Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Disneyland Turns 60: Space Mountain Opens in 1977

Attention Space Travelers...You are clear for launch.

Our launch sequence has commenced. It is now 1977 on What's the Point? Why was 1977 an groundbreaking year for Disneyland? Space Mountain opened it's glorious gates on May 27 of that year.

Space Mountain Top Platform

The first two decades of Disneyland were certainly successful and surpassed the expectations of the public. Was there room for improvement? If you would have asked Walt, he probably would have told you that there's always room for improvement.

In 1959, Disneyland opened its first "thrill" ride in the Matterhorn Bobsleds. The Matterhorn was immediately successful and Walt knew that he wanted to explore other roller coasters to bring to the park. Unfortunately, with his death in December of 1966 everything sort of froze in time and was put on hold.

Photo courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. debuted its first thrill ride, the world's first Space Mountain in January of 1975. It was instantly a success, thrilling riders with its darkness, drops and sharp turns. Shortly thereafter, Disneyland planned to build its own mountains. Space Mountain, as mentioned, debuted in 1977 and Big Thunder Mountain opened shortly after in 1979.

Photo Courtesy of davelandweb.com

There were a few noticeable differences between the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain and Disneyland's version. Disneyland's Space Mountain features side-by-side seats, while Magic Kingdom's version has six single seats in a row. Instead of the two track version at Walt Disney World, Disneyland's Space Mountain only has a single track.

Updating a Classic

In April 2003, Space Mountain shut its doors for over two years for critical maintenance due to infrastructure problems. Disney reportedly rebuilt the entire track from scratch, but made no changes to the layout. When the ride reopened in 2005, it featured a new soundtrack that blasted in the ears of riders during their journey. Most agree that this refurbishment vastly improved the ride experience and overall themeing of the attraction.

What's the Point?

Space Mountain is undoubtedly a classic. Following the opening of Disneyland's Space Mountain, Space Mountains were built at Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. 1977 marked an important year for Disneyland as Space Mountain changed the excitement level of what guests could expect from e-ticket attractions. 

On a personal note, I am proud to be among the countless Cast Members who have had the pleasure to work at a Space Mountain. When I visited Disneyland for the first time last year, I was so excited to experience the attraction I loved so much. It didn't disappoint. In fact, it was thrilling. I wish Disneyland the happiest of 60th anniversaries. 


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