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Space Mountain (Disneyland)

Space Mountain at Disneyland in Anaheim, California is the second incarnation of the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain. After the success of the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain, the Imagineers made plans to build another on the United States West Coast. The ride opened on May 27, 1977, ten years after the original plans were made, and after Walt Disney's death. Originally, Space Mountain did not have a Synchronized On-Board Audio Track (SOBAT), but after the completion and success of Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris, a soundtrack arranged by Dick Dale was added to the ride in 1996.

Space Mountain was closed suddenly on April 10, 2003 for a complete refurbishment, including replacing the entire roller coaster track. The ride reopened July 15, 2005, just two days before the park's fiftieth anniversary.


Space Mountain opened in 1977, invigorating a decade-old Tomorrowland as Disneyland's second roller coaster. The idea for Anaheim's ride originated in the mid 1960s, during Walt Disney's lifetime, as a way to energize the aging Tomorrowland. The project was shelved until the success of Space Mountain in Florida. After two years of construction, the $20 million complex opened May 27 including the roller coaster, 1,100-seat Space Stage, 670-seat Space Place (fast food restaurant) and Starcade. Six of the original seven Mercury astronauts attended Space Mountain's opening — Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Sen. John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. The lone exception was Gus Grissom, who had died along with two other astronauts in a tragic launchpad fire ten years earlier. Largely due in part to the opening of Space Mountain, the Memorial Day day attendance record was set, with 185,500 guests over the three-day period.

Space Mountain at Disneyland was designed by Bill Watkins of Walt Disney Imagineering. It was different from the WDW design because of space limitations.

The attraction continued operating without much change: sponsors would come and go, and various minor changes, including the addition of a "Speedramp" (moving sidewalk) in the entrance, happened without fanfare. In 1995, FedEx became the official sponsor for the ride, sparking a number of significant alterations. The queue area was revamped with television monitors looping safety videos, the loading station had a new Audio-Animatronic robot FedEx worker, and other scenic areas were modeled to include FedEx trademarks. In 1996, composer Aarin Richard and show producer Eddie Sotto teamed up to create the first on-board music track for a Disney roller coaster. The creative vision was to fuse two iconic musical forms of the 1960s — sci-fi horror music and surf music — into a sensory ride experience. All of the music written for the show is based on "Le Carnival Des Animaux: Aquarium" (The Carnival of the Animals ), written by Camille Saint-Saëns. The first section of the ride's music is synthesized and entirely devoted to the sci-fi aspect as the rockets leave the station to begin their slow climb to the top. After the vehicles have crested, a rocking surf rendition of the piece kicks in as gravity pulls the vehicles down through the ride's interweaving turns, hills, and dips. (Guitarist Dick Dale was brought into the Disney Imagineering recording studio to play his famous surf guitar riffs for this section of the music.) As the rockets reenter the loading station, a brief musical finale concludes the experience with a soft, synthesized rendition of "Aquarium." In 1997, the exterior of the mountain was painted green and gold to match the recent facelift to Tomorrowland. In 2003, the mountain was painted white again. The ride closed suddenly on April 10, 2003, with an announcement that it would remain closed until Disneyland's 50th anniversary. The ride had become unstable and would need a complete track replacement.

On June 25, 2005 Disneyland surprised its guests by announcing that the reopening of Space Mountain would open early on July 15, instead of the projected November date. On July 15, 2005 (with "soft openings" starting 1 July), only two days before Disneyland's official 50th Anniversary, Space Mountain reopened from a major refurbishment that started in April, 2003. A re-opening ceremony was held that day which featured a guest speaker, Neil Armstrong, who received a plaque that day which said "Presented to Mr. Neil Armstrong for his courage and adventurous spirit that continues to inspire all mankind to reach for the stars". The plaque also features the Disney quote "It's kinda fun to do the impossible". The new Space Mountain features new rocket sleds, a new queue, new music (composed by Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible III score director Michael Giacchino), new special effects and a storyline. The completely rebuilt track is the exact same layout as originally designed by Walt Disney Imagineer Bill Watkins in 1976, aside from the end, where in the old track, the train turned 270 degrees right, then sharply turns left 90 degrees, while the new track slightly turns right, then sharply turns left approximately 180 degrees, allowing a longer re-entry tunnel (contrary to popular belief.) The original track was removed and the foundation was laid 30 feet deeper, making the ride much safer than ever. The floor of the building was also lowered ten feet. The Rocket Sleds no longer glow in the dark.

