Space Mountain is a rite of passage for many children visiting Disney World, and it’s been that away for generations. It is full of everything you would expect from a Disney attraction: inventive theming, amazing attention to detail, and a ride you’ll want to experience over and over again.
However, Space Mountain is one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World’s most popular park. Luckily, I’ve collected a few notable Disney tips and tricks available that will help you prepare for your ride through space
1. Get a Fast Pass+ reservations
The oldest roller coaster in Florida, Space Mountain is one of four “mountains” in the parks (along with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Expedition Everest, and Splash Mountain).
Generations of Disney guests ride this attraction at least once during their vacation. Because of this, there is almost always a significant wait to ride Space Mountain. During peak hours on busy days, expect to wait 2+ hours.
Because this ride actually limits how many people are allowed in the building to avoid overwhelming the air conditioning system, be prepared for some of this long wait to be outside in the hot Florida sun.
Here are my favorite tips to reducing your wait times:
- #1: Fast Pass + is your friend. If you’re staying on the Walt Disney World resort, you can go into your My Disney Experience to book three attractions each day to skip the line. All three attractions must be in the same park. If you know you want to ride Space Mountain, be sure to make this one of your selections. The best Fast Pass + window times are in the late morning/early afternoon. Avoid Fast Pass + times close to rope drop because wait times aren’t as long during this time.
- #2: If you don’t snag a Fast Pass + selection for your party, getting to the Magic Kingdom at rope drop (and heading straight to Space Mountain) is a great way to reduce your wait. Be aware that many people will also have the same idea that you do. The quickest way from the front of the park to Space Mountain is wait at the Tomorrowland entrance at the end of Main Street for the rope to drop there. If you’re feeling really energetic, a quick sprint to the back of Tomorrowland will land you one of the first rides of the day.
- #3: If you know there is going to be a rainy day during your Walt Disney World vacation (which there usually is in Florida), the Magic Kingdom is a great park to visit that day. Space Mountain is a good ride to wait out an afternoon shower and lines are often very short because many people want to leave the parks. Other indoor rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion are good ideas on rainy days as well.
- #4: Wait until later in the evening to ride Space Mountain. During the evening fireworks, lines for this ride are often shorter. The same is true for rides during Extra Magic Hours and special ticket events such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
- #5: A great way to catch a second ride on Space Mountain is to pop into line during the afternoon parades. Many families are leaving the park for afternoon naps during this time and those who have stayed are watching the parade. If you’ve used all of your Fast Pass + selections by this point in the day, you can also book one more selection while you’re in the park by using your My Disney Experience App or by finding a Fast Pass + Kiosk. While it is unlikely you’ll find a Space Mountain selection available, it doesn’t hurt to try!
2. This attraction is not for the faint of heart.
Interestingly, Space Mountain is not the fastest or scariest ride in the Walt Disney World resort. It doesn’t go upside down and the hills are not intense. But you are in total darkness throughout the entire ride. Strobe lighting, new ‘Starry-O-Phonic sound’, and jarring movements makes the ride seem more high-intensity than it actually is. If you’re comfortable riding the Rock n’ Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios Railroad or Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, you will have no problem riding Space Mountain.
If you are not a fan of thrill rides, have back or neck problems, or are pregnant, it is not suggested that you ride Space Mountain. Also, because the ride uses stroke lighting effects, those with certain medical conditions may want to avoid this attraction.
The ride itself is a Wild Mouse coaster, meaning that there are no huge hills or sudden drops. There are, however, several unexpected turns and small drops. Given the age of the ride, it can be rough and jarring at times—you may want to brace yourself. The last time I rode Space Mountain, it did give me a headache.
Children must be 44” to ride this attraction. For some children, this ride may be too intense. You are the best judge of your child’s ability to handle this thrill ride. Keep in mind that because of the way the cars are positioned on the track, you will not be able to sit next to your child on the ride.
However, if your child doesn’t want to ride Space Mountain or is too short, there is a parent switch-off option. Just ask the cast member at the entrance of the ride and they will let the cast member at the boarding area know that you need to switch off during your ride.
Additionally, if you have members of your party who want to ride Space Mountain and you’re not interested, a ride on the nearby Peoplemover can be a useful way to kill time (and catch a glimpse of the inside of the attraction without going on the attraction).
