World due to the available land and leaps in technology. The ride was originally to be put in the southern corridor of Tomorrowland (Where Carousel of Progress is located), but Space Mountain was instead built on the outer eastern corridor because there was more available land. The only thing standing in the way of the ride now was a partner to help in the design and funding. Card Walker, CEO of Walt Disney Productions convinced Robert Sarnoff, chairman of RCA to sponsor Space Mountain. Disney then contracted RCA for the communications hardware and RCA added in the contract that if Disney produced something of interest that RCA would provide $10 million in support.

The queue for Space Mountain in Disney World has a very unique design taking you into the Star Tunnel

The Star Tunnel in the queue for Space Mountain takes you beneath the Walt Disney World Railroad tracks!

The Star Tunnel in the queue for Space Mountain takes you beneath the Walt Disney World Railroad tracks!

that leads ultimately to the Space Port. The Star Tunnel is a cool feature but is actually a necessary design that takes you beneath the Walt Disney World Railroad tracks before you begin your ascent on the other side of the tracks toward the Space Port. Once in the Space Port you are directed to either the Alpha or Omega track where you will board your 6 person rocket ship, and blast off into space and make your way back to Tomorrowland from the Space Port!

The ride begins by taking you through the iconic strobe tunnel and whips you around the corner toward the lift hill. The lift hill takes you through Mission Control before you drop off into hairpin turns and drops through the galaxy. As you make your way toward the bottom of the ride you go through a red flashing wormhole and proceed to the end of the ride.

The post-show area of Space Mountain takes you on a moving walkway under Walt Disney World Railroad through several rooms that are a display of what life in the future will be like as you begin your ascent back to Tomorrowland.  Mission Complete!

The blue strobe light tunnel is one of the most iconic moment for a Disney attraction

The blue strobe light tunnel is one of the most iconic moment for a Disney attraction

Not much has changed in the ride since its opening on January 15, 1975 other than different colors of paint and musical changes. In 2009 the ride underwent a lengthy refurbishment to enhance the queue line, and make the ride darker. The track was rebuilt completely by Dynamic Structures in 2009 and black recessed windows were added to the roof of the Space Port to aid in making the ride darker. Video games were added along the edges of parts of the queue line as well to help make the usually long line more interactive. In 2010 a “Starry-O-Phonic” soundtrack was added to provide an enhanced audio experience.

Space Mountain has only had two sponsors in the history of the attraction. RCA remained the sponsor for Space Mountain from 1975-1993, and from 1994-2005 Space Mountain was sponsored by FedEx. The ride has remained sponsor-less since 2005.

This luggage sticker pays homage to Mesa Verde in the fan favorite Epcot Attraction Horizons

This luggage sticker pays homage to Mesa Verde in the fan favorite Epcot Attraction Horizons

Fun Facts:

– Max Speed: 28 MPH (sure feels faster than that doesn’t it!)

– Max Height: 92 Feet

– Biggest Drop: 26 Feet

– Duration: 2:35

– One of the bags in the baggage claim on the visitors’ left at the start of the moving sidewalk, has the words “Mesa Verde” written on it to pay homage to the closed Epcot attraction Horizons.

– Space Mountain is in all five “Magic Kingdom-like” parks around the world, Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Thanks for reading and be sure to share any fun facts or memories you have of Space Mountain!

Check us out on Twitter @thewdwblog for all things Disney World tweets

By: Kyle Newton

Images courtesy the Walt Disney Company

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