Space Mountain: The Final Ignition

June 5, 2024 • Louie Mantia

I went into the park after 5pm with only three objectives: see Vacation Jamboree, eat the Grandma Sara’s Kitchen Special Set (omurice with demiglace sauce), and drink the limited-time Space Mountain Coca-Cola lemon jelly concoction. After getting all of that out of the way, with only 30 minutes before the park closed, I saw Space Mountain with an hour wait time, which is lower than usual. I jumped in and the cast closed off the line almost immediately after.

I figured …why not take this opportunity to document the current attraction?

Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland was a 1983 opening day attraction, the first time a Space Mountain opened with a Disney park. This version will close forever on July 31, and it will be demolished to make way for the all-new Space Mountain, which opens in 2027.

The standby clock when I got in line read 65 minutes, and then went dark right after. This iconic piece of 1983 design (yep, that’s just Helvetica!) was recently made into a handheld kitchen timer, one of the best pieces of merch the Tokyo Disney Resort has put out (which is saying something).

This complicated roof structure for the queue surely looked more futuristic in the 80s, but now I bet a lot of guests don’t see it as very space-age anymore.

Since this version of Space Mountain is modeled off the Disneyland version in California, it also features a speed-ramp. Though Disneyland’s was removed some time ago, the one in Tokyo has greatly outlived it.

It’s delightfully retro, and exhibits a style of Tomorrowland that continues to fade out from Disney parks around the world. The pristine white-beam aesthetic is on its way out.

When you step off the speed-ramp, you step onto the second level of Space Mountain, overlooking the park. There are quite a few other spots in Tomorrowland you can enjoy a second-level view, including the Pan Galactic Pizza Port and the Star Tours exit bridge.

The interior is really quite bare, with dark blue panels, thin metal lining, and perforated metal panels above. The blocky blue lights line each side of the tunnel into the station area.

Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland already received a refurbishment that gave it a newer interior, including a much more alien ship (compared to its California counterpart) docked in the middle of the bay, with Space Mountain exterior aesthetics baked into the ship’s design.

Every few seconds, a green light races through the entire space, illuminating the room a little more before fading out.

As you make your way around the bay, you get glimpses of the loading area below, with these gates, recolored designs from the California version.

It may not be instantly obvious, but the train does not quite run through the center of the room. The center line is more like the boarding edge of the platform.

One of my favorite pieces of graphic design for this attraction is the Escape Pod symbol. The Escape Pod is a “chicken exit” for guests too scared to continue. I think this is the third (and last) Escape Pod before you reach the boarding area.

After the attraction, you disembark from the opposite side of the same platform.

When you exit the vehicles, the walls between pillars have illuminated EXIT panels.

Up a small ramp, and down again, snaking around once or twice, you end up at a “Please do not enter” exit path, perhaps from one of the chicken exits, again with plain-ol’ Helvetica.

Back outside, you’re back on earth, underneath the second level platform. There are some purple benches around each support.

On the far end (the left side when facing Space Mountain), are two public telephones. Surprisingly, these don’t just still exist in the park, public telephones in the Tokyo parks are still installed in new areas, too.

Along the left side of the speed-ramp are five former Fastpass machines. These have been out of use for years, but as the plan was to demolish this attraction, they do not seem rushed to remove these machines.

During its final few months, Space Mountain has a display in front, and a photo opportunity (inside a ride vehicle) to the left.

I presume Coca-Cola will continue sponsoring the attraction, though I’m curious if their name will appear on another attraction for the three years while the new Space Mountain is under construction.

A view from the right side, you’ll see the Fastpass return area that was repurposed as the priority access queue. Under Space Mountain are also two cute robot Coca-Cola vending machines.

There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this Space Mountain. It is well-maintained, enjoyable, and commands a 2-hour wait almost all day, every day. But at the end of next month, it’ll be gone forever, and for three long years, Tokyo Disneyland will be without any Space Mountain.

I don’t often feel a sense of mourning for old attractions, but this one bums me out a little. Arguably it still lives in Anaheim, and likely will for some time. Perhaps the reason this one is getting demolished and rebuilt is the same reason buildings in Japan go down and back up all the time: rebuilding for better earthquake protection.

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