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A journey of ninety-seven hours and twenty minutes

"Ad Luna in flama Gloria" - written by Guillaume Richaud

A french version with several pictures is also available here!

In one of his first novel, Jules Verne imagined the amazing adventure of a little group of American and French explorers for a trip, "From the Earth to the Moon"...


1865, Jules Verne wrote one of his best novels, fully interesting with a very original and exciting story (just imagine the reactions about a space trip during the 19th century!), beautiful with poetry, this one characteristic of Verne, and, above all, accurate with a lot of explanations, figures and formulas... It's even said that the curves, parabolas and other facts that describe the route of the cannonball were checked with accuracy by the French astronomer and physicist Jules Janssen and also by Joseph Bertrand, a mathematician. As Ward Kimball could say, "From the Earth to the Moon" is a science story... but not science FICTION! This writer, born in Nantes loved indeed the exactitude in his books, because he wanted to describe a possible true story, not something totally dreamy and impossible. That's why when you read "From the Earth to the Moon" or "20.000 leagues under the Sea" or anything else, you believe that what you're reading is a sort of documentary, and not a novel. During is life, Jules Verne was compared with a dreamer.

The 20th century gave him all of his credibility.

Today, near Paris, the dream Jules Verne had 130 years ago has become true. Since the first of June 1995, an extraordinary cathedral of copper and steel proudly overhang Discoveryland. Throughout the park, guests can hear scary thunderclap... "Une détonation épouvantable, inouïe, surhumaine, dont rien ne saurait donner une idée, ni les éclats de la foudre, ni le fracas des éruptions, se produisit instantanément." (Chap. XXVI). In every corner of the mountain, many screams can be heard...

Its name : Space Mountain - De la Terre à la Lune.


Experts know that very well, Space Mountain is not a new idea. This is not a Parisian exclusivity, each of the four Disney's theme park own a "copy" of this attraction. And it would be difficult to deal with the French attraction without saying a few words on its brothers...

The first concepts date back to the 1960's, the idea comes from Walt Disney Himself. The latter had imagined a Spaceport project for Tomorrowland. This concept would have included a sort of indoor roller coaster (because of the huge rainfalls of Florida), totally plunged in the dark. It's only after ten years of research and developing that Space Mountain born, the 15th of January of 1974. Unfortunately, Walt wasn't there to see his dream come true.

Here is, in a nutshell, the story of our attraction.

The big success associated with Space Mountain was of course the pretext to build another one in Anaheim. The latter opened its gates in May 1977 (like... Star Wars!), giving a good boost to a Tomorrowland unchanged for almost a decade. And it was the same story for Tokyo, a replica of the Californian mountain grown at the same time of the opening of the park, 15th of April 1983.

And Paris... French would certainly have the opportunity to ride this attraction, in its preliminary concepts, an amazing mountain appeared as a masterpiece in Discoveryland. However, 12th of April 1992, inauguration day of Euro Disneyland, there is nothing. The area is empty.

Born in the USA

We have to go to the little town of Glendale, in the suburbs of L.A. to learn a bit more. It's among quiet houses that we found the headquarters of Walt Disney Imagineering. First named WED Enterprises (because of Walter Elias Disney), it's there that each Disney attraction has been imagined, devised, designed and built for forty-five years... But this story, you already know it!

Of course, Space Mountain was born in those offices, ten years ago. Yes, since 1988, Tim Delaney had Space Mountain in mind... Delaney, keep this name in mind, to describe him, only a few words are necessary: chef designer of Discoveryland, and also - and above all - executive designer of Space Mountain.

As we said, three similar rides are dispatched in the three others parks, around the world. And its success was a good excuse to build a new one in Disneyland Paris. But Discoveryland is the homeland of visionaries, its residents are named H.G. Wells, Leonardo Da Vinci and, of course, Jules Verne. So, the idea of a tribute was relevant. But the layout and the main theme of Discoveryland are different from the one for Tomorrowland. Discoveryland is literally "the future with 19th century's eyes", you can see the design is really different from any Tomorrowland in the world. And it's not compatible. This is why the French roller coaster doesn't look like, in any way, its three counterparts.

It's from reading "From the Earth to the Moon" that Delaney probably got a clear vision of what Space Mountain would be. Formerly "Discovery Mountain" (its first name), had the appearance of a kind of mountain, type "Vulcania" (the home of the Nautilus). But with time, and a lot of paper sheets used, a romantic version was born. When you look at Space Mountain, you travel back a century ago, you become a dreamer or a utopian from the beginning of the century. Steel sheets, rivets, strong constructions, giant frameworks, copper reinforcements, illuminations and fabulous design make this attraction a mix of the Nautilus and the Eiffel Tower for instance! Have you ever walked down Discovery Arcade in Disneyland Paris, one of the two covered walkways, on Main Street ? Have you ever noticed those wonderful fantasy painting of American cities at the beginning of the century? New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles or New Orleans are perfectly represented... It's exactly the same thing, the same idea...

Space Mountain brings to Discoveryland a fantastic additional touch, it literally dramatized the whole land, gives it a second breathe.

