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Shoot for the Moon
40 Years of Imagineering

originally broadcasted by BBC 2 in 1995 but this is taken from a subtitled Belgian broadcast by BRT1 (now TV1)

Text audio-copied and described in an enhanced version by Nico SEGERS

uncertain/unintelligible words are underlined


In 1863, Jules Verne had a vision. He called it: "Paris in the 20th Century". He foresaw a future of electric lights, automobiles and roads streeped with traffic. It was the story of a world gone wrong. He even predicted a vast mechanical cathedral would rise in the center of Paris. But the book was too pessimistic to print. In 1889, technology caught up. But Verne had moved on. His next book, "From the Earth to the Moon", was an optimistical celebration of the triumph of science.

Today, 40 miles (~64 km) outside Paris, Verne's 19th Century-fantasy space travel is slowly becoming real. This is a story where fact and fiction change place. It's a story about the future, and the people who invent it.

(Title "Shoot for the Moon" appears)

Eight miles north of Los Angeles, a few minutes drive off the Interstate, is a small suburb of Glendale. Hidden in the quiet tree-lined streets, is a high-security compound. Exactly what happens inside, has remained a closely guarded secret for over 40 years. What goes on here, is a kind of madness. This is the place where the Walt Disney Company® lunges up new forms of mass-entertainment. At Disney® Imagineering, reality is kept at arms' length. Here, even the drinking fountains have ideas of their own!

Drinking fountain: "Hey, what are you trying to do? Drown me?!? Uche, uche ..."

Eddie SOTTO (Vice President, Concept Designer):
It's a combination of imagination and engineering. People with pocket-protectors and pens, and there are engineers and there are all electronic experts, and scientists, and dreamers, and artists, and sculptors... you couldn't imagine a more diverse collection of people, all combined to the same goal.

(fragment: rollercoaster animation through a model simulation - camera rolls down the track - "Aajeee! ... And that's the part I'm really waiting for!!" (laughter))

Bran FERREN (Executive Vice President, Creative Technology):
Officially, its purpose is to be the master design-, planning-, and construction-entity for the theme parks. What it is in reality, is a bunch of whackos, all locked into a large set of buildings - the function of which is to invent the future of theme parks.

That future is the world's most technically advanced ride. Called "Space Mountain", it's being planned in Los Angeles and will be built in Disneyland® Paris. This is a 'make-or-brake' here for team leader Tim Delaney. An idea he first sketched-out in 1988, will open as a 90 million dollar attraction in four months time.

Tim DELANEY (Executive Designer, Space Mountain):
We design these attractions for ourselves. We design, say: 'What do we think would be really great?'... I mean, that's what engineering's all about. We kind of go out there and say: 'What do we think would be the newest and latest and most challenging experience?'

The process starts with this modified flight simulator, as Bran Ferren's team begins to transform Delaney's dreams into hard engineering data...

It gives us a way to feel and experience what the ultimate attraction would be like, before you'll have to fend-steel, fore-concrete, and do things that are a little hard to change. With this, we can simulate much of the ride experience, and simply - by a few strokes on the keyboard - change it 'till our creative people are satisfied that this is the kind of experience they really want to provide our guests.

The data is collected and converted into a rudimentary 3-dimensional model. The Space Mountain ride takes its first, computer-aided steps. Passengers will board one of five trains. As in Jules Verne's story "From the Earth to the Moon", they'll be packed like ammunition into the breach of the 5 meter-wide cannon. A huge explosion fires the train up and into the blackness of space. The passengers will not see this track or the surrounding structure, as they hurdle at speed, disorientated, upside-down and in the dark. Towards the end of the two-minute ride, they seem to fly through a cluster of asteroids, crushing through one in a shower of sparks.

(broadcasting fragment - we hear the famous "When you Wish upon a Star" theme)

Walt Disney: "I felt that there should be something built, some kind of an amusement enterprise (built), where the children and the parents could have fun together. So that's how Disneyland® started..."

Peter Pan peanut-butter commercial (interpolated): "Your eyes know, your tummy knows, most of all your taster knows: Peter Pan peanut butter --------------------------------- ... best of peanut butter in the land. "

In his search to raise the money to build Disneyland®, Disney became one of the first moviemakers to enter the new medium of television. His instincts paid off: sandwiched between the 30 second-commercials for peanut butter and frozen burgers, was a longer advertisement for his park.

(Disney's advertisement for Disneyland®)

Walt Disney: "Now we want you to share with us our latest and greatest dream. That's it... right here: Disneyland® - seen from about 2000 feet (~610 meter) in the air and 10 months away. Shooting up from here, like the four cardinal points on a compass, Disneyland® is divided into four Cardinal Realms: Adventureland... Tomorrowland...Fantasyland... and Frontierland. We hope that it'll be unlike anything else on this earth - a place of hopes and dreams, facts and fantasy... all in one."

Forty years later, a corner of Disneyland® Paris is a construction site. On a wet night, just only 3 months before Space Mountain is due to open, carriages for the rocket train are shipped in from Holland. The hardware for Space Mountain has been arriving in a steady stream from factories all over Europe. Most of it is going together well. The Mountain, a vast steel volcano, is now a familiar silhouette to visitors. But it's far from complete. The software that will drive the ride is so complex, that a technical team has been recruited from the aerospace industry ...

Doug LeBLANC (Project Manager, Space Mountain):
There's a lot of interaction between the technical people and the creative people. The previous working environment I had been in - which was working with NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which was much more scientifically oriented ... there was very little emotion in the part you were trying to deliver. And there's certainly nothing like, when you finally do open one of these attractions to the public and seeing people's first reactions, you surely aren't asking them: 'Well, did you ... could you tell me how many G's you experienced at that point of the ride?' ... It's: 'are they excited? Are they yelling and screaming and laughing ... and having a good time?', and that's the pay-off.

