Mission: Space

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Mission: Space
Missionspace.jpg
The exterior of Mission: Space.
Epcot
Land Future World
Theme Space travel
Opening date October 9, 2003
Type Motion simulator
FastPass + Yes (Group B)
Sponsored by Hewlett-Packard

Mission:Space is a pavilion and an attraction located in Epcot

Pavilion History

Unbuilt Pavilions

Original Space Pavilion (1977)

Although Mission: Space would not open until 2004, plans for a space pavilion in Epcot actually date back to EPCOT Center's early designs. In fact, in the 1977 Walt Disney Company Annual Report, the space pavilion was one of the many planned EPCOT Center pavilions mentioned. The report describes the space pavilion as:
Ray Bradbury (right) and John DeCuir Jr. (left) working on the original concept for EPCOT Center's space pavilion.
“A huge, interstellar "Space Vehicle" will transport passengers to the outer frontiers of the universe, highlighting man's efforts to reach out for the stars around him ... from the early pioneers who looked and wondered ... to modern-day space travelers and their triumphs ... to the challenges and possibilities of future space technologies and exploration”

Walt Disney Company 1977 Report [1]

The initial space pavilion was themed to be an orbiting space station, and would have begun with guests taking off from a launch pad and heading into space [2]. From here, guests could have explored a variety of interactive exhibits, including the pavilion’s main attraction- which would have allowed them to travel through space in a motion simulator theater [1] [2]. Looking out through walls of windows, guests would have been able to see out into space, even getting a stunning view of the planet Earth. During the development of the pavilion, Imagineers consulted with famed art director John DeCuir Jr., as well as science fiction author Ray Bradbury [1] who helped create the attraction's storyline. Although fairly well developed, plans for the space pavilion were pushed back to EPCOT Center’s “phase II” due to budget constrictions and a lack of sponsor [2]. When another phase II pavilion The Living Seas opened in 1986, it was built on the plot of land originally designated for the space pavilion. Following the addition of Seas pavilion, the theoretical space pavilion was relocated to a new plot in between The Land and The Living Seas [2].

Journeys In Space (1990-1998)

In 1990, Disney announced that it would be creating a new incarnation of the space pavilion called Journeys in Space. According to a press release:

"JOURNEYS IN SPACE: The long-planned Future World attraction will present visitors with the ultimate thrill-ride: space travel. New systems and special effects will be used to give guests an outer-space experience without ever leaving terra firma" [2] [3]
Concept art for the Journeys Into Space pavilion (above) and the "spacewalk" attraction (below).

The Journeys In Space pavilion was designed to be more interactive and immersive then its predecessor [2], with full environments for guests to explore[2]. Like the original space pavilion however, Journeys in Space was done in by budget constraints. Although there had been initially been talks with Delta about sponsoring the pavilion, Journeys In Space was eventually shelved due to lack of funding[2].

Despite the fact that a sponsor had still not been found, plans for a modified version of the pavilion were revived in 1993. With GE choosing to end its sponsorship of Horizons and Michael Eisner unwilling to update the pavilion, Imagineers began to look at the Horizons building as a possible home for Journeys In Space[2]. This new incarnation of the attraction would have allowed guests to walk through space in "Spacesuits" [2]. Because Disney hoped to save money by reusing as much of Horizons as possible, not only would Journeys In Space have reused the pavilion itself, but also Horizons' overhead track and ride vehicles. An Imagineer who worked on this incarnation of the space pavilion told Disney historian Jim Hill:

A little background on the "space walk" attraction that was proposed for the Horizon pavilion. That was going to be one of several attractions that were going to be part of the initial Space Pavilion concept (much as Wonders of Life Pavilion had multiple venues under one roof). You entered the pavilion and found yourself around a campfire with a projected starfield above to put in mind of ancient man studying the heavens.

After a simple pre-show here, and then a cybrolator-like transitional scene, you were delivered to a space station orbiting earth. The space station was the hub for the other adventures. You probably know all this. The space walk adventure was a journey around the outside of the "space station", giving riders a chance to look into space and peer into the "non-public" areas of the space station operations (crew quarters, lab, etc.). As you correctly described riders would have been suspended from an overhead track. [4]

Unfortunately, issues with capacity, cost, and integration into the existing Horizons building, led to the cancellation of Journeys In Space [2].

