Does Space Mountain Go Upside Down? (plus height requirements, and is it scary?)

Does Space Mountain Go Upside Down? (plus height requirements, and is it scary?)
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I still have a very vivid memory of being mad at my mother because she wouldn’t let me ride Space Mountain during my own childhood trip to Disney World when I was in elementary school.

In retrospect, it was probably a good call on her part. I think the ride would have terrified me back then.

Space Mountain is an indoor, dark space-themed roller coaster located in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. There are also versions of Space Mountain in Disneyland in California (1977), Tokyo Disneyland (1983), Disneyland Paris (1995), and Hong Kong Disneyland (2005).

The original Space Mountain in Disney World opened in 1975, making it one of the oldest rides at the park. Decades later, it’s still one of the most popular rides in the Magic Kingdom. Wait times can easily be over an hour, so consider either getting on line right at rope drop or getting a FastPass if you plan to ride it.

While Space Mountain is not my favorite ride at Disney World (I’ll talk more about that later), it is an iconic attraction that was literally ahead of its time and has a huge amount of nostalgia for many people my age.

Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom
Photo courtesy of Judd at WDWOW


Space Mountain Height Requirement

You have to be 44 inches to ride. Don’t forget that if you want to ride Space Mountain, but your kids can’t (or don’t want to), you can use Rider Swap, aka Baby Swap or Kid Swap.

If some of the adults in your party don’t want to ride Space Mountain, the Carousel of Progress or WedWay Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover (two rides that always have short lines) are good, much calmer, alternatives. You can split your party up and meet back up at, say, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe when you’re finished.


Does Space Mountain Go Upside Down?

Nope. It has no inversions, loops, or corkscrews of any kind. If you want that kinda crazy stuff, you’ll need to head over to Hollywood Studios and ride Rock n Roller Coaster.


Does Space Mountain Have Drops?

Yes, but they’re relatively small. Disney Lists says that the steepest slope is 39 degrees. As a comparison, Splash Mountain’s drop at the end of the ride is 45 degrees. The Space Mountain drops are also not nearly as long as the one in Splash Mountain.


Space Mountain in Disney World
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney


How Fast Does Space Mountain Go?

I was surprised to recently discover that Space Mountain, at only 28 miles per hour, is slower than both Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This actually stuck me as kind of funny, because when I was a kid, Space Mountain was considered the big-bad-scary-attraction (that my mother wouldn’t let me ride).

I’m guessing that if you rode Space Mountain with the lights on, it would seem like a much more mild experience (and the video below confirms that suspicion). Like a lot of things in Disney World, the effects create a sensation that’s different from the actual reality.


What Does Space Mountain Look Like With the Lights On?

If you’re sure it won’t ruin the ride for you, check out this video:


Is Space Mountain a Roller Coaster?

I always thought of Space Mountain as a roller coaster. In fact, I distinctly remember it being described as “a roller coaster in the dark” when I was a kid. (And I always thought of it as the “big-bad-scary roller coaster in the dark.”)

But while I was researching this post, I kept coming across the term “Wild Mouse.” As in, “Space Mountain is basically a Wild Mouse ride in the dark with a space theme,” or even “Space Mountain isn’t really even a roller coaster; it’s more of a Wild Mouse.”


I have a memory of riding something called the “Wild Mouse” in Rye Playland in New York when I was about eleven. Interestingly, I remember not liking it a whole lot because it kept feeling like we were about to fall off the edge. I mean, I guess that was the point of the ride, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that sensation.

So what exactly is a wild mouse, anyway?

Wikipedia explains it this way:

A type of roller coaster characterised by small cars that seat four people or fewer and ride on top of the track, taking tight, flat turns (without banking) at modest speeds, yet producing high lateral G-forces. The track work is characterised by many turns and bunny hops …

Almost all Wild Mice feature “switchback” sections, consisting of several of these unbanked turns, separated by straight sections … Some riders, usually among taller people, report sustaining whiplash after being subjected to these turns.

