One mountain in Walt Disney World takes guests through the countryside and sends them plummeting down into the briar patch. Another famous mountain sets the scene for guests to take a wild ride through an abandoned Western mining town. The third mountain holds a fierce Himalayan secret that guests discover as they speed by on an ancient railroad. Wear a swimsuit If you want to brave a fourth mountain in Walt Disney World as it sends guests down on several thrilling water slides. But if you want to journey through space, rocketing past comets, meteors, and planets, get in line for Space Mountain. Space Mountain made its Magic Kingdom debut in 1975, and this interstellar ride has been a beloved attraction ever since.
1. A Futuristic First
While the original intent of Space Mountain was to create an attraction showcasing Walt Disney’s view of the future, the ride evolved into how the future was viewed by science fiction writers of the 1920s and 1930s. The idea for Space Mountain originated in the 1960s, but the technology didn’t exist at the time to bring the ride to fruition, so it took ten years to design and develop this attraction. Space Mountain was the first thrill ride to use computer-aided design. In the post-show area, look for stickers displayed on luggage celebrating past attractions that also showcased the future, including the Horizons attraction in Walt Disney World’s Epcot.
2. Need for Speed
While your vehicle might feel like it’s zipping through space at top speeds, you are actually only traveling at 28 mph. The steepest drop is 39 degrees. Each rocket vehicle holds seats passengers in a single-file configuration. Even though it’s not one of the fastest attractions in Walt Disney World and doesn’t have any loops, the spectacular futuristic theming easily sets it apart from all other thrill rides.
3. Popular Worldwide
Space Mountain has the added distinction of being in each of the four Magic Kingdom-style Disney parks around the world. Visitors to Disneyland Paris, Disneyland in California, Tokyo Disneyland, and of course the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World can all experience this ride. Reserve a FastPass + for this attraction, or be prepared for a long wait.
4. Galactic Sized
The white dome of Space Mountain is a Magic Kingdom icon, instantly recognizable by thousands. This building measures 183 feet tall at its peak, allowing for a small building to fit inside. The cone is formed from 72 concrete beams, and each 117-foot long beam was lifted in place by crane. Construction for this classic attraction took two years. The attraction has two tracks: the Alpha track and the Omega track. The Alpha side is slightly longer, but the ride experience is identical for both.
5. Corporate Identity
When Space Mountain originally opened, RCA was the sponsor. A mechanical dog was even part of the attraction in reference to RCA’s traditional mascot. FedEx took over the sponsorship in 1993. This ended several years later, and Space Mountain has been without a corporate sponsor ever since.
6. Space-Age Enhancements
In 2010, Space Mountain received a much-needed makeover. The sound system was renovated with 60 speakers, the décor was refreshed, and the lighting replaced. Each vehicle has a paint stripe on each side that includes a slash of phosphorus. The paint is illuminated by black lights in the loading area, creating the effect of lights streaking through space as your rocket zips around the track.
What better way to make a new attraction feels like space flight than to get an actual astronaut to help design the ride. Gordon Cooper, an astronaut for the Mercury 9 and Gemini 5 missions, was brought on board as part of the creative design process. In the early 1970s, Soviet cosmonauts visiting the Johnson Space Center in Florida as part of a joint space venture discussion also got a chance to take a ride on Space Mountain.