DLW 154: Return to Space Mountain

October 21, 2020

This week, Disneyland is probably not reopening for “the foreseeable future”, Disney and Anaheim are not happy about that, work is still happening around the parks, centerpieces get shined up, we revisit the history of Space Mountain, and more!

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The State of California Health and Human Services hosted an update on COVID-19 in California stream on Tuesday afternoon to talk about theme park reopening guidelines. This was not good news. In a nutshell, small theme parks, which is categorized as being under 15,000 guest capacity can reopen at tier-3, or orange level at 25% capacity or 500 guests, whichever is lower, with only outdoor attractions, and ticket sales limited to the same county the park is located in. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8QJF0uEDO8

For larger theme parks, they can reopen at tier-4, or yellow level with 25% capacity. Both levels of theme parks must utilize a reservation system for obtaining tickets and must screen guests for symptoms in advance. Face coverings are mandatory throughout the parks, unless eating or drinking. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8QJF0uEDO8

Disneyland’s President Ken Potrock went to Twitter to post his reaction to the guidelines, in part “Together with our labor unions we want to get people back to work, but these State guidelines will keep us shuttered for the foreseeable future, forcing thousands more people out of work, leading to the inevitable closure of small family-owned businesses, and irreparably devastating the Anaheim/Southern California community.” – https://twitter.com/DisneyParksNews/status/1318644525565321217?s=20

The Mayor of Anaheim, Harry Sidhu, seems to agree with Disney, saying in part on Twitter: “These guidelines fail working families and small business. As painful as this is, Disney and the city of Anaheim will survive. But too many Anaheim hotels, stores, and restaurants will not survive another year of this.” continuing “The unions of the Disneyland Resort agree and support the reopening of the theme parks in tier 3, not tier 4, which would wipe out jobs in our city and destroy lives.” – https://twitter.com/City_of_Anaheim/status/1318634185989369856?s=20

Disneyland Unions had drafted a letter to the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, asking to be included in the discussions regarding the reopening of Disneyland. Previously, the unions asked to delay the opening for the union members safety, but Disney has made the requested changes, so they now support the reopening. – https://www.micechat.com/273190-breaking-disneyland-unions-call-on-california-to-reopen-disneyland/

Disneyland has come to agreement with most of the unions that represent their Cast Members on layoffs and recall procedures. Union Cast Members will be called back to work based on seniority. Most full-time members will not be let go, but part-time members should be concerned. Layoffs are expected to happen beginning next month. – https://www.micechat.com/273009-disneyland-update-you-arent-going-to-like-this/

We were a little concerned about a protest that was promoted online last week. It was billed as a protest to get the parks open for the good of the Cast Members, but it was also rumored to be organized by a conservative group from out of state that would turn it into more of an attack on Governor Gavin Newsom. Protesters did show up from both groups, with the cast member supporters wearing masks and being safe with COVID protections. The other group had a tent setup and were not distancing or wearing masks. Quite a difference between the groups. – https://www.micechat.com/273009-disneyland-update-you-arent-going-to-like-this/

More work is happening around the entrance to Tomorrowland that was originally scheduled to be complete by last Summer. The last of the “french fry” rocks have been removed. No word yet on when they plan to start the construction of the entrance planters. – https://www.micechat.com/273009-disneyland-update-you-arent-going-to-like-this/

Two focal points in the parks are getting a refurbishment. The Partners and Storytellers statues in each park are being cleaned up and are having the oxidation removed. Apparently, they look like a shiny new penny. – https://www.micechat.com/273009-disneyland-update-you-arent-going-to-like-this/

The votes are in and the new legacy lightsaber that will be available for purchase will be Cal Kestis’ from the video game Jedi: Fallen Order. A couple of other designs that are showing up are Ashoka Tano’s pair of sabers that feature hilts that change colors, and Count Dooku’s curved hilt. Disney has announced that two other legacy lightsabers will be retired to make room for the new designs. – https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/10/voting-results-are-in-for-the-legacy-lightsaber-challenge-plus-a-look-at-upcoming-legacy-lightsabers/

What organization is celebrating their 40th anniversary, and just surpassed half a million wishes granted? The Make-a-Wish Foundation! Disney and Make-a-Wish have been partners for a while now and have made more than 140,000 wishes come true. The 500,000 wish milestone went to 16 year old Karina, whose wish was to give kids a day to forget they’re sick. – https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/10/disney-helps-make-a-wish-grant-500000th-wish-during-their-40th-anniversary/

If you are a super fan of the Haunted Mansion like we are, then some of these unique crafts to make at home are for you! The Disney Parks Blog has posted some crafts including “Grim Grinning Garland” with “Tomb Sweet Tomb” headstones, a how-to create your own Madame Leota crystal ball, and how to become a ghost bride or happy haunt. Check out the link in the show notes for more. – https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/10/disneymagicmoments-creating-grim-grinning-garland-and-other-haunted-mansion-inspired-diy-favorites-for-halloween/

