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Space Mountain: Mission 2
Space-mountain-mission-2
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Land Discoveryland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Manufacturer Vekoma
Attraction type Steel Roller coaster
Theme Space Travel
Opening date June 1, 1995 (De la Terre à la Lune)
April 9, 2005 (Mission 2)
Closing date January 11, 2005 (De la Terre à la Lune)
Music Mission 2 by Michael Giacchino
De la Terre à la Lune by Steven Bramson
Vehicle type Rocket Train
Vehicle names Space Train
Moon Train (1995-2005)
Vehicle capacity 24
Cars per vehicle 6
Guests per car 4
Ride duration 2:18 minutes
Maximum speed 47 mph (75.6 km/h)
Height requirements 52" (132 cm)
Number of lifts 2 (including Catapult)

Space Mountain: Mission 2 (formerly De la terre a la lune) is an enclosed steel roller coaster in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris. Themed after Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, the ride opened about three years after the park opened. It is the only Space Mountain worldwide to feature inversions and a section of the ride outside of the mountain (station and cannon). It was the first roller coaster with an on-ride audio track.

The ride originally opened in 1995 as Space Mountain: De la Terre a la Lune, which translates into Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Moon. It was designed as a view on space travel from a Verne-era perspective. Space Mountain: De la Terre a la Lune was closed on January 11, 2005 for a major refurbishment. The refurbished attraction reopened on April 9, 2005 as Space Mountain: Mission 2 with a new on-board audio track composed by Michael Giacchino.

Discovery Mountain - Original concept and design

After the Parisian site had been chosen and work began on Discoveryland, a showcase attraction was planned. Discovery Mountain was initially designed to feature not only Space Mountain, but a variety of other attractions, exhibits, and restaurants. The building was going to be 100 meters in diameter, rather than 61 meters, the diameter of the Space Mountain dome.

Inside the multipurpose Space Mountain was to be a larger version of the Nautilus submarine (it ended up as a nearby walkthrough attraction), an underwater restaurant/cafe with a Nautilus theme, a version of the Horizons attraction at Epcot, a Disneyland Railroad stop, a free-fall ride concept themed to Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Space Mountain coaster, and walkway tubes leading to CineMagique and Videopolis dining/stage complex.

Discovery Mountain's budget became so huge that cuts were inevitable. In addition, the resort had encountered a loss of millions of French francs in its first three years of operations. This was due to low hotel occupancy, low guest spending and lower attendance than projected, partly due to the colder winter weather—in sharp contrast to Tokyo Disneyland, which sees crowds year-round regardless of the weather. The Victorian-inspired design of Space Mountain (initially named Discovery Mountain before its name change), with its huge Columbiad cannon, and containing only the indoor roller coaster, was decided upon as the best choice for the financially unstable resort, as well as a nearby walkthrough recreation of the Nautilus, entitled Les Mystères du Nautilus.

However, in 2001, Tokyo DisneySea opened, featuring Mysterious Island, a recreation of Vulcania Island from the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This island features some elements from Discovery Mountain (for example the ride Journey to the Center of the Earth or the Nautilus ride).

The roller coaster

De la Terre à la Lune (1995-2005)

An extravagant version of Space Mountain had been planned since the inception of the Euro Disney Resort, but was reserved for a revival of public interest. Located in Discoveryland, the park's alternative for Tomorrowland, this Space Mountain was originally designed as a view on space travel from a Jules Verne-era perspective, based on the novel From the Earth to the Moon.

Paris' version of Space Mountain is the fastest of the five versions of the ride, the only one to include inversions, and also the only one to feature a portion of track outside the mountain itself (that being the station and the launch Cannon). The $89.7 million attraction features a 1.5G uphill catapult launch at 42 mph (68 km/h), and three inversions (sidewinder, corkscrew, and cutback). It was the first roller coaster to feature on-board music, known as a SOBAT (Synchronized On-Board Audio Track). SOBATs would later be added to Space Mountain at Disneyland, and Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Space Mountain's first SOBAT was composed by Steven Bramson, primarily based on film scores by John Williams and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea score. Moreover, in order to create a proper Victorian atmosphere in the queueline and around the building, a musical loop was created by selecting several themes from movies such as Krull, The Rocketeer, Always or Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. From 1995 to 2005, the ride was known as Space Mountain: De la Terre à la Lune.

Guests entered the dome and were ushered into the inside queueline known as the Stellar Way, an open walkway where guests could have a look at the coaster itself and see trains during their journey in space. Then they reached the Victorian chambers of the Baltimore Gun Club (the Club which built the Cannon), and discovered the plans and drawings of the Columbiad and the journey to the Moon. They then boarded golden Moon trains in the Victorian station.

The trains took them through a tunnel into the Columbiad Cannon. As the blast-off occurred, trains were suddenly propelled out of the Columbiad to the top of the dome. The space travel started with riders crossing asteroid fields until they got swallowed by Colonel Impey Barbicane's Bluemoon Mining Machine, an industrial space machine built by the President of the Gun Club to extract mineral resources from asteroids. Escaping the danger of this device, trains headed to a huge asteroid which they crossed through a small fissure. This journey came afterwards to the climax of the ride, the Moon itself (with a smiling face, as seen in Georges Méliès's 1902 movie adaptation of the novel). On the right, one could notice that Jules Verne himself, with the proper equipment, had landed on a nearby asteroid. Then trains headed back to Earth, crossing other asteroid fields. When riders reached the atmosphere, bolts and light rays were visible around the train as it heated up. Trains finally entered the Electro-de-Velocitor, a machine that stopped them suddenly so that their speed would be reduced when they headed back to the station.

