Magic Kingdom

Friday, April 07, 2006


Space Mountain is a popular indoor roller coaster ride at five Disney theme parks. The indoor 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. At the time it opened, it was the most expensive roller coaster ever created. Even after inflation adjustment, the attraction surpasses the original Disneyland attractions.

Space Mountain premiered at the Magic Kingdom 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 indoor, themed roller coaster with a synchronized sound track. The Disneyland installation was upgraded in 1996, making it the first completely indoor, 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. The Paris version features a launch and three 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 different than the later version built at Disneyland, in that there are actually two separate tracks (not unlike Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds) instead of just the one, although both tracks are almost identical. In fact, the overall track design and original rockets that were used up until the early 1980's were very similar to the new bobsleds that were added to the Matterhorn in 1978 at Disneyland. Also, the rockets used are single-file instead of Disneyland's side-by-side seating. The queue area inside the Magic Kingdom's mountain is also much larger and more open than the Disneyland version. The loading area is actually located directly below the actual ride itself, where as at Disneyland the loading area is in a separate area from the rest of the ride. The special effects in the Florida version are also much different, including the lift hills, the main ride itself and the exit tunnels. The original rockets also had seat belt restraints, but by 1980 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 mid-2005.

In the post-ride area, riders will hear clips from two Esquivel songs: "Music
Makers" and "Sentimental Journey".

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. Later when FedEx was the sponsor, the ride featured two astronauts with a package floating in space, a robot figure and robot dog with a package, "SMTV" queue video with comedy bits and futuristic FedEx ads. As of 2004, this theming had been removed, leaving some conspicuous gaps.


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