Rockin' Space Mountain

Also part of this major "new" Space Mountain was a nighttime transformation of the attraction to Rockin' Space Mountain, in which the calmer soundtrack of the attraction in daytime hours was to be replaced at night by a driving rock soundtrack, and different special effects. The original version of Rockin' Space Mountain, called RockIt Mountain, premiered for Grad Nite 2006, with the track "Let It Out" by rock group Hoobastank, which drew mixed reactions from riders.

Rockin' Space Mountain premiered during the "Year of a Million Dreams" Celebration, and was promoted alongside Rockin' California Screamin, a similar modification to Disney's California Adventure's California Screamin' roller coaster began January 3, 2007 and ended April 26, 2007. Contrary to the original plans for the attraction to only be "Rockin'" in the evening, "Rockin' Space Mountain" ran during all operating hours of the park.

Rockin' Space Mountain does not use the Dick Dale soundtrack that many Disney fans enjoyed, but the Dick Dale Space Mountain theme makes one final appearance on Disneyland's 50th Anniversary 6-CD box set. On December 28, 2006, Disneyland announced that the soundtrack to be featured for "Rockin' Both Parks" are two songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Space Mountain received an edited version of the band's 1989 song Higher Ground. The song has been remixed to "heighten every twist, turn, rise and drop of the attraction." Rockin' Space Mountain's counterpart at Disney's California Adventure, Rockin' California Screamin', uses a remixed version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Around the World."

The main differences between the regular and Rockin' Space Mountain include: a different soundtrack, new projections within the mountain, and many lights alongside the track. Riders begin their journey with "Uncle" Joe Benson, a radio disc jockey from the Disney-owned 95.5 KLOS, introducing the riders to the "Space Stage" where the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be "broadblasting live." The "rocket rockers" continue the flight with a "sound check" with guitar riffs accompanied by projections of bright colors and sound waves. While looking up the second lift hill, the spiral galaxy is no longer in place, but instead riders see a sun going nova. Finally, once riders crest the lift, the sun explodes. Once on the 180 degree turn next to the asteroid, there is a few seconds of no sound. This allows riders to hear the sound of screaming riders and the soundtrack from other trains in the dome. The soundtrack then transitions into the song, "Higher Ground" at the bottom of the third lift hill. During this lift hill, "Uncle" Joe Benson comes back to say "No matter which planet you're from, we're about to rock your world. And it's all gonna happen in 5, 4, 3, 2, rock and roll!" Some of the new special effects include colored strobe lights, projections of dancers and other bright visualizer images. Many colored lights line the tracks strobing in sequence and projecting on walls and the surroundings. Re-entry and the station remain mostly unchanged except for some added instruments (drum set, air/electric guitar, etc.) floating in space with the astronaut in the "planet orbit" screen. Another notable change to the station is that the "neon" lights that flash when a rocket train is "launched" to the right remain on and do not shut off, which makes the station a tad bit brighter. Also, the front attraction sign included "Rockin'" above "Space Mountain" while a color-changing light illuminated the spire above the sign at night. The design of the on ride photos were changed as well, which included the Rockin' Space Mountain logo, and many musical notes floating in space around riders.


Although the post-2005 version's track is completely new, it uses the same design as its predecessor. The main differences between this version and the 1977-2003 version are in the music and theming.

After being seated in the rockets, the riders pull up briefly beneath the control tower. After a brief pause, the music begins and the rockets turn right to ascend in a room where red lights crisscross the walls. At the top of this first lift hill, the rockets wind through a tunnel, surrounded by blue lights streaking past them. Throughout these initial scenes, sound effects and dialogue on the onboard speakers reinforce the idea of the rockets being powered for launch. Next comes the second and longest lift hill, in which a long tube of glowing, red bars appears to rotate around the rockets, disorienting the guests. The music climaxes at the exit of the tube, where the rockets level out to give guests their first look at "space"—in actuality, the dark interior of the mountain, lit with projections of stars, galaxies, asteroids, and other cosmological bodies. Gusts of wind are constantly blowing in the mountain caused by air vents and other rockets.

After a turn and a brief final lift hill, the rockets accelerate and follow the track through a convoluted path through the building, passing projected starfields and the unseen remainder of the track. This portion of the attraction is powered entirely by gravity as multiple rockets make their way through the mountain at once. The track features numerous short dips and sharp turns; the attraction's thrills are derived more from the surprise of not being able to see the track than from physically intense maneuvers.

The attraction ends with a tunnel in which the rockets suddenly decelerate while colored stars zip along the walls and the blinding flash of the ride cameras goes off. The rockets then pull back into the station, where guests disembark and proceed back up to Tomorrowland, where they can view and/or buy their ride photos.

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