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Ride / Space Mountain

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"Space shuttle, this is flight safety. Keep your hands on the handrail or inside the vehicle and remain seated while in motion. You are cleared for launch!"

Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster at the Disney Theme Parks that's themed around a thrilling trip through outer space. The ride itself is located in a giant futuristic-looking mountain, hence the title.

The origins for the attraction date back to early '60s, when following the success of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which revolutionized the amusement industry by being the first roller coaster to use steel tracking, Walt Disney was eager to add more thrill rides to Disneyland, prompting him to encourage his creative team to come up with an idea for a new indoor roller coaster. The resulting concept was of a space coaster set inside a massive mountain, that was first given the name "Space Mountain" in 1966– just right before Walt’s death. The project ended up being shelved for the time being, as it was deemed too implausible to build.

Nearly a decade later, the attraction would finally come to fruition at Walt Disney World, as the success of Magic Kingdom kick-started ideas for some thrill rides to add to the park. Due to there not being enough room available to duplicate the Matterhorn Bobsleds coaster in Fantasyland, the plans for a space coaster in Tomorrowland were revived. Since its opening in 1975, the coaster was brought over to several of the Disney parks across the world. Its locations include:

  • Magic Kingdom: Where the coaster first opened on January 15th, 1975. This version includes two separate ride tracks that are mostly identical, and with the 2009 refurbishment it was given a storyline that revolves around the "Starport Seven-Five", a travel agency that brings Tomorrowland citizens to places all around the universe.
  • Disneyland: Opening on May 27th, 1977, this version includes only one track that's nevertheless much different from the Magic Kingdom's. The ride is set inside "Space Station 77", with the story being that the guests are being sent off on some sort of expedition through space. One thing that sets this iteration apart from the one at Magic Kingdom is that it has been given several different overlays over the years, which include:
    • Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy: Done every year for the Halloween season, this overlay has guests being pursued by an Eldritch Abomination nebula ghost throughout the ride.
    • Rockin' Space Mountain: A very brief overlay that lasted from January to April 2007, it included several new effects being added in and the coaster itself synced up to the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, Higher Ground.
    • Hyperspace Mountain: A temporary overlay themed around Star Wars that was included as a part of the parks' Season of the Force event. Set inbetween the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the story took place during the Battle of Jakku, with the guests and a group of X-Wing fighters being sent in by Admiral Ackbar to investigate a lone Star Destroyer hovering near Jakku. Things take a thrilling turn when it turns out to be a trap set by the Empire, resulting in the riders being sent hurtling through a giant space dogfight between the X-Wings and a legion of TIE fighters.
  • Tokyo Disneyland: This version, which opened with the park in 1983, is a near-duplicate of Disneyland's coaster, with only a few minor (mostly cosmetic) differences. Notably, due to it being virtually unchanged since opening, It remains the only version to lack an in-ride soundtrack. This version of the ride is planned to close in 2024, as Disney would announce that a new literation of the ride is planned to replace the original ride in 2027. According to Disney, the new version of the ride is planned to have even more thrills and would place a great emphasis on the connection between Earth and the universe at large.
  • Disneyland Paris: The ride here is drastically different from the other versions, as well as being much more intense, as it is instead a launched coaster that includes several inversions among other other things. There have been three different incarnations of the coaster:
    • Space Mountain: De la Terre à la Lune note : This version was themed around the Jules Verne book, From the Earth to the Moon. Just like the novel, guests were shot into space by a giant cannon called the "Columbiad Cannon", and from there would come across several more references to the works of Jules Verne. This iteration operated from 1995 to 2005.
    • Space Mountain: Mission 2: Opening in 2005, this new version modernizes the attraction with updated effects, a new storyline, and a new soundtrack; while at the same time keeping much of the Victorian Steampunk theming and some of the Jules Verne references, as it still involves guest being shot into space via a cannon.
    • Hyperspace Mountain: An imported version of Disneyland's overlay, originally part of the parks' 2017 Season of the Force, it ended up becoming a permanent overlay, without any news about whether any of the other two versions will be making a comeback in the near future.
  • Hong Kong Disneyland: Similar to Tokyo Disneyland, this version is a near-duplicate of the Disneyland ride, with there merely being a few differences in its queue line. Along with that, it also originated Ghost Galaxy as part of their darker Halloween traditions at the park and has also hosted the Hyperspace Mountain overlay from Disneyland. As with Paris, Hyperspace Mountain ended up becoming a permanent overlay with no plans to revert the ride back to its original version.

