Some rides hit you right in the gut with their immediacy in impressing you. Over the years I've done countless rides and things like The Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror or Katun will give that immediate buzz from the get go. From ride to ride, you come away with the immense feeling of doing something at the top of the tree. Some rides take a little longer; it's why I never judge a ride solely on the first go.
On this list are things like Rush, Thirteen and one that is rapidly becoming one of my favourite attractions, Space Mountain Mission 2 in Paris. I've heard all the criticisms and in some ways I understand them. It's rough, it needs new trains, it needs the old music back, the new theme isn't as good, it looks run down, half the effects don't work and so on. And yet when I'm next to the ride itself the smoke billowing and the loud roaring as a train leaves the cannon to embark on its Space mission, I get this warm fuzzy feeling inside. I feel like this is a ride geared to impress me, it wants to draw me in with it's giant cannon, it's Jules Verne furnishings, it's ride out of time look.
Lets talk about the ride first and foremost, ironically for me one of the least important parts of Space Mountain. I think it's great. Whilst the ride has never done well in enthusiast circles (It sits at 246 on the Mitch Hawker Poll for example), that original well paced layout punctuated by three inversions and a matching soundtrack runs rings around sister ride Rock N Rollercoaster next door. The proximity of new (or re-working effects maybe) such as the corkscrew through an asteroid storm or the way the first inversion takes a long time of winding through the building before hitting you is a great piece of coaster design. The lift hill towards the super-nova always messes with me, at first I couldn't work out what was happening and I'm not exactly a rookie enthusiast. The final inversion, well I still couldn't put a name to what it is without checking rcdb. So really, what I'm trying to say is that even though it has a fair bit of bite to it, this is a ride I would love to ride again and again. Unlike many, I don't find the ride particularly rough. That being said, I also rather enjoyed Goudurix....
My only criticism of this rollercoaster is the horrid jolt as you sit on the launch track. I've never enjoyed the backwards motion as you engage with the launch drive. The massive slow down at the top of the building is also a slight pace killer although thankfully it's almost forgotten the moment you descend into 'space.'
In the time since I first rode this attraction, it has gone through a lot of changes. It currently sits in the middle of a massive refurbishment plan. All the signage and the ride building has all been cleaned up and a lot of ride effects such as the smoke that billows from the cannon or the meteorite strikes are now thankfully working. Its heavy rumoured that during its next refurb next year that the old Jules Verne story plot line shall return. I'm not sure how I feel about this as I never got a chance to ride the older version. I do wonder if it will be a step backwards or if perhaps a happy home between the two themes could work. A mission 3 perhaps. Suffice to say the addition of new trains would be a welcome change to the ride. People do have complaints with the restraint system (although not something I take issue with) and if it was to make a smoother experience I'm all for it.
And finally, the ride theme itself. I think it's genius and puts it a step above its American and Asian equivalents. Before any complaints come in, I've not had a chance to ride Japan and Hong Kong but I'm talking purely form ride building perspective. Paris's version is pure steam punk glam. The glistening blues and golds of the ride structure is as aesthetically pleasing as it is original. And the Colombiard cannon is fantastic. I'll take points away from it because of the lack of a recoil but everything else makes this in my personal opinion, one of Disney's greatest triumphs. Overtime a track launches and the mechanical sound sounds of the cannon preparing to fire starts up, I stop and listen. Along with the on/off steam effects it really creates something special in Discoveryland.
It's easy to become jaded about these things, after all it's a twenty year old ride and whilst Disney has created bigger and better things (Radiator Springs and Expedition Everest I'm looking at you), there is no doubt in my mind that Space Mountain is one of my favourite attractions in Europe. And that is something I never thought I'd say two years ago.