(broadcasting fragment): "We present the first of our science factual programs, 'Man in Space'."

Forty years ago, space pioneers needed Disney to promote their vision.

(broadcasting fragment)

Walt Disney: "In our modern world, everywhere we look, we see the influence science has on our daily lives. Discoveries that were miracles a few short years ago are accepted as common place today. Many of the things that seem impossible now, will become realities tomorrow. One of the man's oldest dreams has been the desire for space travel. The travel to..." (sound fades and blends into background)

In many ways, the "Man in Space" theme of 1955 were Disney's prototypes for the Imagineers. To give the television audience a glimpse of the experience of space travel, they went to extraordinary lengths to create a completely convincing and factually accurate film journey from the earth to the moon.

(sound volume from the broadcasting goes back up again)

Walt Disney: "Here's director Ward Kimball to tell you more about it."

Ward Kimball: "In working with engineers and scientists, we have found that there are many different opinions as to how we will eventually cross the space frontier ..."

Ward Kimball still lives in Los Angeles. His home is a real monument to a lifetime in the movie business. Walt Disney knew of Kimball's fascination for UFO's and the paranormal, and wanted him to control his instincts for invention.

Ward KIMBALL (Director, Man in Space):
That's the way to go: making the pictures science factual ... (smiles). Not science fiction.

To ensure the film's scientific accuracy, Kimball went looking for a technical expert. He found him in the German rocket scientist Werner von Braun. Von Braun had designed the V2-rocket, and - after the Second World War - was brought over by the American government to work on their missile program. But von Braun had his own plans. He believed that the destiny of the rocket was in space travel, and not as a military weapon. His view was not shared by the American military establishment, who had rather lost interest in his dreams for spaceships to the Moon. When Kimball approached him to advise on Man in Space, he leapt to the chance.

He knew he had a big thing there with television. That's ... that was the thing that sold him on doing this...

(broadcasting fragment: Von Braun explains his plans for the rocket ship)

Von Braun: "Now here's a model, my design for a 4-stage orbital rocket ship. - Compared to the unmanned instrument rocket - is quite large. But the overall size and weight of the rocket is mainly..." (sound fades off and blends in the background)

"Man in Space" was a technical 'tour-de-force'. The scientific detail of the film was extraordinary accurate. Von Braun even suggested the astronauts would return in a prototype version of what was to become the Challenger Space Shuttle.

(Von Braun's speech on the show continues (interpolated))

Von Braun: "The payload in the top section will consist off..." (sound fades away)

Any fact, the film was a direct sales pitch to the American public for his belief in the reality of space travel.

(sound volume from the broadcasting goes back up again)

Von Braun:
If we were to start today on an organized and well-supported space program, I believe a practical passenger rocket could be built and tested within 10 years.

I was very young at that time, and I remember watching the show ... and - like when the commercial breaks or the end of the show - I'd ask my parents - you know: "Was that really ... real?" ... and I think they said something like: 'Well no, I think Mr. Disney just made all that up.'

(broadcasting fragment: Man in Space)

Narrator: Our spaceship moves ponderously toward the firing site ...

After von Braun's introduction to Man in Space, his scientific theories were brought to life in an animated rocket flight.

I was also very positively effected by the fact that someone could take ... a dream, or something that had not yet existed before, and put it into a form that seemed so ... absolutely real.

(broadcasting fragment: Man in Space)

Launch Director (voiced): 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1 (rocket ship takes off)

At 7h30 on March 9th, 1955, an eight-year old Tim Delaney and hundred million others switched on their televisions to watch "Man in Space". Equally interested was a 65-year old viewer in the White House...

It impressed President Eisenhower - I can remember this- and the next day he phoned Walt and wanted to borrow a print of it! Walt wanted to know why, and he said: 'Well, I'm going to show it to all those stove-shirt generals who don't believe we're going to be up there!'

"Man in Space" created a sensation. In the Pentagon, it was run and re-run in private screenings. While on June 15th, due to massive public demand, it was also re-aired on television. On July 29th, now are shown that both the military and the people would back the huge expenditure, the American space program was launched. Kimball's faction-film inspired Tim Delaney's fascination with the science fiction behind Space Mountain. The attraction is based on Jules Verne's 19th-Century novel, "From the Earth to the Moon", where a team of French an American explorers collaborate to build a cannon and fire themselves to the moon. But for the visual style of Space Mountain, Delaney hasn't relied solely on contemporary illustrations. The look of movies like Segundo de Chomon's 1909 "Excursion sur la Lune" has provided a huge repertoire of early science visions. The extraordinary sets of the 1954 Disney version of another classic Verne novel, "20,000 Leagues under the Sea", has been the inspiration for the rivet - and boilerplate-esthetic of Space Mountain. These influences are combined to create a pre-space age version of future technology. And at the heart of the Mountain, is Jules Verne's "Columbiad", a massive 15-ton cannon.

This cannon clearly represents the fact that you ... - this is an experience that, when you get in it and you're launched ... well, I mean: a cannon ... big bang ... launch ... high speed ... It will pay off.

But beneath the carefully art-directed exterior of Space Mountain is a private, unseen world of steam, oil and electronics. Ron Hamming is part of the technical team who must make the cannon work.

(the camera was following Hamming through a corridor, and now he's standing in front of a door, were he notifies the tower of his whereabouts)

Tower, from private 34, going through door 12.

