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Christian Nimsky's Weblog

Rebooting Space Mountain

Christian Nimsky

This note celebrates our singular accomplishment of messing up Space Mountain at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California.  We had a bunch of people unhappy with us.

This past weekend we had some grandparents out to see the kids and on Monday we headed over to Disneyland, partly for the kids and partly for my mom’s husband who had never been to Disneyland.  My daughter loves the Space Mountain ride so four of us stood in line for 30 minutes, winding our way through the “space station” to wait for our turn on the famous indoor roller coaster.

When it came time for us to get in, I dropped the daughter-unit into her seat and sat next to her.  I am 6’ 2” and the seat was a little cramped but I got in ok.  My mom’s husband Bob is over 6’ 4” however and had a hard time getting his knees under the bar that secures you within the ‘coaster while it is moving.

We discovered that Space Mountain has a sophisticated control and safety system.  This safety system “knows” when the restraint bars are not all the way down and then triggers an error code that causes the following things to happen:

  1. You hear a loud beeping that is not part of the Space Mountain Experience.
  2. The car you are sitting in will not be released onto the roller coaster lift hill for the ride.
  3. As a passenger, you are asked to leave the car and stand to the side in a holding area.
  4. Children become confused.  Daughter-unit feels unduly deprived of her ride on Space Mountain, and attempts to go through a gate which would let her onto the track, because she wants her roller coaster ride.  Being her father and therefore omniscient, I recapture the daughter-unit before we manage to make the situation any worse.
  5. The car we were in needs to be removed from the train using a special sliding floor, presumably so that it can be inspected to determine the cause of the problem and re-certified for use.
  6. The interior work lights come on and the cast starts calling out error conditions over the loudspeaker system.  People waiting in line become confused and agitated.
  7. Some of the Agitated Waiting People that are able to see us standing to the side identify us “as the ones who broke Space Mountain” and glare silently at us.  Some Agitated Waiting People who are nervous about roller coasters in general ask each other if there was an accident.
  8. Passengers already on the ‘coaster during this time evidently keep on riding continuously.
  9. A new car is substituted (evidently they have spares) and hooked into the train of cars waiting on the track.
  10. The cast starts confirming safety checks over the loudspeaker system, “Zone 1 check,” “Zone 2 check,” etc.  There are almost 30 zones.
  11. We are asked to resume our place in line for the next car, sending us right into the horde of The Agitated Waiting People.
  12. Mercury-vapor work lights are turned off and an announcement is made that operations will resume.
  13. The Agitated Waiting People emit a cheer that rivals what you would expect after a decisive goal in a World Cup Soccer match.  It is very loud in the enclosed space.
  14. Embarrassed, it is now our turn to get in the roller coaster and wonder if we’ll be attacked when we exit Space Mountain.
  15. Several cast members make sure we get into our car the correct way, and inspect our seating arrangement three times.  They are clearly suspicious of us now.
  16. We enjoy a flawless ride on Space Mountain, and were not attacked after we exited the ride.

Total elapsed time, about 15 minutes.