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The History of Space Mountain

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The history of Space Mountain comes with trials, failures and ultimate redemption in becoming one of the most favored rides in the Disney Parks, and the world.

Before we can travel back in time and learn about the history of Space Mountain let’s make sure we all know how phenomenal this ride is…

An overview: Guests board rockets for “take–off” in space rocket themed cars; the train consists of three cars, each with two seats. As guests approach the launch pad, a series of effects give the illusion that the rocket ship is launching into outer space. Once there, the track is virtually impossible to see, but the stars, satellites and asteroids are all around. As the ride begins its rollercoaster action, heart racing music blasts from the seat. This music is a tremendous addition to the attraction, and it is timed to each drop, rise, and turn of the rollercoaster. This ride is an absolute blast and demonstrates Disney’s ability to combine creativity and imagination and turn a basic rollercoaster ride into an outer–space adventure, no matter which park and version you are on.

History of Space Mountain
The Nerds posing on the original Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom, Disney World.

Now that we know what it is, the Nerds are gonna Nerd out on the history of Space Mountain.

It begins in 1959 after the Matterhorn Bobsleds were such a hit within Disneyland. Until that point, Walt Disney, wasn’t sure big thrill rides would fit the feel of the park. With the success of the Matterhorn, they decided to proceed with this new indoor rollercoaster, Space Mountain.

However, Disneyland didn’t have the space needed to create the size of the ride they were aiming for. Initially it was to have four tracks, but the technology wasn’t quite there to make it happen. Plans for Space Mountain in Disneyland were put aside.

When Walt Disney passed away in 1966 the plans for a new park in Orlando, Florida was in the beginning stages. With the new park opening in 1971, just Magic Kingdom at that point, they all but walked away from the Space Mountain idea. Making the history of Space Mountain rather short…

As the popularity of the Magic Kingdom continued to grow, the need for more thrill rides grew as well. Thus, the history of Space Mountain was being written again. The plans were moving forward to place the coaster in Tomorrowland but ultimately ended with the attraction as part of the perimeter of the park. The design technology had grown since the early conception, so the initial failure was turning into a new and bigger success.

Space Mountain was created with two tracks, the Alpha and Omega. Its façade is a huge steel mountain painted white. It has undergone many refurbishments and changes throughout the years.

history of space mountain
OG Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom. Photo Courtesy of Disney World.

FUN FACT: When Space Mountain opened in Disney World in March of 1975, Lucie Arnaz starred in the Wonderful World of Disney telecast.

It was here where the history of Space Mountain began to take off. With its huge success and drawing of crowds, Disneyland knew it had to find a place for the coaster.

It took two years to build and opened in Tomorrowland in 1977. The West Coast version only has one track and is a different layout than either of the Disney World tracks. Its façade is one of the four mountain structures used as the parks landmarks.

history of space mountain
 Space Mountain in Disneyland. Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register)

FUN FACT: Six of the Seven Mercury astronauts attended the opening, and the ride was so popular that over Memorial Day weekend they had an astounding 185,000 guests visit the park.

With the history of Space Mountain, it was glaringly obvious that the ride should continue to be built within each new Disney Park that popped up.

In Tokyo the plans for Disneyland and TokyoDisneySea were underway, and its version of Space Mountain was the first to premiere when the park opened its doors for the first time. Opening in 1983, it was almost an exact replica of Disneyland’s Space Mountain, but in 2006 it went through a major overhaul to look more sci-fi futuristic like Walt Disney’s ride.

history of space mountain
TokyoDisney Space Mountain. Photo from Tokyo Disney

Disneyland Paris welcomed Space Mountain in 1995, three years after the parks initial opening. The difference between this coaster and the other three counterparts is more than just its name. It has been through multiple closures, changes and refurbishments over the last 27 years. Starting as De La Terre a la Lune, to Space Mountain: Mission 2 a journey to the moon and finally ending with Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain on May 7, 2017.

history of space mountain
Star Wars: Hyperspace Mountain in Disneyland Paris. Photo from Disneyland Paris.

FUN FACT: It is by far the craziest Space Mountain out there. It has a launch which sends you soaring to 44 mph in 1.8 seconds and has three inversions within the 3-minute trip.

While always evolving the history of Space Mountain stops with Hong Kong Disneyland’s Hyperspace Mountain premiering in 2005. It was created similarly to Disneyland’s version. It has made a change over the years to be immersed in a Star Wars battle. Its ride queue is smaller than the others and has a character meet and greet available.

 

history of space mountain
Hong Kong Disneyland Space Mountain.

Shanghai Disneyland is the only Disney park around the world that does not have a version of this coaster. But, with the rich history of
Space Mountain, we can bet one may pop up there in the future.

The Nerds are fascinated by the history of the Disney Parks and the ins and outs of all the attractions.

Which version of Space Mountain is your favorite?

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