A graphic novel tie-in to Space Mountain incorporating other Tomorrowland attractions was released in 2014, presenting Space Mountain as a time travel research station harnessing the power of a black hole to create portals in time. Though initially planned as a trilogy, low sales and the desire to avoid confusion with the then upcoming Tomorrowland film ended up resulting in a Stillborn Franchise.

Tropes shown in Space Mountain include:

  • Affectionate Parody: The old queue video at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland was themed around a channel called "SMTV". note 
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Some have argued that Ghost Galaxy is basically Disney's answer to Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios, as both are roller coasters in near-pitch black darkness that involve guests being menaced by threatening spirits.
  • The Artifact:
    • For the Paris version of Hyperspace Mountain, the Star Wars-themed ride contrasts heavily with the Victorian/steampunk exterior building and boarding station, since they are holdovers from previous versions of the ride.
    • The giant cannon on Paris' Space Mountain was meant to replicate the giant cannon from Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, which made perfect sense back when the ride first opened, since it was originally based on the novel. However, that version of the ride has since been replaced with Space Mountain Mission 2 and then the Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Mountain, respectively, both of which stray away from the Jules Verne theme of the original ride entirely, making the cannon stick out like a sore thumb today and for its original context to be lost. However, given that the cannon forms a part of the ride's layout, it is too much of an integral part of the attraction for Disney to get rid of it without rebuilding the entire attraction from the ground up, so the cannon has stuck around.
  • Artificial Gravity: Disneyland's version, which is themed as a space station, features this throughout the inside.
  • Asteroid Miners: In De la Terre à la Lune, riders would come across a machine that the Baltimore Gun Club (the group that created the Columbiad Cannon) built for the purpose of mining through asteroids for minerals.
  • Asteroid Thicket:
    • The Paris version sends guests right through the middle of an asteroid field.
    • Magic Kingdom's version used to include an interactive game in the queue line that let guests blast their way through an asteroid field.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Guests are sent out into space in completely-exposed rockets, and come back unharmed. Handwaved in the Florida version, which features text on a monitor in the load area indicating that the passengers are surrounded by an "Invisible Oxygen Dome" while seated aboard their rockets.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When the ride breaks down, the work lights in the ride building come on. For Florida guests, this is an extra treat since the Tomorrowland Transit Authority passes through Space Mountain, and is generally not affected by Space Mountain stoppages, resulting in guests getting a nice view of the tracks.
  • Cassette Futurism: The overall aesthetic of most versions, as befits its 1970s origins, is a boxy, Star Wars-ish look, tending towards blue, white, and grey as the defining colour palette. The Paris version has been the big exception to this - like the rest of the science fiction-themed attractions at Disneyland Paris, it sports a Jules Verne-inspired Steampunk look, elements of which remain in spite of its current Star Wars theming.
  • The Cameo:
    • Jules Verne briefly appeared in the former De la Terre à la Lune, where he's shown having successfully landed on an asteroid.
    • A 3D model of Stitch appears in the safety video for the Magic Kingdom version. (Also counts as Arc Welding, since Stitch's Great Escape! was located in the same park.)
    • In reverse, Space Mountain itself was used as the model for Star Command's space station base in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (and Buzz's house on Capital Planet was modeled after another old Tomorrowland attraction, the House of the Future).
    • Hong Kong Disneyland's Space Mountain contains a telescope prop from DisneyQuest Chicago in its queue line.
  • Canon Welding:
    • Disneyland's original queue video at one point mentions X-S Tech as being one of the sponsors for PNN News.
    • Hyperspace Mountain ties the original ride to the larger Season of the Force overlay in Tomorrowland, as well as to Star Tours. Although all digital media was changed (the queue videos, music, and effects on the ride), the ride vehicles, buildings, and breakdown announcement themselves were not.
  • The Chase: Guests are pursued through space by the nebula ghost all throughout Ghost Galaxy.
  • Chroma Key: The exit of Magic Kingdom's version has a green screen wall on one side, and when in front of the green screens, guests can see themselves on TV monitors looking as if they're in space.
