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COASTER KINGDOM Space Mountain Review

by Marcus Sheen

Original version at http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/

Disney carried on with the trend set out by Indiana Jones and commissioned their second looping coaster to be built. Also, they added a launch... Is it a good ride though?

Disney has traditionally had a serious bias to the familly. This seemed to be a very successful approach, one which has been used in all of their Magic Kingdom parks up until 1995 when Indiana Jones opened boasting a big fat juicy vertical loop.

Although not one of the most acclaimed rides in history, it was a loop, and it did fill a gap in the market for the thrill seeker, albeit a desperate one. Since then, Space Mountain has opened and features several inversions and also a launch. It looks like Disney are waking up to the current market, which seems to be well themed and elaborate thrill rides.

Inversions aside, Space Mountain also had a few other aspects making it stand out from other Space Mountains... Speakers built into the seats play computer controlled musical scores and the theme, although space, was themed in with the Jules Verne era and their fascination with space travel.

Approaching the ride, impressions are high. The building is very imposing, it is beautifully themed, even better at night, and the large Colombaid cannon on the side is both massive and intricately detailed. The ride actually goes 4m underground too, meaning this is one hell of a ride, it also gets within a metre of the ceiling which is pretty damn close. If it ever breaks down, trot up to the Stella Starway and prepare to be shocked. Chances are, the lights will be on and you will see just how tight the track is.

My biggest gripe with Disney as a whole, apart from the obvious fake facade that the whole company has, is their like of cattle pen queues. All their rides have them, Space Mountain is no exception, and once you have finished this part you enter the building and watch the "you are about experience a turbulent journey through space" videos and climb the stairs to the queuing side of the Stella Starway. This is basically a bridge though the centre of the ride, yet another thing the other Space Mountains don't have and allows you to see the lit trains streak though the inky blackness amoung large fake meteors.

You walk part the brake run as well which does well to freak you out on your first go. A deep humming grows and grows and then there is a huge crack of thunder as the train "lands". You walk though some more rooms and enter the cavernous station which to boost capacity uses two tracks.

My first though when I got in the train was all the extra padding that has been added to the restraints and the back of the headrest. It seems ironic that a "gentle" park would get a ride from a company renowned as being rough as hell.

When the train leaves you slalom up to a small dip which takes the front onto the lift. It engages and pulls the back of the train onto the incline. This is when you think it has launched but then it stops, THEN launches. The launch is great fun, and all the better as it is on an incline. But, the ride has been badly designed and tops out like a normal lift unlike Hulk for instance meaning that it has to slow to avoid damage to both train and passengers. It actually slows to the point your head comes forward.

After topping out you swoop into the centre of the mountain before doing well over one whole lap of it and being pulled through a side winder. You climb out of this, skip through some trim brakes swooping through a bit of abandoned moon mining machinery turning around and going through a corkscrew.

After this you quickly speed up one of the nippier lifts I have been on before twisting down into what is called a horseshoe which is an elongated loop really, sort of a mid air U turn. This is pretty good and gives you a reasonable "falling out of seat" sensation.

You then thunder into the brakes as the music crescendos to it's finale and you head back into the station, depending on how many trains they are running, it depends what side you'll finish on. Often it is the opposite side in which you start on.

Ride wise, my opinions are that it is a pretty simple layout. I had to look at a map of the rides layout to do this review though as it is so dark inside that I had no idea what was happening. Space Mountain relies on set pieces instead of lights which is very nice to look at on the Stella Starway, but you just don't notice it on the ride.

This is a real shame as the train is really struting it's funky stuff in there, it's doing some really spectacular stuff that I haven't seen before and I missed it all because it was so dark. There is no point looping when you don't even reallise you're even upsidedown.

It is also a pretty rough ride. It doesn't hurt though at all as it is so heavilly padded. Without the padding though I think it would be a pretty uncomfortable ride.

On the plus side, the launch is fun, the ride is fun and the whole idea of the cannon, the theming and the music is brilliant. The Stella Starway is also a welcome addition which is long overdue on all enclosed rides.

If you really listen out for the music it really adds to the ride. That was a great idea, and it works. Although I found myself actually thinking I hadn't heard it, I feel that without it the ride would really be lacking somthing.

Hopefully Disney have heard these opinions, Rock N Roller is similar in that it's an enclosed coaster, but, it seems that's where the similarities end. The launch will be using LIMs (although under a different guise), and the theme in my opinion is a stroke of genius. Hopefully they lighten it up, obviously even SM can be lightened, they'll have a stunning ride if that ever happened.

Rating 6/10 Just too dark. It is a great ride though, both for Disney and Vekoma

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