Disney has begun a "soft opening" of the refurbished Space Mountain rollercoaster at the Magic Kingdom, ahead of its official reopening on November 22.
The ride was opened to the public at 4pm on November 13 before closing due to technical difficulties 2 hours later. It has since been opened again on several occasions, and the first reports of the upgrades Disney has made to the ride have begun to emerge.
As widely expected, few upgrades have been made to the rollercoaster itself, with the basic track layout and "rocket" cars remaining unchanged. The most noticeable change for guests is the addition of interactive games to the Space Mountain queue, while Disney has also added some additional special effects to early part of the ride.
The games have been added to ease the boredom of guests waiting in line for one of the Magic Kingdom's most popular attractions. They follow a consistent storyline, with riders "preparing for blast-off" as they get closer to the loading area. Featuring challenges such as deflecting asteroids to protect a runway, the games last around 90 seconds and can handle 86 simultaneous players, according to the Disney Parks Blog.
Once on-board Space Mountain, riders will notice a few minor updates. The whole ride is now darker, making the special effects inside more visible. New sound effects have been added to the lift hill, and Disney has added a camera near the start of the coaster to take ride photos which can be purchased for $18.
Although the ride layout remains the same, Disney has modified large sections of the track in order to prolong Space Mountain's lifespan. However, early reports suggest that this has not affected the ride experience significantly.
There have been persistent rumors that Disney cut back the scope of the Space Mountain refurbishment in order to ensure the coaster was in operation for the Christmas season. Whether true or not, the result does appear to be a simple technical upgrade rather than the full-blown makeover many fans were hoping for.
Videos of the updated Space Mountain queue and ride experience are embedded below. Both were produced by Orlando Attractions Magazine.
You can keep up-to-date with the latest confirmed and rumored ride "rehab" periods using Theme Park Tourist's "Rehab Watch".