There are six weeks to go.

Ron HAMMING (Ride Project Engineer, Space Mountain):
The pusher vehicle consists of a chassis that is mounted on rails, mounted below the main ride rails, em... and has a fin that interfaces with the launch pole in the train. From this point it launches the train up to the top of the catapult ... (demonstrates)

A mechanical engineer from 'Garret Air Research', Hamming has devised the catapult launch system based on aircraft carrier technology.

We've come up with a concept similar to a very high speed winch ... system, which acts as a catapult, but more ... (more) reliably and more safely than something that the military would use for their pilots and their planes. (shot changes from the interview chamber to the Mountain) This is the inner side of the catapult... the train comes up here, the pusher vehicle attaches to the train and launches the train into the Mountain. (off screen:) The whole catapult launch duration is over within about three seconds. In these three seconds, they've transited about em ... (about) 50 meters of track, so it's comfortable to going to about 0 to 50 mph (~0-80km/h) in about two seconds ...

The G-force of 1.5, felt by the passengers is just a start: the physical thrust would be given additional psychological impact with movie-style special effects. A huge explosion, smoke, and stereo sound are being installed by a special effects expert, Jack Gillette.

Jack GILLETTE (Senior Special Effects Designer):
As for the people on the outside of the park, as also for the people on the ride. So, you have to make it look realistic, but it also has to be safe... - that nobody's gonna get hurt ... and (we just want to) scare 'em a little bit ...

A Disney veteran at 'Captain EO' and 'Tron', Gillette moved from filmmaking to Imagineering 10 years ago.

I started (over) at a studio... em... I was there for about five years, before I moved over to WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering). So, a lot of the same technology that you see in there works back and forth. A lot of the special effects you see in the movies are for a one-time-shot, though, and we have to make our effects go off 12 hours/day, 365 days/year ... So that's... (that's) kind of a challenge in itself, - to make sure that you can't only do the effect once, but that you can keep on doing it.

The connection with the movie-business is not accidental. From the start, the company tried to bring the controlled experience of cinema to the theme parks.

Eddie SOTTO:
Walt Disney wants you to step into the scene. That's why we call Disneyland® 'on stage', and when the Cast Members - which (we) our employees are called - go "behind the scenes", (so are meant to go into...) behind the ... em ... attractions and soforth, that's known as 'backstage'. So, Disneyland® is a stage, and you're just stepping on the stage. We just deleted the seats.

Disney himself had invented the storyboard in the early 30's, and the Imagineers applied this shot-by-shot approach to the original Disneyland® with stunning effect. As this 1958 home movie shows, (shown on screen) the experiences that visitors had in the park were edited like a piece of 3-Dimensional cinema. Visitors found themselves drawn towards Sleeping Beauty's Castle. And in the pond, a real swan made the fantasy more believable. A classic set designer's demise... The view of the steamer on the river, like the wide establishing shot of a film, set the scene for the Jungle Cruise. Details like the animated wildlife in real foliage enhance the general impression with a series of controlled close-up shots... Their techniques that still work today.

We do everything from the perspective of - almost like looking through a viewfinder, if you will. Because this is the way people see the world. And so we do all the reveals, we actually let scenes open up from one place to the next. And by doing so, it makes them feel like they're part of the set; they're part of the movie.

In movies, music can change the mood of the scene in an instant. A synchronized score has never been possible in a ride, but Delaney's determined to use the musical power of films like "20,000 Leagues under the Sea", to manipulate emotions on Space Mountain. Steve Bramson has won an Emmy for his work with Steven Spielberg. Now, it's Space Mountain.

Now, I wanted to have some swirling - I mean, we have - you know - some kind of swirling effect, which is very hard for me to duplicate on the piano. You have all the brass, very heroically playing ... You have the pylons up here (he all demonstrates this on the piano at his home), kind of swinging away and then ... (plays on). And then when it's finally orchestrated, - to the way that the players will see it - you can see all these detail here ... (shows on score sheets). The idea of this sort of thing is a ... - you know - taken exactly from a film. The only difference is: you're there.

While Bramson struggles with the music in Los Angeles, in Paris the ride is tested for the first time ... with sandbags instead of passengers. The reason no one has written synchronized music for a rollercoaster ride, is that it's been technically almost impossible. The speed of each train varies just enough from ride to ride, to mean that music could never achieve the split-second effect the Imagineers are after. The technical challenge was handed to Bran Ferren at Research & Development.

As with most really great projects, they ought to be creatively driven, not technologically driven. So, the fact that it's difficult, or unpleasant to accomplish, really ought to be secondary to its wonderful, to experience. It was decided early on that 'Wouldn't it be great to have sound to be able to score something like a rollercoaster ride?' ... that (had) never been done before, and the answer is 'yes', we've done some tests, and then the problem is : 'OK, how do we make this really work?' 'How do we get you to hear high quality sound and special effects, give you directional effects?' - While you have wind blowing in your face, the sound of other rollercoasters, people screaming their brains out ...

The Imagineer's solution was to develop the "Local Control Unit" or LCU, installed in Paris by audio specialist John Groper.

John GROPER (Senior Audio & Video Engineer):
The LCU is basically a ... similar to a MIDI-recording studio, or a playback studio,... and all's included right here onboard. The sound processing takes place in here, (shows) and then we store the actual program material on these devices here, which are called 'flash-memory cards'. And each of these cards - which is about the size of a credit card - holds 20 MB of memory, (and) ... so in state form. And it doesn't move - which is very important for this onboard rollercoaster; Because if it moved, it would likely move at the wrong time, under the vibration of the rollercoaster.

