Disney World got its first mountain 35 years ago as Space Mountain opened to the public in the Magic Kingdom on January 15th, 1975.
Birth of Space Mountain
Although it was not actually built until several years after his death, Walt Disney initiated the concept of having a roller coaster type attraction that operated in the dark. He also had envisioned projecting images on the inside walls to enhance the experience.
John Hench had drawn the earliest sketches of what was then called Space Port in 1965. It ended up being very close to what was eventually built in the Magic Kingdom, the first of five Space Mountains to be built in Disney Parks all over the world.
The Space Mountain Experience
The experience of the Space Mountain attraction starts as soon as you enter the 180 foot tall and 300 feet in diameter building. You quickly come to see the sign pictured below welcoming you (the Space Traveler) to Starport Seven-Five "Your Gateway To The Galaxy."
Whether you realized it or not, when you reached this sign, you are no longer in Tomorrowland any more. You are now on a Starport, a sort of space station for space travelers, located somewhere in outer space.
Take close notice as you look at all of the props located in the queue area and you will realize that you "are" on a Starport.
The seven-five designation is a tribute to the date that the attraction opened.
If you have not had a chance to ride Space Mountain since its recent renovations in 2009, you will notice dramatic differences in the ride queue. The most noticeable difference is the addition of the interactive games that line the latter portion of the queue. Now you will have the opportunity to play games while you wait. The games are set up for short interactive sessions to allow you to play without holding up the line. This is certainly a welcomed addition.
The neon blue of the staging area is also a noticeable difference. It gives the area a totally different look than it had previously. While you are waiting make sure that you look around and notice all of the details that surround you, including the ceiling.
Once you have been loaded into your rocket, it is time to blast off for your trip back to Tomorrowland and the Magic Kingdom. This is what you have been waiting for.
It doesn't matter if you have gotten in the Alpha or the Omega side of the queue. The two tracks are virtually identical mirror images of each other.
Rocket Into Space
The thrill of Space Mountain is the fact that the ride is dark and you cannot see where you are going next. This is even more true after the 2009 upgrade, as the ride is definitely darker. The ride is also smoother now, which definitely makes for a better ride experience.
Although you never get above 30 mph, this roller coaster feels much faster due to the quick turns and the thrill of the unexpected as you race along. This classic Disney attraction is still a hit and a must do.
Tomorrowland Station MK-1
At the end of the ride you have safely reached your destination, Tomorrowland Station, MK-1. You have returned to the Magic Kingdom from your thrilling journey in outer space.
The scenes in the post ride have been updated as well. Take the time to notice the details as you are making your way back to the exit of Space Mountain.
Space Mountain Is 35 Years Young and Still Thrilling
Even after being the Magic Kingdom's signature attraction for 35 years, Space Mountain is still a thrilling ride. It isn't the fastest roller coaster, but the unique Disney combination of great storytelling combined with the technical ability to create a true "dark ride" make this trip through space one that Disney Guests always look forward to.
The 2009 improvements to the ride queue, adding interactive games, and the improvements to the ride itself, darker and smoother ride, keep Space Mountain as a highly recommended attraction and a must do for all Magic Kingdom visitors.