Say the word Disney and it will evoke memories and images in just about anyone. From those favorite childhood movies (let's be honest, adults love them too), to visits to Disney parks these memories stick around as kids grow up and have children of their own. Space Mountain is one of the most well-known rides at Disney and has been around since 1975. The ride was built as a tribute to an era of space travel that excited a generation a decade before. As with anything that has been around long enough, legends have popped up about Space Mountain. Some are based on fact and others are rooted in fiction. Still, these legends still around for a reason and we are going to explore some of the most interesting ones below.
10 Out Of This World Input
Over the years Space Mountain has become such a popular attraction that versions of the ride have been built in over five locations. When the original Space Mountain was created for the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, Gordon Cooper was hired as a creative consultant. Cooper was an astronaut who had real-life experience in space and his input helped ensure that riding Space Mountain was like being in space. When the ride finally opened in Florida and then two years later in California, a whole host of astronauts showed up to celebrate the achievement. Even in 2005 when the ride in Florida was reopened after some much-needed renovations, Neil Armstrong took part in the relaunch.
9 The Haunting Of Space Mountain
There are many legends about hauntings at the Disney Parks. Most of them are pure fancy that has managed to work their way into the history of certain rides. One of those stories is Mr. One Way, the ghost of Space Mountain.
There are many versions of this myth but typically his is a red-haired large man who likes to sit next to single passengers. He doesn't appear until everyone has settled into their cars and then disappears before the ride ends. This one is most definitely legend alone, but perhaps Mr. One Way just wants to ensure those single riders have a friend along to enjoy the experience of Space Mountain.
8 Ahead Of Its Time
One of the incredible facts about Space Mountain is that it was so ahead of its time that the technology to build the ride didn't exist at its inception. The design of Space Mountain was so advanced that Disney had to wait more than ten years between planning and bringing the ride to life. Talk about innovation. The creation of Space Mountain fully embodied the idea of Tomorrowland and looking toward the future.
7 Legendary Technology
It might not seem so impressive when looked at through the lens of technology today, but when Space Mountain was first created computers were used to plot out each track's path. They wanted to produce a ride that would make riders feel as if they were flying through space. Part of the design included incorporating your senses to heighten the impact. The ride zips through the darkness, with just a starry sky for light. That combined with fans blowing on riders creates the illusion that the ride is going much faster than it is. Space Mountain was the first coaster to be controlled by computer, demonstrating just how innovative the technology of the ride really was.
6 Created By A Disney Legend
John Hench is a Disney legend. Starting as a sketch artist, he worked on films like Fantasia, Dumbo, and Peter Pan, to name just a few. After working as an artist for Disney for over 15 years he moved over to Walt Disney Engineering where he was tasked with creating attractions for Tomorrowland. John was the official artist of Mickey Mouse and his fingerprint is all over Disney. When he created the design for Space Mountain, he was so ahead of his time that the technology didn’t yet exist to bring his concept to fruition. He was a truly a Disney legend that helped create the legendary and beloved Space Mountain.
5 The Illusion Of Speed
When the Matterhorn turned out to be such a popular ride with guests, Disney decided to create another roller coaster. Space Mountain was designed so that the rider would feel like they were barreling through space. Part of the illusion is aided by the darkness that surrounds riders. The darkness is broken up by small lights so that it appears as though the rider is flying through the night sky. There are no loops but there are some fast and abrupt corners that come as a surprise because of the dark. These corners enhance the thrill of the ride, leaving only your imagination to guess at what is ahead. Though it may feel like racing through space, Space Mountain is actually one of the slower rides at the Magic Kingdom. The addition of fans blowing in riders' faces and sound effects round out the illusion so that Space Mountain is an experience not easily forgotten.
4 Hidden Gems
One of the many cool things about Space Mountain is the secret “nod and winks” to creators and found within the attraction. The logo and welcome sign for the ride names it Starport Seven-Five. This is a reference to the year the ride opened in the Magic Kingdom. As you continue on through the attraction there are other smaller signs set up like information kiosks that say things like Active Lunar Stations and Active Earth Stations that list the other Space Mountain locations. There is even a panel that displays the names of “closed sectors” which are Disney rides that are no longer at the park. There are many more Easter eggs throughout the ride and discovering them along the way is all part of the fun.
3 Don't Lose Your Head
One of the more gruesome stories about Space Mountain is the rumor that a man was decapitated on the ride. Once again there are multiple versions of this story, but there is no proof that anything of the sort occurred. It’s possible the story’s origin stems from a test dummy that lost its head during early testing, but that’s the only confirmed case of someone losing their head. Perhaps some parents told this story as a way to make sure their kids stayed in their seats and the myth took on a life of its own. We’ll never really know.
2 Legendary Design and Construction
Space Mountain is a centerpiece in the Disney Parks universe. It is distinctive and rises up from Tomorrowland as a symbol of progress and the future. An interesting fact about the construction of Space Mountain is that Disney Imagineers were concerned about its height. Cinderella’s Castle is the heart of Disney World and the original design would have competed with the fairytale structure. To combat this the designers set the ride 15 feet into the ground, which means that as you line up for the ride you are practically underground. The other very noticeable trait of Space Mountain is the structural beams that are outside of the building, allow for the most room and support of the roller coaster.
1 Space Mountain Sponsors
When you think about Disney Parks you don’t typically think about sponsorships, but Space Mountain was originally sponsored by RCA. Before undergoing reconstruction and updates over the years riders would be welcomed to the ride by RCA’s Mascot, Nipper. The entrance would be playing music that was, in fact, RCA’s theme song. In the original ride when park guests would arrive at the end, they would move into RCA’s Home of Future Living which displayed objects of the future. FedEx became the sponsor in 1994 which lasted until 2004. Most of the signage was removed at that point but some remained until there was a renovation in 2009 when they were all taken down. Though Space Mountain remains, the sponsorship is a thing of the past.