Each train has its exact position on the track, spotted by infrared sensors. When it's recorded, Steve Bramson's score will be separated into musical layers, and digitally stored on the flashcards. As passengers move through the attraction, the music will be automatically re-cued and re-mixed to synchronize exactly with the ride experience. Like many Imagineering inventions, the LCU was first developed as a good idea, but it had no specific function.

Marshall MONROE (Senior Designer, R&D):
What we're doing is developing tools to help them tell their stories. And a lot of times, R&D will take an advanced lead at what kind of tools we predict those designers are gonna need. And this is an example of one of them, because we designed this control system long before they knew they would wanna have that kind of an audio system on the Space Mountain ride vehicle.

If today the advances are electronic, in the past they were mechanical. In the early 40ies, Disney pioneered one of the greatest breakthroughs in animation with the construction of the multiplan-camera. As with the synchronized music in Space Mountain, the driving force behind multi-planing, was the desire to put the audience into the entertainment. By breaking down the backgrounds into separate levels, an extraordinary illusion of depth was created. In 1941, the result was the breathtaking opening sequence to Bambi. Half a century later, Bambi's friend Thumper ends up as an Imagineer's tool to test the G-force on Space Mountain.

We're gonna look to a video tape of our first test flights... and we ran these first test flights without a human subject to ensure that our test pilot here, em... (image switches to video screen) Thumper the bunny, who we mounted to the vehicle - (it) had a video camera strapped to it as well- and watched him go around. You can see he was thrilled to be there... The other scientific part of this experiment was the accelerometer readings that we got from the bunny's ears and he purks the nomb when he's going particularly fast and they flop down as he slows down. And at launch... (shows on the TV-screen) which is coming up here... the ears go fully up and locked. This is how we assured ourselves that it was ready for human habitation.

By the early 60's, the prospect of a successful moon landing grew nearer. The Imagineers were able to use space technology to create a form of primitive robotics. Called "audio-animatronics", the technology would play a major part in Disney's optimistic depiction of the future.

(While this piece is told by the narrator, we see a President Lincoln animatronic figure come out from below the stage in an audience-filled theatre)

President Lincoln animatronic figure: "Take a drink from the Ohio..."

(broadcasting fragment featuring Walt Disney at a stage where animatronic-technology is programmed)

Walt Disney: "Now this contraction here might look like (roaring with laughter) something from outer space,... but it's actually a control harness for programming the actions and gestures of our audio-animatronic figures. (turns to animatronic operator) Shall we show them how it works ?"

Animatronic operator: "Very well."

Walt Disney: "This is the Carrousel Theatre Host. Whatever the man in the harness does, this figure will respond simultaneously in the same manner."

(fragment from a recording made in the 'Carrousel of Progress' at Disneyland®)

Carrousel Theatre Host (singing): "There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow - and tomorrow's just a dream away"

(sound fades and blends into background)

An audio-animatronic family populated the "Carrousel of Progress". It's theme tune echoing Disney's faith in things to come. For 40 years, Disney had promoted his special brand of optimism. But three months after this clip of film was shot (shown on screen in documentary), Disney died... - missing the moon landing in full by 3 years.

(a fragment of the LEM landing on the moon is shown. We hear Buzz Aldrin saying: "---------, the Eagle has landed." Then, the singing by the audio-animatronic family in the Carrousel briefly appears again and we hear the following piece from the song) Carrousel Theatre Host (singing): "... riding at the end of every day. There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow - just a dream away."

The astronauts returned to find themselves transformed into media stars. Their scientific achievement was swallowed up in show business. Once men were on the moon and the dream faded, with it went some of the naive optimism of Disney's vision of the future.

Michael D. EISNER (President, The Walt Disney Company):
I guess after Walt died, it became ... em ... difficult. I wasn't in the Company, but I think the creative side became more of: 'What would have Walt thought?', 'What would have Walt done?', and the business side became more conservative and ... (and) stronger. Em ... things got done - great things got done: Epcot Center® got built, Tokyo Disneyland® got built. But experimentation, risk-taking, insanity, neurotic creative behavior, ... was replaced by a studied business practice." One of the first casualties was the song behind the 'Carrousel of Progress'. Instead of 'Wait for Tomorrow', the theme became 'Live for Today'.

(Carrousel song jumps in again) Carrousel Theatre Host (singing): "...You've got it made, the world is forward marching and you're in the parade! Now is the time, now is the best time ..." (sound fades and blends into background)

And the idea of space travel changed from a scientific adventure into an entertaining storyline.

(Carrousel song jumps in again) Carrousel Theatre Host: "... for it's the best time of your life."

At Space Mountain, reality has intruded on the fantasy in the shape of the French government inspector. The first test will be to see if the train can stop itself in the event of a software failure. This means programming a deliberate breakdown into the ride control system.

(a conversation between software engineers checking up the ride control system can be seen)

Engineer: "So Brian's gonna make the socket patch ..." (sounds fades)

Suzan RUDE (Show & Ride Systems Project Engineer):
The system has to ... feel safe. And we have to go through all the failures, - and so that's what sometimes takes a lot of time; This is: creating failures that are supposed to happen one in a million - or never supposed to happen ... trying to figure out: now that you have the system in place - so that these things can't happen, you make them happen ... so you can see how the system reacts.

(we see a conversation between two technicians: one is standing in front of the camera, the other is in the Mountain near the track and both are communicating through walkie-talkies)

Technician #1: "Err, Greg... Was that brake 17 that you wanted to close after the vehicle struck sensor 2PA?"

