Jim Hill: From the Archives
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Alright. Enough with all the sidebar info. Let's get back to the main story and that description of the new "Mission: Space" show, shall we?
Concept art for Mission: Space
WDW guests will then be lead to one of four centrifuge units that will be built inside the "Mission: Space" show building. Each of these centrifuges will have multiples arms hanging off its main axis. At the end of each arm will be a mocked up NASA training capsule.
Four visitors will enter each training capsule and be firmly strapped into their seats. Then - as the centrifuge is fired up - the four minute long in-cabin film will begin. This film will then talk Epcot visitors through all the sensation these guests will experiencing as they go through a simulated training flight. The pressure of the G forces. That brief giddy moment of weightlessness.
Upon completing their ride, these WDW guests will wander into the "Mission: Space" post show area - which will have numerous hands-on exhibits created by the same Imagineering team that designed the DisneyQuests in Orlando and Chicago. (Given that Disney's Regional Entertainment Office has all but abandoned its plans to build any more DisneyQuests, these Imagineers were thrilled to get this gig. This all but guarantees that they'll be able to keep their jobs during the next set of lay-offs at WDI, which should take place in May 2001 - three months after Disney's California Adventure theme park opens.)
As one might expect, the Imagineers are naturally disappointed that they didn't get to build their original grandiose version of "Mission: Space." On the other hand, WDW's operations people are thrilled with the proposed four centrifuge set-up for the new version of this Future World pavilion. When all of the space flight simulators are working properly in that show building, "Mission: Space" will have the highest theoretical hourly capacity (THC) of any ride in all of Epcot. Some 2400 - 3000 bodies could potentially move through that building each hour, which will make "Mission: Space" a real people eater.
(Speaking of eating, the only real concerns WDW ops staff has voiced about the new "Mission: Space" attraction is whether the weightless moment during the space flight simulation will make people nauseous. That THC isn't going to be anywhere near 2400 - 3000 people an hour if the staff is constantly having to deal with "protein spills" inside the ride cabins.)
Another interesting aspect of the "Mission: Space" attraction is how closely NASA will be working with the Walt Disney Company on this project. (As it turns out, the Mouse and NASA go way back. Imagineering designed several of the displays featured at the visitors center at the Johnson Space Center. Mickey and the crew from Cape Canaveral have been quite cozy ever since then.) One of the proposed highlights of the post-show area for this Future World pavilion will be a daily live chat between WDW guests and the crew of the then- hopefully- in- operation international space station.
This all sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it? But please keep in mind that "Mission: Space" will be making use of a brand new as-yet-untried ride technology. And - as the endless problems that have dogged the operation of WDW's "Test Track" and Disneyland's "Rocket Rods" have proven - sometimes using an untried technology in a theme park setting isn't such a great idea.
That's why Disney's trying to play it smart this time. Actual physical construction of the "Mission: Space" show building should be compete by this time next year. And the four centrifuge units that power the space flight simulator system should be in place by mid 2002. If all goes according to plan, the Imagineers will have a full six months to do test and adjust on "Mission: Space" ... which means that this could be the first new Future World attraction in five years that actually opens on schedule and works properly.
Better yet, "Mission: Space" will be the first WDW attraction to have a FastPass queue area deliberately included into the initial plans for the building. So no more sending Epcot guests with their FastPasses in through the exit. That should could cut down considerably on the aggravation level for those of us standing in the "Stand By" line.
Alright, so we're not gonna get the $300 million+, bells- and- whistles version, of the proposed Epcot "Space" pavilion. As it's currently designed, "Mission: Space" still sounds like a fun place to spend an hour or so while visiting Epcot.
See you on line in 2003.
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- Jim Hill
Jim Hill can be reached using the Talkback form below or by emailing him at [email protected].
Jim Hill is this guy who lives 'way out in the woods of New Hampshire. (Hey, it's not like he wants to live there. But the Witness Protection Program has got rules, you know.) He has one beautiful daughter and three obnoxious cats. When he's not looking for real work, Jim writes about the Walt Disney Company and related matters for LaughingPlace.com, AmusementPark.com, "Orlando Weekly" and Digital Media FX.
The opinions expressed by Jim Hill, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the past decisions and future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
- Posted April 5, 2001
- Originally published on another website in October 2000