Sunday, June 30, 2013

The History of Space Mountain

The History

Back in 1967, Disneyland was in the works to completely renovate Tomorrowland. It had been a showcase for corporate sponsors like Monsanto and Bell Telephone for many years, and the outdated retro-future needed a new upgrade. Gone were the antiquated structures like the World Clock and Moonliner. In came the PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, and Adventure Thru Inner Space. But the most highly anticipated attraction of the 1967 Tomorrowland remodel was a new high-speed space-themed ride, imagined by Walt Disney in conjunction with Arrow Development Co. (now Arrow Dynamics). The ride was shelved after the death of Walt in 1966, and so 1967 came and went, with no sign of Space Mountain in sight.

Early Space Mountain concept art
But Walt Disney World in Florida longed for the same type of success that the Matterhorn was bringing to Disneyland, and there were talks of bringing a Matterhorn to Orlando. Unfortunately, Disney World's Fantasyland was not large enough to accommodate a Matterhorn, and the idea of Space Mountain was brought back to life.

Space Mountain would join the relatively new Carousel of Progress (moved from Disneyland in 1974), and the Tomorrowland of Disney World was finally coming into shape. The Space Mountain in Florida is essentially a similar track layout to the Matterhorn, and was quite like its Disneyland counterpart when Space Mountain arrived here in 1977. However, as the years went by, these old coasters became increasingly out-of-date. The Matterhorn received some new decoration in the '70's, including the now-famous yeti, and the Skyway was removed in the 1990's. Space Mountain received similar treatment in Florida, with new waiting queues and frequent updates. But California's Space Mountain was a smaller, less-impressive copycat of the one in Florida. By 1998, Tomorrowland was in need of refurbishment, and the now infamous redesign of Tomorrowland in Disneyland took place. New rides like Astro Orbitor and Rocket Rods appeared, while others received updated features and colors. Aside from fixing the many issues of Space Mountain, someone thought it needed a new coat of paint. And Space Mountain was painted brown and green.

Why they chose to do this is an absolute mystery, as it was well-hated by guests and didn't fit the "theme" of Tomorrowland whatsoever. Of the countless mistakes of the 1998 "New Tomorrowland", this ranks as one of the worst. Fortunately it didn't last long, and in 2003 Space Mountain was shut down.

2005 was a monumental year for Disneyland, as the park celebrated its 50th anniversary. Two days before Disneyland's birthday, Space Mountain reopened unannounced, with an entirely new waiting queue, ride decorations, and most importantly, a brand new track layout. The new Space Mountain trumped not only the old, but also its once dominant Disney World rival. Today it enjoys average wait times of 1-2 hours and doesn't disappoint. It remains to be arguably the best roller coaster in all of the Disney Parks.

My Perspective

Though my memories of the original Space Mountain are rather vague, I still recall the white tunnels and viewing platform of the queue (guests could actually watch the roller coaster while waiting in line). The original track was bumpy and uncomfortable, not unlike the Matterhorn, whereas the new track is smooth and fast. I first rode the Space Mountain in Orlando several years ago and couldn't stand it. It was like the Matterhorn, but in the dark with no cool scenery to look at. The awesome music adds so much to the experience of the one in Disneyland, and the only soundtrack that can be heard on the one in Disney World is the loud noise of the tracks and machinery. Which isn't to say I'm biased towards Disneyland. My favorite ride is Splash Mountain, and I much prefer Disney World's adaptation of it. But I hate the Space Mountain there, and it won't be one of the first rides I go to when I next visit. For now, the one here will more than suffice.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cozy Cone: "Route" Beer Float

The "Route" Beer Float is perhaps one of the better ice cream options in all of Disneyland. It isn't your standard root beer float either. It's a tall, hollow spiral of soft-serve over a rather proportional serving of root beer. Quite a contrast from the typical scoop on top of a glass of root beer. As the soda rises to the top, it blends with the ice cream to make an even layer of root beer and ice cream.

Be warned however, as the "Route" Beer Float is only available in one size option, and is sold for nearly 10 bucks. But the best part is that it comes in a souvenir soda fountain-style glass (plastic), that can only be purchased here. They're really awesome and I still use them to serve drinks at home. It may not be as unique as the Dole Pineapple Float, but it's just as rich and refreshing.