Technician #2 (heard on walkie-talkie): "When the vehicle strikes 2PA, please close brake 17, yeah."

Technician #1: "Ten-four"

If Space Mountain fails any of the stipulated tests, it won't be able to open as an attraction.

(we witness a conversation between the French personnel from Disneyland® and the government inspector, all gathered at the entrance of Space Mountain. They're about to test the train. The final pre-flight check-ups are being done. We see some ride operators and software programmers posted in the control room. There, Suzan Rude contacts another technician, Greg, and asks him the following: "Suzan for Greg. OK, we have the socket patch ready and we're ready to launch. You guys ready?" Meanwhile, a technician (Greg?) climbs up to the cannon tunnel via a small ladder. The French inspector and one Disneyland® employee take place into the train. They pull down the restraining harnesses and the inspector checks its efficiency by chuckling it a bit. A voice through the technician's walkie-talkie says: "OK, we're ready here" The technician, standing in the cannon tunnel replies: "OK. Tower, give me an announcement and we'll start off." The tower operator executes the message: "Attention Space Mountain, attention Space Mountain. Rocket train will be launching about immediately. Stay clear of all equipment, please. Thank you." The same message is driven through the speakers - this time repeated in French - afterward. Meanwhile, the train departs. We see the technician in the tunnel shaking his walkie-talkie impatiently and then turning to some kind of a control panel next to him. On several screens mounted at the control room ceiling, we see the train riding through the tunnel. The technician steps down the stairs a bit, then asks over his walkie-talkie: "How about this?" A voice says over a walkie-talkie: "OK, Suzan..." The technician concurs: "OK, you were saying?")

The train's failsafe. It passes the test.

(we hear the ride operator over the speakers saying something unintelligible)

Over the next two weeks, other tests will not go so well. The repeated testing holds up other work, and now Jack Gillette's special effects inside the Mountain are running behind time.

(Jack Gillette directs a SFX operator and oversees the effects, then he orders corrections to him over his walkie-talkie.)

Jack GILLETTE: "That's a little too effective! (laughs)"

Disney in the early 80's existed in a changed world. The 50's optimism about the future was replaced with a new sense of uncertainty. "Tron", Disney's first film (that) attempted to grasp this, was a darker vision of a computer gone mad.

Michael D. EISNER:
I had a conversation with our Imagineers, most of whom like me grew up in an Orwellian ... (an Orwellian) kind of ... em ... view of the future, a 'Tomorrowland' view of the future, a 'Star Trekkie' ... and 'Star Warsie' vision of the future. And all of a sudden it seemed like: 'maybe the future was kind of going back to a ... (a) less 'high-tech' view, a less 'polyester' view.

I think the average American thought the future was The Jetsons. It was: em ... skateboards floating through the air, it was that: things made out of plastic were intrinsically superior to things that grew ... Our challenge is - how in a theatrical attraction - to create a sense of future, - and the sense of future may have absolutely nothing to do with chronological prediction. What it has to do with is mood, and feeling, and passion about what there is to come.

The response has been a march back to imagination. Delaney's obsession with Jules Verne's Victorian science fiction offered Disney a new future: a low-tech fantasy with a happy ending. But behind the fantasy there are urgent practical realities. Six hundred volunteers pack Space Mountain as the Ministry of Transport look on. An evacuation rehearsal is underway.

Space Mountain operator: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry for the delay. We're working on the problem and we will start up as soon as possible. We'll let you know when we can start riding the trains again."

(while the tower personnel waits, the ground engineers are fixing the problem. Two Disney employees however, climb up a hidden stair which leads high up to the cannon tunnel. Once there, they come down the tunnel near the train that has paused its ride halfway up the cannon. They greet the volunteers for the ride in French and have a chat with them)

But the ride operators are caught up in the excitement of the attraction: they talk to the visitors rather than getting them out! There is a classic breakdown of communication.

(one of the tower operators takes a paper with the schedule for the emergency procedures on it and checks the evacuation process, saying: "7:30, the Master evacuation time... 1/2 hour.")

This is a vital stage in the grantle of transferring control from the Imagineers to the local Disney operators who must run the train on a day-to-day basis.

(the same tower operator (above) says: "OK, here we go." Doug LeBlanc is standing somewhere in the departures hall, next to 2 other supervisors. As he oversees the operation, he addresses the female expert)

Doug LeBLANC: "We need to work on our evacuations a little bit more, though..."

For Doug LeBlanc, who has to formally hand-over command in 2 weeks, the test have shown just how much there still is to do ...

Doug LeBLANC (still in departures hall - to both other supervisors): "They talked to the guests for 5 minutes before they started releasing the harnesses. Now maybe they had some good jokes to tell (being funny)... I don't know."

Female supervisor (to Doug LeBlanc): "(Look,) and I noticed that the other breaks took even longer!"

Doug LeBLANC: "Yeah? " Female Supervisor: "Yeah ... (looking down the hall) Well, we're not doing badly for the first night."

The process must be repeated until the ride's safety can be signed off. But the tests revealed an alarming piece of information. Back in Los Angeles, Tim Delaney gets an urgent call from Paris.

(we see the camera walking through a hallway and into Delaney's office. Just he and another guy are present. The camera closes in on Delaney, who picks up the phone, then turns on the speaker.)

Parisian operator: "OK, wait a moment."

(Delaney's put on hold and we hear a song playing through the speaker)

Tim DELANEY: "Now my confidence is really boosted here." (sarcastically meant)

(Suddenly, the melody stops and Paris comes in again)

Parisian caller: "Hello?"

