More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Vintage Walt Disney World: Mission to Mars Launches

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

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.


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


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.


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:


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • Space Mountain opened January 15, 1975.

  • 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!

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 🙂

  • 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!

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • He was so scary!

  • 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!

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

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

Comments are closed.