A couple of weeks ago, I started a new series covering my Fab Five: Top Attractions. Today, I want to continue this train of thought and tell you about another favorite of mine that’s certainly a must do in the McDonald house. If you’ve ever waited in a long line at Walt Disney World or know what the cookie projection is, then you might be in for a treat as we talk today about Space Mountain!
It’s no secret that I love roller coasters. I am all about the thrill rides, people. In fact, I guest hosted on the ZADD Crew Podcast last week and you give it a listen to hear just how much I love them in Episode 115. I remember going to Six Flags, Dollywood, and Carowinds growing up and loving all the crazy roller coasters. As soon as I was tall enough to ride, I was in! One thing I think Disney actually lacks is more larger scale roller coasters (sorry Disney; truth hurts). Everest is obviously an amazing thrill ride (you go backwards for goodness sake), but I’m talking more along the lines of upside down twist and turns like the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I know Disney has their reasons, and I do trust them, but growing up visiting WDW, the top tier attractions were limited.
There are obviously many more things to love about WDW than just the attractions, but for a young thrill-seeker like me, they were of much importance. Naturally, I was drawn to the likes of Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but making it into my top 5, even today, is Space Mountain. I immediately loved SM because it was the first thrill ride I had experienced in the dark. I had never seen a roller coaster put together so well when it came to the theming and decor and the fact that it was a dark ride was completely new to me. Think about all the theme parks you’ve ever been to and how many roller coasters you’ve ridden indoors like this. I would have to say Space Mountain is still the only one like it in my own personal repertoire (confession: I haven’t been to Islands of Adventure yet. Gasp, I know).
A major reason I have for this ride hitting my top 5 is the nostalgia (of course). I am originally from Charleston, SC where the Citadel Military College resides (don’t hold the whole Shannon Faulkner thing against them and don’t get me started). The freshman class members are called knobs and getting through your freshman year is a rite of passage. It is said you will endure a lot of playful, maybe some not so playful, hazing and learn what brotherhood truly means. From enduring this monumental year of your life, you walk tall and proud knowing you made it out with the people you went through it with. THIS, my friends, is how I feel about standing in line for Space Mountain.
You see kids, before there were FastPasses and interactive line ques, there was what we called “the line.” In order to see an attraction, you could spend hours standing in one line. As a child, you just had to trust that it was worth the wait. For example, Captain EO was NOT worth the wait as a child as it terrified me. For Space Mountain, though, it was certainly worth it (use your best judgement). Not only are you stuck inside the whole time but back then there was nothing to do as you waited. We are completely spoiled these days with the interactive queues to entertain us as we wait.
The soundtrack to SM was burned in my brain as a child and I distinctly remember finally getting up the point of the line where the room opens up before you actually board the attraction and seeing the huge wrap around line that was still ahead. I remember thinking to myself, “This is it. I’m going to die in the line to ride Space Mountain.” If you know what I’m talking about, feel free to “reach out” as producer Greg from the podcast always says. I’m thinking about starting a support group for those of us scarred by the Disney long line.
Sometimes, I don’t even know how we all survived and yet, we are still here to tell the tale. Needless to say, I feel as if I have done my duty. I have stood the test of time and I came out alive on the other end with my fellow brothers and sisters who have run the race and finished this rite of passage. As I am writing this, I am thinking we need a t-shirt design about just this very thing with the tagline “I survived the line to ride Space Mountain.” Stay tuned folks.
Besides feeling like my own champion from enduring these long lines back in the day, it’s a top 5 for me for many more reasons (Space Mountain, how I love thee, let me count the ways). First off, I love the theming. I enjoy the whole astronaut theme and how they make you feel like you are loading up to be launched out and docked back in at the end. It might sound a little weird, but I love the star tunnel soundtrack of the ride. I think it actually does bring back memories for me and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
A major component for me is the actual ride itself, of course. I love all the twists and turns and not knowing when they are coming because you’re in the dark. The two tracks kind of make it fun as well (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, there are two sides of the ride to load on). I also love hearing everyone on the mountain screaming with glee at how much fun we are all having (and maybe a few terrified screams from kids who trusted their parents that it wouldn’t be scary). I think it’s great when we can all just laugh, too. I don’t know what it is about SM that makes people just laugh out loud at not knowing when the drops and turns are coming. Either way, it’s a feeling like no other.
When you have attractions like this that continue to bring so much joy even all of these years later, they tend to hold a special place in your heart. As you can guess, SM is on our must do list for all time. If the wait time is right or we have a FastPass, we will ride it over and over. It will always hold a special place in my heart because it makes me feel like a kid and for the moment I don’t take life too seriously. This is rare for some these days.
Now that you know why it’s one of my favorite rides of all time, I only have one question for you. Is it better to ride in the front car or the back? I would love to hear your arguments for either one!
Thanks to @home_at_disney and @thezipadeedoocrew for the use of their awesome photos!