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« Discussion Forums | Main | "As Long as There Is Imagination Left in the World": Putting the Phrase to Better Use »
Monday
Jun172013

Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain Construction

Enjoy these rare construction photos of Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain, taken in 1974.

Although the concept of Space Mountain was originally envisioned for Disneyland, the first Space Mountain to open was at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. After the Matterhorn Bobsleds opened at Disneyland in 1959 and were hugely popular, Disneyland management asked for a second thrill ride. Walt was on board but the plans for this second coaster were delayed for another decade. Disneyland didn't get their Space Mountain until 1977, more than two years after Magic Kingdom got theirs in 1975. 

 

Related posts:

THEN AND NOW: MK Tomorrowland [Part 1]
Signs of the Times: Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland '67 [Part 1]
Walt Disney World in 1971 [Part 1]
WDW Construction: Magic Kingdom
WDW Construction: Liberty Square


Reader Comments (16)

These are some very cool photo's!

-Justin

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

Space Mountain's history of conception is always one that's fascinated me; then again, a lot of the attractions had a similar destiny: early conception, and then were ahead of their time until the correct tech arrived to make it happen. Sadly, Walt never saw of lot them realized.

Oddly, Big Thunder Mountain is it's awkward twin; originally slated for WDW, but plans fell through for Thunder Mesa and it was pushed forward in Disneyland before here. I always thought it funny they swapped.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerek

In the third picture, it looks like there is already part of the actual coaster support structure constructed on the lower-mid left side. I'm not an engineer, but I wonder why that would have taken place already since there was so much more of the building to be completed.

Awesome pictures

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCary

This is my favorite site. These pics are priceless. Great point on the partial track construction in the third pic. Rock & Rollercoaster track was completed outside first then the building around it followed.

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersm57co

What wonderful pictures!

It always surprises me to see pictures of the Space Mountain interior with the lights on - it always looks so much smaller than I imagine it to be when riding through it in the dark!

June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

BEAUTIFUL images!!

June 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Cozart

In response to the question regarding why it there is track supports in place while the roof is still open. Typically, if the crane is available, then it is going to be used, as they are an expensive piece of equipment to be kept on site and it makes the construction process easier to install if the roof is not in place. I would venture to guess that most of the track support structure was in place before the dome's roof was fully installed. You will also see the queue are structure along bottom of this same photo. Similarly, Rock'n Roller Coaster had the entire track installed before the show building structure was built.

-Justin (I am an engineer :) )

PS - notice the cranes off to the left and in the background. This is the site for the Carousel of Progress also under construction.

June 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

Mark Davis had a Thunder Mesa in his Fronteirland design for Walt Disney World. Tony Baxter's original Big Thunder design for it did not. In 1977 the project got the green light and the 1 inch model was started based on Tony's 1/4 inch model started maybe in 1973 and put on hold back then. Midway they said they needed a Big Thunder in Disneyland and it was started, and WDW was put on hold. It was restarted after Disneyland's model was completed and building in the field underway. It opened in 1979. WDW Big Thunder was completed in 1980 with no Thunder Mesa. Thunder Mesa would be picked up in 1992 in Tony Baxter's 4th Big Thunder in Euro Disneyland, as the name of the town in Fronteirland. Disneyland has Rainbow Ridge, Walt Disney World has Tumbleweed, and Paris Disneyland has Thunder Mesa in honor of Mark Davis. I don't believe there was a town name applied in Tokyo Disneyland's Westernland Big Thunder.

June 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterProfessional Dreamer

I remember I was told Space Mountain's foundation at Walt Disney World, rested on 3 points. It had a great pre show on opening in 1975. Being the first mountain there, "I skied Space Mountain" shirts were made up for some of it's WED team designers in the Mickey Mouse Ski Club.

June 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterProfessional Dreamer

Space Mountain is without a doubt my favorite ride of all time. To have pictures like this is a dream come true. I could ride it all day.

June 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMixer

We rode it before they used sand bags for testing. I guess they figured the sand bags were expensive and custom made. Don't know where that put us? Astronaut Gordon Cooper worked at WED at this time and was a big push behind it.

June 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterProfessional Dreamer

Great photos. I really enjoy your site!

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Hickson

What beautiful old photographs.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCalgary roofing

Great pictures. I love seeing construction pics from the parks. I love your blog and definitely plan to come back often. Thank you for the great article!

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWalt Disney Quotes

Aloha!

My grandfather was the WDW doctor (Bourguignon), and the approving MD for this attraction. Its original speed he deemed too fast for the then much shakier track.

(no one was decapitated on this attraction.)

sandbags just come before cast tests and soft openings.

when Splash opened, we shot a sandbagged log straight out of it and into the Rivers of America. it was a good day for sandbags.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwdw tink

They had the WED Imagineers ride it before the sandbags as they didn't want to destroy any of them. They kept trying different wheel materials as some made it faster or slower than others.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

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