Walking up to Mission: SPACE we get a clear picture of the “story” of this attraction. Travel from Earth to Mars in an experience akin to the Space Shuttle. You get to feel like an astronaut as you blast off into space, slingshot around the moon, and head for Mars, evading pesky meteors along the way.
7. Walt Disney was a big supporter of space travel and did what he could to educate the general public during the great Space Race and to build larger support for the US Space program. He included these educational sessions on his TV show and wanted attractions in his parks that brought the story of space travel to his guests. The TV pieces of “Man in Space”, “Man and the Moon”, and “Mars and Beyond” sought to enlighten us about the elements of space travel in a way that the average person could understand this otherwise complex subject.
6. With the location of NASA so close to Walt Disney World, is it any wonder that Space Mountain first appeared here in Florida? There was another attraction, Mission to Mars, also located in Tomorrowland. Think about all the space related experiences at Walt Disney World, many of them in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom. Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Stitch’s Great Escape, Astro Orbiter and Hollywood Studios has Star Tours. There have been many attempts to design an attraction that had an engaging “story” and technology to allow for a more realistic space experience, but they fell short in one area or the other. The NASA engineers and astronauts teamed up with Disney Imagineers and along with more modern technology were able to create this new experience.
5. Mission: Space culminates in experiencing what real astronauts feel on take-off and in deep space. Through the use of a centrifuge, guests experience the physical reactions that replicate those of the astronauts in space travel, but actually here on Earth. Imagineers have the responsibility and pleasure of creating the “story” that gives us the reason to experience the attraction. They created the International Space Training Center. The ISTC has recruited you to be part of a mission to Mars, if you are willing. You are given a position for the training mission and your crew needs you to perform that task because they each have a task of their own to perform.
4. You enter the attraction through the Planetary Plaza. The details found in this Plaza and the queue are incredible. This is a very cool attraction design! The large red Mars planet in the plaza went through 100 possible shades of red prior to this one being chosen. The large Moon here has markings on it that represent the 29 missions to the moon completed by either US or Russia. You will see quotes from famous astronauts as you walk down the queue. Further in you can see a real NASA Lunar Roving Vehicle that is here courtesy of the Smithsonian. There are only four of these in existence so get a good look at it. This is the only LRV made by NASA that is not on the Moon. There are additional props from the film Mission to Mars, which was released in 2000. You see what looks like “mission control” as you progress to your training room. There is a very impressive 35-foot diameter view of an in-space living area. Look in the center to see the old Horizons logo which was torn down to make Mission: SPACE.
3. Your first decision is which version of the ride to experience: less intense or more intense? There are not many theme park attractions that give you alternate experiences. This is an important decision. My youngest enjoys the more intense and her siblings will only ride the less intense version, if at all. My middle child explained that the more intense makes her feel very sick and she has to find a place to lay down until the rest of us are ready to leave the park before she wants to move again. Obviously, she should not ride that one. She did not want to give up on the attraction so she tried the less intense on another day. This experience left her feeling dizzy and sick also, but still able to walk around the park. If you are prone to motion sickness, which none of my children have exhibited outside of this ride, I would recommend the less intense version if you really want to ride this. The Orange Team is the more intense experience and the Green Team is for those wanting a less intense version. The Orange Team uses different equipment from the Green, for instance, the Orange Team uses the actual centrifuge spinning you and tilting the vehicle to simulate the sustained G-forces felt by astronauts. The Green Team does not include the spinning effect of the centrifuge, it is actually a motion simulator. Disney directs you if you are unsure of which experience to try that you try the Green Team first. If you do ok on that one you may want to go back and experience the Orange Team version. Note: This is still not as intense as an actual shuttle flight.
After selecting your experience level you will be guided into a training room, where you will see Gary Sinise (Apollo 13, Mission to Mars, CSI New York) on TV screens. He explains your mission, which is traveling on the X2 Deep Space Shuttle, here at ISTC, which will simulate a mission to Mars. Following the training film you will enter a long circular-shaped hallway. There are four of you that ISTC refer to you as Cadets, for each Shuttle. Each member of the team performs different tasks. Make sure you listen to your assignment and what you are supposed to do to fulfill that role on the mission. You will be identified as a navigator, pilot, commander or engineer.
You then enter your vehicle, through a narrow doorway. My first impression on seeing that was, motion sickness alone would not keep me out of there, but that claustrophobia may play a part as well. So, you enter the vehicle, have a seat and pull down your harness, and get ready. 5-4-3-2-1 Lift off! You feel the power below your seat and hear the roaring of the engines shooting you into the sky. You complete a maneuver of curving around the moon, which brings you into a hypersleep[P1] state and boomerangs you toward Mars. You need to focus on your position to complete the mission of landing on the red planet.
