Is Space Mountain Scary?

Are you just well researched or a ride weenie?  But you just need to know, is Space Mountain scary? 

I read reviews and watch ride videos because I need to be thoroughly prepared. If there are drops, I want to know how many, etc. For all the ride weenies out there (and parents with small children) this one’s for you. 

So, Is Space Mountain Scary?

Let’s start with the intention behind Space Mountain.  And as a note, we will discuss the theme in detail later. 

This space-themed ride was intended to feel like a ride through space.  Literally.  But it is dark, fast, and fairly jerky which can make the younger crowd, or those not loving fast rides, a little scared.  

It doesn’t go upside down. But the only lights you can see, are the pseudo stars.  Typical of what you think a ride in space would be like. 

Your perspective will determine if you think Space Mountain is scary.  

I don’t like typical roller coasters because that feeling is just not enjoyable to me, but I love Space Mountain. 

is space mountain scary

What is Space Mountain

Space Mountain is an indoor steel dueled track, enclosed roller coaster, and one of the most popular rides at both Disney World and Disneyland. It is designed to make you feel like you’re in space.  Get your FastPass early. 

I’ve been on three versions of the ride; Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris. 

History of Space Mountain

Space Mountain opened at Walt Disney World less than four years after the park opened. 

Debuting in January of 1975, Space Mountain is the oldest operating roller coaster in the state of Florida. 

Space Mountain was originally intended for Disneyland following the success of the Matterhorn Bobsleds which debuted in 1959. It was to be the “mountain” descendant to the Matterhorn and part of a Tomorrowland renovation planned for 1967. 

Due to technological limitations though, the project was postponed and the focus shifted to opening Walt Disney World in Florida. 

Before it was scrapped, Disney Imagineers had a majority of the concept created after Walt asked for it in 1964. It was originally called “Space Voyage” and would be a roller-coaster style ride in the dark with lighting and other special effects. 

Disney’s Imagineering division partnered with Arrow Development Company who helped Disney design the Matterhorn roller coaster years earlier.

The initial concept was to have four separate tracks but the technology available at the time was not conducive to this concept and the space available at Disneyland was not enough to compensate for what was needed for the Space Mountain design. 

Those problems coupled with Walt Disney’s death in 1966, shelved the project hoping to revisit it later and focused on completing Walt Disney World in his honor.  

Walt Disney World opened in October of 1971. The success of the Magic Kingdom led Disney execs to consider its first thrill ride for the park. 

After deciding a duplicate of the Matterhorn Bobsleds was not feasible because it wouldn’t fit within Florida’s Fantasyland, they took the Space Mountain idea off the shelf. 

Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World had sufficient space and in just a matter of a few years, computing technology improved significantly to make Space Mountain possible. 

Disney partnered with RCA Corporation to fund the ride to the tune of $10 million. The sponsored the ride from 1975 to 1993. 

Space Mountain is one of the most popular rides at Disney World for thrill-seekers and has since been replicated at every Magic Kingdom style park in the Walt Disney Company except for Shanghai Disneyland Resort.  

Is Space Mountain Still Space Mountain

This is a common question for many of the older rides at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland because both parks constantly have sections and rides under refurbishment whether it is to improve the existing ride or make it a new one. 

For example, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disneyland has since become Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout

Luckily for nostalgic thrill-seekers, Space Mountain is still Space Mountain. It has undergone a number of refurbishments since it debuted in 1975 though including twice changing out the ride vehicle in 1989 and 2009 and incremental updates to incorporate modern roller coaster technology. 

There have also been cosmetic renovations such as updating the queue area and adding post-ride elements. 

Where is Space Mountain Located

Space Mountain is located in Tomorrowland within the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World. 

Space Mountain Ride Experience

Age/Height

Guests 44” (112 cm) and taller can enjoy this ride. 

The average height of a 5-year-old is 43 inches, so does that mean approximately 5 years and older is the recommended age?

Not necessarily, that will depend on your child whom you know better than anyone else. Most reviews seem to fall on the consensus that as young as 5 or 6 if tall enough has not been frightened while others have said their kids as old as 12 were too scared. 

One thing to keep in mind when considering your child for this ride, it’s not just a regular roller coaster or thrill ride. It is primarily in the dark. There are lights and other special effects but the darkness can scare some kids more than others, especially alone. 

The ride vehicles for Space Mountain at Walt Disney World are single-seaters so you will only be sitting in front of or behind your child, not next to.  

As for an actual age requirement per Disney World’s safety guidelines, all children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by a person 14 years or older. 

Accessibility

Disney does an excellent job of making all their rides as accessible as possible. For the Space Mountain, guests must transfer to a standard wheelchair for the queue experience and then to the ride vehicle. 

