My Five Favorite Disney Space Moments
Can you believe (for those of us who remember, and yes, I’m one of them!), that we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon?? As we all celebrate this historic milestone, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about my five favorite (albeit random) Disney space moments, and this is one time where I can literally say that “these are WAAAAAY out there.”
To infinity and…ah, you know the rest. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is filled with all sorts of outer space marvels, though not so many from our universe. Probably the closest we get is to this Earth-like planet called Pollost Prime, featuring one of my favorite Hidden Mickeys standing in for what would be the Americas or Europe/Asia on our planet. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live on that planet, I have a feeling it would be “swell” (hah). Pollost Prime is pretty well known (though always fun to point out to first-time visitors), though there are lots of other surprises to be found here as well. For instance, if you look around you’ll find this suspicious Green Planet.
Looks familiar, huh? And at one time you could even see a tiny Stitch escaping in his spaceship (with a clever reference to the attraction building’s opening hidden in the alien lettering).
Apollo Landing Site
Over at Mission: SPACE, you’ll find a giant replica of the Moon near the entrance. If you’ve always walked by it on your way to the Green Team (if you’re an Orange Team fan then more power to you, you’ve got a lot more “Right Stuff” than I do!), take a moment the next time you’re there to examine it more closely. On it you’ll see markers for various Moon landings and expeditions over the years. This is of course the one we’re most proud of this year, the site of the Apollo 11 landing when man first walked on the Moon. Trivia question: what were the first words spoken by man on the surface of the Moon? (Answer to follow!)
No, not the dwarf-planet-still-should-be-a-planet-I-don’t-care-what-they-say, we’re talking of course about the famous Disney dog. If you’ve never heard the whole story, you may wonder if Pluto was named for Pluto, or if Pluto was named for Pluto (you know what I mean)…particularly since they were both created/discovered at about the same time. Pluto’s first appearance was in The Chain Gang in 1930, though he was unnamed. That changed in his next film when he was called Rover. Pluto the (then) planet had been discovered a few months earlier, and though details are fuzzy, the most common tale is that Walt Disney changed the character’s name to Pluto in honor of the new planet. (In case you were wondering, the planet was named for the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. The name was actually chosen be eleven-year old Venetia Burney, a schoolgirl in Oxford. The name beat out other suggestions including Minerva, Cornus, and even Zeus…now THAT would have made a great name for our lovable cartoon pup!).
Mickey Moon Craters
Back to Mission: SPACE, and one of my favorite lunar Hidden Mickeys. In the gift shop, if you take a closer look at the painting of the Moon, you’ll find a collection of three craters in that familiar Mickey shape. You’ll also find a nebula Mickey on the ceiling, but that would theoretically by far far way from our Moon, so pay it no mind. At least for the purposes of celebrating our landing on the Moon!
Flight to the Moon
Speaking of landing on the Moon, how many of you remember that original Magic Kingdom attraction, Flight to the Moon? Being a wee lad when it opened, I have vague memories of sitting around the circular portal on the floor, watching in amazement as we “saw” ourselves blast off and journey to the Moon through the viewport below. The most amazing part was when you “sank” into you seat, pulled down by the intense G-forces encountered in space travel (Well, intense for the time. Orange Team, you know what I’m talking about.) Flight to the Moon made way to Mission to Mars and a steady stream of other attractions over the years, but for young lad who dreamed of becoming an astronaut, this was an attraction I would never forget. (Let’s bring it back for nostalgia’s sake!)
Trivia Answer: Did you say “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”? Well, technically that’s not correct. If you want to be nit-picky, the first words spoken from the surface of the Moon were actually by Buzz Aldrin, (yes, that Buzz, not the Lightyear guy), when he said “Okay, engine stop. ACA – out of detent” right after the lander touched down on the surface of the Moon. (Yes, that was sort of a trick question, but all in fun!)
Fun Space Fact: While we’re talking about cool space trivia (go with me here!!!), does everyone know the constellation Orion? And the star Betelgeuse that serves as Orion’s left shoulder? Anyway, Betelgeuse is a red giant, which means it SUPER big. How big? If you were to put Betelgeuse where the sun is now…WE’D BE INSIDE IT! I don’t know about you, but that makes me say…”whoa.”