Wait times for Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain continue to be long, even though the ride has been a part of Disney World since 1975. The ride was actually designed by Disney Imagineer, John Hench in the early 60’s. It wasn’t that it took that long to build the ride, it was because the technology wasn’t available to make the design a reality. Space Mountain may be one of the first rides you head to when the rope drops or a FastPass that you try to get, but it was also a first in a few other areas.
First Indoor Roller Coaster
Space Mountain was the first steel roller coaster to be constructed entirely indoors. Disney led the way in technology for coasters and now many other parks have followed suit.
Not only was it the first indoor roller coaster but it was also the first roller coaster to be controlled by computers. These computer systems were capable of weighing the inside of the ride vehicles so that it could control the speed on the drops.
The structural beams were placed on the outside of the building instead of the inside. That is what gives the building it’s unique look. This was done so that the inside of the building could have a smooth surface so that stars and lighting effects could be done to surround guests during the ride making you feel like you are in space.
Imagineers always do their research when dreaming up the next attraction. For Space Mountain they worked with an astronaut named Gordon Cooper. He had gone to space and consulted with Disney to give his insight on how to make this a realistic experience. Upon the completion of the ride, Gordon said that Space Mountain was about as close as you can safely get to actually being in space. I wonder what he would think of Mission Space at Epcot today?!
While hurtling through the dark you might think you are speeding down huge drops, but the steepest slope is only 39 degrees. Also Space Mountain only has a top speed of 28 miles per hour. Rides like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are faster. This goes to show you that the way Imagineers designed the ride to play to all of your senses makes your perception much different than reality.
Close to the end of your wait, the line splits in two different directions. That’s because there are actually two different tracks. Disney calls them the Alpha and Omega tracks. The Alpha track is 10 feet longer than the Omega track.
Multi-Million Dollar Ride
The cost of building Space Mountain was $10 million dollars. If you adjusted that for inflation today, that would be almost $47 million dollars. Disney worked a deal with RCA to be the sponsor and finance the attraction. That is why you could see RCA products at the entrance from 1975 until 1993.
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Those are interesting. I think the Space Mountain at Disney World needs an update though so it’s more like the one at Disneyland!