Space Mountain was the first roller coaster in Orlando at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom theme park. It is probably one of the best known attractions in the park and a favorite ride to millions of visitors. Originally an E ticket ride when it opened in 1975, Space Mountain is located in Tomorrowland. What makes the ride so unique for a roller coaster is that it is completely enclosed in the building that looks like some futuristic mountain. This accomplishes 2 things. It allowed the designers to hide parts of the ride in the darkness so that riders wouldn't see what was coming next, making it a very surprising rollercoaster. Secondly, since all of the support for the roof is located outside the building, the ceiling on the inside is completely flat with a planetarium feel of star and meteors streaking across it. Some even see a chocolate chip cookie shaped meteor from time to time.
Space mountain was originally sponsored by RCA and was created as an exhibit of what to expect in the future. You would take a "Journey Through Time and Space" (that's the Space Mountain slogan). By choosing one of the 2 sets of tracks (Alpha and Omega), you actually had the chance to experience the ride differently on your second ride. The different sides are nearly identical and mirror each other in their motions.
At first, Space Mountain had rocket carts that held 4 passengers each. You would sit in one of the seats and another passenger would sit between your legs in the space in front of you. There were seat belts for all 4 passengers but it was very cramped and made for some obvious uncomfortable situations. But in 1989, all of the rocket cars were replaced with rockets that had 3 seats instead of 2 and only seated 1 person per seat. This was done, some say, for safety purposes. Others realize that as consumers tend to get larger, the space in the rockets was getting very cramped and there were a lot of single passengers taking up the 2 seats. Thus, changing to a 3 seat cart actually probably increased the capacity of the ride.
As far as roller coasters in the Orlando area go, this is no Hulk (Islands of Adventure) or Kraken (SeaWorld). But the fact that it is probably the most thrilling ride in all of the Magic Kingdom makes it a wildly popular attraction. Lines sometime can run close to 2 hours for this ride. That's why the Fastpass system is so important. Disney World introduced to Fastpass to give guests a chance to ride the ride without spending 2 hours in a line. You go to the Space Mountain Fastpass booth and get a ticket with a time on it. It will probably be about 2-3 hours in the future. Then you go and ride other rides, enjoy other parts of the park. Then come back when your designated time comes up and you'll get to "jump to the front of the line" so to speak. Remember, you're not the ONLY person with that FASTPASS time so there will still be some waiting but it will be nominal compared to what you could have stood in. And this allows guests to see more rides in a day.
Probably the oddest fact about Space Mountain was the moving sidewalk at the end. It had little room views on the sides of the sidewalk that would lead you out. This ramp took you under the Train Tracks of the Magic Kingdom railroad. There were futuristic homes and businesses and idea of what the world was going to bring. And who could resist trying to see themselves on a TV when there were a bank of television monitors on the right with live cameras pointing at you. It was the YouTube of yesterday, way ahead of it's time.