  • Cool House: The post-show of Magic Kingdom's version includes a quick trip through a stylish and futuristic home. This was also the premise of the original 1975 RCA-sponsored post-show.
  • Cool Starship: The mini-rockets that the guests ride in. Also, there are the larger spaceships found at certain points in each version of the ride, namely the ones that hang over the load areas in the Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland versions and the spaceship on the lift hill at Disney World.
  • Crossover: Hyperspace Mountain mixes the regular ride with the Star Wars series.
  • Darker and Edgier: Ghost Galaxy is a much darker and scarier version of the normal ride, so much so that it includes many signs out front warning parents about bringing their children on it.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Hyperspace Mountain has Admiral Ackbar as the main character, who in the past has been a relatively minor character - albeit a well-liked one - in the films.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Florida's version, as the first to open, has several things that set it apart from the others, such as having two tracks instead of one, separate loading and unload areas, and tandem single-file seating instead of two rows of seats, which make it more like an indoor version of the Matterhorn Bobsleds. The need for a single track layout beginning with the Disneyland variant was a matter of space constraints, since Florida's Space Mountain exists outside the park berm (necessitating guests pass under the railroad going to and from the ride) whereas the other versions are all inside the park berm.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The nebula ghost from Ghost Galaxy is this, being a large and menacing cosmic demon of unknown origin.
  • Explosions in Space: Occurs in Hyperspace Mountain when the New Republic fleet succeed in blowing up the Empire's Star Destroyer.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Disneyland's version (and all its overlays) ends with the riders going into hyperspace to get back to the loading station.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Bob is the nickname of the nebula ghost in Ghost Galaxy.
  • Ghostly Gape: What the nebula ghost has, though at times it has shining stars act as its pupils.
  • Giant Eye of Doom: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy has one at the center of the Hourglass Nebula, implied to be the nebula ghost's eye as it also blinks.
  • Halloween Special: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, an overlay done at both Anaheim and Hong Kong during Halloween, as mentioned previously.
  • Human Cannonball: The Paris version has riders getting shot into space via a giant cannon, as a nod to From the Earth to the Moon.
  • Interplanetary Voyage: The original Paris version sent guests off to the moon, mirroring the classic Jules Verne story.
  • Jump Scare: Ghost Galaxy ends with the ghost popping out for one more surprise scare before the riders pull back into station.
  • Kent Brockman News: The former queue video had a segment for "PNN News", which featured two news anchors giving details about what's happening in the universe as well as weather news that contained a surprising amount of Black Comedy.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: When the American versions were sponsored by FedEx in the '90s, the queue lines were given a fictional amount of intergalactic TV programming that played as guests were waiting for their rockets. You could expect many commercials, news stories, fashion updates, and various other TV programs, but the one that fits the "kitschy" mold in particular was the hyperactive "Crazy Larry" (played by Charles Fleischer), whose business had pretty much the most commercials in the whole loop.
  • Lured into a Trap: Upon coming to the location of the Star Destroyer in Hyperspace Mountain, the New Republic fleet soon discover that the Empire has set up a trap for them, as they are soon faced with a barrage of TIE fighters. And yes, Ackbar does say that famous line once again.
  • The Man in the Moon: The original Paris version featured a moon with a face, as an homage to A Trip to the Moon.
  • Meme Acknowledgement: Hyperspace Mountain has Ackbar acknowledge that "it's a trap!"
  • Mickey Mousing: The music, even "Higher Ground", syncs up to the twists and turns of the track. There's at least 4 different soundtracks, and they all flow with the ride.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • At Magic Kingdom, the attraction is set inside "Starport Seven-Five", while at Disneyland, it's set in "Space Station 77". Both names are references to the years that the ride opened at the respective parks. Magic Kingdom's version also gives names to the other three Space Mountains from around the world: "Discovery Landing Paris", "Ashita Base-Tokyo", and "HK Space Port THT".
