Space Mountain Disney World is one of the most popular rides in all of the Disney parks. What makes it so popular? It certainly isn’t the longest, the fastest or the latest technology. But still it remains one of the most popular attractions in Walt Disney World. This roller coaster in the dark has been a must experience attraction at Disney World for almost 40 years.
The Disney World Space Mountain ride opened on January 15th 1975 and was the first Space Mountain ride at any of the Disney Parks. Now all of the Disney parks worldwide have their own. The Orlando Space Mountain was refurbished in 2009 at an estimated cost of $12.3 million.
Walt Disney himself had the idea for the original concept of the Space Mountain ride. He wanted a new futuristic ride to be a major attraction for the Disneyland Tomorrowland rennovation. The attraction concept was originally named Space Port but later changed to Space Mountain – and so the tradition of the Disney Mountains became firmly established (the first being The Matterhorn Ride in Disneyland).
Following the death of Walt Disney in 1966 the designs were put on hold for Disneyland, but the ideas resurfaced in the early 1970s when Imagineers were looking for a thrill ride for the new Disney World which opened in 1971.
The outside of Space Mountain is an imposing 183 feet high and 300 feet in diameter. You can catch a glimpse of it when you approace Magic Kingdom by boat or monorail. Lines are pretty much always long. There is a Fast Pass so you should use that if you can, or if you don’t mind being separated from the rest of your party the Single Rider Line is also a good option. There is a height requirement of 44″ and age 7.
There are 2 tracks – Alpha and Omega. They both give exactly the same ride experience but the Omega track is 10 feet shorter than Alpha (simply because the ride design means they cross over each other).
Guests will board a 6 person space rocket. Riders sit in single file one in front of the other. The total ride time is 2 minutes and 47 seconds. The maximum speed which Space Mountain reaches is a fairly sedate 28 miles an hour. The speed varies slightly according to the weight load of each ride vehicle and the temperature of the vehicle and tracks. The longer the ride has been running during the day the faster it will go (but only by a small variant). The longest drop is 35 feet.
You can actually go inside Space Mountain without experiencing the ride if you board the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. On a couple of occasions I have been riding this when the lights have been turned on in Space Mountain. From here you get a unique view and see that the ride really isn’t that big of impressive – it is the amazing themeing which makes it one of the best Walt Disney World rides.
The lighting and sound effects are what makes the Space Mountain ride so unique. Space Mountain is a roller coaster in the dark. Strobe lighting effects and carefully synchronized music create a unique experience. This was all updated as part of the 2009 refurbishment. Space Mountain has ‘Starry-O-Phonic Sound’ which uses 60 speakers installed on the sides of the track. Sound effects and music are timed to play as each train passes. The soundtrack which is unique to the Magic Kingdom Space Mountain ride was written by composer Mike Brassell.
All images courtesy of expressmonorail