Mission: Space

With the World of Motion and Universe of Energy pavilions closed for refurbishment and no immediate plans for a space pavilion, Horizons remained operational through 1998[2]. Although basic maintenance continued to be done on the attraction, no real money was spent to update or upkeep Horizons. With the pavilion's days clearly numbered, in 1999 the idea for a space pavilion once again took center stage[2]. Unlike previous incarnations however, this time Compaq entered negotiations to sponsor the new pavilion[2]. With a sponsor in place, Disney settled on an idea that had previously been considered as a preshow for Journey Into Space- a centrifuge attraction that would take guests into space[2]. In order to facilitate the new attraction, it was decided that the Horizons pavilion would be demolished and a brand new pavilion would be built. Horizons closed for good on January 9, 1999, and on April 20, 2000 Mission: Space was announced to the public[2]. Unlike previous concepts for the space pavilion, Mission: Space was themed as an astronaut training center. As such, instead of actually traveling into space, Mission: Space allows guests to experience the training that astronauts going on the first mission to Mars would experience.
Michael Eisner and HP CEO Carly Fiorina at Mission: Space's Grand Opening

Construction on Mission: Space began in October 2001[2], and although there was concern that Compaq's 2002 merger with Hewlett-Packard would delay the attraction, this never happened. Mission: Space Opened to guests on August 15, 2003, and was officially dedicated on October 9th of that year[2].

Shortly following the opening of Mission: Space, Environmental Tectonics Corporation (ETC) sued Disney for roughly 15 million dollars [5]. The lawsuit stemmed from the fact that Disney had awarded Environmental Tectonics a 30 million dollar contract to develop the centrifuges and hardware for the attraction in 1999 [5]. In their lawsuit, ETC claimed that (among other things) Disney had failed to pay the full amount of the contract, had shared details of the company's designs with competitors, prevented the company from working with other entertainment companies, and that they had not properly tested the attraction for safety[5]. Disney counter-sued, claiming that ETC had failed to fulfill their contractual duties, and that they (Disney) had to spend an extra 20 million dollars in order to complete the ride[5]. In January 2009, the companies settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.

After Mission: Space opened, two guests passed away after riding the attraction. First, on June 13, 2005, four year old Daudi Bamuwamye passed away. Subsequently, On April 12, 2006 Hiltrud Blumel died one day after riding the attraction and becoming ill. Although both deaths were later ruled to have been the result of pre-existing conditions, the popularity of Mission: Space took a serious hit[5].

In response to some concerns about the intensity of the attraction, on May 19, 2006 Disney revealed that Mission: Space would now feature two versions of the ride- The Green and Orange Teams [2]. The Green Team version of the attraction, allowed guests to ride Mission: Space without the centrifuges spinning, resulting in a much tamer ride. The Orange Team on the other hand, was the normal, spinning version of the attraction[5]. Following the change, the original stand by line was used for the Orange Team, while the original FastPass line was used for the Green Team [5]. Furthermore, when guests enter Mission: Space, they are now handed a card with their team choice on it, thus making sure that they do not ride the wrong version of the attraction.

Mission: Space Relaunced

On August 13, 2017, Disney unveiled an updated Mission: Space attraction [6]. At this time, a new Green Team experience was opened to guests [6]. On this new adventure, guests orbit around Earth, seeing breathtaking views of the planet, before landing at Cape Canaveral. Other additions to the attraction at this time included a new preshow video, updated effects in the Orange Team version of the attraction (which retained its previous plot) and a lower height restriction (40 inches) [6].

Attraction Plot

Queue

The ride controls that guests can use inside Mission: Space.

The queue for Mission: Space begins inside the pavilion, with guests entering the International Space Training Center's "Sim Room". As they wait in the line, guests can see various artifacts from the history of space travel. A large gravity wheel, props from the 2000 movie "Mission to Mars", and a replica NASA moon rover can all be found here.

