Mission: SPACE

by Michelle Evans, December 2004


Besides the constant hurricanes, there are other attractions in Florida. The best known is Disney World outside of Orlando. Second to this is Disney’s Epcot Center which opened in 1983. Epcot used to be more of a World’s Fair type of environment, but this has changed recently with the revamping of many attractions into being more amusement ride-oriented. The newest of these is Mission: SPACE.


Since I recently had the opportunity to be in the area, I thought it would be worthwhile to check out this new attraction to see what it had to offer. Inside are set pieces from the 1999 film Mission to Mars, including the full-scale centrifuge used in the filming, along with a model of the fictional spacecraft, a mockup of a real lunar rover, and a mission control center.


These are only diversions as you wait in the line to get to the ride itself. From the moment you get near the building there are warning signs about how nasty the ride can be and if you have any susceptibility to motion sickness to stay far away from Mission: SPACE. Seeing as how I was getting over a bug, I thought maybe I should forego the ride, but then I figured that, after coming all this way, I really should go through with it.


After talking myself into this for about two hours, I finally made the decision to tough it out and plunked myself down into the waiting line. Right up until the moment you are seated inside a very claustrophobic 4-seat capsule, and the door is shut behind you, the ride attendants ask politely if you really want to go through with the experience. It took all the resolve I could muster, but I let them strap me in, and away we spun.


The ride is a simulator that blasts off from Earth, does a gravity slingshot around the Moon, avoids an asteroid storm, then lands at a research station on Mars. The simulation is accomplished through use of a centrifuge. Inside the capsule it appears you are being blasted directly up from Earth, but in reality you are being whirled around at great velocity to simulate the g forces. Your inner ear is telling you that you are going at high speed sideways while the TV monitor about a foot in front of your face says you are going straight up. It can be a disorienting experience, to say the least, and each seat has a paper bag attached for anyone who cannot handle this extreme vertigo.


On top of just surviving the flight, each of the four people in the capsule actually have tasks to perform on your “mission.” My job was navigator. I had to fire the rockets to swing us around the Moon and also to slow our descent to Mars. The amazing thing was that I actually did what had to be done, as did my three crewmates. We were very excited that none of us had to use the motion sickness bags. However, the four minute ride is so short, that your body doesn’t catch up until a few minutes after the “flight” is completed. I saw many people still very wobbly even after reaching fresh air. As for myself, I can say that I never succumbed, but that it took at least an hour before I truly regained my Earth legs.


I’m glad I went, but I don’t know if I would recommend this ride to others unless they happen to be a masochist!