|Manufacturer||AMEC Dynamic Structures|
|Attraction type||Roller coaster|
|Propulsion method||Chain lift|
|Opening date||May 27, 1977|
|Music|| "Space Mountain" by Michael Giacchino (2005-present)|
Saint-Saëns' "Aquarium" by Dick Dale (1996-2003)
|Cars per vehicle||2|
|Guests per car||6|
|Ride duration||2:45 minutes|
|Length||3035 ft (925.1 m)|
|Track height||75 ft (22.9 m)|
|Maximum speed||32 mph (51.5 km/h)|
|Height requirements||40" (102 cm)|
|Number of lifts||3|
|Sponsored by||FedEx (1993-2003)|
After the success of Matterhorn Bobsleds in 1959, Walt Disney was convinced that thrill rides could be placed at Disneyland. In 1964, Disney approached Imagineer John Hench with his idea for a dark indoor roller coaster. The design evolved over several years. The project continued and went under the name Space Mountain since June 1966. Shortly after, the design was impossible due to the time's technology as well as the limited space at Disneyland. In 1966, Space Mountain had to be shelved, due to Walt Disney's death in December 1966, and the construction of Walt Disney World in Florida.
Much like Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom opened with a small amount of thrill rides in October 1971. However, the park was widely popular with young adults and teenagers, convincing Imagineers to place thrill rides there as well. Imagineers determined that they could replicate the Matterhorn Bobsleds and place it in Fantasyland. However, the Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom had a limited amount of space. Unlike Fantasyland, Tomorrowland had a massive amount of space. Several technologic advances came to be, and the Imagineers decided to revive their Space Mountain project. The first Space Mountain opened at Magic Kingdom in 1975. Due to its large success and popularity, Imagineers reconsidered the possibility of Space Mountain at Disneyland. Unlike Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland at Disneyland had limited space, so Imagineers decided not to reconstruct the dueling track used at Magic Kingdom, but one singular track under a white dome.
Opening and early years
To many thrill-seekers and Disneyland visitors, Space Mountain opened on the morning of May 27, 1977. The ride opened as Disneyland's second roller coaster, and the $20 million attraction opened with the 1,100 seat Tomorrowland Stage, the 670-seat Space Place restaurant, and the Starcade.
Space Mountain's opening ceremony was attended by six of the seven Mercury astronauts: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Sen. John Glenn, Wally Schira, Alan Sheppard, and Deke Slayton. Due to the opening of Space Mountain, Disneyland's record of most guests visited in one day was broken. Over 185,500 guests visited in only three days, from April 1-3, 1977. The attraction had a line of four hours, that curved out of Tomorrowland and down Main Street, U.S.A.
During its first years, the attraction had operated with little change: early sponsors had bailed, and a Speedramp was added to the ride. In 1995, the ride started to be sponsored by FedEx. After the FedEx sponsorship, the ride went under major changes. The queue area was remodeled and video screens were placed to show guests a safety video about the ride. The loading dock had an animatronic FedEx worker and other scenes added several things to include FedEx trademarks.
In 1996, 19 years after the attraction's opening, Aarin Richard and Eddie Sotto teamed up to create an onboard soundtrack for the coaster. The vision was to combine sci-fi horror music and surf music into one piece of music. The music was composed that same year, and was also able to be placed on the attraction as well. When riders go up the first lift, the music plays.
Ever since 1977, the ride has gone through several refurbishments and changes. In 1996, the soundtrack by Dick Dale was added to the ride. In 1997, exactly twenty years after the opening day, the dome's exterior was painted green, gold, copper, and bronze. It matched the recent Tomorrowland refurbishment. The ride itself remained untouched, but the Speedramp was removed.
The biggest renovation of the ride took place in 2003. The ride suddenly closed on April 10, 2003. Disney announced the ride would remain closed until the park's 50th anniversary on July 17, 2005, which was two years later. Disney explained the ride had become unstable and the track needed to be completely removed and replaced, but the layout was unaltered. The dome was also repainted its original white color. On July 15, 2005, Disney surprised guests and Space Mountain reopened two days before the official 50th anniversary. A re-opening ceremony was held with guest speaker Neil Armstrong. The attraction also opened with new rocket vehicles, a new queue, new music, new effects, and a brand new storyline. The rockets do not glow in the dark anymore, and the ride was lowered 30 feet and the dome was lowered 10 feet to make the ride much safer than before.
In 2014, Space Mountain closed for a brief period of time to install a new ring on the coaster's outer dome. The coaster reopened after the installation was completed.
Rockin' Space Mountain
Also part of this major "new" Space Mountain was a nighttime transformation of the attraction to Rockin' Space Mountain, in which the calmer soundtrack of the attraction in daytime hours was to be replaced at night by a driving rock soundtrack, and different special effects. The original version of Rockin' Space Mountain, called RockIt Mountain, premiered for Grad Nite 2006 as part of the Happiest Homecoming on Earth, with the track "Let It Out" by rock group Hoobastank, which drew mixed reactions from riders.
Rockin' Space Mountain premiered during the "Year of a Million Dreams" Celebration, and was promoted alongside Rockin' California Screamin', a similar modification to Disney California Adventure Park's California Screamin' roller coaster began January 3, 2007 and ended April 26, 2007. Contrary to the original plans for the attraction to only be "Rockin'" in the evening, "Rockin' Space Mountain" ran during all operating hours of the park. Rockin' Space Mountain does not use the Dick Dale soundtrack. This soundtrack, however, makes one final appearance on Disneyland's 50th Anniversary 6-CD box set.
