Yesterland


Retro Space Mountain

Presented by FedEx

“Quite possibly the most fantastic roller coaster ever built,
Space Mountain takes you on a daring, high-speed trek
through space, accompanied by a sci-fi soundtrack
that makes the action even more mind-blowing!”
Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2000

The hues of Space Mountain

Space Mountain lets you travel through space inside a structure that futurists H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Leonardo da Vinci might have imagined. This giant copper kettle with a green patina represents an ingenious relic from a much earlier era.


Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

A perfect fit with the rest of Tomorrowland

Pay no attention to anyone who claims that this Space Mountain looks as if it suffered from a massive spill of vomit—or something worse—all over its exterior.

Okay, okay. It doesn’t really look like copper or bronze. But pretend that it does. And try to like it. After all, colors like this are over this version of Tomorrowland.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2000

The ride’s logo

Let’s take a ride! Grab your FASTPASS. Then follow the queue.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

FASTPASS
 

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Lots of brown
 

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2000

Original architectural elements, new paint—not all of it brown
 

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2000

Ray Cathode of PNN, the Pan-Galactic News Network

Monitors keep you entertained while you wait. In one segment, Ray Cathode (the late Glenn Shadix) tells you, “The hot news at the Mars shows is color.” He’s talking about fashion, not the hues of Space Mountain.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

Loading

When you actually get to the loading area, there’s no sign of the Jules Verne future. Enjoy the ride!

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

Night

It looks better at night.


Space Mountain opened at Disneyland in 1977. The indoor roller coaster would be housed in a gleaming, white structure for more then 20 years. Space Mountain had been designed to fit into the New Tomorrowland of 1967—which had replaced the original Tommorowland just 12 years after the opening of the park.

In 1995, Federal Express (FedEx) became the sponsor of Space Mountain, a relationship that would last ten years. With the sponsorship came a more entertaining queue and new displays.

In 1998, the exterior of Space Mountain was given a brownish, greenish, copperish paintjob as part of a new New Tomorrowland project.

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. It had been 31 years since the last New Tomorrowland—and this “World of Tomorrow” was anything but futuristic. To make matters worse, America Sings (1974) had been silenced in 1988 and Mission to Mars (1975) was decommissioned in November 1992, leaving two highly visible attraction buildings behind.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2005

Space Mountain (1995) in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris

The executives in charge of Disney’s theme parks learned important lessons from Disneyland Paris, which had opened in 1992 as Euro Disney. One of these was that a retro-future theme solves the problem of trying to stay ahead of the actual future. Another was that capital spending needs to be kept under control to avoid the red ink that plagued the Parisian park.

Disneyland would get a retro Tomorrowland. And it would be done on a tight budget. While Disneyland Paris had retro-future architecture, the original Disneyland would try to accomplish the same thing primarily with paint.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

The bronze hues of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in 2000

The Los Angeles Daily News (“Back to the Future; Disney Revises Tomorrowland,” by Dave McNary, May 19, 1998) decribed Disneyland’s approach like this:

Disneyland has abandoned the idea of predicting the future in favor of bringing to life the dreamlike visions of Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne. So the stark, sleek look is gone, replaced by golds, browns and cobblestone walkways.

The Wall Street Journal (“A new Tomorrowland dawns; What does the future look like now?” by K.E. Grubbs Jr., May 29, 1998) took it a step further, with an observation about the effect of this change:

But the new Tomorrowland is not really earth-bound. Like the old version, it spends a great deal of time sending its visitors into space. And here the design scheme is now much less the Jetsons-style sleekness of the old Tomorrowland and oddly more retro. Space Mountain, a roller coaster meant to give the sensation of hurtling through space, remains, but its tall exterior is repainted, curiously, to look like greenish, oxidizing copper. The intention: earth-friendly. The effect: grunge.

The grunge look did not suit Space Mountain.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2004

Gleeming, white Space Mountain in the brown Tomorrowland

In 2003, Space Mountain was restored to its original white color. The rest of Tomorrowland followed with a new palette of silver, grays, and blues.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Space Mountain in 2013

By now, it’s hard to remember that Space Mountain was ever a color other than white.

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Space Mountain sign in 2013


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Updated February 1, 2013.