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Orlando/SoCal Theme Park Showdown: Space Mountain vs. Space Mountain

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Published: October 12, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Our final match-up of the day in the Theme Park Insider Orlando/Southern California Showdown matches Disneyland's Space Mountain versus the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain. Which is your favorite between the two versions? Consider whatever details you'd like - setting, decor, ride, narrative, or whatever petty individual bias you'd like to throw into the mix. The vote will be open for 24 hours.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain: Tomorrowland

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain

Disneyland's Space Mountain: Tomorrowland

Disneyland's Space Mountain

The differences? Space Mountain debuted at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in December 1974, then came to Disneyland in May 1977. The Orlando Space Mountain features two, nearly identical, Arrow tracks while Anaheim's coaster offers just one. But the Disneyland version added an on-board musical soundtrack in 1996 and the track was completely rebuilt in California between 2003-2005. The Disney World version got its own substantial refurbishment in 2009, adding interactive elements to the queue as well as sound effects within the ride. Fans of the old Epcot attraction Horizons will find some familiar sights in Disney World Space Mountain's post-show. Disneyland fans, though, get to enjoy a Halloween overlay on Space Mountain each year: Ghost Galaxy, featuring a holiday-themed musical soundtrack and special on-ride visual effects.

I've leave to you to argue about the smoothness and feel of the two rides. Feel free to further break down the match-up in the comments.

Other Showdown winners:

Readers' Opinions

From 213.205.225.76 on October 12, 2011 at 2:25 PM
I've tried the one in Disneyworld and the one in EuroDisney. EuroDisney is totally different and is miles better! Has anyone.tried all 3?
From Manny Barron on October 12, 2011 at 2:27 PM
Disneyland's is way better. The ride feels faster and bigger and the music is the main reason why this is the definitve Space Mountain. I do like the East Coast's version for its smaller cars and better queue area but Anaheim's is the best.
From Skipper Adam on October 12, 2011 at 3:13 PM
Well, first of, WDW Space Mountain opened January 15, 1975 (hence all of the Star-Port 7-5 allusions in the theming), not December 1974.

Disney world's may not be as spiffy as some of the flashy things on DLR's, but if you look at ride experience overall, WDW takes the cake. It's faster, unpredictable, taller drops and better sound effects. I like having speakers long the track more than on the train because it has the effect of things flying by, dimensional sounds.

I can't emphasize enough how dull DLR's track is. It's a spiral down, with no drops or surprising twists.

Oh and yes, the small trains rock.

DLR's version is one right turn after another...pretty predictable. Also, the drops virtually don't exist.

If you want proof of the intensity levels, Disney World's has a higher high requirement.

Oh, the sheer scale of WDW's is way impressive. The size of the building, the queue and load platform are all bigger and cooler. DLR's looks dinky, especially since the queue is outside in front like it is.

I'm not sure, other than maybe some different effects, what could make anyone consider DLR's lamer version superior.

Did I mention how dull the track was at DLR?

From Robert Niles on October 12, 2011 at 2:51 PM
I'm counting the soft-open date, not the official one, which, yes, was January 1975.
From Scottland Jacobson on October 12, 2011 at 2:57 PM
I cannot believe that Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain is that close behind Disneyland's! DL's is FAR FAR superior!!
From Tracy Bates on October 12, 2011 at 2:58 PM
I just went to disneyland for the first time last month and really enjoyed exploring the differences between the two parks. (I'm a season passholder for all of the florida parks except for legoland so I've ridden space mountain florida many many times.)

The west coast version of space mountain is so much better it's not even funny. First off, you sit side by side, so you can hold onto and talk to the person you're riding with. (My wife, who won't usually ride coasters rode this and would ride it again.) Second, it was silky smooth compared to the florida one. Space mountain in Disney World reminds me of the matterhorn at disneyland. You sit in the ride vehicles the same way and the ride is equally rough on the two of them. Also, the one in California has the halloween theming of Ghost Galaxy, which is a visual treat during the ride instead of just seeing the glow in the dark strips on the other cars, which is pretty much all you have to look at in Space Mountain Florida.

(I like this topic, by the way. I tried to hit all the parks I could in california and made sure to go on rides that were on both coasts to see the differences.)

From Skipper Adam on October 12, 2011 at 3:01 PM
I'd like to point out that WDW no longer has glow in the dark stripes, is darker and uses more projectors for FX than the DLR version.
From Anon Mouse on October 12, 2011 at 3:02 PM
My review was before the renovations. I felt Disneyland's was much better (which isn't saying much) and that the Magic Kingdom's version was a big disappointment. For a supposedly larger footprint, MK's Space Mountain didn't do much for me. The queue line was boring and looks very horrible with the tired FedEx displays.

The newer Disneyland version was a vast improvement in ride quality and the onboard sound system greatly improved reliability of the sound. I heard MK's sound system on the track didn't help things and many guests will barely hear the sound track. I guess I will have to try it again at MK.

Oh, Ghost Galaxy at Disneyland is a terrific improvement. You gotta try it during the Halloween season.