In September 2004, Le Visionarium was closed, leading to significant changes in Discoveryland. Space Mountain: De la Terre à la Lune was to be entirely refurbished, due to financial plans from Disney executives, which also included the construction of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and the development of Walt Disney Studios Park with Toon Studios and the Tower of Terror.

Mission 2 (2005-present)

Space Mountain underwent modifications in 2005 and is now officially named Space Mountain: Mission 2. The journey now takes riders beyond the Moon, to the very edge of our universe. Therefore, some aspects of the ride have changed, such as the effects on the track: the video shown in the second lift of the ride (the smiling moon seen in the original has been replaced with a supernova) and the introduction of a simulated vortex using bent neon lights.

Although the track remains unaltered, trains are now fired from the bottom of the cannon, whereas originally they were fired at the top. The Victorian setting was changed as well, and received modern futuristic elements. Trains received a simple repaint from gold to silver. A new futuristic soundtrack was written by Michael Giacchino (who was also responsible for the SOBATs in the versions at Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland) and the Victorian loop in the queueline has been replaced with radio messages.

Guests enter the dome on its side and are ushered into a futuristic, dimly lit corridor featuring photos of several cosmic phenomenons (this scene replaced the former Stellar Way). They proceed into the Victorian lounges of the Baltimore Gun Club, complete with plans and drawings of the Columbiad Cannon and the journey to a supernova. They then board silver space trains in the station.

Trains are taken through the tunnel leading them inside the cannon. A countdown is audible, and the blast propels trains beyond the moon. Space travellers encounter many cosmic phenomena, such as a comet and several asteroid fields. When they reach the supernova, they can see it explode and destroy its surroundings. Trains then head back to Earth by crossing melting asteroid fields. In order to reach Earth, they finally enter a "hypergate", a red vortex-like wormhole which represents a shortcut through the universe. As in the previous version, the Electro-de-Velocitor slows trains down before they reach the station.

Future Modification

It has been announced by various sources [1] that the ride will receive new restraints in the future. The restraints will be based on Vekoma's new train design, allowing riders to feel less restricted and provides a more comfortable ride. As opposed to being secured using a ratchet system, they are hydraulically powered meaning that restraints can be secured at any stage as long as they are lowered below a safe point; riders will no longer be pressed too tightly in to their seats, nor be left with a gap allowing uncomfortable movement during the ride. The earliest that this is expected is 2013.

Vekoma is rumored to have been on site recently, to conduct tests of the restraints in select cars of the existing trains. However, it is speculated that the new restraints would not fit comfortably in the existing train chassis and therefore require entirely new trains. This would be considered another major refurbishment of the ride, as new trains would need to be installed with the on-board audio system; either a new one or taken from the existing trains, greatly increasing the cost of the refurbishment.

Statistics

  • Grand opening : June 1, 1995
  • Closing date : January 11, 2005
  • Grand re-opening : April 9, 2005
  • Designers : Walt Disney Imagineering, Vekoma
  • Vehicles : 6
    • Vehicle theme : Space Train
      • Previous vehicle theme : Moon Train
    • Rockets per train : 6
    • Passengers per train : 24 (or 4 per rocket)
  • Building diameter : 200 feet (61 meters)
  • Height : 141 feet (43 meters)
  • Track length : 3280 feet (1000 meters)
  • Top speed : 47 miles per hour (76 km/h)
  • Height requirement : 52 inches (1.32 m)
  • Ride duration : 2:18
  • Music : Mission 2, composed by Michael Giacchino (2005–Present)
    • Previous music : De la Terre à la Lune, composed by Steve Bramson (1995–2005)
  • Ride system : Roller coaster

Shoot for the Moon

Space Mountain was the basis for the 1995 BBC2 documentary Shoot for the Moon, which looked at the creative process and the history of engineers, technicians, and musicians of The Walt Disney Company, featuring project manager Tim Delaney, music producer Aarin Richard and Disney Legend Ward Kimball. The 45-minute documentary was directed by Philip Martin, and was first broadcast on 30 August 1995 at 6:45pm.

Trivia

  • The ride was originally named Discovery Mountain, but this name was changed shortly before the opening, for marketing reasons. This is why the letters "DM" still exist today in the building (on the bridge over the Nautilus lake, on safety warnings panels or some devices).
  • The ceiling of the Baltimore Gun Club's main lounge is painted as a starry sky. Each star features a name of two letters followed by three figures. These are actually engineers' initials and birth dates (for example, "TD748" means "Tim Delaney, born July 1948").
  • In the original concept art, the cannon was slightly different from what it looks like now. It featured a trap door on its back which opened for trains to be loaded. Since this effect was too expensive, this door now stands on the side of the cannon, opening every time trains pass by.
  • Another concept art showed Space Mountain: Mission 2 featuring a retrofuturistic spaceship moored at the ceiling of the station, but this idea never came to pass either.
  • A shop, called Light Speed Photography, sells photos at the exit of the ride. This is currently the only part of the building which still displays American flags (all others were removed in 2005 when De la Terre à la Lune closed).

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