Besmirched by just enough lore of real-life death, mainly due to stupid people ignoring posted safety warnings, or having surprise seizures and exploding brain aneurysms, Disney's squeaky-clean Space Mountain has it all. The frisson of possible, though improbable, bodily danger. A sleek, genuinely thrilling ride, fast and twisty enough to wake the butterflies in your stomach but not so frightening that you pass out. And top-notch atmospherics while you cool your heels in line — thrumming and beeping background sounds, spaceship engine parts hanging over the “spaceport” loading dock, icy blue-violet running lights in the walls and ceilings to intimate 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek and Star Wars rolled into one, the future as we used to see it.
A new track was installed in 2003 when the old one became unstable. It's now as smooth as frozen butter. You hurtle through pitch blackness mottled by a galaxy of shooting stars, asteroids, comets and satellites. Gusts of cold wind make it seem like you're going faster than you really are. The one drawback? As with the future, the end of the ride comes sooner than you'd like.