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Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)

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Space Mountain
Space Mountain WDW
Magic Kingdom
Land Tomorrowland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Attraction type Roller coaster
Opening date January 15, 1975
Music Exit music by Michael Giacchino
Vehicle capacity 6
Cars per vehicle 2
Guests per car 3
Ride duration 2:30 minutes
Length 3186 ft (971.1 m)
Track height 65 ft (19.8 m)
Maximum speed 30 mph (48.3 km/h)
Height requirements 44" (112 cm)
Sponsored by RCA (1975-1993)
FedEx (1994-2004)
Space Mountain is an indoor steel-type roller coaster ride in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. It is the first Space Mountain in the popular attraction series. In 2009, Space Mountain became the oldest operating roller coaster in Florida when Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven closed.

History

Concept and Design

Space Mountain Front Seat Night Vision (HD POV) Magic Kingdom Florida On-Ride03:16

Space Mountain Front Seat Night Vision (HD POV) Magic Kingdom Florida On-Ride

The idea for Space Mountain originally came from Disney's first "mountain" attraction, The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland in California, which opened in 1959. The success of that ride convinced Walt Disney that thrill rides did have a place in his park. In 1964, Walt approached designer John Hench with an idea for a new attraction that would become the focal point of the 1967 Tomorrowland. His "space port" would include a roller coaster in the dark type ride. It was originally named Space Voyage but after several design refinements, the projects was renamed Space Mountain in June 1966.

WED partnered with Arrow Development Company who also helped design the brakes system on the Matterhorn several years earlier. While the original plan was to have four seperate tracks but due to the limited technology at the time along with space limitations in Disneyland, such designs were impossible. Walt Disney's death and the shift in focus to the Disney World project forced WED to put aside Space Mountain.

The Magic Kingdom opened October 1, 1971 and was a huge success. Its unexpected popularity with teens and young adults prompted WED to begin planning thrill rides that would go in the new park. A new Matterhorn was considered but it wouldn't fit into Florida's Fantasyland. Ultimately, designers returned to the Space Mountain Idea.

The Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland at the time, was only half completed. Only a handful of attractions were operational on opening week. This meant that there was plenty of room to build Space Mountain. Technology had also improved signifigantly since intitial planning for the attraction began.

Sm model open smith

One of the early track designs of Space Mountain. This one incorporated four tracks.

Several designs for Space Mountain were changed before adopting its current design and layout. One of the designs had the tracks going in and out of the structure. The mountain was originally going to be placed south of Tomorrowland, which is where the Disneyland version would be built in 1977. But instead it was positioned outside of the parks barrier on the opposite side of the Walt Disney World Railroad tracks. To get guests onto the attraction, they built a tunnel under the railroad tracks that guest would go through. This tunnel is known as the "Star Corridor".

Construction and Opening

Space Mountain began construction on December 15, 1972 and cost around 20 million dollars. Only two tracks were built: Alpha and Omega. Both are the mirror image of each other except that Alpha is 10 feet longer in order to make the layout fit. The entrance and exit were built near the Skyway station. Around this time, most of Tomorrowland as it is today was also being built. The back half of the WEDWay Peoplemover was being completed as well as the Carousel of Progress and Astro Jets.

Space Mountain opened on January 15, 1975. The attraction was dedicated on opening day. There was a two thousand member band that played on the tracks of the PeopleMover. Notable atendees were Scott Carpenter (astronaut on Mercury 7), Gordon Cooper (astronaut on Mercury 9 and Gemini 5), and Jim Irwin (engineer and astronaut on Apollo 15).

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