Due to the nature of the experience, service animals are not permitted for their own safety. 

Queue

The queue experience on Space Mountain is a tad less involved than some other rides. Space Mountain is very popular so the queue is designed for considerably long lines. It winds through the Starport Space Station while a voice-over welcomes you and explains safety protocols and that this is a roller-coaster type ride with drops and sharp turns. 

Upon entering the queue, there is a star map before entering the “star tunnel.” Throughout the star tunnel, there are “space windows” so riders can view planets and spaceships while waiting in the queue. 

The interior once you get to the loading station has a very Tron-esque feel to it with an overall dark interior accompanied by neon light lines. There are two different tracks, Alpha and Omega and the Alpha track is actually 10 feet longer, if you want the fun to last a little bit longer. 

The queue used to be much more exciting for those who didn’t get the fast pass and had to wait in a long line. Previously, riders could play a small variety of 90-second long video games hosted by a robot that operates Space Mountain’s mission control center. 

The screens that were originally used for these video games now show images of space but riders can still play the games using the Play Disney Parks app from their own device.

Theme

The theme is obviously space but unfortunately, there isn’t much of a greater underlying narrative that Disney Imagineers have included in many other rides other than that the passengers are going on a mission through space.  

Ride Vehicle

The ride has 30 two-car trains, with 15 for each track, alpha, and omega. Each train consists of two single-file rocket-shaped cars with three seats in each rocket. Before the first ride vehicle refurbishment 

Drops

Space Mountain does not have any major drops yet it has a few quick dips.  The focus when creating this ride was the speed, the curves, and the darkness.  All of this makes it enjoyable.  

The drops on the ride are mild. 

What Happens on the Ride

A classic Disney ride, that is not to be missed.  This ride is a space-themed roller coaster.  You’re supposed to feel like you’re in Space From the minute you get into the building. 

There are two ride tracks on the left and on the right.  Which one you ride depends on where you’re ushered as you go through the line.  FastPass is usually on the right.  

Once you are loaded into the ride vehicle, your first stop is a flashing tunnel.  This is before you pass the command post.

After that, you’re in total darkness and about to enjoy the ride of your life.  

For some reason, getting out of the ride vehicle always stresses me out because my legs are long and the seat is deep.  But right after you get out of the ride vehicle, you get to see your picture from the ride. 

Exiting the ride consists of a nice walkthrough, and then you’re in the ride store!

Is Space Mountain Fast?

While I wouldn’t consider the ride fast and it is noted as the slowest thrill ride, it’s still a roller coaster.  

28mph is Space Mountains top speed.  But the dark makes is so much faster. I promise you. 

Is Space Mountain a roller coaster?

Yes.  It is most definitely is a mild roller coaster. 

Fun Facts

  • The “star tunnel” in the queue dips down to go under the Walt Disney World Railroad. 
  • Space Mountain was almost called Space Voyage or Space Port
  • Like many rides at Disney, Imagineers had to wait 11 years for the technology to catch up and make the ride physically feasible. 
  • Disney hired an Astronaut as a creative consultant.  
  • It’s one of the slowest thrill rides.  
  • You will lose your hat.  Take it off.  
  • The ride lasts 2 minutes and 38 seconds. 

Best Time to Ride Space Mountain

The best time to ride Space Mountain is bright and early in the morning.  However, that is not the best way to tour Magic Kingdom. 

As you know, Disney only provides three initial FastPasses which means that the morning time is also part of your strategy to not wait in line.  Get it? 

Your first course of action should be to get a FastPass for Space Mountain.  That way you can use your morning hours in the park for rides like Peter Pan.  

If you’re unable to get a FastPass for Space Mountain, make sure to ride it before 10 am, while the nighttime firework show is going on, or right before closing. 

Is Space Mountain Scarier Than Big Thunder Mountain?

Even if you’ve ridden both of these rides before, many times as I’ve had the answer to this can seem out of reach.  

A survey on the WDMagic Forum found that 58% of people ranked Space Mountain as scarier and that’s interesting because Big Thunder Mountain is actually faster.  

Big Thunder is all about turning and drops that are a little bigger than Space Mountains’.  However, the darkness in Space Mountain makes it way more thrilling. 

What is the Scariest Ride at Walt Disney World?

When I say Walt Disney World, I’m including all four theme parks; Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.  Space Mountain is located in Magic Kingdom. 

We are going to head over to Hollywood Studios to the Tower of Terror.  The ride is pretty scary/spooky and there are various, very big, drops.  

I only ever go on this ride if someone asks me (begs) me to.  And Space Mountain is one of my favorite rides.  Telling for sure!

With that being said, what do you think?  Is Space Mountain Scary?

is space mountain scary