Monday, May 22, 2006
I’ve finally had the chance to experience Mission: Space for myself, and it’s an experience I’ve lived to regret.
Whether due to the immense publicity around the tragic deaths of two guests who rode it or due to the sheer intensity of the ride experience itself, my overriding sensation while on the attraction was one that I have never had at a Disney theme park – panic.
True, utter terror filled me as I tried to focus on the single goal of getting off of the ride and having it be over.
Mission: Space is not for the faint-of-heart, that’s for sure. No doubt there are many people who like the ride, but don’t count me among them. After the three turbulent, fearful minutes I spent inside the “space capsule,” I could only marvel at how far Disney has gotten away from the ideals and values upon which its theme parks are built.
This is not a ride for families to experience together. Putting a six-year-old child on this ride virtually qualifies as abuse. It is neither inspiring, educational, entertaining nor fun; none of the qualities that infuse the best Disney attractions are anywhere to be found within Mission: Space.
I’m convinced that, within a few years, Disney will accept that the only thing that can be done is to replace Mission: Space with an attraction that explores the awe-inspiring majesty and grandeur of space exploration – but this thing doesn’t even come close. (In fact, its basic premise isn’t even one of going to Mars, of taking part in the first Mars mission, but rather of training for such an experience – as if instilling a sense of wonder and excitement about space travel were beyond the capabilities of Imagineers.)
The day I visited, the wait time for Soarin’, across the way from Mission: Space, was 75 minutes, but the space-themed attraction was a virtual walk-on. It seems that guests are shunning even the modified, “less-intense” ride. Technologically, Disney has created something truly one-of-a-kind; on every other level, it’s a travesty.
Mission: Space is about as far away from the original concepts behind Epcot and behind the Disney theme parks as you could possibly get, and that’s a shame. The building that houses it is stunning and beautiful, inviting and graceful. Behind that façade is a shining example of everything that is wrong with Disney’s theme-park design these days.
It’s a ride that few people will want to experience, fewer still will truly enjoy and that comes replete with so many dire warnings and precautions – my favorite being, “You may experience motion sickness during and after this adventure” – that it would be comical … if it weren’t so downright, well, wrong.
If Disney absolutely had to close an attraction on Epcot’s east side, I think they chose the wrong one.