Remembering Space Mountain, From the Earth to the Moon.

Since the first of June 1995, an extraordinary cathedral of copper and steel proudly overhangs Discoveryland, Disneyland Park, Paris. It's name: Space Mountain.

The French version of this classic E-Ticket ride differs in many ways from its American counterparts. It uses a real catapult, has an on board sound system broadcasting a synchronized soundtrack specially made for the show and features three inversions in complete darkness.

Between 1995 and 2005, the attraction offered its guests the unique opportunity to embark for a fantastic journey 'From the Earth to the Moon".Today, we pay tribute to this original version / background story of the amazing mountain often stated as the masterpiece of Disneyland Paris.

Jules Verne's 1865 tale, "De la Terre à la Lune", provided the thematic inspiration for the ride. Touched by reports on America's Civil War, Verne began to muse on using the destructive technology of cannons and explosives in a more peaceful way. He imagined an amazing adventure.

In post-bellum America, the Baltimore Gun Club, a group of artillery enthusiasts and soldiers, gather to recall their military days. Their president, Impey Barbicane, suggests they try an altogether new use of the technology of gunpowder: shooting a projectile to the moon.

“The power of Cannon and the force of gunpowder are potentially unlimited. Might it be possible to project a shot up to the moon?”

The book describes the foolish undertaking down to the smallest details. By using a lot of explanations, figures and formulas, Jules Verne wanted to describe a possible true story, not something totally dreamy or impossible.

For ten years, Disneyland Paris catapulted millions of guests into space.

They traveled through complete pitch blackness...

...past huge black-lit meteorites...

...through a huge 'space mining machine'...

...into the core of a melting asteroid.

And they all had the same goal: reaching the moon.

The train hit the brakes inside the "Elektro de Velocitor" machine.

"The Stellarway", an observation walkway that tunneled through the inside of the mountain at ground level, offered the least braves a look at the ride. The arcade closed down when the Fast Past system was installed.

The projection of the smiling moon was inspired by the “man-in-the-moon” figure that can be seen in “A Trip to the Moon” (Le Voyage dans la Lune), a 1902 French black-and-white silent science fiction film written and directed by Georges Méliès.

Méliès (1861 – 1938) was a French illusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. He was the first to use production sketches and storyboards, created the basic vocabulary of special effects, and built the first studio of glass-house form, the prototype of European studios of the silent era.

The soundtrack of Space Mountain "From the Earth to the Moon" was written by movie composer Steve Bramson, who won an Emmy for his work with Steven Spielberg.

It was recorded by an orchestra in Hollywood, just ten days before the ride officially opened.

At the very beginning it was intended to call the indoor roller coaster "Discovery Mountain".

The original reason to call it "Discovery Mountain" was to clearly define it as a totally new attraction (different from it's American cousins).

The last minute decision to continue the use of "Space Mountain" was strictly a marketing one. The idea being that Disney had an existing marketable name in "Space Mountain". The logo of Discovery Mountain can still be found around the attraction.

Space Mountain "From the Earth to the Moon" was one of the most legendary rides ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering. It rediscovered the former spirit of the attractions designed by Walt Disney himself: romantic, spectacular, dramatic, fabulous.

In 2005 the Space Mountain show building was completely refurbished.

Brand new special effects were added inside the mountain. The name was changed and the original background story was abandoned. Consequently the ride lost it's charm, appeal, heart and soul. One can only hope that once...

They bring back the moon.

Designing Disney Max was one of the first to enjoy Space Mountain "From the Earth to the Moon" on the first of June 1995.

Photos:

Scrooge
Felix
Peter Pan Fan (N°3)

Shared Knowledge

Submitted by Maxime on January 22, 2012 - 14:02 #

On June 3, 1995, Elton John gave a concert for 40.000 people at Disneyland Paris (on the green outside Disney’s Newport Bay Club Hotel) at the occasion of the opening of “Space Mountain, From the Earth to the Moon”. The concert was part of his European tour (sponsored by Disneyland Paris) called "Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris Presents Elton John".

Submitted by Steve on October 14, 2011 - 18:19 #

Actually my father and his colleagues were one of the first to enjoy the ride in May 1995 while it was still under construction. The company that build the track VEKOMA used to ship all track elements through the harbor of Antwerp and with this connection my dad knew the boss of VEKOMA. When they went on a Disney trip in 1995, he saw him there, they chatted a bit about "whatcha buildin' here" and can we ride it... and the guy then said, come back around that time.... he then let everyone in, and tested the ride with him on board. It was still pitch black inside and the audio was not working yet. Anyway, we went back in July (this time I came too) and rode the finished attraction.

Comments

Submitted by Robbie on August 24, 2014 - 18:14 #

You are so right about Discovery Mountain. It completely lost its soul when it was revamped as Mission 2. I remember waiting in line for two hours when it first opened and just be completely mesmerized by all the detail that went into the structure--both on the outside and on the inside. With its robust and completely coherent art-deco and steampunk art direction, to date, I still think it was the most well-realized attraction Disney ever created. I miss it so very very much and it pains me to still see all these visual details that are part of its very structure reminding me of its glorious past only to come out at the end disillusioned once again. I will forever wonder who thought Mission 2 was a good idea.

Submitted by B on January 21, 2012 - 18:23 #

I love this article! I worked in Disney for a few months in 1996 with one of my best friends and we experienced the original Space Mountain in it's full glory to the max! Can't even recount the number of times we took the ride! And every time we visit now, we still miss the story, and most of all, the moon!

Submitted by Michaeland on January 7, 2012 - 17:38 #

The Verne version was not only beautiful and funny, but also smooth. The remodel should have fixed this problem, not removed all the charm, but that's what happened. It reopened still really rough. Hard to imagine why it runs so badly. The nod to George Melies man-in-the-moon was another nice touch now long gone.

Submitted by Manda on October 14, 2011 - 18:16 #

I love this post! Space Mountain is one of my favorite Disney rides. It's such a huge regret of mine that I never got to experience it in its original Jules Verne glory! :( The sound track for SM2 is amazing! I think I like it better than the original... but you definitely can't beat the charm of the Jules Verne story that SM was once based on.

Submitted by Eric on October 14, 2011 - 18:14 #

I got to ride Space Mountain in 2001 and though it was a very rough ride, the overall theme and atmosphere was amazing. I don't know that I've ever felt so transported into an attractions story.

Submitted by Cory on October 14, 2011 - 18:13 #

I had a chance to ride Space Mountain: Mission 2 in January of 2008 and agree that it was pretty hollow and lifeless... It was a very good version of Space Mountain, but that's all it was. Just another Space Mountain. I regret having missed experiencing this in it's full glory. That would have been incredible.

Submitted by Andrew on October 14, 2011 - 18:12 #

The Jules Verne theme looked fantastic and imaginative! It is a shame they changed it. It looks like this copper space theme is what they attempted to do at Disneyland, USA, however here in Paris it looks more complete.

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