    • In Hyperspace Mountain, the recon starfighter squadron sent to investigate the Star Destroyer is referred to as the "Blue 77 Squadron", another nod to the ride's opening year at Disneyland. It's also a nod to Star Wars, which was released two days before the ride opened.
    • At the exit of the Magic Kingdom's version, there's a panel labeled "Closed Sectors" that lists the acronyms of several of the park's former attractions.
    • The Magic Kingdom's version also contains several nods to the former Horizons attraction at Epcot, such as a suitcase being labeled as "Mesa Verde" in the baggage claim in the exit area.
    • Rockin' Space Mountain included a blink-and-you-miss-it reference to the Space Stage, a venue for live performances that previously occupied the ride's spot in Tomorrowland.
  • Numbered Sequels: The current version at Paris is called Space Mountain: Mission 2.
  • Old School Dog Fight: Hyperspace Mountain, the ride's temporary Star Wars overlay, is naturally themed around being in the middle of a giant space battle.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghost Galaxy features one in space, that seems to be both a ghost and a twisted cosmic entity at the same time.
  • Pop-Star Composer: From 1996-2003, Disneyland's version featured a rearrangement of "Carnival of the Animals" performed by surf rock guitarist Dick Dale.
  • Prequel: Hyperspace Mountain is a prequel to The Force Awakens, set during the Battle of Jakku that occurred nearly 30 years before the events of the film.
  • Product Placement:
    • The American versions of the ride were sponsored by FedEx in the late 1990s/early 2000s.
    • Tokyo's version is sponsored by Coca-Cola.
  • Pun-Based Title: The temporary Rockin' Space Mountain overlay was initially titled RockIt Mountain.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Both Florida and Tokyo have no on-board soundtrack for their versions; Florida's version instead has speakers placed along the tracks.
  • Recycled In Space: The North American (Disneyland and Walt Disney World) and Asian (Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland) versions of Space Mountain are pretty much The Matterhorn IN SPACE, sans monster (save for a spooky look for Halloween). This is most apparent with Florida's version, where the vehicles only fit one rider per row and the ride features two dueling tracks, just like the Matterhorn. Disneyland Paris' version, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The nebula ghost is red/orange mixed with the blackness of space.
  • Robot Maid: The futuristic house that appears at Magic Kingdom's exit features a robot butler, as an homage to Horizons.
  • Shown Their Work: When developing Space Mountain, the Imagineers actually got Mercury Astronaut Gordon Cooper to supervise it and ensure that the ride actually made guests feel like they were flying through outer space.
  • Sickly Green Glow: During the Ghost Galaxy overlay, the loading station glows a very eerie shade of green. The outside of the mountain also glows green at certain times during the overlay.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: In Ghost Galaxy the queue shows a video feed of outer space, which begins to glitch out before finally going to Snowy Screen and then to the Blue Screen of Death.
  • Space Is Air: Not only are guests able to breathe in space in this attraction, but the rocket moves through space as if it were normal air and the guests suffer no form of decompression. The Florida version hand-waves it with "invisible oxygen domes". Of course, this is all a case of Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
  • Space Is Noisy: All versions and overlays of the ride have numerous sounds being heard in the vacuum of space, whether it be the sound of asteroids, the rockets themselves, or a terrifying nebula ghost.
  • Space Station: Disneyland's version is set inside "Space Station 77". Similarly, Disney World's version has guests board their rockets on Starport Seven-Five.
  • Steampunk: Along with the rest of the surrounding Discoveryland area, the Paris version carries a futuristic Victorian-style theming to its exterior and throughout the ride itself.
  • Thing-O-Matic: The sound speakers in Magic Kingdom's version are referred to as "Starry-O-Phonic".
  • Updated Re Release:
    • Disneyland's version was revamped in 2005 to have a completely rebuilt track (albeit with the exact same layout) as well as new special effects and soundtrack.
    • The Paris version was redesigned into Space Mountain: Mission 2, which opened in 2005.
    • The versions in Tokyo and Florida were given more minor scenery and effects upgrades in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Tokyo's update saw new effects on the lift hills and re-entry tunnel. Florida's refurbishment included new sound effects in the tunnels leading to the lift hills, some track refurbishment, the addition of a roof over the loading stationsnote , and the Starry-O-Phonic soundtrack.