Florida Guide > Disney Parks
Mission:SPACE is one of my favourite attractions at Disney. It is the one we always make a beeline for whenever we visit that fantastic park, Epcot. The first time we went on it I have to admit that we were a bit wary, as there were warning notices dotted around the place, and we did wonder if it might be just too extreme.
However, we overcame our fears and have not looked back since. I think one of the most attractive features is the marvellous entrance to the ride, Planetary Plaza, with its amazing red planet. We also love the waiting area inside, the Sim Lab, where there is a huge rotating wheel with chambers, which is supposed to be used for simulating gravity for trainees.
But I wonder if you know how much effort Disney went to, in order to bring Mission Space to fruition? Amazingly, it took more than 650 Disney Imagineers over 350, 000 hours to develop this amazing attraction. That is the equivalent of over 40 years of time! In fact they were working on solving all the complex problems and inventing much of the technology for five years.
To help them, Disney turned to a real life NASA shuttle astronaut, Story Musgrave, as a consultant. Musgrave, one of NASA’s most experienced astronauts, who was with the NASA space programme for more than 30 years, crewed 6 shuttle flights. He worked on the design and development of the Skylab space station, so his expertise was to prove invaluable. His first space flight was actually on board Challenger during its maiden voyage in 1983, and he flew on Columbia, Endeavour, Discovery and Atlantis.
However, it is not just the ride itself which is spectacular, but both the inside and the outside of Mission Space reveal some stunning artefacts. The LRV or Lunar Rover which is suspended from the ceiling in the Sim Lab was loaned to them by the Smithsonian Institute and is, apparently, the only one constructed by NASA that is not still on the moon. Disney was so determined to get everything right that they tried nearly 100 shades of red before they were able to decide on the colour they should use for the red planet which dominates the façade of Mission Space.
Jupiter, the biggest celestial body in the Planetary Plaza, is 16 feet in diameter, whilst Earth is a mere 10 ft in diameter. An interesting piece of trivia is that it would take 13, 136, 640 jelly beans to fill the earth sphere, whilst Jupiter would take 53, 809, 920 jelly beans. The moon is slightly larger at 12ft, and it has different coloured markers on it which indicate the 30 landing sites of moon missions which took place between 1959 and 1976.
If you have time, look at the 10 quotes from famous space explorers, which are located around the walls of the Planetary Plaza. One of the most inspiring is from Barbara Morgan, a teacher-astronaut, whose words, ‘Reach for your dreams… the sky is no limit’ can be seen etched on one of these plaques. Perhaps the most evocative quotes is by Kalpana Chawla, who was one of the astronauts who lost their lives in the Columbia space shuttle. His words, ‘Dare to Dream’ epitomise everything that the brave pioneers of space stand for.
The ride itself lasts for 5. 38 minutes, and the G-Force is 2. 4g. There are 4 centrifuges, and 10 capsules per centrifuge, each of which will hold 4 people in a simulated spacecraft cockpit. At full capacity, and with all 40 capsules full, 1, 600 riders per hour can pass through this attraction.
We love the music that you can hear during the exit of the ride, and it was written by Trevor Rabin, a member or the rock band ‘Yes’, who has composed many motion picture scores.
Mission: SPACE is an exhilarating experience, and one not to be missed. A less intense ride has been recently introduced for those who do not want to experience the more extreme ride.
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Page added on: 9 July 2008
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