Everything You Need to Know About Space Mountain

in Disney, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

space mountain woman faints

Credit: Disney

It is one of the most recognizable attractions at Walt Disney World. Its towering white spires eclipsing Cinderella Castle, and its sleek white walls hide its secrets. In one look you know its dark bowels are filled with Guests’ screams, making its dominating and ominous space-age presence almost akin to a haunted house. But what awaits inside is a technological marvel that provides one of the most legendary science-fiction attractions of all time.

For those preparing to take this adventure, Walt Disney World describes it as the following:

“Blast off on a rip-roaring rocket into the furthest reaches of outer space on this roller-coaster ride in the dark…Dip and careen into the inky blackness as a futuristic soundtrack echoes all around you. Fly past shooting stars and celestial satellites. Roar past streaking orbs of light, wayward comets and migrant meteors. Feel the pull of gravity as you’re drawn into a swirling wormhole!”

This is Space Mountain.

Magic Kingdom‘s iconic thrill ride first opened at Walt Disney World on January 15, 1975. Over 45 years ago! But it has become a timeless classic.

Whether you are about to take your first ride on your Disney Vacation or your 1,001st, let’s look back and appreciate some of the most impressive facts about our favorite Tomorrowland coaster.

Breakdown:

The First Fully-Indoor Coaster

Walt Disney wanted to build Space Mountain a lot sooner than in 1975. But the technology wasn’t available to make it happen.

Walt and his Imagineers already made roller coaster history by creating the Matterhorn Bobsleds–the first roller coaster to ever have a tubular track–to Disneyland. But the ability to put a roller coaster completely indoors was not possible until the 70s.

When it was eventually built at the Magic Kingdom, Space Mountain would set two firsts. It was the first completely indoor roller coaster, and–fitting for Tomorrowland–it was the first completely computerized coaster. Significant innovations for a theme park ride meant to display life in the future.

After walking through a queue designed to resemble a spaceport–named “Spaceport Seven-Five” for its 1975 opening year–you board a space shuttle and get launched into space. Now, space is dark. Very dark. So, the normal ride experience is in total darkness. Because of that, riding Space Mountain with the lights on has become the “Holy Grail” of Walt Disney World experience.

So, here’s what it’s like to actually ride it with the lights on:

Astronaut Consulted

Disney has always been about quality and “accuracy” to provide the most immersive experience possible. So, it makes sense that if a Walt Disney Imagineer is going to build a ride that takes people speeding around outer space, he or she would probably want the approval of someone who has actually done it.

Gordon Cooper, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and the first American to spend more than a day in space, was brought in as a creative consultant on Disneyland’s Space Mountain in 1977.

According to a People magazine article from 1977, Cooper said “Space Mountain is about as close as you can safely get to actually being in space.”

So, if anybody asks, Space Mountain is astronaut-approved.

With that being said, it is not for the faint of heart or a faint heart. As Disney theme park Guests walk through the queue, you hear “Space Mountain is a turbulent, high-speed roller coaster-type ride in the dark with sharp turns, sudden drops and stop,” along with several warnings.

An 89-year-old woman ignored her age and pre-existing medical conditions to experience the attraction. She fainted after getting off the ride.

Walt Disney World got the First Space Mountain

Maybe that's why it's Starport 7-5... as in '75.
Hmmm… Maybe that’s why it’s Starport 7-5… as in ’75. Credit: ITM

After its opening day, Space Mountain joined the ranks of rides like “it’s a small world,” Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the carousel in that you could find it at almost every single Disney park around the world. And like “it’s a small world,” Big Thunder, Pirates, and the carousel, each Space Mountain is unique to its theme park.

Related: First Look At Space Mountain and Carousel of Progress 45th Anniversary Merchandise

But Walt Disney World was the first to set the trend, opening the original Space Mountain in 1975. Disneyland in Anaheim, California, was next, adding Space Mountain to their Tomorrowland in 1977. Space Mountain then became an opening attraction for each new park, starting with Tokyo, then Paris, and Hong Kong. But the trend was broken when Shanghai Disney Resort declined to install its own Space Mountain roller coaster.

space mountain
Credit: Flickr

In fact, Guests can see a tribute to all of the other Space Mountain attractions at every Disney theme park.

On a panel in the queue, there is a list of “Active Earth Stations.”

  • Tomorrowland Station MK-1
  • TL Space Station 77 (Disneyland’s Space Mountain)
  • Discovery Landing Station – Paris
  • Ashita Base – Tokyo
  • HK Spaceport E-TKT
Space Mountain References
Credit: ITM

Each Space Mountain is unique in its own way. The most unique being Space Mountain: Mission II at Disneyland Paris whose steampunk ensemble takes inspiration from Jules Verne’s Classic: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (The Voyage to the Moon). Rather than hosting its own Tomorrowland, Disneyland Paris features a steampunk land called Discoveryland.

Space Mountain, Disneyland Paris
Credit: Disney

Disneyland Paris’ Space Mountain is also the only one in the family that goes upside down.

Disneyland’s Space Mountain has also begun to make a name for itself by introducing overlays into the attraction. Disneyland has given the dark ride a Halloween overlay and a Star Wars overlay called Hyperspace Mountain.

Hyperspace Mountain has also been made available at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Space Mountain is available to fastpass at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Park, and Disneyland Paris.

Space Mountain Cost a Mountain of Money

space mountain
Credit: ITM

Innovation is expensive. In 1975, it cost the Walt Disney Company $18 million to build Space Mountain.

