Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain closing for rehab

Posted Friday, January 9, 2009 9:16 AM | Contributed by Acoustic Viscosity

Disney said Wednesday that it will shut down Space Mountain this spring for what the company described as a months-long "refreshment" of the 34-year-old Magic Kingdom roller coaster. The ride will close April 19, just after the Easter holiday. It is expected to reopen late in the year, though a specific reopening date has not been set. The changes are described as "modest."

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

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Friday, January 9, 2009 10:41 AM

Bummer. I was hoping they would give it the Disneyland treatment. Doesn't sound like that is going to happen.

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Friday, January 9, 2009 11:49 AM

Word on the Disney Geek circuit is "something between DL and HK".

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Friday, January 9, 2009 12:32 PM

I've been to MK probably close to a dozen times, and Space Mountain has only been open twice. We're planning a trip in September. It's a good think I really like the Buzz Lightyear ride. :P

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Friday, January 9, 2009 12:57 PM

Part of me wants the ride to get the DL treatment, but part me wants them to leave it exactly how it is. I'm not kidding when I say the ride is my favorite steel coaster of the 400+ I've ridden. It's not the most thrilling ride by any means, but the complete package of the coaster, theming, queue and being at my favorite place on Earth makes this the most satisfying steel coaster for me and virtually my favorite coaster period.

Ideally I wish they could leave the left side alone and not change anything about the queue, then give the right side the DL makeover.

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Friday, January 9, 2009 2:57 PM

I didn't love the music of Disneyland's version. The ride itself was great though.

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Friday, January 9, 2009 3:20 PM

Road the MK version in June and for such tame stats on a ride I was surprised to find it so thrilling and exciting. I would have loved to ride it more and more. It just shows you what some good darkness and theming can do to a ride.

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Friday, January 9, 2009 7:06 PM

eightdotthree said:
I didn't love the music of Disneyland's version. The ride itself was great though.

I loved the 'surfer guitar' music they had on it when they first put sound on the cars.
I wish they would at least enhance the star field at MK. That is a nice enhancement to the DL ride.
The idea of splitting the two sides as suggested by AV is an interesting thought.

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Friday, January 9, 2009 8:49 PM

I'm almost more upset the Tomorrowland Transit Authority will be closed for that long!

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 12:19 AM

Oh, that does suck. I'm not sure what it is about that ride, perhaps it's the combination of being futuristic yet retro, but I do enjoy it.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 8:38 AM

I'm intrigued that "modest" changes take, what, six months or so?

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 9:19 AM

I agree with Acoustic Viscosity- Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain is one of my favorite steel coasters ever. I may be in the minority here, but I much prefer it over Disneyland's ride, which I've ridden both pre and post make-over. (We thought Rockin' Space Mountain was ok-cool...) But Orlando's ride always seemed to me like they were originally trying to make a moderized, more thrilling version of Matterhorn Bobsleds, which in 1975 wasn't as old as Space Mountain is now. And Jeff's right, it does have a definite retro feel to it, and it's fun to know you're riding the first of it's kind.

The ride still delivers, and I'm relieved to know the layout will stay the same. The new track may or may not be noticable to frequent riders, and perhaps it could use replacing, but it makes sense that it's necessary in order to accomodate new trains. I'm looking, but I don't believe I see any mention of it other than on Screamscape rumors. The logical move would be to switch to side by side seating, if for no other reason than to increase capacity. With larger trains and two tracks they could have a people-eater. It would also make it easier for them to put music in each rider's ears, if that's what they're gonna do. The tandem seating is fun, but rarely do you see people pairing up anymore, and when you're on it you kind of get the feeling that you're riding alone. (Which I realize may or may not be a bad thing...)

I'll be in Orlando in Feb and Disney wasn't on my list, but now I may have to take a day at MK and get my last rides on an old favorite.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 9:57 AM

Knowing Disney, they probably have all the bits, parts, nuts, & bolts hanging somwhere on the property. Heck, some of the pieces may already be built, so it'd just be a metter of plug & play.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 12:16 PM

The TTA is one of the best rides at the MK by far. I think its probably due to a combination of factors, it clips along at a fairly good speed enough that you get the wind blowing in your face but slow enough that it is still a relaxing break, its the ultimate way to people watch, its a fairly long ride >10min, you get to go inside Space Mountain and see the trains moving around, and finally its always a walk on.

