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Vintage Walt Disney World: Mission to Mars Launches

posted on June 7th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Almost 30 years before Mission: SPACE opened at Epcot, guests visiting Walt Disney World Resort had another means of travel to the red planet. On this day, back in 1975, Mission to Mars opened in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park.

“Mission

Guests first entered the pre-flight Mission Control Center, where a crew of space pioneers monitored activities on the ground and in outer space.

“Mission

Inside the round flight cabin, guests experienced the sights and sounds associated with a flight to Mars, including “hyper-space-warp,” the tilting of the cabin deck and seats, and close-up views of Mariner Valley on Mars’ surface during their 18-minute journey.

“Mission

While there were no alien sightings on any Mission to Mars adventures, after closing in 1993, this location has been occupied by aliens in both ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter and Stitch’s Great Escape. Of course if I ever run into an alien, I’m hoping it’s more like lovable Stitch than that scary thing from Alien Encounter.

For more Vintage Walt Disney World facts, check out the posts below:

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Filed: Disney History, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

15 Comments 4 Replies

1

David from FL on June 7th, 2012 at 9:10 am

This was my first ride at WDW ever so it holds a special place in my heart. Thanks for this!

 

Nate Rasmussen on June 7th, 2012 at 9:44 am

Very cool, I never had a chance to experience it. And, you’re welcome! :)

2

Philip on June 7th, 2012 at 9:16 am

I really miss ExtraTERRORestrial. Albeit not for the “faint of heart”, it was an awesome attraction for anyone seeking a little more thrill inside the Magic Kingdom!

3

Mark on June 7th, 2012 at 9:26 am

I don’t care who you are, Alien Encounter scared you. And no how many times I went on the attraction, I still felt like an Alien was going to eat me.

 

Nate Rasmussen on June 7th, 2012 at 9:47 am

He was so scary!

4

Lacey on June 7th, 2012 at 9:52 am

i am a thrill ride lover and i cried like a baby the first time i road Alien Encounter. i was probably about 14-15 and felt like a 4-5 year old. Rode it a 2nd time that same day (as per big brother’s push) and laughed through most of it (i can still here the track say “It’s my Mother-in-Law”! That being said, i am glad they replaced Encounter with Stitch. There is “thrilling” and there is scary. Magic Kingdom should not be a place where children cry!

5

Ryan from NC on June 7th, 2012 at 9:54 am

Getting a glimpse of that circular rocket room again is great, but I especially appreciate you showing off early Tomorrowland. Look at how clean the lines of the pillars are and the cooling color scheme, totally awesome! Thanks so much for sharing all of these wonderful pieces of history with us, Nate!

 

Nate Rasmussen on June 7th, 2012 at 11:17 am

You’re welcome, it’s fun to share all of these images from our archives.

6

Rachel from Monmouthshire on June 7th, 2012 at 10:12 am

I was just this moment looking at the old ‘Walt Disney World … a pictorial souvenir’ book that we bought on our very first visit all the way back in 1981. My, how some things have change, yet some are timeless :)

7

Mr on June 7th, 2012 at 10:27 am

As much as I think Stitch’s Great Escape is good fun, I miss the old Mission To Mars. I was an aerospace obsessed kid – who grew up to be an aerospace obsessed adult – so it was one of my favorite attractions in the old Tomorrowland.

8

Jean from VA on June 7th, 2012 at 10:35 am

I thought the Alien Encounter was great, but hubby and I walked out of there thinking the ride was a big too much for Disney. The Stitch one is cute while retaining some of the thrilling elements from the alien version. My almost 5 year old daughter loved it and I know she would have been quite a bit older before letting her in the previous incarnation.

9

mark on June 7th, 2012 at 10:57 am

I miss Mission to Mars for nostalgia sake but how amazing could it be with todays technology, not just seats that inflate and deflate but an entire motion base theater that rotates and pivots as the rocket changes its flight pattern, and a three dimensional “hologram” to replace the center screen.

10

brett from CA on June 7th, 2012 at 11:51 am

please bring it back i miss that ride i miss the old school rides

11

William on June 7th, 2012 at 11:53 am

Mission to Mars was hands down my favorite thing at Disney growing up! Back then if a rocket launched everyone knew about it, and was excited about it so this was my cup of tea. It was the future, and that’s what tomorrow land was for me, glimpses into the future. Even in the future though, they could never keep that bird out of the warning area though.. Thanks for posting this!

12

Eric on June 7th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Going to have to correct my memory on this: What year did Space Mountain open, ’74 or ’75?
I remember going on the first family trip that year–and SM not opening for another month :( –and Mission was still the Disneyland-imported “Mission to the Moon”.
Mars wasn’t upgraded until the real NASA moon missions retired, and the interest was in the Viking program…Caught the ride again on the first solo trip in ’90, and remembered those “sinking seats” to go with the fiery liftoff on the center screen.

 

Nate Rasmussen on June 8th, 2012 at 8:10 am

Space Mountain opened January 15, 1975.

13

Mitchell from IL on June 7th, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I had completely forgotten about this attraction until I saw the photo you posted, then the memories came flooding back in. I totally remember go here as a youth in the 80′s. My wife, who’s first trip to WDW wasn’t until much later remembers the Alien Encounter, but I sure miss the original!

14

mark on June 21st, 2012 at 10:26 am

would love to see more extinct merchandise like kevin and jody’s rocket to mars poster sculpture, perhaps the mighty microscope with a with the colorful glass background.

15

Jackie on June 28th, 2012 at 8:22 am

I loved Mission to Mars, it really made you feel like you were going into space. I also liked how it appeared when you were leaving Disneyworld or Disneyland, that the park looked like Mickey Ears from space.

I liked Alien Encounter too, but I think the problem was parents associate Magic Kingdom as mainly for children. It probably would have done better at Hollywood Studios.

15 Comments