I recently had the chance to experience the newly refurbished Space Mountain at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. I will admit that after being spoiled with the redo of Disneyland's Space Mountain, which took two and a half years, my expectations were pretty high. Still I was hoping, despite all that I knew of WDW management and the shorter timetable, that there would be a noticeable improvement in the aged attraction. Unfortunately there is little that was improved.
Approaching the attraction the first noticeable change is the blue/green color scheme. It works and gives the show building a fresh look. Entering the building, however we are still on a platform above a pit of silver, rubber balls that appear not to have been touched during the refurb and the same tired backlit wall sign with an updated display. No video screen rotating images to set up story, just the same tired, static, lighted fixture.
Entering the long tunnel leading to the loading station we, again, see the same old displays of optical effects of stars and planets. Again, no real change. Would it have killed them to perhaps update these headache inducing windows with some more, up-to-date effects? Suggestions I could offer would be perhaps a pepper's ghost nebula effects that would constantly be in motion or other spacecraft shooting in and out of wormholes in space.
We then approach the newly installed queue games. Simple as they are they are actually very well done and have the desired effect of making the wait more entertaining. My only complaint regarding the games are the painful, hard plastic controls visitors are asked to hit repeatedly . OUCH!
Visitors load from the same area too except that the once open area above the queue has now been enclosed and digital projections create a window out into "space". Nice.
The experience turns sour once on the ride. The seats may have been refurbished but the same old track creates the same painful experience. After dipping down into the blue strobe tunnel and being stunned by the flash of a newly installed on-ride photo system, we trudge up the same old clunky lift hill. Completely breaking the sense of wonder the chain lift clanks noisily and pulls you passed virtually untouched "futuristic" scenes. Dusted mannequins perched on archaic space age sets sit lifeless as cars clank by. The 70's technology that was once amazing, now sits as a museum piece for all the world to see. Pretty sad.
Cresting the hill the ride feels unchanged as the sharp turns churn away at riders. They really cheaped out here. There is NO onboard sound system like there is in Disneyland. That would have required them to focus more on a new track that could support the added weight. Instead, it's the same old track with the same old pain and the same old sound of screams from riders in the dome on the ride. The only true improvement is the enclosure of the queue that ends up making the ride in the dome darker.
After the same, tired sonic boom tunnel effect we are then deposited into what can only be described as a foyer at a convention center. The same, tired unload area with no story attachment and little theme aside from the color scheme. it is here that you can get a glimpse of your on-ride photo before getting on the moving sidewalk that takes you back to the front of the attraction past the nearly untouched scenes of the future.
On my visit, (i rode it twice on different days) the new green screen effect was down.
THIS is how the WDW management updates a signature attraction nowadays? They did such a wonderful job on the Haunted Mansion. Mansion went from a usual 5 minute wait to an average 20 minute wait because of it's amazing refurbishment. Space Mountain's refurb, by contrast, is an embarrassment. Why did they cheap out when they knew that quality brings the crowds. Nobody cares to repeat something that is so painfully familiar. They could have had a world class attraction on their hands and, instead, they have an old grey mayer gussied up to make it just a few more years.
Enough of me, what did YOU think about the refurb?