I have to admit, Space Mountain, while I do really enjoy it has never been one of my favorites there, Splash, Big Thunder, and Haunted Mansion are defiantly better in my book. I think that may have to do with the ride being closed my first trip there, and that its probably the shortest ride in the park that isn't a carnival ride. It does really need some rehab, as it stands now if the ride is ever e-stopped, the computer will not restart the ride unless all of the trains have been evacuated; at least thats what the cast members who kept me company while the ride was down and helping me get off my train saidI betting one of the upgrades the ride gets is a new system that will let them do it.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 1:25 PM

What about scoring the ride or que line to "On the Run" or "Echoes" by Pink Floyd... Now that would be a trip through space. :)

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 1:40 PM

Richard Bannister said:I'm intrigued that "modest" changes take, what, six months or so?

In Disney terms, six months is normally "in the blink of an eye"...considering the time-frame of the DL overhaul, it does make one wonder what they can accomplish that quickly. The whole "futuristic-retro" discussion is pretty entertaining as well, Walt was such a fantastic visionary that his version of the future became reality to such a degree that it's now consdered "classic". Dude, where's my (flying) car? ;)

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Saturday, January 10, 2009 3:45 PM

DL had a couple challenges. One: the buidling is not nearly as accessible as MK's. Two, the ride was closed rather unexpectedly. There was a crew opening the ride when the word came down to close it for the refurb, much to the surprise of everyone there. I've never heard all the details about what went on, but it seems as though Something Bad had either happened, or was about to.

http://www.mouseplanet.com/articles.php?art=dl030414xx

If I remember correctly, work didn't start for quite some time after the closure.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009 7:21 AM

I almost think anything by Satriani might be a better fit for a coaster.

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Monday, January 12, 2009 3:35 PM

Touchdown said -- as it stands now if the ride is ever e-stopped, the computer will not restart the ride unless all of the trains have been evacuated;

I can confirm that despite what the cast member told you, this is NOT necessarily true. I was in the MK about two weeks ago and the ride e-stopped. I couldn't completely hear the announcement made, but I believe it was due to the ride setting up. Anyways, they turned on the lights and sent cast members to clear each of the blocks, but I was surprised to see that not only were the trains not evacuated, they didn't even clear the trains that were at load nor did they cycle the ride. Not sure if that was changed since your visit, Touchdown, or just different due to the busy holiday season (although I doubt that,) but that was my most recent experience with a SM e-stop.

Also, not so sure the TTA will close -- I read something anecdotal on a Disney board about it being open during the last rehab. It was definitely running during the shutdown I experienced, LOL -- seeing people's faces as they came around the corner into a SM with the lights on was pretty priceless. Entire trains would come through with everyone's arm extended towards the ride, pointing. Pretty funny stuff.

Anyways, based on what I'd read on said Disney boards, I expected a rough, choppy ride. Guess it goes to show the difference between a Disney enthusiast and a coaster enthusiast -- my reaction was very "WTF" at the finish, as the ride was JUST fine, not bumpy or rough at all. (OTOH, the vibration on Everest just about did me in... good gracious!)

Carrie

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Thursday, January 15, 2009 9:53 PM

I am certain the new track will remove the ride's "rough & tumble" nature which I think totally enhances the out of control sensation of the ride. It feels like the train could leap off the track at any moment.

I hope they don't change the trains. The low profile, single-file design with minimal lapbar restraints is another important element of the ride to me. It's stuff like this that make or break a coaster for me.

I love the queue music and can't imagine hearing anything else as I walk through that retro Star Wars spaceship-looking corridor.

Perhaps the only good thing that will come of this (other than preserving the ride for years to come of course) is hopefully you'll finally be able to find a Space Mountain t-shirt for sale again. :)

Last edited by Acoustic Viscosity, Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:03 PM
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