Space Mountain: Mission 2
Once again, I have to say that Disneyland Paris takes first prize when comparing one of its attractions to its overseas cousins. Space Mountain is easily the most beautiful of the five futuristic peaks and it definitely offers the most thrilling ride.
This attraction was inspired by Jules Verne's book "From the Earth to the Moon.” In the story, a Frenchman and two Americans build a large cannon (named Columbiad) and blast themselves to the moon in a projectile-type spacecraft. Disney took this idea and built their own cannon on the side of Space Mountain from which rocket-trains are launched into inky darkness.
Unlike the other four Space Mountains, which are all painted white, this rendering continues the Discoveryland theme. Jewel tones accent a structure which looks like a complicated machine riddled with riveted girders, iron trusses, gears, dials, and ominous antenna. At night, this structure is especially compelling.
This is also the only Space Mountain in which you can walk around the entire building. In fact, the Disneyland Railroad, Star Tours, and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience are all located behind Space Mountain.
The queue begins outdoors and progresses along the side of the building. Eventually you enter the structure and a number of sights and sounds are on tap as you progress toward the loading area.
Paris’ Space Mountain has two loading platforms, similar to Big Thunder Mountain at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Once you’re securely restrained in your seat, your rocket-train pulls out of the station and advances toward the cannon.
Once “loaded” into the Columbiad, a countdown proceeds (in French). At launch time the outside of the cannon cocks itself, there is a blast of steam, then you are propelled at 42MPH to the top of Space Mountain and your adventure begins.
This coaster reaches a top speed of 43.5MPH and there are two inversions (sidewinder and corkscrew) and an overbanked turn. Synchronized music is piped to each seat (similar to Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) which adds a nice effect. Along the way you pass planets, meteors, and an explosion or two. This is an intense ride and not for those with a weak stomach.
Of course, your photo is snapped during the ride and is for sale at the exit. Here is a picture of me and my friend Donald.
Les Mystéres du Nautilus
When Walt was building Disneyland, money was extremely tight and Tomorrowland was being neglected. To remedy the situation, a last minute addition to this area was made by using the props and sets from the “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” movie (which opened in 1954) to create a walk-through exhibit. The results were somewhat cheesy, but hey, it was the 1950’s and expectations were lower then when it came to theme parks.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The organ that Captain Nemo played in the movie and then was seen in the 20,000 Leagues exhibit (below) was eventually relocated to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Ballroom scene in 1969.
When the Imagineers were designing Disneyland Paris, they remembered the 20,000 Leagues exhibit at Disneyland and decided to recreate the attraction – but this time do it right. For starters, they built a full-sized Nautilus submarine and anchored it in Discovery Lagoon next to Space Mountain.
Located along the lagoon’s railing is a plaque with a blueprint of the Nautilus and some facts and figures.
Guests may board the submarine via a nearby, circular-shaped terminal topped with a fascinating lighthouse.
After descending a spiral staircase, you walk through a long, dimly lit corridor to reach the Nautilus.
One of the first sights you see is Nemo’s storage locker filled with the treasure he’s plundered from various ships sank by the Nautilus. If you look carefully, you can also see the guitar Ned Land (Kirk Douglas) carved out of ivory and a turtle shell.
Your tour of the Nautilus continues through an array of compartments. Nemo’s quarters, the engine room, and diving chamber are all on hand.
In the navigation room, a map of Vulcania is on display.
The climax of the tour is the Grand Salon. On both sides of the chamber, large circular viewing portals can be seen. The protective covering on one of these portals occasionally opens up to reveal a giant squid. A few moments later, electrical charges are fired to frighten the creature away. The portal’s covering then closes and things return to normal. If you look at the picture below and compare it to the Disneyland picture of the Grand Salon (above), you can see a definite similarity.
Nemo’s pipe organ sits prominently at the end of the room. The maniacal captain’s face periodically appears in the mirror then fades into nothingness.
This is a walk-through attraction that takes approximately ten minutes to complete. It’s not the most thrilling attraction at Disneyland Paris, but I like it. The detailing, as always, is magnificent and one can really get lost in the moment.
Disney magic never fails to amaze me. I have know idea how the Imagineers could fit all of those compartments into the ship anchored in Discovery Lagoon (wink, wink).
On a side note… When I visited Tokyo DisneySea, I was excited to learn that the Nautilus was also found at this park and is anchored at Mysterious Island (below). However, my excitement turned to disappointment when I found out this is nothing more than a “photo op.” There is no “below decks” tour of this craft.
My next blog will finish Discoveryland with descriptions of Star Tours, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and Autopia.
The previous post in this blog was Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 2 – Orbitron and Videopolis.
The next post in this blog is Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 4 – Star Tours, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and Autopia.