New Space Mountain should be a blast
Tokyo Disneyland attraction to get major makeover
A few weeks ago, Tokyo Disney Resort announced that it would be closing its Space Mountain for an extended period in what will be a total tear-down and rebuild of the iconic attraction. In place of the white spires and ribbed slopes that characterize the “mountain” in which the coaster is housed, a snazzy, curvilinear building that appears bathed in soft blue hues will beckon would-be space truckers to shoot for the stars.
According to Disney, the beloved ride will shutter in 2024 and not reopen until 2027 as the highlight of a major renovation at Tokyo Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. The attraction will maintain its basic premise of an indoor, space-themed roller coaster. But The Mouse is promising that the reimagined headliner will feature more immersive effects, more thrills, and a more detailed story.
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Space Mountain’s new design seems to be a mashup of the original building and the striking, wave-enhanced architecture that characterizes the structure and canopy of TRON Lightcycle/Run at Shanghai Disneyland and under construction at Walt Disney World Resort. While Disney has not released much in the way of details for what’s in store, it’s likely that the Imagineers will take inspiration from Tron’s ride experience as well. I wouldn’t be surprised, for example, if Space Mountain 2.0 incorporates a launch system instead of the current ride’s more traditional lift hill. It’s also bound to be faster–likely significantly faster–than the relatively poky coaster that exists today.
I’m guessing that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the incredible attraction that recently opened at Epcot, will provide even more of a template for Disney’s creative gurus. With its potent launches, breakthrough Omnicoaster ride system that precisely pivots the coaster cars, and eye-popping media and effects, Guardians is an exhilarating E-Ticket ride. It takes the notion of hurtling around the cosmos, and themed entertainment itself for that matter, to, um, stratospheric heights. It would only be fitting that the coaster that inspired it would, in turn, get some next-generation Imagineering love.
The original Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland in Walt Disney World is still chugging along, albeit not nearly as smoothly as it did when it first opened in 1975. (Fun fact: Despite its reputation as one of the world’s most famous thrill rides, the Florida version of Space Mountain reaches a top speed of 27 mph, just barely over the limit in most school zones.) Whatever Disney has planned for its reimagined attraction in Tokyo, it would seem that Disney World should be next in line. Perhaps once the TRON attraction opens next door, The Mouse will take Space Mountain offline for a long-overdue do-over.
Although it opened in 1977, a couple of years after Florida’s attraction, Disneyland’s Space Mountain got a makeover in 2005. The exterior remained the same, and the track layout is identical, but most of the track was replaced, and all new trains were introduced. As a result, the California clone is much smoother than its sister ride on the other side of the country. It also got onboard audio and features a rockin’ soundtrack.
When Space Mountain opened at Disneyland Paris (originally called Euro Disneyland) in 1995, it deviated from its predecessors by incorporating a launch system (that blasts it to 44 mph) and three inversions. Since 2017, it has been known as Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and features a story based on the crazy-popular franchise.
The California coaster has received temporary Hyperspace Mountain overlays; it has been in “Star Wars” mode recently, but is expected to return to its classic form on July 5. Disneyland has also re-themed the ride as Ghost Galaxy for the Halloween season.
The Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in 2005, is more like the original Magic Kingdom version. It uses a lift hill, is relatively slow, and does not include any inversions–although its effects are cooler. Since 2016, it has also featured a “Star Wars” theme and is known as Hyperspace Mountain. Shanghai Disneyland is the only Disneyland-style park that does not have a Space Mountain. Instead, its marquee Tomorrowland attraction is TRON Lightcycle Power Run.
What do you envision as the new Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland? Do you agree that the Walt Disney World version of SM is in dire need of a makeover? How many different Space Mountains have you experienced? What makes the coaster such a classic attraction?
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