12 fun facts about Space Mountain at Disneyland, Disney World

For 40 years Space Mountain has been one of the Mountain Rage of Thrill Rides at Disneyland.

Since opening in 1977, more than 450 million people have taken a ride on the coaster and it has become one of the most beloved rides at the park.

It is also one of the most versatile, being changed over to Hyperspace Mountain and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy during various seasons.

Here’s a look at 12 fun facts about the ride:

1. The opening ceremony for Space Mountain in Disneyland took place on May 27, 1977.

2. The ceremony was attended by the original crew of Project Mercury: Captain Scott Carpenter, Colonel Gordon Cooper, Senator John Glenn, Captain Walter Schirra, Admiral Alan Shepard and Donald “Deke” Slayton, along with Betty Grissom, widow of former Mercury and Apollo 1 astronaut Gus Grissom.

3. The idea for Space Mountain came from Walt Disney in 1964. He wanted to build a roller-coaster-style ride but in the dark, which no one had ever done before. With the technological explosion in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, the team of Walt Disney Imagineers were able to utilize lighting, music and pinpoint projection technologies to make the ride a reality.

4. Space Mountain at Disneyland was built on the site previously occupied by the Flying Saucers attraction, which was opened from 1961 to 1966.

5.  In order to preserve the scale of Tomorrowland buildings in Disneyland, the base of the Space Mountain structure is set 17 feet below ground level.

6.  Space Mountain was only the second attraction to premiere first at Walt Disney World and then in California. Country Bear Jamboree was the first accretion. Space Mountain opened at the Magic Kingdom in 1975.

7.  When the attraction opened at the Magic Kingdom it was the first computer-controlled thrill ride and the first Disney attraction to use computers in its design

8. The design of the “Space Probe DL05,” suspended over the Spaceport boarding area inside Space Mountain, was inspired by the Discovery One spacecraft from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

9. An onboard musical score was first added in 1996. Composer Aarin Richard worked with Disney Imagineers to fuse two musical forms of the 1960s, surf music and Sci Fi sounds. The score was based on Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals,” featuring synthesized music that culminated in the beach-sounds of guitarist Dick Dale.

10. From 2003 to 2005, Space Mountain underwent a major refurbishment. The track was recreated, using the same layout as the original design, and the attraction featured a new generation of effects, lighting, music and technologies.

11. The attraction’s 2005 “re-launch” featured, as guest of honor, astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

12 .The enhanced 2005 Space Mountain featured a new musical score by Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino (“Lost,” “Mission Impossible: III” “Ratatouille,” “Up”). The new score employs the eerie sounds of the theremin, an early (1920s) electronic musical instrument, along with other electronic and classical instruments.