But let's talk about its building. In 1993, Discoveryland became an hectic place, with a to-ing and fro-ing of trucks, workers and other cranes, you can ever feel an incredible activity behind the building site's fences. It's the German company, Vekoma, which is responsible for the construction of the mountain. Many photos and concept painting give an idea of the roller coaster to the guests, but the mystery is still intact. Little by little, it can be seen above of the fences a gigantic building, it's a strange vision (as usual in a Disney theme park...), but it is not yet what we are eagerly waiting for.

Months went by, and it's at the end of the building site that the biggest problems came up... The Columbiad Cannon, which is almost "a show inside the show", did not work! It's the recoil system of the Columbiad that was out of order. Delaney designed it as a real cannon, with smoke, detonation, acceleration and recoil. Each of those special effects are necessary, depend on each other, and the magic live only with this global theatrical effect, which is the soul of Space Mountain. But that's not all... The French security committee claimed that the train's rapidity is too high, which could be dangerous. Imagineering is compelled to reduce the speed, but Delaney does not totally agree, because this one is major, from a practical point of view but also from an artistic side! The celerity is one of the key of the success, if the speed is high, the time capacity is, too, high, so the waiting time in the queue is less important, and the number of space travellers is, of course, bigger... But, actually, reducing speed can be summed up as reduced joy and hold a fabulous experience in statistic figures... Delaney doesn't like that. Moreover, there is now the problem of the score, which is totally synchronized with the ride! Imagineers try to cut or mix but... the partition must be rewritten. And Steve Bramson, the music composer had to offer his great talent once again...

There are only a few weeks to go until the inauguration day...

Fortunately, after numerous flights between Paris and Los Angeles, D-day has come. Space Mountain works perfectly. The first of June 1995, some lucky adventurers climbed into the rocket-trains for a fantastic journey From the Earth to the Moon...

But what is Space Mountain... It's simply the best roller coaster ever build on the planet (on a technical point of view). It's the only one to use a real catapult, like on aircraft carrier, it's the only one to had its own music, entirely synchronised and specially made for the show, it's the first Disney's roller coaster to feature a loop and a spiral in complete darkness, and it's, after all, the easiest way to say a quick "hello" to Mrs Moon...

The myth and its magic

There is an amazing atmosphere throughout The Mountain... First, in the Starway, where screams ring out from everywhere, plunged in the dark, your heart get carried away, between two yells you hear a soft music, you're bewitched, feeling on your eyes the star light... the ground is vibrating beyond your feet, entirely plunged in the heart of the beast, among a million stars and asteroids, among the trains riding around you... Atmosphere is heavy, excitation, fear and wonder became one, you admit definitely that Space Mountain is not JUST an attraction, not an additional roller coaster on an already long list. Doubt is no longer possible, this mountain itself has a soul... Then, light is, you are still in your clouds, music of "Krull" in mind, you see a blue dome and its stars in the middle of the antechamber, far away, walls are painting with strange drawings and writing from Verne's book, you can also see a very close view of the Columbiad Cannon. At last, the Victorian station is revealing to you, it was already fabulous from the outside, you see beyond you the rocket trains which goes and arrives, waiting bold passengers... YOU, particularly. Pressure rises and rises when you hear, with dread the huge detonation of the cannon...

It's hard to believe that, soon, you can also sit you into the train, ready to live the adventure, like Michel Ardan...

The awaited moment arrive... A Cast Member approaches and shows you the good way to your place in the roller coaster. There's no way to get out! You pull down your security belt (what a nice clic-clac isn't it) and you wait. You wait. And then the score begins, the train runs slowly, slowly but surely! Pressure increases, a great bend and you see just before diving, some riders still alive after the trip. First dive; you are in the stock of the Columbiad Cannon and the roller coaster stops for the first time. Some instants after, this one goes laboriously up to the point of launching. No noises anymore but the music always more haunting, the drum roll begins, still some seconds, you feel, you feel you're on the point of going to the stars, but no, you don't manage to think, surrounded by adrenaline until the moment where... Music panicked, you are flattened into your seat, you can't move one finger, it becomes more and more rapid, you scream, you laugh... The train arrives at the top of the cannon in the dark, you feel the (stellar) wind on your face and... Second dive.

But you have to go to Disneyland Paris to know the end of this journey, we doesn't tell you what this adventure looks like inside the Mountain.

But I'm sure you have some imagination...

By the way, why didn't you heard the detonation at the time of the launch? Very simple, because "Our cannonball goes faster than the sound!" (Autour de la Lune - Chap. II)

The End

Beyond every admirating, mystic or esoteric connotations from us, Space Mountain is (is and remain) in the heart of everyone a sort of hymn. A hymn to magic, imagination and creativity. It is a tribute to artists and dreamers who had built this world. Because precepts of science are named... dreams. Like a metaphor of this Faith in Tomorrow, dear to Walt Disney, Space Mountain is, for many people, the masterpiece of Disneyland Paris since 1995. So far from the concrete, steel and $90 millions necessary for the construction, when you go through the entrance of the attraction, you can see the best achievement of the Imagineers, a sort of thing that sum up perfectly this state of mind characterizing each Disney themes parks. Space Mountain rediscovers the former spirit of the attractions designed by Walt Disney himself, romantic, spectacular, dramatic and, in a word: fabulous.


Special thanks to every people who participate in this fantastic tribute to the best roller coaster of the Milky Way.
Greetings for Jules, Walt, Tim & Laura

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