MiceChat posted a couple of recipes on their site to help make this Halloween a little more spooky with the help of wedding cakes inspired by the Haunted Mansion. With just a few ingredients, you can bring the ballroom to your dining room! – https://www.micechat.com/272952-happy-haunts-at-home-how-to-make-haunted-mansion-goodies/

Another Disney Paper Parks Happy Haunts release has been posted this week. This time, it is a little less Disneyland centered, as it features the Haunted Mansion version from the Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland. The stately mansion, grounds, and front gates are featured this time, along with some familiar friends. That’s right! The hitchhiking ghosts are present, practicing their terror, with ghoulish delight. – https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/10/disney-parks-blog-presents-disney-paper-parks-happy-haunts-edition-designed-by-walt-disney-imagineering-part-3/

For the Weeklyteers who are not close to a Disney Park, shopping district, or Disney Store, there is some good news if you are looking for a Disney mask! Retailers all across the country are now carrying them. Amazon, GAP, Hot Topic, Box Lunch, Walmart and Kohl’s all have numerous designs online and in-store. – https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/10/new-disney-face-masks-now-available-online-in-store/

The next Minnie the Main Attraction collection, this time featuring the Jungle Cruise, was previewed this week. The collection has the typical array of options with leopard print, white and red strips, which are reminiscent of the original Jungle Cruise boats, and a leaf. The Jungle Cruise collection will be available via Merch Pass in November. – https://dlnewstoday.com/2020/10/photo-first-look-at-new-jungle-cruise-collection-for-minnie-mouse-the-main-attraction-series/

Discussion Topic:

Return to Space Mountain – The Disneyland Encyclopedia – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1595800905/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_OveKFbX30ATG2 

Disney Fandom – https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Space_Mountain_(Disneyland)

Undercover Tourist – https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/secret-history-space-mountain/

Connection with the Matterhorn- Because of the success of the Matterhorn Walt decided that thrill rides did have a place in Disneyland. His original thought was to have the roller coaster be the centerpiece of a renovated Tomorrowland.

The roller coaster was first called “Space Port” One of the first drawings of the new space themed attraction was done by John Hench around 1964. It resembled the exterior of our current Space Mountain but it also included tracks spiraling down the outside of the structure.

With the death of Walt and the Walt Disney World project eating up funds, the high priced project was shelved. Imagineers revisited the idea years later when it was noticed that the Magic Kingdom lacked thrill rides, which were very popular with teenagers and young adults. Space Mountain first debuted in Orlando in 1975.

It was a hit! Construction on Disneyland’s version began that same year on the land that was once used by the Flying Saucers. The Disneyland exterior was about 60 feet shorter than the one in Walt Disney World and the diameter of the building was about 100 feet smaller. This was because the Disneyland mountain would have one interior track instead of the 2 tracks in WDW.

At the time, it was Disneyland’s second tallest structure! Costing about $20 million, it became the park’s most expensive attraction at the time and the first attraction to surpass the total cost to build Disneyland. The mountain cone was painted white, reached 118 feet in the air and housed 1.8 million cubic feet. Its footprint covered almost an acre of Tomorrowland. It is estimated that it took over a million man hours to design and construct the CA version.

Space Mountain opened in May of 1977 to some of the longest lines in Disneyland’s history. The attraction sky rocketed the park to a new attendance milestone. Previously 1970 had been the only time annual attendance reached the 10 million mark, but in 1977 the new record was set to just under 11 million!

But what made it so popular? The thought of a roller coaster in space is a pretty simple concept but Disney did an amazing job with the execution. The attraction tops out at 32mph but darkness of the attraction makes you feel as though you are going much faster. The imagineers used banked curves and dips to add thrill since they are unseen and not something the guest would anticipate. Air blasts and the sounds of the rocket vehicles add to the experience as well.

The attraction has had some interesting changes over the years. Most notable was in 1997 when the music was updated to a more fast paced track, 1998 the exterior was painted in bronze and greens. In 2003 the attraction was closed for 2 years so work could be done to replace the track, update the rockets look, update the queue with a new silver spaceship, and restore the original white exterior. The original entrance ramp was removed and replaced with a walk way, and souvenir photos are now taken at the end of your journey.

There have been several overlays throughout the years as well. In 2007 Rockin Space Mountain ran from January to April. The soundtrack was changed to “Higher Ground” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. LED concert lighting was added along the tracks of the ride making the track and interior of the mountain visible.

Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy debuted in 2009 for Halloweentime. Ghost Galaxy had been running in Hong King since 2007. This version uses projections of a ghost chasing riders through the mountain.

Hyper Space Mountain: originally debuted on 11/14/2015 during the “Season of the Force” an event celebrating the release of Star War The Force Awakens. This overlay features a soundtrack with music from John William’s score of the Star Wars films. Projections depict a mission towards the planet Jakku. The overlay has been removed and brought back several times over the years.

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