For those of you that may be unaware, the TIL acronym when seen on the World Wide Web stands for “Today I Learned” and is used for interesting facts that are first learned by someone and may also be a “first” for many other individuals with shared interests and perhaps should have been known sooner as it is often widely available information. There is often an element of surprise to the fact or possibly even a “duh” moment. Today I share with you three facts originating from the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida, that have elements of both the surprise and “duh” aspects to them.
Today marks a very special occasion for the Space Mountain attraction at the Magic Kingdom. On this day 45 YEARS ago the attraction opened. This is not a TIL fact -
rather any Disney fan who spends even a small amount of their day today online is likely to come across many social media outlets celebrating this monumental occasion! It blows my mind how this attraction at Disney Parks across the globe has remained as relevant and thrilling today as it did on day 1 - 45 years ago!
Here are my three TIL moments I realized while reading about the anniversary of this amazing and iconic attraction:
1) Space Mountain at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA is NOT the first Space Mountain attraction built.
Because it is my native Southern California naivety bubble that led to this TIL moment, I file this under a big “Duh!” - I should have known! Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain ride is the first to be built and opened on January 15, 1975. Disneyland’s iteration of the attraction would not open for just over another TWO YEARS on May 27, 1977. The reason I say being native to Southern California led to me being naive is that being my “home park” so to speak, there is an underlying mindset that all the “good rides” originated at my “home park” at Disneyland in Anaheim.
2) The original sponsor for Space Mountain was NOT FedEx.
This surprised me when I found out. Being a child of the 80s the most prevalent sponsor of the attraction was always FedEx which has been ingrained in my mind. This TIL moment actually occurred years ago when I acquired a gem of a collectible - an unstruck Space Mountain matchbook with the RCA logo on it.
At the time I literally had thought that the only sponsors of the Space Mountain attraction were FedEx and also Goodyear who had sponsored the Speed Ramp (escalator) which used to operate at Disneyland until it was removed in August of 1997 and from WDW in November of 2018. When I came across this matchbook, I took to Google immediately to figure out the back story. Apparently when Space Mountain was being built RCA stepped in with a large amount of financial support in the way of sponsorship which meant their logo was plastered over many parts of the ride building and line queue areas and they even had a say in the development of the ride having Imagineers develop an RCA themed show ending that guests would enter upon exiting the ride. This post ride show included a home display of future living with television sets featuring RCA advertising and also RCA satellites which could be viewed when guests peered out “space portholes.” While I have not confirmed myself I have read other articles that stated the dollar amount RCA paid for sponsorship was ten million dollars! Also I should note, Disneyland’s Space Mountain attraction was never sponsored by RCA. In fact, it went without a sponsor until 1995 when FedEx acquired sponsorship at Disneyland having already secured sponsorship since the prior year for the WDW attraction. Interesting.
3) Space Mountain was not the only attraction that premiered on this date 45 years ago at the Magic Kingdom.
This is also a TIL that surprised me quite a bit when I learned about it this week. On this date, 45 years ago, the Carousel of Progress debuted at the Magic Kingdom as well! This fact is likely to be overshadowed a bit by the celebration of Space Mountain, but this is another iconic attraction that has been a mainstay for the Walt Disney Co. since it was first developed for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. After the World’s Fair, the attraction was moved to Disneyland where it operated from July of 1967 until September of 1973. This attraction was sponsored by General Electric and as the story goes, GE became concerned at the dwindling numbers of viewers enjoying the attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim. It was at their request that the attraction be moved to the Magic Kingdom in Florida as they decided the loss of interest was due to the large number of repeat visitors who lived in California. Moving the attraction to Florida would gain them incredible amounts of new viewers and more bang for their sponsorship buck. Makes sense.
One final interesting tidbit of Space Mountain related info is that there are actually five total iterations of the attraction at Disney Parks all over the world. The five of them are at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland. I myself have ridden the two here in the US as well as the attraction at Disneyland Paris back when it had a Jules Verne theme prior to refurbishment! That was my favorite of the three actually!
I hope you have enjoyed my personal TIL moments and a huge congrats to both Space Mountain and the Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom for reaching this incredible milestone! Also, you can read about more unique Space Mountain collectibles at the following links:
Although these come from the Disneyland Space Mountain attraction, naturally. Enjoy!