Tim DELANEY: "Hello-ooh."

(abruptly, the conversation that hadn't even started yet is interrupted and Delaney's put on hold for the second time - with the same annoying song. Both men start laughing. He presses a button on his telephone console, hoping to re-establish contact. Unfortunately he presses the wrong one, yet quickly realizes his mistake and corrects it by pressing the right one this time. Finally, Paris is back on.)

Tim DELANEY : "Hello?"

Parisian caller: "Hello again!"

Tim DELANEY: "Hello-ooh."

(sounds fades and blends into background)

The government officials claim that the train is running faster than it's safe - or legally permissible. They won't let it open unless Delaney slows it down by fifteen seconds.

(the conversation between Delaney and Paris went on during the narrator's tale, and suddenly the original sound is put back on)

Tim DELANEY: "Fifteen seconds?!"

Parisian caller: "Yeah."

Other guy in the office: "Once we start creeping up anywhere above 5 or 6 seconds, it becomes much more difficult to get the music in sync'. -------- editing and stuff like that. It'll just ... (sound fades and blends into background)

For music producer Aaron Richards, the immediate problem will be re-synchronizing the complex music track.

Aaron RICHRADS (the guy in the office): "It seems to me that would have the significant show impact on the ride."

Tim DELANEY: "Now we've got a ... a real significant problem. Now we really have an issue that we have to ... to battle on."

The orchestra recording session, due later that night in Hollywood, is cancelled. But at a cost ... Time is running out. Cutting the speed could affect the capacity of the ride. But the greatest pressure on Delaney is creative. Slowing the ride will destroy the experience he wants to offer visitors. He can see 8 years (of) work evaporating in a cloud of bureaucratic compromise. It's time to confront the President of Imagineering, Marty Sklar.

(while this is said by the narrator, we see Delaney contemplatively standing in a hallway, staring at the wall in front of him, holding a cup of coffee. After a few seconds, he turns his back on the camera and walks through the corridor, which turns to the left. Then, a more spacial room appears. There seems to be a reception/information desk, where a female employee is sitting at. At the far side the desk is Marty Sklar. Delaney walks up to him.)

Tim DELANEY: "Do you have a moment...?"

Marty SKLAR (Vice Chairman, Principal Creative Executive): "Yes."

Tim DELANEY: "... to talk about? I didn't interrupt? Em... we've got a bit of a problem on the ride: the ride's running a little too fast. And the implications of this, is the music is gonna be out of sync".

Marty SKLAR: "Well, it sounds too familiar ... the show ends up to the last thing we figure out (to) how to do."

Tim DELANEY: "If we run four trains, then it's a situation where we don't get the capacity. If we run five trains, then there's a potential of the train - potentially - backing up inside the Mountain. So we're off by five seconds. And everyone over in France is scrambling to actually tune this thing, to find out where we take up the five seconds."

Marty SKLAR: "So it is a big issue, because capacity's gonna be key with the ... - what we know is gonna be - the popularity of this."

Tim DELANEY: "The whole issue of capacity, the thrill of the ride, working with the show and working with the music ... - are all the implications of this."

(in the following image we see a plane approaching a landing strip)

Delaney's on the next flight to France.

(Delaney is filmed passing through all sections of the airport in order to get to the arrivals gate. Through the speakers, we hear the airport announcer welcoming passengers at the Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport. A view on the Space Mountain attraction is shown. Meanwhile, Delaney has arrived in Disneyland®. He stands a bit away from the Mountain and climbs up some sort of rock in order to get a better look of it.)

This is the first time he has seen the completed Space Mountain. Delaney was trained as a graphic designer. (we see Delaney - very focused - observing his creation) He's obsessed with the visual. He doesn't like what he sees.

(The camera takes a closer shot at the cannon. We see the train vehicle flying through it)

The cannon looks too clean. The mechanism feels fake. For him, the fantasy will only be truly effective if the cannon is a believable piece of machinery.

(we see Delaney standing on a platform, - which is being moved by a crane- commenting the adjustments he would like to make while directing to the area on the Mountain he is referring to. Actually, he's addressing another guy next to him. A third person who operates the crane, is standing behind them. The narrator's tale is briefly stopped and in that short moment we can hear Delaney, halfway his sentence saying: "...really been taken care off very well.")

For a moment, problems with the music are forgotten as Delaney gets to work with a team of scenic artists.

(the camera shows us a brief shot of the exterior sun-dish artwork that decorates the cannon on the side. Then we get a close-up of the red gears connected next to it.)

Tim DELANEY (standing on crane platform):
... is actually coming through here, (points out to scene artist) and - right - ..." (replies scene artist's suggestion) "It's a little bit dark in the crevasses there (points out) ...and on the edges. We'll highlight those edges so it looks like..." (the scene artist says something unintelligible) "...it looks likes it's been used, but actually we're taking really good care of it. All this area here (points out) ... I'd be - I wouldn't do too much character finishing here. I wouldn't do any at all as a matter of fact." (the camera takes a zoom shot of a cannon's detail: the gunsight. An even closer shot of it is taken, to point our attention to the detailed degree indicator/adjuster and bullseye) "But down up here, ... down up ... around, and that area there - where the gunsight is; make it look as ... (as) rich and as well taken care of as possible.

(there's a dark image which brightens as a hatch is being opened. The person who opens it, says: "Up to the top of the world!" The loud rattling of the train in the Mountain overlaps everything. Delaney climbs up the ladder, and once up he shouts an approving "Allright!" as he looks up and around him. The rattling sound decreases and stops as the narrator picks up his line again.)

