July 01, 2005

Space Mountain Debut

Today was the last day we can go to Disneyland on our Annual Pass tickets until the 3rd week of August. We got a discounted pass and in exchange we have blackout dates (every Saturday, Christmas, Spring Break, July and most of August), so today was our last opportunity to get our Disney on.

By far my favorite ride at Disneyland is Space Mountain. For you non-Disney fans, Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster in a darkened room/mountain so that you can't see the tracks. Well, you're not supposed to see the tracks but in Space Mountain's previous incarnation you could see them dimly. They also had these cheesy "asteroids" flying around you, one of which looked exactly like a Chips Ahoy cookie.

So as you may have guessed, Space Mountain had been closed for renovation and has now (un)officially reopened. The entire inside was gutted and replaced and new cars and effects were added. The bummer is that they didn't change the tracks. Don't get me wrong, Space Mountain is a cool roller coaster, but pretty tame as far as coasters go, and since they already scraped it, you'd think they could build something a little more sophisticated (like in Orlando, Disneyworld has an indoor roller coaster with a loop. Now that's what I'm talking about).

The official opening is not until July 15th but they're doing a "soft" opening now, which means that you agree to wait in line for as long as it takes while they're free to shut the ride down or skip cars or whatever while they work out the kinks. It was a tough choice--take a chance at a long line and ride shutdowns, or try out my favorite Disneyland ride now instead of waiting until August 21st. Let's see...

We decided to get an early start (well, early for ME) knowing that it was the last day for passholders with our pass (a Southern California exclusive) and that Space Mountain was probably going to be open, so all of the die-hards were going to go on it too.

We approached the entrance, noting that they'd done away with the cool moving walkway but rather routed you through what used to be a restaurant (although it looked like 1/2 of it still is the restaurant). The sign telling you how long the wait was said 105 minutes. An hour and 45 minutes? Sure! I was expecting the line to be much longer and told Kevin that if it was more than 3 hours I wasn't waiting. 105 minutes was a pleasant surprise.

After a short period where we moved 10 feet in 10 minutes, the line picked up and at a pleasant clip and we moved along quite nicely. Except for the initial entrance, the line hadn't changed any--you're still zig-zagging in the hot sun on the roof of the building. I don't know why they didn't put misters in. I was quite surprised by the time it took us to move into the building. The queue inside the building was the same with the exception of tv screens telling you to buckle up and opaque panels where you used to be able to peek into the ride and see, well, the tracks.

I was very excited by the time we reached the dock. Total time from entrance to car=55 minutes--half of what they quoted us. The big changes in the ride were supposed to be the effects, including a great new soundtrack. Halfway through the ride I realized that we weren't getting any music--or any sound at all for that matter--the risk you take with a soft opening.

Still, it was worth it. The ride is totally dark now and you really feel like you're shooting through space (well, like you're on a roller coaster shooting through space). They did throw in a Chips Ahoy asteroid in the beginning, probably for nostalgia and a hat tip to all of us longtime parkgoers. The light effects in the beginning and end were very cool, but epileptics should definitely avoid this ride. The only bummer was that, like they said, didn't change the track! So unfortunately, having ridden this ride about a million times, I basically knew what to expect.

But overall, Space Mountain remains my favorite Disneyland ride, and I'm SO glad we got to experience it before August 21st.

Posted by Shelby at July 1, 2005 06:12 PM

They didn't change the track??? Maybe they were afraid after what happened with the Rocket Rods....car fires are never good.

Posted by: Sherri Jacobson at July 2, 2005 06:55 PM
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