Tokyo Disneyland opened its doors to the public on April 15th, 1983. The one roller coaster present at opening was a clone of Space Mountain at Disneyland. Now, the major difference at the time was the gift of space. Unlike the Anaheim space port, the Japanese space station was designed into the park at opening and thus, it occupy center stage in Tomorrowland. A large plaza in front of it and a strategic design down the main path leading from the park hub into Tomorrowland make it one of the most strategic draw ever. Now, the outdoor waiting line is in front of the ride and a Goodyear SpeedRamp take riders to the upper level where another small waiting line await them. Small rooms were constructed and they show a promotional video from Coca-Coca, who sponsors the ride. Once inside, there was a dark switchback where windows allowed us to peek at the rockets as they were flying in space. The station and ride experience was like the Anaheim attraction.
An unusual aspect is that as part of the contract between Disney and the Oriental Land Company, owner and operator of the park, most of the park supplies and attractions had to be sourced in Japan. So, using the original blueprints from William Watkins, the ride was built by a Japanese roller coaster manufacturer. I have been unable to track down which one specifically, but I suspect either Meisho Amusements, Togo or Sansei-Yusoki were involved. In 2007, Intamin listed among their customers OLC in Japan (Oriental Land Co. owns and operate Tokyo Disneyland) for a “Roller Coaster Dark Ride”. This would imply that Intamin was somehow involved in the rebuilding of the attraction, but we have been unable to get confirmation from either Intamin or OLC regarding their involvement. This is normal for Disney attractions as Walt Disney Imagineering enforce the tightest confidentiality clauses in the industry.
In late 2006, the ride closed down to be modernized. The ride system was refurbed and a new fleet of rockets were introduced. The ride logo and overall look was changed: it was now more of a Matrix style sci-fi for the effects and music. The stand-by waiting line is still at the bottom, while the fast pass return bypass it and allows guests to directly access the Speedramp. Once at the top, fast pass holders are sent to the left and stand-by guests sent to the right. The promotional video was replaced by an all new music video that shows off the ride new style and theme. Once inside, the windows were blocked, since to make the ride darker, the glow in the dark strips were never installed on the new rockets. Now, what is amazing is when we reach the loading area, it is exactly like in the video earlier. Same incredible starship hanging from the ceiling, incredible light effects and the air gates look like laser portals. A unique sound also signals when rockets leave the loading section. The first lift feature green lights, followed by green squares that light up as we roll the long section after. The second lift hill feature colored light beams that seem to follow us and then concentrate into a light circle at the top. The gravity portion got incredible star field effects that accentuate the feeling of speed. The last new feature is the Re Entry tunnel, where it looks as if we braked so suddenly the stars around us reversed course.
2007 ride logo
2007 promotional poster
Looking toward Space Mountain when walking from the hub.
Space Mountain when approaching the central plaza of Tomorrowland.
The view of the mountain when standing in the plaza.
The Speedramp leading to the mountain entrance and the waiting line cover.
Interestingly, the Standby entrance sign still feature the old font used before 2007.
Those three pictures show the Coca Cola promotional video.
Promotional poster for Coca Cola, proud sponsor of Space Mountain.
For the 2009 holiday season, Tokyo Disneyland upgrade the exterior lighting of the mountain. The result was incredible, with the mountain able to take various tones at night.
A look at the light package that is synchronised to the area soundtrack.
First part of the indoor waiting line.
The spectacular starship in the loading area.
The loading area of the attraction.
The waiting line going around the sides of the loading area.
The 2007 rockets with the eleborate air gates that prevent eager space travellers from approaching moving rockets.
We can safely say that operations at this attraction are among the best in the world. They are able to move the trains safely at a record pace and this keep the line moving.