On the roof of Space Mountain, Delaney is happier.

(Delaney climbs up the catapult track extension, - which isn't part of the actual trajectory, but serves as an element to make the attraction more believable- closely followed by a lighting artist.)

Tim DELANEY: "So, Joe ... - hang on a minute."

Joe: "Yeah."

Tim DELANEY: "The lighting in the telescope..." (sound fades and blends into background)

Lighting Designer Joe FALZETTA has finished work on an extraordinary futuristic icon.

Tim DELANEY (addressing Falzetta on top of the Mountain): "The lighting up through ... all the metalwork. It's fantastic! (Delaney waves his hand, indicating the areas he refers to. He shakes his head with disbelief, then smiles approvingly) I mean, it's like a beacon. It's ... (it's) like the mothership on top of the ..."

Joe FALZETTA (adding to Delaney's uncompleted sentence): "... like a birthday cake."

Tim DELANEY: "Yeah, it's a birthday cake."

Joe FALZETTA: "The theme was 'Birthday Cake'."

Tim DELANEY: "Yeah." (laughs)

At night, the full effect of his design can be appreciated.

Joe FALZETTA (observing the Mountain from the ground): "Yves, tu es là mon pôte? OK, are you on the roof?"

(Yves answers something short but unintelligible over the walkie-talkie)

Yves (filmed on top of Mountain): "Yes. I'm flagging the light now. (waves hand over the spots a few times, looks at the result in the sky) Fifty-one to seventeen: is this any better?"

Joe FALZETTA: "Parfait."

(the image changes to the interview chamber)

Joe FALZETTA (Principal Show & Lighting Designer):
The biggest challenge was trying to light a monster, - you know: it's a huge building, em ... and it has such an unusual shape and unusual design - but to light it in such a way that it wasn't ... heavy-handed. To light it in such a way ... that the lighting was a living part of it, em ... an intricate part of it. Em ... and that was the challenge.

(in the next scene, we see Steve Bramson and John Groper sitting in front of the train, securely fastened. They await the launch. The rough synthesizer version of Bramson's score is played through the speakers.)

Composer Steve Bramson flies in the next day with a basic synthesizer version of the score. (the train leaves the departure hall) This is his first time in Paris ... and his first ride. (we see the train being launched. We see it re-enter the same area.) As expected, the music doesn't fit.

Steve BRAMSON (sitting in the train at the end of the ride): "The roll-out this time; ... we got - it was fine to the 'dip' ... But (when) we arrived at the first parking point ... but the music was still going. And then the ... (the) time it took to move to the launch position, was much longer ..."

(The same words are dubbed by Delaney - who stands next to him, but out of camera sight, acknowledging: "It seems longer.") "And that shouldn't be happening." (Tim Delaney (not seen) concurs with Bramson's opinion: "Yeah.")

(the next camera shot shows Delaney filmed in perspective as he gives his opinion about it)

Tim DELANEY: "We'll have to talk with Greg to find out. -Because it seemed like, there's this initial kind of connection and then it's pushed up. It was (-was) like a slight delay there."

French Technician (talking to everyone else): "We can have 2 seconds difference between 'hot' and 'cold' trains. (Delaney rephrases - yet again - the technician's explanation, as an act of recognition "Fast and slow trains - alright." To this, the technician replies "Yes, exactly.") So, that means 11 seconds per - (errors) ... 11 meters/second. That's twenty-two meters. So that means one complete train difference."

(the ride is run again. We only see the end of it, as the train re-enters the departures hall. Bramson (sitting in the train) is looking down at something he's holding. As soon as the train - as well as the music - stop, the camera takes a close-up shot of the object in his hand. Apparently, he's holding a stopwatch. When the camera takes this close-up shot, Bramson acknowledges, regretfully: "Two and a halve seconds.")

Things are made worse for him when Delaney uses the re-scoring process as a chance of trying out some new ideas.

(while this is said by the narrator, Delaney has been requesting Bramson the things he wants to add, change, or drop to his score.)

Tim DELANEY: "... Pull-up ... stop ..."

John Groper adds to Delaney's uncompleted sentence "Build that tension a little bit."

Tim DELANEY (acknowledging): "Build the tension a little bit" (the next camera shot depicts Bramson listening concentrated to his score, sitting in a Space Mountain train compartment. We can hear the thrilling music simultaneously.)

Bramson is beginning to realize that a complete music re-write is needed.

(we see Bramson saying something short to someone else, unfortunately it's unintelligible.)

Delaney heads home, leaving a trail of work in his wake. Inside the Mountain, Jack Gillette has to boost the effects in the Asteroid scene.

(we see Jack Gillette coming up from the left side of the screen against a dark backdrop that is brightened only by the pink of spotlights and smoke. He's wearing a red safety helmet and a walkie-talkie. We hear him say (off-screen) "(It needs) a lot more smoke in there.")

(in the next scene, we witness artists re-detailing the exterior surface of the cannon at day.)

The scenic artists start to refinish the cannon, covering it in a film of soot and oil. With just 2 weeks to go, there is a growing sense of anticipation.

Philippe BOURGUIGNON (Chairman & C.E.D. Disneyland® Paris):
I'm not a movie person - with a movie company. And when I talk to the studio people, ... they (they) always tell me: 'There is always this moment of nervousness.' ... In fact, the first weekend they launched a movie, and once you have already 1 day - you know - ... or 3 days weekend, clearly you know exactly where you're going to go. And for whatever reason, ... advertising is a lot part of it, but ... there is this 'word of mouth', and there is this kind of ... - you know - ... secret thing going among people ... where (where) they decide to come.