Price: $9.59
Location: Cars Land

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sexual Offender Working at Disneyland

Last month, a female victim of sexual assault came forward. The offender was her relative, Bryan Williams, a ride technician at Disneyland who committed these atrocities over 13 years ago. It probably didn't affect guests in the park in any way, but it's still quite disturbing to discover that someone fixing rides for Disneyland has done something so horrible. This man will hopefully spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Have no fear though, as it appears that there is (hopefully) nothing to worry about in the realm of Disneyland. It should be noted however, that criminals like these can be found anywhere. So make sure your children are safe, and be immediate to report any suspicious activity.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Tomorrowland in 1955 left a lot to be desired. It was little more than a set of buildings with semi-futuristic attractions. But it was still iconic and memorable at the time. With such attractions as, seriously, the "Bathroom of the Future". Okay, so it was pretty lame for its first dozen years. The Imagineering team was desperate to complete the park before its opening day deadline, and Tomorrowland relied heavily on corporate sponsorship to fund the costs of construction. One of the new partnerships was with the now-defunct Trans World Airlines, known by most as TWA.

In exchange for helping with Tomorrowland's budget, TWA received a large advertisement in the form of the TWA Moonliner, a retro-looking rocket ship in the heart of Tomorrowland. It was placed directly outside the long-gone attraction that once was, "Rocket to the Moon".

The Moonliner, though stationary and without any real function, occupied space and provided a look at the then new concept of space travel. It was the symbol of Tomorrowland for many years until 1966, when the man behind the project, Howard Hughes, no longer had ties to TWA. For a brief one year period, the TWA Moonliner was sponsored by Douglas Airlines, and received a new paintjob.

It didn't last long though, as in 1967 the park was far too outdated to be considered the "Land of Tomorrow". Sadly, the Moonliner was removed for good. Or perhaps not.

The Moonliner today
In 1998, the Moonliner returned to Disneyland, albeit in a much smaller form. It now sits above the building that was once Rocket to the Moon, but today is Redd Rocket's Pizza Port. The Coca-Cola sign and the caption, "Delivering Refreshments to a Thirsty Galaxy", implies that the rocket is an ad for Coca-Cola, but it is indeed a nod to a once-forgotten relic of historical Tomorrowland.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese Dog

Welcome to America. Yes, they have actually created a hot dog covered in macaroni and cheese. I've been wanting to try this for a long time, but never really brought myself to do it. As strange as it may seem, the two things go together very nicely. The mac & cheese is buttery and adds a great texture to the spicy hot dog. And I don't think they skimped out on either ingredient, as there is enough mac & cheese to be served proportionally with each bite of the hot dog. On top, there is a layer of bacon bits. Personally, I think the bacon was a bit much. It makes it really salty and kind of adds too much intensity to what is already an insanely hearty meal. I would love to try this with bread crumbs instead of bacon bits. But all in all, it's a really unique experience, and something I wish I had thought of. I hope I'm not crazy and that you all enjoy it too, if you managed to survive it. If a meteor is ever hurdling toward earth, I will spend my final hours at Disneyland, knocking these back until the inevitable heart attack.

Price: 7.19
Location: Refreshment Corner, Main Street USA

Monday, June 3, 2013

Disneyland Ticket Prices Raised

Today Disneyland has yet again initiated an increase in ticket prices (effective June 9th). Both child and adult ticket costs have been raised $5 each (now $92 for adults and $87 for children). Adult tickets now being in excess of $90 for one day can be considered quite a milestone.

The price increases are not limited to single day passes however, as the price of a Deluxe Annual Pass has been raised to $499, and the Premium to $669. Disney World also experienced higher prices as well, the most notable being the Disney Premier Passport (yearly admission to all eleven Disney Parks in the United States), which went from $849 to a whopping $979.

Remember when we used to be able to get into Disneyland for $25?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hidden Gems: Indiana Jones and the Secret Code

Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye; Adventureland's most popular attraction, based on Lucasfilm's action-packed adventure saga. The Indiana Jones series is full of mystery and hidden secrets, and the Imagineers behind the ride intended to immerse guests in just the same sort of setting. When the ride first opened in 1995, guests in line were handed "Marabic" decoder cards, little cards that helped to transliterate the petroglyphs throughout the waiting queue. The fictional language of Marabic follows a similar style to the English alphabet, with a few exceptions. After a few months, the cards were no longer distributed, and guests had to rely on others to crack the codes.

"True rewards await those who choose wisely"
Well, thanks to the internet, we can now solve these mysteries for ourselves. Make sure that the next time you decide to wait for over an hour to board Indiana Jones, you've got one of these with you.

One of the original decoders
Of course, if you feel like deciphering these texts is a waste of time, you can find a list of all of the transliterated messages here. Maybe someday in the distant future, the Temple of the Forbidden Eye will truly be an ancient relic, and these translated messages will be lost in time.

"Drink deeply the water of life"