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The Surprising Secret of Disney’s Space Mountain Attraction

Classic Disney theme park “fast” rides have always thrilled Guests with their twists and turns.

From Magic Kingdom’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disney gives daring Guests both thrill and theming in its fun attraction concepts.

With its galactic ambiance and iconic soundtrack, the indoor roller coaster Space Mountain is a must-ride for Guests at Walt Disney World seeking adventure and a wild trip to space.

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Credit: Disney

But what if we told you it’s actually not that fast? In the words of Scar from The Lion King (1994), “be prepared”.

Space Mountain made its Magic Kingdom debut in 1975, and this interstellar ride has been a beloved attraction ever since. Visitors to Disneyland Paris, Disneyland in California, Tokyo Disneyland, and of course the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World can all experience this ride.

The technology didn’t exist in the 1960s to bring the ride to life, so it took ten years to design and develop this attraction. Space Mountain was the first thrill ride to use computer-aided design and has two tracks: the Alpha track and the Omega track. The Alpha side is slightly longer, but the ride experience is identical for both.

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Credit: Disney

But here’s the surprise that may blow your mind. Goofy’s Barnstormer, located in Magic Kingdom’s Storybook Circus, and the fan-favorite Space Mountain, in Tomorrowland, are almost exactly the same speed.

Yes, you read that correctly. Disney promotes these attractions as two very different types of ride – one a “junior roller coaster ride” for preschoolers and kids, and the other a “rip-roaring […] roller coaster ride in the dark” in the thrill ride category. Goofy’s Barnstormer has a height restriction above 35in (89cm), while Space Mountain is for Guests above 44in (112cm).

Goofy’s Barnstormer reaches speeds of 25 m.p.h., while Space Mountain reaches only 27 m.p.h. And yet Space Mountain feels A LOT faster.

Now, of course, the lighting, music, and famous dark aspect of the Florida theme park thrill ride contribute to the Disney magic of making the attraction feel faster for Disney Guests. But Walt Disney World is also tricking you on your Disney vacation.

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Credit: Disney

Apparently, Space Mountain uses the work of specially placed fans and air vents to “blow air” onto riders to give the illusion of going faster and traveling through space.

So next time you’re riding into space on your Disney vacation, make sure you look out for those breezes of air around the track!

Space Mountain over at Disneyland Park in California, reaches a speed of 35 m.p.h., and was the second Space Mountain attraction built in a Disney Park. Most Disney Guests long for the opportunity to have the unique experience of seeing the ride with the lights on.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at @bear.hug.book