November 12, 2009

From Rockets to Rockin’ Ghosts


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, Space Stage, the quick service restaurant Space Place and Starcade.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.

History Moment. Historic.
Opening of Space Mountain, Disneyland, May 27, 1977.   The popular futuristic indoor roller coaster, which recently underwent a 2-year renovation, attracts 7 million riders per year.  Orange County Register photo by Clay Miller

Disneyland’s Space Mountain was designed by Bill Wakins. 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" 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 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. 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, only two days before Disneyland's official 50th Anniversary, Space Mountain reopened from a major refurbishment that started in April, 2003. The new Space Mountain featured new rocket sleds, a new queue, new music, 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, including the original track from the station to the top of the lifts. The original track was removed and the foundation was laid 30 feet deeper, making the ride much safer than before. The floor of the building was also lowered ten feet. The rockets no longer glow in the dark. Prior to the renovation, the start of another track branching off could be seen, this has since been removed, it was built to possibly allow more guest to ride the coaster at one time.

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" 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.

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 "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.

Another transformation that took place in the form of Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy, included special effects ghosts in space, new attraction audio, and projections on the outer dome of the building. The new attraction was  featured in Disneyland's 2009 Halloween Time festivities from 25 September – 1 November 2009. Ghost Galaxy was featured at Hong Kong's version of the ride in 2008. It is so far unknown if this will be an annual refurbishment like the Haunted Mansion's Christmas–Halloween transformation; however the overlay has proven popular with park guests and pass-holders alike.


Noticeable changes to the ride include a change in lighting during the first lift, the removal of the hyperspeed tunnel, the addition of new lightning visuals during the second lift and the addition of new ghostly images inside the dome itself. These ghostly images interact with the rocket trains, swiping, chasing and "throwing" the trains around the mountain. Inside the Space Port, the planet screen at the front of the station has been changed to reflect the overlay, as well. While viewing the planet, a green "storm" appears over the planet, causing interruptions to the video feed. Static appears, then a blue screen, reminiscent of the Windows Blue Screen of Death, saying "SIGNAL LOST," "SEARCHING..." and "SIGNAL ESTABLISHED".

Outside on the dome, five projections play, with several Halloween-themed color schemes taking place in between these projection shows. The first projection shows the dome becoming a dull grey, with cracks and breaks forming on the dome. The second projection shows an alien arm resembling that of the nebula ghost running, pushing against the dome from the inside. The third projection shows yellow scratch marks appearing on the dome. The fourth projection shows lightning bolts shooting up the left side of the dome, then the right, the the middle, and finally the entire dome itself. A green grid then appears at the top section of the dome. The last projection shows the dome being turned into a radar, with red blotches appearing on the dome, resembling activity of the nebula ghosts.


Information from Davelandweb and

No comments:

Post a Comment