Space Mountain is an indoor, space-themed roller coaster located in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in Anaheim, California. It was the second roller coaster built at Disneyland and the second of five versions of Space Mountain built by The Walt Disney Company. It opened on May 27, 1977. Its outside façade is one of four “mountain” buildings that act as park highlights at Disneyland.
Following the success of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which debuted in 1959, Walt Disney envisioned the idea of a space-themed roller coaster for Disneyland. However, a variety of issues, including a lack of suitable area, Walt Disney’s death, and the Disney company’s focus on creating what would become Walt Disney World, resulted in the project’s cancellation in the late 1960s. Following the early success of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park, Disney restarted the Space Mountain project and constructed the first Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom in 1975. Soon after, Disney announced plans to create a smaller version of Space Mountain at Disneyland, which opened in 1977. The Space Mountain design was reproduced at Tokyo Disneyland in 1983 and Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005; the Tokyo version was considerably altered in 2006 to be more similar to the restored 2009 Magic Kingdom version.
Over the years, Space Mountain has seen a number of major renovations and refurbishments, including the addition of an onboard soundtrack in 1996, exterior repainting in 1997 and 2003, and a complete replacement of the original track and ride vehicles from 2003 to 2005. It was also given a third roof further up the mountain in late 2013 and early 2014. Starting in 2009, the dome at Disneyland was given projections for the Ghost Galaxy event in September and October during Halloween Time. In preparation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Space Mountain received a new overlay and motif on November 16, 2015, and was renamed “Hyperspace Mountain.” Since then, the attraction has alternated between the original Star Wars theme and the “Hyperspace Mountain” theme multiple times.
The journey begins at the loading station, where passengers board the trains. The station is styled after a hangar and features a full-sized spacecraft dangling right above the cargo area. The initial hangar ship was inspired by the spacecraft from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The spacecraft was redesigned in 2005 to be more science-fictional. Once loaded, the trains proceed to a holding area where a lap bar check is performed and the train may wait its time to begin the circuit. When the rocket is released, the train’s red strobe lights flash and it takes a right turn before climbing the first lift hill. Two strobe lights flash on top, and the rockets enter a tunnel of flashing blue lights to indicate power transmission to the trains. After exiting the tunnel, the train ascends the second lift hill, a long tunnel lined with screens. As the trains begin their ascent, crimson beams spread along the displays and twirl, revealing a galaxy swirling at the top of the tunnel. The galaxy swirls up and disappears as the trains reach the top of the lift. As the trains enter the major part of the trip, the inside of the dome, the music reaches a climax. Before ascending one more tiny lift hill, trains make a U-turn. As the vehicles reach the top of the hill, the countdown begins, and the rockets are launched into a high-speed trip into the dome. The ride comprises of multiple bends and tiny dips, with the sense of speed provided by the riders’ inability to see the track. As the ride nears its conclusion, it plunges into a sequence of tight right hand curves, progressively ramping up speed. The trains enter the re-entry tunnel with a sharp left bend, many multicolored stars flying at them, and two bursts of light as the onride shot is taken. The trains complete their final braking run before making a right U-turn back into the station.
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