Back in Hollywood, with 10 days to go, Bramson's re-scored music is ready to record.

(we witness some floor operators moving and putting cases and materials in place.)

There just really is nothing like ... a real, large orchestra. The colors will just be with that much sharper - you know - ..., that (the) silvery ... err ... glow of the (of the) flutes and the ... em ... - you know -, the power and the excitement of the brass will be much more real ... and em ... decernable than the (the) synthesizers.

(in the following scene we see Bramson conducting the symphonic orchestra that plays the triumphal music. The opening sequence of the heroic score for the ride is portrayed through an edited filmed fragment that mixes shots from the recording studio, parallel with shots from within the Space Mountain ride.)

The ride works. Its slightly altered speed and the new music synchronize. But in France, there are more problems: the cannon, a vital component and the explosive start of the ride, has broken down. Noone knows why and noone can get it to work.

(the camera shoots technicians observing and working on the uncovered winch system on the left side of the cannon's exterior, seen from downstairs below. We witness 2 of them discussing the problem and comparing their solutions.)

Delaney designed the 'Columbiad' to recoil when it fires. The detail is a classic piece of movie storytelling: a technical special effect that brings the fantasy and drama of the story to life.

(while this is said, we see a technician cramped between the winch's exterior chain system. This time, the camera films upstairs from beneath.)

(the next scene is a fragment of the "Man in Space" broadcasting. The animation displays the rocket ship, designated RM-1, firing a flare into infinite space. It explodes and lights up a planetary surface. Some craters can be distinguished. Music accompanies the scene.)

In 1955, Ward Kimball was in the middle of a similar battle with "Man in Space".

(the next scene from the animation film is shown meanwhile. The astronauts are busy operating in the rocket ship's control room. Their captain looks troubled out the window. When the narrator silences, we hear the captain order his men "Get some flares in that area, quick!" Then we see flare #2 being fired in space.)

We did had a little argument with von Braun; When we went around the moon, we dropped some rockets from the ... moon ship ... to light up the surface ... and em ... (and) I said: 'Couldn't we have ... sort of an indication of a foundation of an ... ancient city, ... or (or) a lookout, or ... a (a) fortress or something there?' - And he says: 'Well, err ... the other side of the moon (is) looks much like the side we look at. ... You can do that, but em: I won't have my name on it.' So we did ... we pas(s/t)ed this ... - look like the foundations of something. (It was) just a little touch.

(we see flare #2 travelling through space, then lighting up the surface, revealing the foundations. The astronauts look astonished out the viewing window. After the music tunes down and the light produced by the flare fades, a close shot of the ornamental miniature cannon - painted in gold and mounted on top of the real cannon - pops up. An even more focused shot of the back of its detailed loading chamber is shown next. This is to direct our attention to the ' sunny-faced' artwork with extended flames on the bowl-shaped rear. The following shot imitates the camera peeking through the blinds of Delaney's office, focusing on Space Mountain concept art.)

Whether the cannon works or not, there's now little more that Delaney can do.

(a shot of the empty Space Mountain departure hall, with tall flags hanging at the ceiling, is shown. Then, we see Delaney's hands taking a glossy, framed painting of a wall.)

As Space Mountain prepares to open for the first time, he is back in Los Angeles.

(in a next shot, the camera - positioned at the left side of the Mountain and very close to the cannon's surface - is angled upward, aiming at the very end of the tube. The following image depicts Delaney rolling up a large sheet with a Space Mountain production painting on it. Finally, a close shot of the 'door' - at height of the loading chamber - is taken. As the gears start rolling, the door rolls up .)

With 36 hours to go, ride engineers fix the problem.

(after this is said, we see - yet again - Delaney rolling up even more paintings. A following shot shows the cannon, filmed from the side. We see part of the barrel recoiling, as the cannon 'fires' the train through the barrel and steam is produced. Although the camera films from outside the cannon, we can see the train pass by the camera, thanks to horizontal openings at the end of the track. Steam escapes the tunnel, in order to camouflage the train's destination. A last image, taken from within the tunnel, captures a final brief shot of the train disappearing into a dark hole.)

Space Mountain opens on time ... and working perfectly.

(the camera grasps another action: Delaney placing the Jules Verne's novel From the Earth to the Moon under the camera's lenze. His hand blocks our view on the greenish book with gold lettering.)

Every 36 seconds, 55 new passengers will experience every detail of the dream Delaney first had 8 years ago.

(while this is said, we see the following camera shots: the cannon's barrel producing steam; the train flying through the cannon while steam is sprayed through the opening; a carton box in Delaney's office being placed on top of another; the cannon seen from the left while the train passes through it, steam is produced and red lights mounted around the tunnel's rings flashing in queue.)

(a next shot is taken, the camera spying through the blinds of Delaney's office. He takes a seat at his desk, picks up a marker and starts drawing on a fresh sheet of paper.)

But as he clears his office, his mind is not on Paris, ... or with Space Mountain ...

(over Delaney's shoulder, the camera records a last close-up of the new concept developping on his paper sheet.)

... but on the the beginning of a new piece ... of madness

(the mindfull Delaney's looking down on his work, considers for a brief moment as he looks up before him, invisibly creating something new in his minds' world of imagination. A final image of his creation is shown: the Space Mountain's tunnel and the recoiling piece of it. The train is launched and steam clouds it before it enters the mysterious darkness of space.)

(The End)


A Uden Associates Production in association with Buena Vista Productions Ltd

© The Walt Disney Company

(UATV-logo and Buena Vista logo are shown afterwards)

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