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Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)

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Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. It opened on January 15, 1975 and was the first Space Mountain attraction at any Disney park. It is unique in that it features two tracks, much like its inspiration, Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds, which opened in 1959.

Premise

  • Navigate a shadowy, neon-lit space station and make your way to a bustling Control Tower, passing a constellation of glowing astronaut training stations along the way. Inside a futuristic launch pad, board a sleek rocket-shaped vehicle and prepare yourself for a high-flying adventure into deep space.
  • When all systems are “Go,” glide through an energy tunnel pulsating with blinking lights and ascend a 180-foot high mountain. At the top, launch into the remote blackness of the dark universe, the mysterious sounds of space and galactic music filling the void.
  • Whiz past shooting stars and celestial satellites during your thrilling space ride. Behold streaking orbs of light, wayward comets and migrant meteors. Dip and careen into the inky blackness as futuristic Starry-O-Phonic Sounds echo all around you. Feel the push and pull of gravity as you soar into a swirling wormhole for re-entry—an unforgettable first flight in space successfully completed!

History

The idea for the ride came from Walt Disney himself in the mid 60's, before he passed away, as a way to simulate an astronaut's return trip to Earth. It would feature a roller coaster that took place entirely indoors. Inside the enclosed structure, the lights would be turned out and stars and asteroids would be projected onto its smooth white ceiling. It was originally going to be the centerpiece of a newly reconfigured Tomorrowland in Disneyland. The idea was shelved for nearly a decade before being resurrected for the Magic Kingdom in Florida, which up to that point had a grievous lack of thrill rides. To celebrate its opening, Disney threw an opulent ceremony which featured an entire marching band (marching upon the Peoplemover tracks). Its guest of honor was Colenol James Irwin, pilot of the Lunar Module on Apollo XV, who gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

The Waiting Queue

The waiting queue has computer games for guests in long waits. Close to the boarding area they spilt into two group, Alpha and Omega. Then after a small part of the line, guests board the ride.

Ride Vehicle

The ride vechicle is 6 cars in to one vehicle that moves together. The ride is one guest per a seat, and uses a pull down bar for restraints.

The Ride

The ride consists of two almost identical tracks: one Alpha, the other Omega. This roller coaster is revolutionary in that it is the first roller coaster completely managed by computer. Using specific brake zones, the computer is able to gauge the weight of each car and its distance between other cars, allowing for multiple cars on one track. Most roller coasters today have similar programs.

2009 Refurbishment and soft opening

Space Mountain closed on April 19, 2009 for a lengthy renovation project. It will be the first extensive renovation since a previous closure in September 1999, and is estimated to cost USD $12.3 million. A major component of the renovation is the installation of a new track for the roller coasters, although the current layout will be left unchanged. Other renovations include an upgraded queue area, including some new interactive elements, and a new ceiling for the dome's shell. Disney officials did not indicate if this was the full extent of the project or if other changes were in store, but a spokeswoman for the park stated, "We're retaining many of the classic elements that made Space Mountain a rite of passage at the Magic Kingdom that's been enjoyed by generations." Space Mountain is scheduled to reopen on November 21, 2009. In a recent video from attractions magazine, the construction walls in front of Space Mountain's entrance have been removed, hinting to possible soft openings and revealing the new fastpass kiosk, and logo with lime green letters. The sign that the TTA passes by before entering the mountain now has the Space Mountain logo in green.

On November 13, the Space Mountain had a soft opening with signs reading "Space Mountain is now in test mode. You may experience periods of delay during the operation".

Inside, the entrance has been redesigned with the original panels moved further right, and a large painting of Space Mountain with words "STARPORT SEVEN-FIVE", a reference to the rides opening in 1975. There are also new panels that list other space stations as well as the five real life space mountains. The panel describes this Space Mountain as "MK-1 TOMORROWLAND STATION", also a reference meaning Magic Kingdom- the first Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. The other Space Mountains are referred to as "TL Space station 77", "Discovery Landing Paris", "Ashita base-Tokyo", HK space port THT". The queue is exactly the same with enhanced features in the windows and lighting, along with a newly added exit at the end of the tunnel. The entrance, star tunnel, and loading area music are still in place. In the third tunnel, all of the windows on the right side have been replaced with the video games, while the windows on the left still hold the 3D mini-models. In the loading area, the newly enclosed loading dock has six above windows with projections of planets. The rocket cars are mostly the same with fresh paint jobs but they no longer glow in the dark. There are also new astronauts under the spaceship on the lift hill with blue stripes. It was rumored that the on-board music from Disneylands Space Mountain was to be installed, but there is NO on-board or off-board audio. Probably the only real change to the ride is the post show and exit. The new post show revives elements of the original post show in 1982, such as futuristic televisions with destination listings, and a futuristic living room.

Several months after the attraction re-opened, a new musical score was added in speakers lining the tracks, given the name "Starry-O-Phonic" sound by Disney.

Trivia

  • With help from a NASA astronaut, Space Mountain opened in January 1975 at Magic Kingdom park. The idea originated with Walt Disney in the 1960's, but the technology did not exist to bring his vision to life.
  • Later, when the attraction was given the green light, Mercury 9 and Gemini 5 astronaut Gordon Cooper joined the Space Mountain creative team as a consultant. He wanted to make sure that the attraction incorporated information gleaned during NASA’s early space missions and that the experience felt like actual space flight. His valuable input has made Space Mountain a favorite for over 35 years.
  • Today, Space Mountain exists at every Disney Resort around the world.
  • Space Mountain is known for frequent breakdowns. During a breakdown, the worklights are turned on. While the attraction is shut down, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover that passes through the building does not, allowing passengers to see the ride with the lights on.


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