It’s been 45 years since Disney Parks first took intrepid thrill seekers into the darkest corners of outer space.
We’re talking, of course, about Space Mountain.
And while it’s true that the iconic indoor roller coaster opened first at Walt Disney World in Florida on January 15, 1975, did you know that it was first dreamed up, at the request of Walt Disney himself, by designer John Hench (whose fingerprints were all over the original Tomorrowland) in 1964? As it turned out, Disney’s original belief that thrill rides wouldn’t work in his family park was proven wrong by the massive success of the Matterhorn and he wanted to push things even further. The only problem? The technology to pull off what Hench dreamt up didn’t even exist yet. As for the tech that was available, it was way too slow, taking hours to model the data for just one curve.
But when the tech finally did catch up and it was built, arriving at Disneyland two years after its Florida debut, it became the world’s first roller coaster to be controlled by a computer. Over the years, the coaster and its white-spired exterior have become an iconic and enduring part of the parks, appearing in five across the world, but not its fastest. Despite how it may feel, thanks to the total darkness and sudden drops the ride only ever reaches a top speed of 28 miles per hour. By comparison, Big Thunder Mountain tops out at 30 mph and Splash Mountain’s descent at can hit 40.