From Will Chilcote on October 12, 2011 at 3:19 PM
I love Space Mountain. Disneyland's version is a little better. Was on Ghost Galaxy (Halloween Disneyland version) last month and I prefer that version even better.
From 74.196.144.87 on October 12, 2011 at 3:22 PM
You guys are crazy, Disney World's is waaaaaay better. The queue, the size and the load of Disneyland's is lame. I like the sense of riding by myself in World's. The ride is more exciting. Disneyland's track is boring!
From 69.232.35.235 on October 12, 2011 at 3:23 PM
Having been on the Tokyo, California, Paris and Florida versions... IMO Best to worst-> Paris, California, Tokyo, Florida.
From Dominick D on October 12, 2011 at 3:26 PM
Never been on either, but WDW's looks far more superior. No glowing means you dont know what to expect!
From TH Creative on October 12, 2011 at 3:42 PM
NO CONTEST! The Magic Kingdon's trains with the lower sides is a far more exhilirating ride.
From TH Creative on October 12, 2011 at 3:43 PM
Plus the stretching room on Space Mountain at WDWMK is better!
From Tracy Bates on October 12, 2011 at 5:22 PM
When did they remove the glow in the dark stripes in florida? I don't ride it every time I go because my wife doesn't like it. (Too rough) I swear they were there last time I rode, which was last year. (That, or I'm crazy.)
From 166.205.11.57 on October 12, 2011 at 5:25 PM
The glow stripes were removed durring the last refurb because it have off too much light.
From Tim W on October 12, 2011 at 6:13 PM
By far this one should be going to Disneyland. The ride is far superior in design, feeling, and other aspects. One of my favorite things at this one is the ride vehicles.
From Anthony Murphy on October 12, 2011 at 9:07 PM
WDW all the way! DL version didn't do it for me!
From Tony Perkins on October 12, 2011 at 9:47 PM
DL one is better for the on-board music and especially for the Halloween overlay. Paris has the absolute worst of all the Space Mountains because it is so rough your head gets knocked around for most of the ride. It is very poorly designed and laid out. Paris also stripped out the great Jules Verne themeing when they redesigned it.
From Robert Niles on October 12, 2011 at 11:12 PM
WDW = Better seats. (Way comfortable. I want to buy one of these as a chair for my office.)
DL = Much smoother track. That rebuild did wonders.
DL = Better audio.
WDW = Better queue.
DL = Holiday option.

By a score of 3-2, I give it to DL.

From Randall Peek on October 13, 2011 at 1:48 AM
It's been about 13 years since I was last in Disneyland, and I got to ride WDW's Space Mountain as recently as two weeks ago, so I am comparing slightly different iterations of the rides, but I have to say that it is a really tough call for me. If I had to, though, I would give the nod to Disneyland.
The reason I prefer it, albeit slightly, is that the on-ride audio is excellent, and I can not emphasize enough how much it enhances the ride experience. This was my first experience with on-ride audio like that on a coaster, years before I rode RnRC, and it ratcheted the enjoyment of the ride up several notches. I also prefer sitting side by side with a companion when on a coaster. The shared experience is much greater that way.
The one thing that I will give to Florida is the unpredictability of the track. The ride is a lot of fun in that respect, and the drops and swoops make for a better coaster, but since when has Space Mountain been about the coaster part of the experience? It's about the show.
Also, any ride that gets an overlay gets points for advanced storytelling. That is why I'm so upset STILL about the Country Bears being banished from Disneyland. With the Vacation Hoedown AND the Holiday edition, this was superior to the Florida version in every way. Ghost Galaxy sounds like a hoot.
From Zena Sharpe on October 13, 2011 at 1:50 AM
I can't comment on DL as I have only been to Orlando and Paris, but out of those two I would def say WDW. The one at Paris gives you stinking headache and the queue is not up to WDW standards.
From David Sutter on October 13, 2011 at 3:44 AM
Magic Kingdom ...
From 199.72.188.238 on October 13, 2011 at 6:19 AM
I see this is a close one, WDW is better for the overall ride experience, but I like the Halloween stuff at Disneyland
From Andrew Carrieri on October 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM
I voted for Disney World's. I agree with several others that Florida's track is more unpredictable. It seemed to me that whereas WDW's Space had numerous unexpected drops making for a more wild experience, DL's felt I was going straight (I now realize trhat the ride is spiraling downward but I'd rather have sudden dips).
I also prefer the smaller WDW cars-I think these make the ride seem more exciting (DLS are more comfortable though).
Finally, WDWs queue is better in that is easier to find (not tucked in a corridor with a restaurant)and mainly indoors. If the line is long, WDW's interactive queue may be a bonus as well.
From Sylvain Comeau on October 13, 2011 at 10:07 PM
This one was a very close decision for me. I love both versions. DL's is snazzy, and has all the bells and whistles, but MK's version has more of a thrill factor. It has more of a real "coaster in the dark" feel. I give a slight edge to MK's version, but the SM is a highlight of my vacation on either coast.

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