The feeling of a Wild Mouse coaster is amplified by using cars that are wider than the track itself, giving the impression that the riders are hanging off the side or that they might fly out, thus giving it the name “wild.”


Video — Front Seat on Wild Mouse Ride


Okay, so … it sounds like a Wild Mouse is a type of roller coaster that, instead of being a fast, “thrill” ride, is more about sudden turns and high lateral G-force.

You learn something new every day.

By the way, if you want to ride a bona-fide Wild Mouse (and you have access to a good chiropractor), that would be the Primeval Whirl at Dinoland U.S.A. in Animal Kingdom.


Space Mountain Deaths and Injuries

I’m real sorry to have to bring this up. I know this isn’t the most pleasant thing to read about while planning your Disney trip.

However, my Blogger Superpowers tell me that lots of people want to know this information, so it seems incomplete to write an article about Space Mountain without including it.

If reading about people who died while on vacation isn’t your thing, kindly just scroll down to the line of asterisks …


Wikipedia lists four incidents that happened on Space Mountain over a period of 35 years:

1) In 1980, a 10 year old girl became ill while riding Space Mountain and later died from a pre-existing heart condition.

2) In 1998, a 37 year old man was hit on the head from a falling object. (A camera and a candle were later found on the bottom floor of the ride.) He was paralyzed in one arm and suffered from short-term memory loss, which caused him to lose his job.

3) In 2006, a 6 year old boy who was a terminal cancer patient visiting the Magic Kingdom as part of a Give the Kids the World program fainted after riding Space Mountain and later died.

4) In 2006, a 73 year old man with a heart condition lost consciousness while riding Space Mountain and died three days later.

5) In 2015, a 55 year old woman with a history of hypertension and congestive heart failure lost consciousness during the ride and later died of cardiopulmonary arrest and septic shock.



Okay, now moving along to move pleasant things, like …


Space Mountain Fun Facts

Space Mountain in Tomorrowland
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

I always think Disney World trivia and behind-the-scenes stuff is really fun. Here are 6 interesting facts I found from Mental Floss:


1. Walt Disney originally didn’t think that fast thrill rides had a place in his family-friendly park, but he changed his mind with the popularity of the Matterhorn bobsled ride in California’s Disneyland.

2. The entire Space Mountain complex, including the arcade and permanent amphitheater, cost more money to build than the entire Disneyland park in California. (Disneyland had cost $17 million, while the Space Mountain complex cost $18 million.)

3. If you want your ride on Space Mountain to be ever-so-slightly longer, choose the “Alpha” track. It’s 10 feet longer than the “Omega” track.

4. When the ride was originally conceptualized, the technology to build it didn’t exist yet. John Hench designed the attraction in the early 1960’s, but work on it had to pause for many years while waiting for the technology to catch up. Space Mountain finally opened in the Magic Kingdom in 1975.

5. Space Mountain was the first (and is now the oldest) indoor roller coaster.

6. The grand opening of Space Mountain included fireworks, NASA astronauts, Mickey and friends wearing space suits, and a 2,000-piece marching band.

7. When you exit the ride, there’s a blue panel at the end of the moving sidewalk that mentions “Closed Sectors.” The acronyms listed stand for closed attractions and the lands they were once located in:

FL-MTWR = Fantasyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
TL-SK2FL = Tomorrowland, Skyway to Fantasyland
MSU-SB = Main Street USA, Swan Boats
FL-MMR = Fantasyland, Mickey Mouse Revue
TL-M2M = Tomorrowland, Mission to Mars



Is Space Mountain Scary?

Hmm … that’s always tough to answer, because it’s so subjective. Plus it begs the question, Do you want it to be scary? In other words, do you consider “scary” to be a good thing?

Like I mentioned earlier, Space Mountain doesn’t go upside down or have big drops, and it’s the slowest Disney roller coaster other than the Barnstormer (if that even counts).

