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Space Mountain (de la Terre a la Lune)

By Jean-Marc Toussaint

Attention FAQ readers, the following section contains SPOILERS for Disneyland Paris's fortieth and newest wonder, Space Mountain. The ride is located next to the Nautilus lagoon in Discoveryland, and is themed on Jules Verne's book "From the Earth to the Moon". For those of you who still wanna read more, welcome to the fastest ride ever built at a Disney Park!

Going to the station is a very good teaser, since you have to walk a long and very dark corridor through the entire building, and you may see some portions of the ride and sets through large openings in the walls. There is also a 'chicken' route which allows you to view the pre-show without actually going on the ride.

Once inside the station you board one of the trains (6 cars, 4 seats per car) themed like sci-fi vehicles designed in the 1900s, featuring over-the-shoulders restraints. After a long turnaround inside a tube, you reach a sudden drop that leads you to the bottom of the cannon. A hook attaches itself under the train and you are pulled into the enormous Columbiad Cannon.

A very loud detonation is heard, smoke fills the cannon and the train is catapulted into the circuit. A short drop is followed by a long downward helix in complete darkness. You dodge some little asteroids and then you plunge into the looping. Leaving the first inversion, the train rushes through a huge "space mining" machine and a series of trim-brakes which lead you into the core of a melting asteroid. Then comes another sudden drop into the corkscrew. After a 360 degree inversion, the train "hangs" briefly at a 90 degree angle before a fast section of track to the second lift. The train climbs the hill very quickly - a 'road sign' says "to the Moon: 50,000 km" - and you reach the Moon, which looks like the one in George Melies' 1902 film.

The train drops suddenly as you leave the satellite orbit and rushes through some other meteorites. The train negotiates a "horseshoe" (a flat standing upward turn) and gains speed as it reaches another downward helix with dark light effects simulating re-entry into the atmosphere. The train hits the brakes through a shower of sparks inside the "Electro de Velocitor" machine, and then goes back gently back to the station.

Needless to say, this ride is excellent - the best at the park and the best steel roller coaster in France. Special effects and sets are superb. The soundtrack (a bit John Williams-ish) is magnificent, and the onboard audio system is CD quality.

I've been on the ride dozens of times now (the cast members think I'm a bit deranged, and pretend that I hold the world record!) and it is still pure amazement.

Bienvenue a Paris, space travellers!

Special thanks to: Cast members Aurelie, Jamie, Isabelle, Kirsten and Monte for smooth dispatch, excellent ride operation and long and passionate chats about Disney and roller coasters. All the cast at the Star Traders shop for ultra kindness.

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