Let’s put that number into perspective: In 1955, it cost $17 million to build the entirety of Disneyland. Factoring in inflation from 1955-1975, Disneyland’s construction cost $34.1 million in 1975. That means Disney spent more than half of Disneyland’s total budget on the entire Space Mountain complex.

Considering inflation from 1975-2020, Space Mountain would cost over $86 million if it was built today.

But that “mountain” was really a molehill compared to the rest of Walt Disney World’s initial construction cost. According to constructioncompany.com, the Walt Disney Company spent over $400 million in 1971 to create the Magic Kingdom. That includes the monorail line, and resort area hotels. Factoring in inflation, the Magic Kingdom would cost $2.559 billion to build in 2020.

Totally worth it, in our opinion.

Space Mountain Accessibility, Advisories, & Guest Policies

For those Guests who have yet to experience this Disney attraction, there are some safety, accessibility and general Guest Policies you should be aware of.

Space Mountain, Walt Disney World

space mountain woman faints
Credit: Disney

Accessibility

Must transfer to standard wheelchair, and then to ride vehicle

Advisories

Due to the nature of the experience, service animals are not permitted on this attraction.

Guest Policies

  • Supervise children at all times.Children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 years or older.
  • Persons who do not meet the minimum height requirement of 44 inches (112 cm) may not ride.
  • WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.

Space Mountain Disneyland Park

Space Mountain Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Accessibility

Must Transfer from Wheelchair/ECV

Video Captioning

Guest Policies

  • The Single Rider option is available for Guests wishing to experience the attraction by themselves. Guests using the Single Rider option bypass the Stand-by queue, and may encounter a shorter wait time for the attraction.
  • Guests must navigate steps when boarding and disembarking the attraction vehicle. To facilitate boarding, a transfer seat and separate loading area is available upon request.
  • Rider Switch offered.
  • Service animals may not accompany Guests on this attraction.
  • Guest-activated captioning is available on selected preshow video monitors in this attraction. Please contact a Cast Member at the location for assistance.
  • Wheelchair Access: Enter through the attraction exit and follow the arrows to the left. Proceed to the attraction loading area and contact a Cast Member for boarding instructions. If you have a Disney FASTPASS entitlement, proceed to the attraction entrance and ask a Cast Member for boarding instructions.
  • Supervise children at all times.Children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 years or older.
  • The seating and restraints on this attraction may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding.
  • Persons who do not meet the minimum height requirement of 40 inches (102 cm) may not ride.

WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.

Space Mountain (Hyperspace Mountain), Disneyland Paris

Hyperspace Mountain, Disneyland Paris
Credit: Disney

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair users must transfer into the attraction vehicle (alone or with assistance) – must be accompanied by at least one able-bodied person aged 15 or over
  • Expectant Mothers may not ride.
  • Suitable for guests who have difficulty standing
  • Authorization to ride the attraction depends on the type of limb atrophy you have (a full list is available from City Hall, Donald Desk, Studio Services and the Central Reservations Office)
  • Suitable for guests with a learning disability, autism, behavioural disorder or mental health disorder – must be accompanied by an able-bodied person aged 15 or over
  • Suitable for visually impaired guests
  • Suitable for blind guests – must be accompanied by an able-bodied adult aged 15 or over
  • Suitable for hearing impaired guests
  • Suitable for guests with a debilitating illness or temporary physical impairment

Service Animals Not PermittedDue to the nature of the experience, service animals are not permitted on this attraction.

Interests

Big Thrills, Not To Be Missed, Single Rider Service, PhotoPassTM

Guest Policies

  • WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions or disabilities that could be aggravated by this adventure
  • Expectant Mothers may not ride
  • Supervise children at all times. Children under age 7 years must be accompanied by an adult
  • Persons who do not meet the minimum height requirement of 120 cm may not ride
  • The seating and restrains on this attraction may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding. Prior to riding, you must secure all loose articles or leave them with a non-rider
  • Transfer Time of 45 seconds will be required for Guest transferring from their wheelchair.
  • Due to the nature of the experience, Guest should check with a Cast Member at the attraction for boarding information
  • Number of Guests with a learning disability, mental health disorder, behavioral disorder or autism allowed onto the attraction as a group accompanied by at least one helper: 1
  • Authorization to ride the attraction depends on the type of limb impairment. Guests should check with a Cast Member at City Hall or Studio Services

Space Mountain (Hyperspace Mountain), Hong Kong Disneyland

Hyperspace Mountain, Hong Kong Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Accessibility

  • Must Transfer from Wheelchair

Interests

Indoor, Rider Switch, STAR WARS

Guest Policies

  • WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.
  • Due to the nature of the experience, service animals are not permitted on this attraction.
  • Supervise children at all times. Children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 16 years or older.
  • Persons who do not meet the minimum height requirement of 102 cm (40 inches) may not ride.

Space Mountain, Tokyo Disneyland

Space Mountain, Tokyo Disneyland
Credit: Tokyo Disneyland

Boarding Restrictions

  • Guests who do not meet the height requirement (102 cm) may not ride.
  • Guests may not ride if they cannot fit properly into the seat, or if the shoulder bar cannot properly be secured.
  • To ride, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this ride.
  • Expectant mothers should not ride.
  • Persons of advanced age should not ride.

While there is no doubt it can show its age, and the thrill factor has been trumped over the past 45 years, Space Mountain continues to be a timeless attraction that still finds a way to thrill its passengers and set a milestone in roller coaster development everywhere.

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Is Space Mountain your favorite ride at Disney? Where does it rank among your favorite Disney attractions? Let us know in the comments!

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