I’ll be perfectly honest: Space Mountain is my least favorite roller coaster in Disney World. One of the reasons is to that, to me, it’s more jerky and painful than the other coasters (which makes sense now after reading about that “wild mouse” stuff described above).

But also, the whole “ride in the dark with lights flashing everywhere” is … not really my thing.

It’s kinda weird, because I think that, objectively, Rock n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror (and probably even Expedition Everest) are scarier rides than Space Mountain.

But it’s a scariness that I like and find exciting. Maybe a better word for them is thrilling.

But when I ride Space Mountain, on the other hand, I’m wincing half the time and am scared that I’m about to smash into a wall or that I have to duck my head to avoid banging into something at full speed.

It’s not a particularly pleasant experience for me. Someone on the Disboards said, “I would call it more annoying than scary,” and that’s a good way to put it.

Except that, yeah … I find it both annoying and scary.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people say that they find Space Mountain less scary because they can’t see what’s coming.

Nope. Not me.

SaraJayne from the Disboards says:

I’ve ridden Space Mountain three times in all my trips to DW. Every single time, I’ve gotten off completely shaking.

That ride terrifies me. It’s jerky and you will feel it later in the day in your lower back. You’re thrown all over, as well as jerked up and down.

This last time (a couple days ago), I really believed I was going to be thrown out of the car, that’s how jerky it was. I was sitting in the front seat of the second car, which has no protection around your legs.

I’m certain my face looked like this ~ ?.

It’s LOUD and disorienting.

So why have I ridden it three times you ask? The first time I didn’t know any better :laughing:, the second time, three years had gone by and I thought I was ready for it again (nope!) and just this last time, DS had never ridden it and I apparently lost my mind and told him I would do it once. :rolleyes:

That said, I love BTMRR and Rock n Rollercoaster and can handle EE a couple times. But SM is OUT of the line up for me, for now and forevermore. :lmao:

If BTMRR scares you, STAY AWAY from SM.


Space Mountain
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney


Space Mountain or Expedition Everest?

This a question I’ve seen asked on Disney forums a lot, so I thought I’d address it here.

I’m obviously biased, because Expedition Everest is quite possibly my favorite ride in all of Disney World.

I love the view from the top, I love when it goes backward, it’s a smoother ride than Space Mountain, and while it’s thrilling, I’m not actually scared in that holy-crap-is-my-head-about-to-bash-into-something way I am on Space Mountain.

Of course, not everyone agrees with me. I have heard people say they get more motion sick on Expedition Everest, and of course if the idea of going backward sounds nauseating or terrifying or both, then Expedition Everest may not be the ride for you.


Space Mountain vs. Space Mountain

No, that wasn’t a typo. It was an attempted cute way of saying, “Which Space Mountain is better, the one in Disney World or the one in Disneyland?

I have never been to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, so all I can share with you is what I’ve read.

It does sound like a lot of people prefer Disneyland’s version of Space Mountain:

WDWisLife on the DisBoards says:

The version in Disneyland is better. The music is awesome, and it is much louder than the recently added music in WDW since there are speakers on each car, which makes for a much more intense ride! Also, the track itself has been changed more recently, which makes it a lot smoother.


And gilesmt says:

DL is way better, first you get to experience it with a partner, the seats are double. Second the music is in the seats. Third it is almost in total darkness and you can not see the track. Fourth the track is smoother. Fifth I think it is longer (but I am not sure).


Now it’s your turn.
What do you think of Space Mountain? Is it scary? How would you compare it to the other roller coasters at Disney World? Have you ridden the Disneyland version, and if so, how do the two compare? Let us know below in the comments!


Does space mountain go upside down? How fast does Space Mountain go? Is Space Mountain scary Find out everything you need to know about this Disney World roller coaster! Includes Space mountain vs Space Mountain (Florida Disney World vs. California Disneyland) and Space Mountain fun facts

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