Here are a few things that scare me: heights, roller coasters, The Dark.
Imagine my terror, then, when I rode Space Mountain on my first trip to Disneyland in 1987. I had just graduated from high school, and was in Anaheim for the annual convention of the Future Business Leaders of America (a high school club that boomed during the 1980s).
I’d already been on Pirates of the Caribbean, which I loved. (In fact, I still love Pirates so much that to this day it’s the ride I want to do first and last when visiting the park. Once when a group I was with wanted to watch some silly parade, I rode Pirates over and over. It was awesome.)
Visiting Disneyland with my high school pals, we didn’t really have a method, and it took us til late morning to reach Tomorrowland. We rode Star Tours (newly opened at that point, I think), a Star Wars-themed ride, and watched Michael Jackson as Captain Eo. Then we entered Space Mountain.
“What’s this like?” I asked somebody who’d been to Disneyland before.
“It’s like a roller coaster in space,” he said.
I was a little worried, but not much. I stood in line, took my seat, and the ride began. I was in the rear car, and as we entered the dark core of the ride, I began to get nervous. Nervousness turned to fright as we took our first drop. The entire minute or two we whipped around, I clung to my seat as tightly as I could. I did not have fun.
I hated Space Mountain.
Kris’ uncle Bob works for Disney, and when we visit her parents in San Bernardino, he’s often able to sign us into the park. (For which we are very grateful. Thanks, Bob!) Over the past twenty years, we’ve visited Disneyland three or four times. In this time, I’ve made a discovery:
Space Mountain is a blast if you are seated in the front-most car.
On one visit I was seated in the front car by sheer chance. I knew I was going to be scared, but I was ready for how giddy the terror would make me. When you’re seated in the rear of the train, you can see what’s happening to the people in front of you a fraction of a second before it happens to you. This isn’t true when you’re in the first car. When you’re in the first car, you can’t see a thing. Everything that happens is unexpected. And it makes a huge difference.
Riding in front is scarier than riding behind, but it’s such an overwhelming fear that it’s fun. (Here’s a secret that Bob once told me: when you get to the front of a line, you can ask the “cast member” to seat you in a particular spot. They’ll often ask you to step to the side for a minute or two, but then will seat you in the spot you’ve requested. This is an excellent way to get the most out of your rides.)
All of this is just a belabored intro so that I can share this virtual recreation of Space Mountain that I found via Boing Boing. Enjoy!
Now I look forward to my next journey inside Space Mountain!