Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy Brings Chills, Thrills To Disneyland

For the first time, it’s something actually very frightening for Halloween…I don’t think we’ve done anything this scary before.

Steve Roach, Imagineer

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy sign Tomrrowland Halloween DisneylandWho doesn’t love a good roller coaster?  Who especially doesn’t love a good roller coaster in the dark with multimedia effects?  For the second year now, Disneyland (along with the rest of the Disney Parks family) has added a spooky overlay for their HalloweenTime celebration during the month of October.  Now, there’s only a couple more days until All Hallow’s Eve, but for those of you who may not have a chance to visit their nearest Disney theme park, I’ll give you a little taste of the action.

One of four ghastly projections on the exterior of Space Mountain.

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is probably best experienced at night when the projections on the Space Mountain dome can be seen.  Monstrous roaring, gnashing, and clawing periodically emanates from the Mountain, as if there is something big inside trying to get out.  Disney does a fantastic job of communicating the feel of the ride from the moment you walk past the entrance.  Normally, the Mountain is quiet, unassuming, but for HalloweenTime, you know as soon as you enter Tomorrowland that something is wrong.

The story, from what I can infer from the themeing is that SpacePort 77 (as the entrance to Space Mountain is known) has been experiencing some odd readings from one of its planetary probes:  eerie clouds in space followed by extreme interference and a loss of signal (riders can watch the playback on the large screen in the spaceport section of the pre-show queue).  As crew of SM77 (your mission designation), it is the riders’ task to investigate the phenomenon and report back to your commander.

The ride, from the beginning, gives the feeling that something isn’t quite right.  At launch, instead of the normal, epic choral fanfare, the music is subdued and in minor key.  There’s a lot of humming and tension building as you ride through the darkened tunnels on the lift section.  Eerie, pulsating green lights provide little comfort in lieu of the normal red and blue lighting.  At last, you begin the “hyperspace” section of the lift and see the familiar swirling galaxy in the distance followed by…


Meet the Nebula Ghost, a paranormal entity that has invaded your galaxy and the source of all the interference back at SpacePort 77.  It’s big, it’s powerful, it’s scary, and it wants to eat you.  The SM77 rocket you and your fellow astronauts are flying has no weapons systems (it was designed for relatively short-range, peaceful exploration and scouting), so your best option here is to run.

And run you do.  Fast.  Down the familiar dips, twists, and turns that make up the Space Mountain track, but this time with a galaxy-eating, world-destroying, soul-sucking Nebula Ghost at your every turn!

If you happen to make it back to SpacePort 77 in one piece, you will be rewarded with the option of purchasing a souvenir photo of your adventure.  I would highly recommend it, as it’s only available for 1/12th of the year and it’s a really cool image mask.  The best seats are in rows 3 and 4, as most of the action centers there.  Sit in row 4 if you decide to go for the photo–you’re not as likely to be blocked by someone’s wayward arms or hands.

One More Disney Day

After three months of procrastination, I finally finished the video documentary of Disneyland’s Leap Day celebration event.  Beginning at 6am on February 29 and running until 6am March 1, Surge, Jessica, Lucia, Ian, Angela, and I braved the elements, sleep deprivation, and the throngs of rabid crowds to survive one of the biggest events ever held by the Disney parks.  Unfortunately, as you may find out from watching, it may have been one of the biggest event planning SNAFU’s since Opening Day.  In all, it was quite the experience:  one of laughter, merriment, and bonding that–if we’re lucky–only comes along every four years.

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

Okay, so being a fan of both the Star Wars franchise and Disneyland, it was really only a matter of time before I made a little write-up about the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction at Disneyland (and Walt Disney World).

Apart from griping about the fact that some permutations of the ride experience involve elements from the godforsaken prequel films, Star Tours is just as campy and silly as the original ride.  Disney Imagineers did a fantastic job of updating the entire experience for a new generation of fans.  The queueing area feels more like a “legitimate” spaceport and less like some Quonset hut in a backwater rim world–this I’m not sure how I feel about.  The original Star Tours had the same kind of feel as the original trilogy films:  low-tech, analog, hastily constructed, and ad hoc.  Now, the whole scene seems more elegant:  Solari boards are replaced with high-resolution LCD displays, maintenance droids are replaced with security officer droids (albeit with similar whimsical attitudes about their jobs), and there’s no more People Mover running through the station.

This little guy looks familiar! Sadly, he’s marked “defective” and even sparks to life with PTSD-esque outbursts using archival audio from the original attraction.

Whether or not I appreciate the “upgrades,” I love the attention to detail and subtle nods to the original attraction.  Oh, and the fact that Patrick Warburton voices one of the afore-mentioned security droids.  In all, it’s definitely worth the trip to the park if you haven’t ridden it yet.

Looks a bit like a stormtrooper wearing Mickey ears.

My Aurebesh is a little rusty, but this is best translation I can manage.
A placard on one of the loading doors, salvaged from the original ride. The lettering underneath reads “LOAD DOOR 3.”

After a little searching, I happened to find a copy of the original video feed from the ride.  Rex (the original pilot droid, voiced by the incomparable Paul Rubens) does not appear in the footage as it is the actual screen projection (probably recorded on VHS considering the tracking issue), but all the music, sound effects, and voices remain.  The part that I enjoy the most is fact that it was filmed completely with models–not the CGI bullshitery that permeates Hollywood now (and ST:TAC is unfortunately no exception to this rule)–something about it just makes it look that much more real.