Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Ten years after Mission to Mars closed at WDW, another "mission" sent WDW guests on Mars, and it was at Epcot when "Mission: Space" opened on October 9, 2003. Well, as a matter of fact, the existing Mission Space that we know is in fact the first part of what was
a much better "Mission: Space" attraction concept.
In its original concept part one of the attraction was the same one that Epcot guests ride every day, i.e the shuttle centrifuge-simulator of a blast-off to outer space.
But instead to go on Mars, the original concept would have sent Mission: Space guests to a Space Station built on the Moon - or, according to Jim Hill in his excellent 2001 article, on a huge asteroid - see artwork below.
Always according to Jim "After they will arrive at the station, Epcot visitors will be free to disembark and discover the many wonders that are hidden deep inside that asteroid". And how, you ask? Well, that was the third genius part of the ride as Guests would have been able to move inside the Space Station thanks to a simulated "MMU" - Manned Maneuvering Unit - the famous propulsion backpack which was used by NASA astronauts on space shuttle missions in 1984 and which allowed the astronauts to perform untethered EVA spacewalks at a distance from the shuttle. Of course, as you can see on the rendering below, every one was supposed to follow the track, but the ride would have been great anyway, don't you think so?
So, why this awesome version of Mission Space was never built? Guess what, of course the cost of this amazing attraction concept would have been extremely expensive, and probably too expensive for Michael Eisner, Disney's CEO at that time. That said, i'm thinking that IF Disney wanted to expand the current version, change it and add all the awesome second part of the concept which was cancelled, they'll probably could do it, technically speaking. If they have enough land available behind the Mission Space building - and of course the needed budget - they could expand the ride. Sure, they'll have to change the storyline, the movie inside the ride itself and others things but basically it doesn't look unfeasible. But a quick look on Google Earth shows that in fact there is currently backstage buildings behind so i suppose they would need to remove these ones too...
So, only the first part of the ride was saved and Mission: Space was built on the former site of the beloved Horizons attraction.
Mission Space Grand Opening happened on October 2003 and here is the video of the ceremony attended by Disney CEO Michael Eisner, HP CEO Carly Fiorina and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, as well as several NASA astronauts from its many phases of human space exploration- Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, the space shuttle program and two crew members aboard the International Space Station!
The next videos is a very good HD Video showing the attraction itself, from the pre-show to the ride itself, including the whole movie that guests can see during the centrifuge ride.
Pictures: copyright Disney, Google Maps
Many thanks to the different people for the Youtube videos!