As guests enter the next part of the queue, the Command Room, they see that plaques commemorating the past, present, and even (fictional) future of space travel line the walls. A picture of the first family in space, and the "First Deep Space Mission" can be found here, reinforcing the idea that space travel has advanced a lot by the year 2036. Also in the queue, guests can read inspirational quotes from famous astronauts and astronomers including: Neil Armstrong, Galileo, President John F. Kennedy, Plato, Kalpana Chawla, Carl Sagan, and even NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

While in the queue for Mission: Space, guests must choose what version of the attraction that they wish to experience. A cast member asks if they would like to be on the Green Team (the milder version of the attraction where guests fly around the planet) or the Orange Team (the more intense version where they fly to Mars). After choosing their version of the ride, guests get a colored card and enter the color-coded "Ready Rooms".

The Ride

Orange Team

If guests chose the Orange Team, they watch a short instructional video and they are given their role for the mission. In total there are four assignments that guests can be assigned:

  • The Commander- Responsible for first stage separation and activating the manual control for landing.
  • The Pilot- Responsible for triggers the second stage rocket and deploying the shields.
  • The Navigator- Responsible for firing the thrusters for lunar orbit insertion and for the decent onto the surface of Mars.
  • The Engineer- Responsible for activating hyper-sleep and extending the wings for landing.

After getting their roles, guests are buckled into their seats aboard the X-2 Rocket, which is almost ready for lift-off.

The Advance Training Lab postshow. Photo by Josh Hallett

Mission: Space begins with a launch countdown, which includes various tension-building special effects. Just before the countdown ends, the seats tilt back into launch position. As the space shuttle takes off, guests feel like they are quickly picking up speed, and because the attraction gives off a G force of 2.5g, guests feel 2.5x heavier than they actually are (This sensation only happens on the Orange Team version of the attraction). After escaping the Earth's gravitational pull and making their way into space, guests feel weightless. As the space ship travels towards Mars, each guest must execute their duty. To do this, each crew member must press the button in front of them when Mission Control tells them to do so. If a guest fails to accomplish their task, the auto-pilot will take over and do it. Although there are many buttons and switches in front of each guests, they are there only to add realism, and do not do anything.

The trip to Mars includes a slingshot around the moon, a simulated hyper-sleep (to make the time it would take to get to Mars seem more realistic), and a landing on Mars itself. Along the way, the ship may experience various difficulties, depending on how well guests execute their responsibilities. After landing on Mars, guests disembark and exit the attraction.

Green Team

On the Green Team version of the attraction, guests orbit around the Earth. After takeoff, each team member needs to perform a task in order to get the ship into orbit. These tasks are:

  • Pilot- Initiates the first bay separation.
  • Commander- Initiates flight sequence.
  • Navigator- Initiates the thrusters.
  • Engineer- Initiates the flight pattern.

After each team member has performed their task, the ship flies over the United States, getting a view of the country from outer space. After flying over the International Space Station and the Hawaiian Islands, the rocket passes another rocket before traveling over Japan, a storm in the Gobi desert, and the Himalayan Mountains. Continuing on, guests fly over the Middle East, the Nile River, Greece and Italy.

Traveling over the rest of Europe, guests can see the Northern Lights on the horizon before they learn that there is a storm cell in the rockets landing path. Because of this, all the crew members need to act in order to help the landing. At this time, the pilot needs to initiate the landing sequence, the navigator the decent, the engineer the "wings for gliding", and finally, after the autopilot goes out, the pilot needs to activate manual control. The entire team must then use the control sticks to help land the ship safely. At this point Mission Control appears on screen and welcomes them back to Earth.

Advanced Training Lab

After exiting Mission: Space, guests enter the Advanced Training Lab. Here, there are four different exhibits that they can visit. The exhibits include:

  • The Space Base- A playground for young guests with a space theme.
  • Expedition: Mars- A video game, in which guests take control of an astronaut who has four minutes to find four other astronauts on Mars.
  • Postcards from Space- In this exhibit, guests can send a short video of themselves with various space themed backgrounds.
  • Space Race- A game in which two teams compete against each other to see who can get their rocket from Mars back to Earth the fastest. Up to 60 guests can play Space Race at one time.

Shopping

Mission: Space Giftshop- Located outside of the main attraction, the shop sells Mission: Space and other Epcot merchandise.

