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The New 'Lighter' Mission Space
I have to admit to being a real wimp where roller coasters are concerned, but I simply love Mission Space at Epcot. It has to be my favourite ride of all time, and is my first choice whenever we go. It is a simply amazing simulator ride, and I can thoroughly recommend it. Even the entrance is impressive, with its large spheres representing earth, the moon, Jupiter and Mars. Once inside you can see a mock up of a space capsule, and learn more about the space race, before you embark on your training for a mission to Mars.
However, we were a little cautious the first time we went, as there were notices advising people not to do the ride if they had various conditions, or suffered from motion sickness, so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we embarked on our first space flight. But it was superb, and we couldn’t wait to get back on it, although we did see some people looking pretty groggy after their flight. The main thing is to make sure that you look out of the window throughout the flight, and do not shut your eyes, or look away from the porthole. The feeling is intense but you don’t actually feel the spinning, you just experience the G-forces. It is quite exhilarating, but for me, it is not scary, as I know I will not actually be going anywhere, and I certainly will not be looping the loop or experiencing a high speed inversion, like on most roller coasters. But it is not for everyone.
Since our first ride, soon after Mission Space opened, there has been a certain amount of bad press about it, and there have been a couple of deaths of people who had ridden it. However, this has to be kept in perspective, as since it opened in the summer of 2003, 11.8 million people have experienced it, so in fact the number of deaths is very small, and might actually be statistically expected. One was a woman who had a history of high blood pressure (which is one condition which you are warned about). A child of 4 was also taken very ill, but he was discovered to be suffering from an unknown heart condition. Sad though these cases undoubtedly are, there has been no direct evidence that Mission Space was actually to blame.
However, Disney always responds to customer concerns and has now opened a new ‘lite’ ride, as well as increasing their warning signs, to ensure that anyone who has certain medical conditions thinks carefully about it, before embarking on the ride. The new version of this fantastic space simulator eliminates the centrifugal element of the attraction, which lessens the G-forces on the body. It still moves backwards and forwards, shakes, and combines audio and virtual reality effects, but it is very much tamer.
They have also addressed the problem of warning signs, as, until recently, the warnings were not printed in other languages. Now, when you arrive at the entrance, you are asked to choose whether you want to ride the gentler, or original, Mission Space. Then, according to which you choose, you are handed either green or orange launch tickets. If you select the Orange Team, you will be directed to the original, more intense training. The orange flier warns that ‘only people in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, neck or back problems, motion sickness and without other conditions should ride.’ If you decide to opt for the Green Team then you are directed to the ‘lighter’ experience.
These fliers also include messages in Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese, and German, which is a great improvement. We had noticed that several Japanese tourists looked quite ill when leaving Mission Space, and we thought that they might not have understand the instructions about looking out of the window all the time. At least now they will have more information to base their choice on. A Disney spokeswoman said the flyers were ‘an effort to make sure more people understood the warnings.’ The signs are certainly much more detailed and should go a long way to restoring confidence.
It is expected that Mission Space will become even more popular now people have the choice, but I know which one I will be doing! I can’t wait to get back on the original ride, and I look forward to visiting Epcot, and taking my trip into space, yet again. The amazing force as you experience launch, and you appear to shoot up the gantry into blue skies, and into space are, for me, part and parcel of the whole ride, so I, for one, will be taking the full training flight.
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