Mission: SPACE is a motion simulator offering two different ride experiences. The Orange Mission takes you on a wild-ride journey to Mars; the gentler Green Mission puts you in orbit around Earth. Which mission should you choose? Read on to help with your decision! Or if you prefer to blast off straight to the wheres, whys, and hows, here’s your shortcut (or wormhole, if you prefer).
1. You’ll prepare to launch before you get to the ride.
The blast-off excitement for Mission: SPACE begins even before you enter the building. When the sidewalk was redone recently, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided Disney with pictures taken by the Mars rover Perseverance. They shared a 3D print file so Imagineers could recreate the tubes used to gather samples on Mars, and even loaned a prototype wheel of the Perseverance rover to create tread marks identical to those made by the rover as it explored Mars.
The building itself has a giant globe of earth with a rocket soaring around it, and giant models of Mars and Jupiter. As a Boomer, it reminds me of an episode of the Jetsons, when the future was full of possibilities and excitement!
When you enter the building, the queue is designed to look like a space training center: there are props from the 2000 film Mission to Mars, spacecraft models, and a replica of a NASA moon rover. You’ll next enter the International Space Training Centers (ISTC), where you’ll see an introductory video from the ISTC’s Capsule Communicator (Capcom) played by actress Gina Torres. (Gary Sinise, who starred in the movie Mission to Mars, was the Capcom until 2017.) And then you’ll be off!
The queues for the different “sides” of the ride may be different in length, so be prepared to say which mission you’ll choose as you enter the building. The Orange Mission is more intense; the Green Mission is less so. The next two sections describe what you’ll find based on your choices.
2. The “Gentler” Green Mission Orbits the Earth.
If you choose to ride Mission: SPACE, the Green ride is the better choice for anyone prone to motion sickness. It’s also the choice if you’re not sure which mission to choose! There’s no spinning on this version, and the movement is less turbulent. You won’t experience strong g-forces or weightlessness. But it’s no slow-moving dark ride; there’s still enough action that, for instance, expectant mothers are advised to not ride.
As you board, you’ll be assigned one of four positions on your flight aboard the X-2 Deep space Shuttle: navigator, pilot, commander, or engineer. You’ll be given two tasks to perform. (Don’t worry, nothing you do – or don’t do – will actually affect or harm the outcome of the journey.) On the Green Mission, you’ll watch through the viewscreen as you experience liftoff and then enjoy a beautiful orbit around the Earth. During re-entry, you’ll have to manually navigate through a thunderstorm over the landing runway following the instructions from Capcom.
3. The More Intense Orange Mission Journeys to Mars
Like the Green mission, you’ll be assigned one of four positions (navigator, pilot, commander, or engineer) and have two tasks to perform. And again like the Green mission, you’ll have a screen that allows you to watch all the action. On the Orange side, this includes liftoff and your slingshot around the moon for a gravity assist before being placed into “hypersleep” for a couple of seconds before landing on Mars. But when you awaken “things go wrong”, and Capcom will guide you through a series of actions intended to get you safely through a meteor belt and navigate a safe landing on the red planet.
Disney explains that the Orange Mission uses a centrifuge that spins and tilts to simulate the speed and G-forces of a spacecraft launch and reentry and momentary weightlessness. The result is a “highly turbulent motion simulator thrill ride that includes intense maneuvers that can cause nausea, headache, dizziness, and disorientation” – even if you have never experienced motion sickness before. For this reason, Disney emphasizes repeatedly that anyone choosing the Orange Mission should be in good health and free of high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this ride. And again, expectant mothers should not ride (this should not be a surprise since they were advised to avoid the Green side as well).
4. The fun doesn’t end once you’re back on earth.
Once you disembark, you’ll go through the Advanced Training Lab interactive play area and the Mission Space: Cargo Bay gift shop. The ATL is a great place for littles or ride chickens (like me) to pass the time while others leave the planet. There are four interactive space areas to enjoy. Space Base is a playground area where kids can climb, go through “wormholes” and use up some energy.
In Expedition Mars, you have four minutes to use a joystick and jet-pack button to search Mars for four astronauts. Postcards from Space lets you create and send an email video postcard to anyone. Lastly, Mission: SPACE Race Puts you in a race with others to see who can reach Mars first. It takes about 15 minutes to play and up to 56 astronauts can participate at once.
As you pass through the gift shop with all its space-themed items (but no Star Wars stuff here), check out the freeze-dried astronaut ice cream. The packaging reminds you that freeze drying removes water from items, so your saliva actually re-hydrates the ice cream as you eat it. Shelf-stable for years without refrigeration, freeze-dried foods are perfect for space travel – and earthlings who want a snack.
5. The Nuts and Bolts.
Mission: SPACE is located in the World Discovery section of EPCOT, between Cosmic Rewind and Test Track. Since it’s indoors, the weather doesn’t affect it. The ride itself is about 4-5 minutes, but from start to finish including the preshow you should expect to take about 15 minutes.
Each ride vehicle seats four people in individual padded chairs with armrests and an over-the-head padded shoulder restraint. Before the ride begins, the ride vehicle closes around guests and moves them closer to their screens and the lights dim; some guests have found this claustrophobic. The seating and restraints may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding.
The warnings for the Orange Mission bear repeating here: Guests should not ride if they are uncomfortable with dark, close spaces or even slightly prone to motion sickness as this attraction is a spinning simulator that creates g-forces. Some guests experience nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation, and even motion sickness even if they have never experienced it before. Motion sickness bags are available inside the vehicle.
There’s a small step up to board the ride vehicle. Guests must transfer from a wheelchair/ECV to ride. Children will find they must be 40″ to ride the Green Mission and 44″ to ride the Orange Mission. Like all rides with a height requirement, Mission: SPACE offers Rider Switch. Service animals are not permitted on this attraction. Video captioning is available.
Mission: SPACE is open for Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours. It’s popular enough that when crowds are high, your best bet for a short wait is early in the morning or late at night. You can also snag a Lightning Lane via Genie+.
The Bottom Line.
If you have the constitution and determination to ride, we rate this attraction as not to be missed. The level of theming, the attention to detail, and the actual ride itself make Mission: SPACE a truly unique and immersive experience. Motion sickness bags and all.
Have you been on Mission Space? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.