Welcome to the International Space Training Center, home to the most realistic space travel simulation ride ever created.
Mission: SPACE. It's the year 2036, and we're training for the next big step in space travel: a mission to Mars. We'll be boarding our X-2 rocket capsule with three other astronauts and experiencing what that mission would be like, from blast-off through a glider landing on the Martian surface. After a pre-flight briefing by our mission CAPCOM (Gary Sinise of Apollo 13 and CSI: NY), each person is assigned a crew position depending on what seat they're in (Navigator, Engineer, Commander, or Pilot -- not that it matters, as each position's responsibilities consist of pushing the same two similar buttons when told) and we're off.
Although the mission only lasts about 4 minutes, it's an exciting, intense, and very busy four minutes that seems much longer (maybe it's the hypersleep, as an actual Mars mission would take years). You pull sustained G-forces on the liftoff (not quite what they experience on a real space shuttle launch, but enough), experience a brief simulation of zero gravity, and everybody gets to try and help fly her in.
The hardware is just as impressive as the trip. This is no mere spinning carnival ride: the heart of Mission: SPACE is a gigantic, computer driven, military grade centrifuge of the kind used to power high speed simulators for fighter pilots. Each of the attraction's four centrifuges holds ten four-passenger capsules with onboard video, audio, and interactive control systems.
If you're up to it, it's the closest you can get to the experience of spaceflight on Earth. For some people it's also the fastest they can get to nausea on Earth -- Mission: SPACE has the distinction of being the first amusement ride ever fitted with airline-like sickness bags (you're in a closed capsule and can't just lean over the side if you throw up). When riding it is vital to keep your head back and straight -- DO NOT TURN AND LOOK TO THE SIDE -- so as to keep your inner ear aligned with the ride forces as it was designed to be. Unlike some simulators where closing your eyes can help you avoid nausea, that's a bad idea here and that will just make things worse. Again: face front, keep eyes open.
By now, you've probably figured out that if you're the sort of person prone to motion sickness on regular spinning carnival rides you should probably give the spinning version a pass. Likewise the claustrophobic probably won't want to cram into its cramped capsule. The usual warnings about expectant mothers, back problems, heart conditions, preexisting conditions, etc., apply double here. If you wouldn't ride one of the big looping, spinning metal monsters at a big amusement park, stay off of this ride. Just because it's Disney doesn't mean it isn't a serious thrill ride.
There is a non-spinning version (the "green" side, spinning is "orange") available that doesn't subject you to the same high forces that anyone scared off by the warnings about the spinning version can try. It's NOT stationary -- the capsule still twists and tumbles a bit -- but it's not nearly as intense. You can always try that first and decide if you want to chance the high octane version.
Whatever version you decide on there will be a line, and a FastPass is a good option to look for.
No dining here: most people wouldn't want to eat right before or after this ride, anyway.
There's a gift shop at the exit, Mission: SPACE Cargo Bay.
Mission: SPACE is on the West side of Future World, between The Wonders of Life and Test Track.