Los Angeles Times

Disney's Mission: Space ride at Epcot

Friday, April 21, 2000

(c) Walt Disney Co.

An artist's rendering shows the new Mission:Space ride at Epcot.

Walt Disney World's next big attraction, billed as a ``one-of-a-kind astronaut experience,'' will lift off at Epcot in 2003, Disney said.

Executives from Disney and Compaq Computer Corp., sponsor of Mission: Space, gave the first glimpse of the proposed ride Thursday night, displaying the new logo and artist drawings of the attraction.

Set decades into the future, guests will be transported in time and place to an International Space Training Center, where they will encounter simulated challenges faced by real astronauts.

The attraction - in the former Horizons Pavilion next to Test Track - will feature a five-minute ride simulating space flight 20 to 30 years in the future.

``The idea is to give all the illusion and sensation of real space travel - lifting off, leaving the confines of earth, feeling weightlessness and visiting another planet,'' Susan Bonds, the show's producer, said Thursday.

Disney would not release other details of the ride, saying it was still in development. Preliminary work has already begun on the $150 million to $200 million project.

``The combination of Disney magic and Compaq technology will create a truly one-of-a-kind guest experience,'' Walt Disney World President Al Weiss said. ``Epcot is the perfect setting, continuing the park's dedication to the explorer in all of us with its unique attractions that inspire us to discover new worlds.''

Disney consulted with former NASA scientists and astronauts, including Story Musgrave, to design Mission: Space. Musgrave calls the new attraction ``a place where guests can imagine our future in space and their role in it, walking in the footsteps of heroes and building on the wealth of technology we've developed to date.''

NASA has no formal relationship with the project but has agreed to allow Disney to depict its training methods. The agency sees the program as a potential way to promote its space program.

Guests, for example, might be able to communicate with astronauts in the future space station, Bonds said.

Compaq's sponsorship is part of a broad 10-year corporate alliance with Disney.

``With some of the most advanced technology ever produced, Mission: Space will provide guests with a rare glimpse into a world where the possibilities for computers and space flight are endless,'' Compaq CEO Michael Capellas said.

The Houston-based company also will sponsor a fireworks display for the 45th anniversary of Disneyland and continue to sponsor Disneyland's Innoventions Pavilion and the DisneyQuest interactive game centers.

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