The Moun­tain Range At WDW

WDW Magazine - - Contents - BY KARYN LOCKE

Home on the (Moun­tain) Range

The old song “Home on the Range” has never felt truer than when I take my fam­ily to Walt Dis­ney World. No mat­ter which park you visit to find a Dis­ney moun­tain, you’ll also find that each is spe­cial in its own, thrilling way. From an out-of-this-world ride, to a yeti en­counter, here’s why we love the moun­tains!

SPACE MOUN­TAIN

Just over three years af­ter WDW opened its gates and folks be­gan to call it “The Most Mag­i­cal Place on Earth”, Space Moun­tain be­came THE Thrill ride in­side Magic King­dom on Jan­uary 15, 1975. Based off of the Mat­ter­horn Bob­sleds in Dis­ney­land, the all-in­door roller coaster was a fun ad­di­tion to To­mor­row­land. With two sep­a­rate tracks, both the Al­pha & Omega reach a peak speed of 28 mph. The tracks are nearly mir­ror images of each other, so once you’ve had the chance to ride each one, you’ll soon re­al­ize that the turns are op­po­site. Sure, there are plenty of mod­ern coast­ers that dou­ble, if not triple, its speed, but it’s the clas­si­cally mod­ern de­sign and dark ride that get us ev­ery time. With only six rid­ers per train (three in each of the two cars), the queue can be quite lengthy, but head there at rope drop on a nor­mal crowd-level day when ev­ery­one else is headed to the New Fan­ta­sy­land Ex­pan­sion and you’ll be able to hop on and off.

Fun Fact: If you want to ride Space Moun­tain just THIS MUCH longer, queue up on the Al­pha Track—it’s 10 feet longer than the Omega Track!

BIG THUN­DER MOUN­TAIN RAIL­ROAD

Head to Fron­tier­land in Magic King­dom if you want to em­bark on “The Wildest Ride in the Wilder­ness!” The ride’s of­fi­cial open­ing date of Novem­ber 15, 1980, gave two coaster-style rides in Magic King­dom, keep­ing the park both clas­si­cal and cur­rent at the same time. The ride’s back­story is sim­ple and fun: in the small town of Tum­ble­weed, gold was found in the late 1800s (a cor­re­la­tion with the Gold Rush frenzy), and the train be­comes a run­away mine train roller coaster. Quests pass through a dark cave, take rocky paths through Tum­ble­weed, and even­tu­ally end up on the op­po­site train track (there’s two to keep the ride flow go­ing). With top a top speed of 36 mph and a ride length of just about three min­utes, this one’s a must-do for folks who love steel coast­ers. Head to Dis­ney­land, Tokyo Dis­ney­land, and Dis­ney­land Paris to find very sim­i­lar rides (apart from their ti­tles).

Fun Fact: Big Thun­der Moun­tain Rail­road is not only the name of the at­trac­tion; it’s also the name of the fic­tional rail­road line de­picted in the ride!

SPLASH MOUN­TAIN

Dis­ney’s “Song of the South” was so pop­u­lar in 1946 that the love of the movie only con­tin­ued when Splash Moun­tain was opened in Fron­tier­land on Oc­to­ber 2, 1992. The in­door-out­door log flume wa­ter ride sets the scene in­doors and, with a cou­ple of small dips, it gives guests the ride’s premise. Based on sev­eral Un­cle Re­mus sto­ries, you’ll see plenty of South­ern-style hos­pi­tal­ity in the “Brer” char­ac­ters in­clud­ing Rab­bit, Fox, and Bear. Al­ways the mis­chievous crea­ture, Brer Rab­bit sets off on an ad­ven­ture and ends up find­ing trou­ble in­stead: at the top of a 50-foot, 45-de­gree an­gle drop. The ride reaches a max­i­mum speed of 40 mph, but when you’re ac­tu­ally on it, it feels much faster. Three of the pop­u­lar Un­cle Re­mus songs (“How Do You Do?”, “Ev-ry­body Has a Laugh­ing Place”, and “Zip-a-dee-do-dah” do a great job of dis­tract­ing you from the fi­nal drop and the au­dio-an­i­ma­tronic an­i­ma­tion is still so fun to spy as you’re float­ing along a calm, South­ern river. Both Dis­ney­land and Tokyo Dis­ney­land have sim­i­lar ver­sions of the ride, as well.

Fun Fact: At rope drop or when it’s cooler at WDW (but not so cold that they close the ride), the queue is much shorter. If you don’t mind walk­ing around wet, this is the op­ti­mum time to ride!

EX­PE­DI­TION EVER­EST

If it’s a Yeti you’re out to dis­cover, it’s a Yeti you shall on Ex­pe­di­tion Ever­est. The grand open­ing date of April 7, 2006 at An­i­mal King­dom of­fi­cially made the steel coaster the tallest ride on WDW prop­erty. Thou­sands of guests flocked to the park to try to dis­cover the wooly leg­end high atop Dis­ney’s own Mount Ever­est, and even present day, folks hit the park at rope drop to ride it two or three times in a row with­out the need of a Fast­pass+ se­lec­tion. While the standby queue takes you through fun scenes, in­clud­ing the of­fice of the Hi­malayan Es­capes Travel Agency, there’s plenty of beauty and ar­ti­facts to spy as you mosey on through. On the 10 sec­onds shy of three min­utes long ride, you’ll hit a top speed of 50 mph and a lengthy drop of 80 feet in­clud­ing some back­wards travel, as well com­pli­ments of a cou­ple of track switches.

Fun Fact: Ex­pe­di­tion Ever­est tops out at 199 ½ feet tall. Six more inches and the folks at WDW would have had to in­stall a blink­ing red light at the top to warn low-fly­ing planes. Feel­ing that it would take guests out of that lovely “Dis­ney Bub­ble,” the ride was kept just un­der 200 feet to avoid the light.

Have you had the plea­sure of hit­ting one or all of the “moun­tains”? Do you have a must-ride moun­tain ev­ery time you hit the parks? No mat­ter which is your fa­vorite, there’s a spe­cial place for each in my and my fam­ily’s hearts.

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