Lounge

During the original construction of the Mission: Space pavilion, a large building was constructed for use as a sponsor lounge for HP. The building was never completed and a smaller lounge was instead built within the pavilion. Called the HP Red Planet Room, the entrance to the lounge is located to the left of the pavilion's main entrance [7]. From inside the HP Red Planet Room, visitors can see Mission: Space's queue and exit.

During land clearing for Epcot's new space themed restaurant, the unfinished HP Lounge became visible to guests. Although the building has been used for storage, it is expected that the structure may be incorporated into the new restaurant [8].

Fun Facts and Trivia

The International Space Training Center logo.
  • There are three references to Horizons in the Mission: Space pavilion:
    • Outside of the pavilion, a planter is shaped like the demolished pavilion [9].
    • The Horizons logo can be seen on the center of the Gravity Wheel located in the queue [10].
    • The logo can also be seen on the checkout desk in the pavilions gift shop [11].
  • The Lunar Rover suspended from the ceiling in the queue is on loan from the Smithsonian [12].
  • Trevor Rabin (formally of Yes) composed a new musical score for Mission: Space [10].
  • Imagineers went through nearly 100 different shades of red before settling the color that is used in the pavilion's facade [10].
  • The ride system is anchored in a basement which is 30 feet below ground[5].
  • When Mission: Space was announced, Disney claimed that the Horizons pavilion would be too small to hold the attraction. In actuality, Mission: Space is significantly smaller than Horizons[5].
  • If guests look at the small monitor located in the Command Room in Mission: Space's queue, they will see a small bird coming in for a crash landing. This is a reference to the extinct Flight to the Moon and Mission to Mars attractions in the Magic Kingdom. In these attractions' preshows, a bird would set off alarms, and Mission Control would mistake the bird for a UFO [13].

Quotes in the Queue

Inside of Mission: Space’s queue are various quotes about space. Quotes found here include:

  • "Look Upward...From this world to the heavens"- Plato (Philosopher)
  • "The universe...stands continually open to our gaze."- Galileo Galilee (Astronomer)
  • "The further we penetrate the unknown, the vaster and more marvelous it becomes"- Charles A. Lindbergh (Aviator)
  • "We shall not cease our explorations"- T.S. Eliot (Poet)
  • "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible"- Arthur C. Clarke (Author)
  • "We set sail on this new sea, because there is knowledge to be gained"- John F. Kennedy (35th U.S. President)
  • "Exploration is really the essence of human spirit"- Frank Borman (U.S. Astronaut)
  • "Tomorrow, on to the stars"- Jack Dyer (NASA Project Director)
  • "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" - Neil Armstrong (U.S. Astronaut)
  • "Dare to Dream...." Kalpana Chawla (U.S. Astronaut)

References

http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/epcot/epfw-mission.htm

http://allears.net/tp/ep/e_ms.htm

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/attractions/mission-space/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ3wrzRNrbc

http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2006/06/06/2772.aspx

http://futureprobe.blogspot.com/2011/12/disney-in-space-part-4-from-ray.html

http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2005/02/10/542.aspx

Pedersen, R.A. The EPCOT Explorer's Encyclopedia:. United States: Epcyclopedia, 2011. Print.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2011/10/07/why-for-did-epcot-s-future-world-not-turn-out-as-wed-had-originally-planned.aspx
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=283
  3. http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2005/01/04/what-was-supposed-to-be-built-at-disney-world-during-the-quot-disney-decade-quot.aspx
  4. http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2005/02/10/542.aspx
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Pedersen, R.A. The EPCOT Explorer's Encyclopedia:. United States: Epcyclopedia, 2011. Print.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2017/07/mission-space-relaunches-aug-13-with-brand-new-experiences/
  7. http://www.robyeodesign.com/blog/2016/3/21/future-worlds-s
  8. https://wdwnt.com/2018/07/photos-land-cleared-for-epcots-future-world-space-restaurant-revealing-unfinished-hp-lounge/
  9. http://www.mainstgazette.com/2008/05/exploration-of-deep-space.html
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 http://allears.net/tp/ep/e_ms.htm
  11. http://www.lostepcot.com/horizons.html
  12. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/mission-space.htm
  13. Mongello, Lou. "Mission: Space DSI: Disney Scene Investigation." Audio blog post. WDW Radio. N.p., 23 Sept. 2015. Web