My favorite tip for Space Mountain enthusiasts is to try to ride the Peoplemover when Space Mountain is closed (which is not uncommon). You might just get a chance to see the inner workings of the ride with the lights on. It’s an experience you’ll never forget!
3. Be prepared to see the stars.
The queue for this ride often begins outside. Once you get inside the mountain, the queue is long and often uphill. There are interactive games that will keep you occupied for part of the time.
However, on humid Florida days, the air conditioning in this building will cool you down while you wait to ride. I would recommend bringing a extra battery pack for children or teenagers who want to pass the time playing Angry Birds or texting their friends. By the end of the day, you’ll be glad you’re not desperately trying to find an extra outlet.
Your ride through Space Mountain begins when you board your rocket ship, which hold six riders. (Be prepared: it can be a little tricky to get in and out of these pod seats.) Any bags will have to be secure at your feet during the ride.
From personal experience, make sure you wrap straps through your legs or you will be holding on to your backpack for dear life. If possible, leave loose items with a member of your party who isn’t riding to be on the safe side.
After you pass safety check, you’ll launch through some strobe lights and then hear the ‘clack-clack-clack’ of the lift hill. But as you head down the hill, you descend into darkness. As the ride twists and turns, you can see stars around you as wind through the maze of rollercoaster track.
There are sounds coming from all around you and it truly feels like you’re orbiting through space. When you head into the station again, your hair may be a mess (and make sure your sunglasses are tucked away because you will lose them on the ride).
After you depart your rocket ship, you won’t immediately exit to the park. After you check out your ride picture using the Photopass kiosks, you check out a post-show viewed on a moving walkway as you make your way under the Walt Disney World Railroad and back to Tomorrowland.
Keep an eye out for some Disney Easter eggs in this post-show. There are references to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as well as retired Disney attraction Horizons to be found if you look close enough.
4. Don’t forget to check out your photo!
Ride photos are an important way to remember your trip. In case you want to pose for the camera, you’ll see the tell-tale strobe lights of the camera on the inside of the turn after you leave the launch tube. Once you exit the ride, you will see your picture on the monitors. However, if you don’t want to stop, the picture will automatically be linked to your Photo Pass account using your Magic Band. If you are using a card, you will need to tap the card in front of the monitor to link the image.
You will be able to purchase this picture as a single image at the Space Mountain Merchandise Shop at the ride’s exit. You must buy the image at this shop directly after leaving the ride. If you have a Memory Maker account, you will be able to access this image (and print it out) up to 45 days after the picture was taken. You can also incorporate your Space Mountain images into different gifts or memory books.
Honestly, Memory Maker is definitely worth the investment (especially if you have little ones). In addition to ride photos, you can have a professional photographer capture those moments in front of Cinderella’s Castle or to snap a magic shot with Tinkerbell flying across your picture.
Some rides (such as the Tower of Tower at Hollywood Studios) even have videos of your ride that you can download. This is a great way of making memories without having to worry about finding someone to take the picture so everyone can be in it.
5. Space Mountain is Iconic
Even though the attraction was dreamed up by Walt Disney himself in the 1960s, Imagineers had to wait over 10 years for the technology to be created that would allow their dream to come to life. They even consulted an actual astronaut to be sure the ride was as realistic as possible. Since the ride was opened in 1975, it has become an important Disney ride found at almost every Disney park across the world.
Surprisingly, even though Space Mountain has a reputation for being the wildest ride in the Magic Kingdom, both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad go faster. At its top speed, Space Mountain is only goes a little faster than the Barnstormer. To get a real feel for the actual experience of how this ride operates without special effects, some lucky riders have been able to take a ride on Space Mountain with the lights on.
However, I’ve found that it’s massively underwhelming without the music or lighting effects. Check out the video below and judge for yourself.
With a little planning, Space Mountain can be a part of your next trip to Walt Disney World without having to spend all day in line. If you’re lucky, you could use these tips to catch more than one ride on Space Mountain. Keep in mind that timing is everything and make sure you take off your hats and sunglasses before boarding your rocket ship. You wouldn’t want to lose them on one of the best Disney World rides!
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