I base my contention that Space Mountain may be plussed with an audio soundtrack during the refurb because 7-months is plenty of time to do so, there is a critical need for it, and the WDW site's previous language served as confirmation enough...but even though removed, still supports a strong possibility. I do not base my notions on the popular opinion of this blog site or others.
First, thanks for the kind words earlier in your post. They are appreciated. As to the onboard audio. The strong rumors that seem to be coming out of the insiders lately is that WDI does want to add on board audio to the attraction, but that its not in the budget for this current refurb. However they have been given the greenlight to rebuild the track as needed to support the added weight that on board audio will bring.
Then, when the money does become available, audio can be added at a later date. Adding the audio, at least to my knowledge, wouldn't require that the attraction be down too long to do so. Most of the work could be done off site, since it primarily has to do with building the ride vehicles to support it.
However no one knows what "later date" means though, whether it would just be a few months, or whether it might be a year or more.
I don't understand the weight issue. How could an onboard sound system weigh enough to require a stronger track system. Unless I'm missing something you would need Speakers in each seat, amplifiers, an audio storage device (probably some form of flash memory), some sort of sensor to signal what part of the track the car is at, a small computer to control everything, and a battery to power it (or some sort of bus bar on the track). I would think it would probably be under 10 pounds, I could probably put all of it in a bag and bring it on the ride with me so where's the problem.
The battery is heavier than you think, so they say.
Yeah I would think the battery would be the heaviest part, but it could be done without a battery. I think the issue at DL was poor planning. They must have decided to go with heavy batteries and just didn't think about what effect it may have on the track. It could certainly be done at WDW and wouldn't require new track.
Lots of new weight (remember the cars must get bigger to put the speakers near your head, etc).. Lots of weight up HIGH = greater forces then weight down low. Lots and lots and lots of repetition means little additional stress adds up over time.
Technology has come a long way since they first tried it at DL - so I'm sure they can do a lot better then when they first tried. JHM had pictures of the audio packs for Rip, Rockit at UO just the other day. Pretty compact and small.. but that still doesn't account for the additional vehicle volume and speakers themselves.
In short.. I'm sure they learned their lesson and would engineer around it this time and the solution for DL doesn't mean it would be the same solution for WDW. 10+ years of technology, and many many waves of experience since then gives you an entirely new picture.
The rumors the insiders have been reporting is 100% new track, however reusing many of the old supports where possible. So only partial track support replacement. The biggest cut to the refurb seems to be that the audio won't be onboard like at DL when the ride resumes and they'll just be refitting the old rockets. However it is being done so that if the money opens up in the future, the track will be able to support rockets with on board audio.
The rumors also point to upgrades to the queue (which we've just recently seen confirmation of) as well as upgrades to the postshow, although to what extent we don't know.