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    Mission: Space Orange FASTPASS Booth

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This attraction's final day of operation was January 22, 2014.
The information below is provided for historical reference.

Description And Comments

Mission: SPACE, among other things, is Disney's reply to all the cutting-edge attractions introduced over the past few years by crosstown rival Universal. The first truly groundbreaking Disney attraction since The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Mission: SPACE was one of the hottest tickets at Walt Disney World until two guests died after riding it in 2005 and 2006. While neither death was linked directly to the attraction, the negative publicity caused many guests to skip it entirely. In response, Disney added a tamer nonspinning version of Mission: SPACE in 2006.

Disney's lawyers probably clocked as much time as the ride engineers in designing the "lite" version. Even before you walk into the building, you're asked whether you want your ride with or without spin. Choose the spinning version and you're on the "orange" team; the "green" team trains on the no-spin side. Either way, you're immediately handed the appropriate "launch ticket" containing the first of myriad warnings about the attraction, as this Unofficial Guide reader discovered: Since I hadn't done Mission: SPACE before, I chose the more intense version and was handed the orange launch ticket to read. Basically, it explained that if I had ever had a tonsillectomy, or even a mild case of pattern baldness, I should take the less intense ride.

We've had a good deal of reader mail about the no-spin version. The following comment is typical. A couple from Chicago had this to say: For Mission: SPACE in Epcot, I tried convincing my husband to take the less intense version of the ride but he didn't think it was going to be that bad. Oh, but it was! I felt sick to my stomach after that ride.

Guests for both versions of the attraction enter the International Space Training Center, where they are introduced to the deep-space exploration program and then divided into groups for flight training. After orientation, they're strapped into space capsules for a simulated flight, where, of course, the unexpected happens. Each capsule accommodates a crew consisting of a group commander, pilot, navigator, and engineer, with a guest functioning in each role. The crew's skill and finesse (or, more often, lack thereof) in handling their respective responsibilities have no effect on the outcome of the flight. The capsules are small, and both ride versions are amazingly realistic. The nonspinning version doesn't subject your body to g-forces, but it does bounce and toss you around in a manner roughly comparable to other Disney motion simulators.

The queuing area and preshow are pretty dazzling. En route to the main event, guests pass space hardware, astronaut tributes and memorials, a cutaway of a huge space wheel showing crew working and living compartments, and a manned mission control where cast members actually operate the attraction. The postshow area features an electronic game called Mission: SPACE Race that almost three dozen guests, divided into two teams, can play at once. The winning team beats the other team's spaceship back from Mars to the home base. Individuals on each team are responsible for certain tasks essential to the mission and make their ship fly faster by hitting the correct keyboard buttons.

Touring Tips

In minutes, Disney can reconfigure the ride's four centrifuges to either version of the attraction based on guest demand. Reports indicate that crowds are evenly split between ride options and that wait times, having previously fallen off significantly, are slowly inching upward again. In general, the kinder, gentler version has a wait time of about half that of its more harrowing counterpart.
Having experienced the industrial-strength version of Mission: SPACE under a variety of circumstances, we've always felt icky when riding it on an empty stomach, especially first thing in the morning. We came up with a number of potential explanations for this phenomenon, involving everything from low blood sugar and inner-ear disorders to some of us just not being astronaut material. Understandably disturbed by the latter possibility, we looked around for an expert opinion to explain what we were feeling. The number of organizations with experience studying the effects of high-gravity ("high-g") forces on humans is limited to a select few: NASA, the Air Force, and Mad Tea Party cast members were the first to come to mind. As NASA is a co-developer of Mission: SPACE, we called them. Amazingly, the NASA spokesman said NASA no longer does much high-g training these days. And the agency was reluctant to pass along anything resembling medical advice to the general public.

Fortunately, a longtime friend put us in touch with a real NASA astronaut who was willing to share (anonymously) some ideas on what causes the nausea, as well as tips astronauts use to prevent it. Our astronaut guesses, as we do, that low blood sugar is the culprit behind the queasiness, and suggests eating a normal meal one to two hours prior to experiencing the ride. Try to avoid milk and tomatoes beforehand; they're difficult to keep down and, as our contact noted with the voice of experience, particularly unpleasant if they make a return trip. A banana, we hear, is a good choice for your pre-flight meal. Also, we were told, one trick astronauts use to avoid sickness while in these simulators is to keep a piece of hard candy or a mint in their mouth. It's not clear whether the candy helps keep blood sugar levels high, or is just a placebo. If all else fails, there are airsickness bags in each simulator.

Make a restroom stop before you get in line; you'll think your bladder has been to Mars and back for real before you get out of this attraction. In you intend to use FASTPASS, assume that all the passes for the day will be distributed by about 4 p.m.

There's nothing our readers enjoy more than kibitzing about rides that can make you puke, and Mission: SPACE has vaulted to the top of this particular heap. First from a Yakima, Washington, reader:

Mission:SPACE is awesome, the best attraction yet. It did'nt have nearly the wait Test Track had. We spoke to a number of people who didn't ride as they were intimidated by the number of Disney warning announcements regarding motion sickness.

From Wilton, Connecticut, this 12-year-old's mom had a somewhat different experience:

It was the worst motion sickness my mom ever had at a theme park - airsick bags are available on the ride and Mom had to use one 20 minutes after leaving the ride, then had to return to the hotel to lie down. Warn future readers!!!

On a lighter note, a woman from Lisbon, Connecticut, used Mission: SPACE as her own personal relationship lab:

My "senior" (age 71) guy's new favorite is Mission: SPACE. We rode it four times. All the warnings about motion sickness, spinning, and health concerns almost scared us off, but after the first ride we were hooked. However, we now understand why husbands and wives will probably never go to space together after I (the "navigator") pushed his (the "pilot's") button during the flight. I couldn't help being a backseat driver. He wasn't pushing the button - we could have crashed!

Special Comments

Not recommended for pregnant women or people prone to motion sickness or claustrophobia; 44" minimum

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