On December 28, 2006, Disneyland announced that the soundtrack to be featured for "Rockin' Both Parks" are two songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Space Mountain received an edited version of the band's 1989 song "Higher Ground". The song has been remixed to "heighten every twist, turn, rise and drop of the attraction." Rockin' Space Mountain's counterpart at Disney's California Adventure, Rockin' California Screamin', uses a remixed version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Around the World".
The main differences between the regular and Rockin' Space Mountain include: a different soundtrack, new projections within the mountain, and many lights alongside the track. Riders begin their journey with "Uncle" Joe Benson, a radio disc jockey from the Disney-owned 95.5 KLOS, introducing the riders to the "Space Stage" where the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be "broadblasting live." The "rocket rockers" continue the flight with a "sound check" with guitar riffs accompanied by projections of bright colors and sound waves. While looking up the second lift hill, the spiral galaxy is no longer in place, but instead, riders see a sun going nova. Finally, once riders crest the lift, the sun explodes. Once on the 180-degree turn next to the asteroid, there are a few seconds of no screaming.
This allows riders to hear the sound of screaming riders and the soundtrack from other trains in the dome. The soundtrack then transitions into the song, "Higher Ground" at the bottom of the third lift hill. During this lift hill, "Uncle" Joe Benson comes back to say "No matter which planet you're from, we're about to rock your world. And it's all gonna happen in 5, 4, 3, 2, rock and roll!" Some of the new special effects include colored strobe lights, projections of dancers and other bright visualizer images.
Many colored lights line the tracks strobing in sequence and projecting on walls and the surroundings. Re-entry and the station remain mostly unchanged except for some added instruments (drum set, air/electric guitar, etc.) floating in space with the astronaut in the "planet orbit" screen. Another notable change to the station is that the "neon" lights that flash when a rocket train is "launched" to the right remain on and do not shut off, which makes the station a tad bit brighter. Also, the front attraction sign included "Rockin'" above "Space Mountain" while a color-changing light illuminated the spire above the sign at night. The design of the on-ride photos was changed as well, which included the Rockin' Space Mountain logo, and many musical notes floating in space around riders.
Space Mountain: Nightmare Nebula
On October 2007, after Disneyland closed to regular Guests, Space Mountain was quickly redressed with a Halloween theme for Cast Members. The second transformation was Space Mountain: Nightmare Nebula. The decorations were very minimal. And the ride is dark, so no one expects to see anything once inside the "star" field. However, Space Mountain: Nightmare Nebula was never a huge success, so they decided NOT to do it again in October 2008. Ghost Galaxy took it from here and replaced Nightmare Nebula in October 2009.
Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy
Main article: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
after the failure of Nightmare Nebula on October 2007, another transformation took place in the form of Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy, which includes special effects ghosts in space, new audio, and projections on the outer dome of the building. The overlay was first featured at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2007. It was a huge success so they decided to bring it to Disneyland for Halloween Time 2009 and returned seasonally every year.
Noticeable modifications to the ride include a change in lighting during the first lift, the dimming of the hyper-speed tunnel, the addition of lightning visuals during the second lift and ghostly images inside the dome itself. These ghostly images interact with the rocket trains, swiping, chasing and "throwing" the trains around the dome. The Starfield is unchanged. At the end, the reentry tunnel is the same, but just after slowing down to reenter the station, a skull-shaped nebula appears as the trains make a right-hand turn back to the station.
Two-thirds of the queue have been unchanged. Inside the Space Port, However, the planet screen at the front of the station has been changed to reflect the overlay, as well. While viewing the planet, a green "storm" appears over the planet, causing interruptions to the video feed. Static appears, then a blue screen, reminiscent of the Windows Blue Screen of Death, saying "SIGNAL LOST," "SEARCHING..." and "SIGNAL ESTABLISHED". Outside on the dome, five projections play, with several Halloween-themed color schemes appearing between these projection shows:
- The first projection shows the dome becoming a dull grey, with cracks and breaks forming on the dome.
- The second projection shows an alien arm resembling that of the nebula ghost running, pushing against the dome from the inside.
- The third projection shows yellow scratch marks appearing on the dome.
- The fourth projection shows lightning bolts shooting up the left side of the dome, then the right, the middle, and finally the entire dome itself. A green grid then appears at the top section of the dome.
- The last projection shows the dome being turned into a radar, with red blotches appearing on the dome, resembling activity of the nebula ghosts.
The Ride: With the refurbishments to Space Mountain, Ghost Galaxy has some significant changes.
- The soundtrack echoes the attraction
- The white lights at the top of the first lift are now an eerie green.
- The tunnel, which usually has flashing white lights, is now pitch black.
- Instead of the spinning galaxy beyond the second lift, a giant ghost nebula electrifies the lift.
- Projections of otherworldly wisps can be seen before the final lift, along with the ghostly nebula.
- The ghosts pop up unexpectedly. Two places that are notorious for this are when the roller coaster drops suddenly to avoid being "clawed" by an unseen arm. The other spot is before you re-enter the load area. Before the roller coaster makes its hard right to port, a ghostly head pops out of the wall.
The park website lists a minimum height requirement of 40" to ride Space Mountain, and for guests to transfer from a wheelchair or "Electric Convenience Vehicle" by themselves or with assistance by members of their party". A maximum of 3 groups can ride at a time or a maximum of 12 people (if 3 or fewer groups.) A track transfer table installed for the 2005 reopening permits positioning of a rocket at the ready platform, enabling unlimited time for accessibility loading and unloading contrary to the time-critical ambulatory-guest load process.