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After the ride you can experience Mission: SPACE Advanced Training Lab. If you don’t want to ride, go to the left side and enter through the gift shop, walk through the shop to gain access to the Advanced Training Lab. You will find areas to play for all ages. There is a great family-oriented game in here named Space Race that pits two crews and spaceships against each other. This interactive game can accommodate large numbers of guests each time the game is played. I highly recommend trying the space ship crew experience and also the mission control experience down on the main floor. The crew collects ship “fixes” coming up on their screen from mission control. They use game controllers to direct “hands” to collect the fix, which comes in the form of a jewel. Each crew member is responsible for delivering one specific color fix to the ship. Mission control can select the language they want and then they will select whatever color fix they want to start with. They complete a game sequence prior to uploading the fix to the ship’s crew. Good mission control players will look for what color fixes are not coming up enough to fix the broken parts of the ship and will select the color needed. The crew can also shout down to mission control what color(s) they are needing. They work together. They also work to be faster than the other ship’s team. Once all the fixes are done the ship gets a powerful boost to move them faster through space. Halfway through the teams get to take a break and watch the graphic screen that shows how their ship is performing, which one is ahead, and what percentage they have for working together. Then the game begins again as the ships race back to Earth.
There are additional video games, a photo-postcard you can email to yourself or someone else, a dog-tag making machine with space themes, and even a giant play area with tubes and slides for young children to enjoy.
Ride Vehicle and Track:
· Space capsule
· Centrifuge technology or Motion Simulator: choice of two experiences
· Cost of attraction: 100 Million US Dollars
· There were two lawsuits around the construction of this ride, one by the company building the motion simulators against Disney and a counter-suit by Disney against the ride manufacturers. It was settled in 2009.
· Each space capsule holds 4 guests, all in a row
· Each NASA grade centrifuge has 10 arms, each holding a capsule; there are four centrifuges.
· There is air circulation fans onboard to help combat motion sickness
· You will look out “windows” right in front of you with high resolution computer screens and high-tech audio.
· Ride carries 1600 riders each hour of operation
· Riders of the more intense version experience up to 2.5G’s (about twice Earth’s gravitational force)
· Ride is 4 minutes long, and there is a 1 ½ minute pre-show before the ride
· 44” height requirement
· Wheelchair accessible, must transfer from wheelchair to ride vehicle
2. The year the experience is set in is 2036, on board the fictional vehicle created by Disney Imagineers.
1. Imagineers had to invent much of the technology to make this ride operational. This drive was exhibited over and over by Walt Disney himself and continues in Imagineers today.
Warnings: You will read, and hear several times, that if you are prone to claustrophobia (fear of small spaces), spinning or motion sickness, that you are not to ride this. The large sign out front and on the multi-language card they hand you for your experience, tell you that riders may experience dizziness, nausea, headaches, disorientation and if you have a history of motion sickness, migraines, vertigo, anxiety, or who currently have a headache or inner ear problem, should not ride. Many riders have had to be evacuated to the hospital after riding this attraction. Many complain of chest pains or nausea. The greatest percentage of those evacuated are over the age of 55.
Two deaths have occurred on this ride by individuals with pre-existing conditions. One was a 4-year old boy who had an undiagnosed heart condition. The other was a woman, 49, who had high blood pressure and experienced a stroke while on the ride.
“For safety you should be in good health, and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness or other conditions that can be aggravated by this adventure. CAUTION! You may experience motion sickness on this adventure! Mission: SPACE is a realistic and intense simulation of space flight. It is unlike anything that you have ever experienced.”
TIP: Read the warnings and heed them. IF you still choose to ride, keep your head flat against your headrest and focus straight ahead, don’t try to look around or at your other crew members while in flight.
· (Replaces former Horizons pavilion)
· April 2000-work began, along with sponsorship from Compaq
· 2002-Hewlett-Packard merged with Compaq and began its sponsorship of the attraction
· Summer 2003-soft opening
· August 15, 2003-actual opening date, motion sickness bags are added for each cadet on each flight in an easy to find location
· October 9, 2003-Grand Opening attended by a very impressive list that included Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Carly Fiorina-CEO of HP (Sponsor of the attraction), Sean O’Keefe the Administrator of NASA and NASA Astronauts from flights on Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and crew members that were on the International Space Station. (This alone would have made it a great event, to see all of these space heroes together here.)
· May 19 2006- The less intense version, or the Green Team, is added and the name of the original ride changes to the Orange Team-More Intense version
Gift Shop: Mission: SPACE Cargo Bay is located to the left of the entrance. You will find space-themed merchandise from posters of planets, t-shirts, plush helmets to freeze dried ice cream like the astronauts enjoy in flight. There is a large assortment of Star Wars merchandise as well.
Restaurants nearby: There are no table service restaurants located in this area of Future World but The Electric Umbrella quick serve is located nearby that serve wraps, cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, or vegetarian flatbread. There are various snack carts near the attraction.
Restrooms: The closest restroom is to walk straight out from the front of the attraction toward
Cast Member Costumes: The same costumes are worn by male and female cast members. They are gray flight jumpsuits with accent colors in red, blue and black.