|Space Mountain photos via Disney’s PhotoPass|
Space Mountain was one of the first major attractions to debut at Walt Disney World Resort rather than at Disneyland. When it opened in December of 1974, it captured the spirit of the international space race that was occurring at the time, and it was a perfect fit for the forward thinking of Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland theming.
Space Mountain’s design was pretty radical for its time, as no one had ever tried placing a roller coaster inside a darkened building before. Disney Imagineers always strive to be as authentic as possible in their creations. To make an outer space ride, they needed to be able to control story elements. For one thing, an exposed coaster would see daylight, and well, outer space doesn’t. Also, being able to see which way the track twists and turns could spoil effects.
The attraction was updated and reimagined in 2009 to enhance the hurtling-through-space experience. Light intrusions were eliminated, portal windows added, and interactive games were installed in the wait queue. One key element that remains the same is the building’s exterior. Thanks to the unconventional thinking of John Hench, the roof’s concrete support beams, which would typically be inside the building, are located on the outside, creating a forced perspective of height, and giving Space Mountain a perpetually space-aged appearance despite the building’s age.
WITH ADULT SUPERVISION, make and launch this simple water bottle rocket. All you need is one empty water bottle with a hole drilled in the lid and a hand-held party balloon pump. Follow the YouTube tutorial for instructions.
As an alternative, follow this tutorial from Spotty Banana to create a small-scale launch experience using an old film canister, water, and Alka-Seltzer tablets. If you’d like to kick it up a notch, purchase the Timberdoodle AquaPod (or build your own launch pad) and experiment with velocity, trajectory, acceleration, force, distance and more by altering variables.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Physics
SKILL LEVEL: Middle Grades / High School