Theme Park Insider

Eight new ideas for Disneyland Space Mountain overlays

September 29, 2016, 10:56 AM · Why spend millions of dollars to build one theme park attraction when, with a little bit of extra planning and flexibility, you can build multiple attractions instead?

Theme parks can extend the value of their rides and shows with special overlays. Disney's been doing this for a generation, starting (perhaps?) with a special Christmas show for the Country Bear Jamboree. Over the years, Disney's added seasonal and themed overlays to many more attractions, including It's a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, and World of Color.

The king of overlays these days might be Space Mountain. In addition to the "regular" musical journey to the stars, the Disneyland Resort offers two themed overlays to its popular indoor roller coaster: the Halloween-themed "Ghost Galaxy," which is running now, and the Star Wars-themed "Hyperspace Mountain," which returns November 2.

But why stop there? With Disney able to program and swap the music and animation on the ride with relative ease, it has the capacity to offer other overlays on Space Mountain. Done right, that encourages additional visits from Disneyland's many local annual passholders, as well as giving fans of the featured Disney franchises a fresh reason to visit the park, too.

So which themes and franchises should Disney select for new overlays on Space Mountain? In my Orange County Register column this week, I play Imagineer and make up eight options for new Space Mountain overlays. Maybe this should have been the place where Disney brought the Guardians of the Galaxy to the Disneyland Resort? But if you want to know my favorite idea for a new Space Mountain overlay, I will leave you with this hint...

Rex's Revenge!

Read Robert's column:

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Replies (9)

September 29, 2016 at 11:35 AM · The problem with overlays is that people want to be able to be able to ride the classic version, not a temporary retheme. I'm suprised Hyperspace Mountain is returning, plenty of people want Space Mountain to return. Hopefully after Star Wars and Marvel are done, Tomorrowland will finally get a much needed makeover, what ever that may be. Space Mountain should be spared, but I wouldn't be surprised it gets a permenent new theme. In the mean time, hopefully the real Space Mountain returns in the near future.
September 29, 2016 at 1:48 PM · I will likely pick Tron unless they intend to actually do a Tron outdoor roller coaster in a Tomorrowland makeover that includes removing the old People Mover tracks. I doubt it will be as popular as Hyperspace so it's likely they won't.

Where's the Christmas overlay? I can imagine a space ship decorated with garland and globe ornaments. You try to find Santa to deliver him a Christmas cheer. Your ship will Christmas Cross several times in your journey around the outer reaches of space and you see Santa Claus on his sleigh that's being pulled by his reindeer. During this whole time, you hear "Dashing Thru The Stars" and other adapted Christmas carols.

Alternatively, they can do a NORAD type overlay that tracks Santa. This will be great publicity for the Christmas Eve show except that it is done hundreds of times a day.

September 29, 2016 at 3:34 PM · I'd like the old 1990 surf rock music to come back.
September 29, 2016 at 4:25 PM · Temporary overlays are perfectly fine, but long term overlays or having too many of them can ruin the original ride. For example, Space Mountain has not operated as Space Mountain in over 12 months, and it is looking like it will be a minimum of 4 more before it does. That raises a question...is it still Space Mountain? Or is Space Mountain an overlay to Hyperspace Mountain now? If the base form of Space Mountain does not return following the theatrical run of Rogue One, I would argue that it has been officially replaced with Hyperspace Mountain and treat it as such.

As for the overlays presented, something like a Guardians of the Galaxy overlay for a couple months would be an excellent way to tie in with the movie and would be a better way to get the property into the park now (even though it would be much less permanent). Something like Rex's Revenge would be hilarious and could be used to honor a significant anniversary of Star Tours (or, perhaps, the closure of the attraction should it return). However, an overlay for the sake of an overlay is never going to be as good as the base attraction and should be avoided. If Disney wants an attraction with rotating themes, just build a basic roller coaster and give everyone VR headsets.

September 29, 2016 at 9:35 PM · Adventure Thru Inner Space Mountain:
The main lift hill/tunnel becomes the "Mighty Microscope" where riders are shrunk down and then shot into a field of giant snowflakes. Still shrinking, they enter it's crystalline structure and then enormous molecules, electrons spinning all around until they come face to face with the huge glowing nucleus of the atom. Towards the end, the series of right-hand turns and increased speed indicate the snowflake's melting and in the re-entry tunnel riders begin getting large again until finally they are "back on visual."
September 30, 2016 at 5:55 AM · Can someone explain what an "overlay" entails? I've only experienced regular space mountain. I assume it's just cosmetic changes & different music. The basic roller coaster ride is the same?
September 30, 2016 at 6:36 AM · Personally I would Like a Princess and the Frog overlay of Splash Mountain.
September 30, 2016 at 11:19 AM · A overlay is a change in the music, decoration and/or animation of a ride in order to change its theme or narration. On Space Mountain, it includes a change in on-board music and on-ride animation. The track and ride remain the same, as it does on pretty much all overlays.
October 2, 2016 at 8:04 PM · Personally I'd prefer if the original Space Mountain stays until they can make the effects look better on the attraction. I haven't been impressed with Hyper Space or Ghost Galaxy as you can see every screen before the projection starts, and the giant projections light up the place too much. I prefer the darkness of the original we don't see the structure. This is different than Haunted Mansion as the brighter colors on the Holiday overlay don't reveal "secrets" or break the experience.

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