Wondering if Space Mountain is too scary for your crew? Whether you have the pre-ride jitters or are deciding whether or not to add it to your itinerary for an upcoming visit, we can help!

Every first-timer wonders how intense this one really is, since it’s an indoor roller coaster in almost complete darkness. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, as this ride is as much about the thrill of the unknown as it is about the thrill of speeding through the galaxy.

That said, I’ll go ahead and say this now: If you were to see the track laid out in broad daylight, you’d almost certainly have zero concerns about riding. It’s the ride’s darkness and unknowns that add to the mystique and the thrill.

Having braved Space Mountain more times than we could ever count, we’re here to demystify the experience for you. Our is to help you decide whether to buckle up for this adventure or maybe save it for another day.

The Bottom Line: How Intense Is Space Mountain, Really?

space mountain ride vehicle

Space Mountain combines darkness and unexpected twists to create its thrilling experience, rather than relying on extreme speeds or inversions. This makes it more about the suspense and surprise, rather than outright fear. While the ride’s darkness and quick movements can be intimidating, especially for younger guests or those not fond of the dark, it generally doesn’t cross into being too scary for most guests. The lack of visibility plays a big role, making the ride feel faster and more thrilling than it might otherwise seem.

Most older kids (and adults) shouldn’t have a problem. The ride isn’t too overwhelming for most guests unless they particularly struggle with dark environments or roller coasters in general. The lack of inversions means you don’t have to worry about the track sending you for an upside-down loop, but there are lots of quick turns and a few very short drops.

That’s the quick answer, but we’ll dive a little further into the details to help you get a good idea of whether or not the ride is okay for someone in your group.

Inside The Ride’s Thrill Mechanics

Inside Space Mountain, darkness reigns supreme and every twist in the track path feels like another leap into the void. Let’s get into what makes this one uniquely thrilling.

The Role of Darkness

Once again, darkness is the star of the Space Mountain show. It transforms what would already be an exciting ride and turns it into an exhilarating journey into the unseen. The lack of light amplifies every dip and swerve, making them feel larger and more sudden than they would feel in the daylight. This is the magic behind the ride. It tricks you brain into heightened alertness where every jostle feels magnified.

For me, the darkness of the ride always gives me the intrusive thought of sticking my hands up to see if they would hit any of the cross sections I’m whizzing by. The lingering (irrational) fear every time I step onto Space Mountain is that my head or arms are going to knock right into part of the track.

It’s a testament to the power of darkness in shaping the experience that I still worry about that, even as a seasoned space-mountaineering pro.

Unexpected Twists and Turns

The layout of Space Mountain is an impressive masterpiece of design, especially considering it’s been in the park since opening day in 1975.

Even though the ride’s silhouette looms large over Magic Kingdom, seen from the monorail or from anywhere on the ground, it’s fairly compact for a roller coaster. The appeal of the ride’s track comes from the unexpected  twists and turns that keep you guessing.

Just when you think you’ve adjusted to the rhythm of the ride, it throws you a curve. The unpredictability is a lot of fun and keeps the experience fresh.

I think that the darkness really makes it so that, no matter how many times you ride, you’ll probably never quite be able to predict every twist and turn.

Together, the lack of light and the unpredictable path make Space Mountain a ride that’s more than just a physical experience—it’s a ride that plays with your senses and also plays with your perception of space and distances.

The Unknown

There’s no doubt that Space Mountain leverages “the unknown” to a masterful degree. There aren’t very many fully-indoor roller coasters, so that itself helps ramp up the anticipation.

There’s no section of the track that leaves the confines of the structure, so there’s no way to really get an in-person look at the track’s layout without actually riding.

Aside from videos or photos, the only assurance I could offer is that anyone who is ok with regular roller coasters will probably find that Space Mountains track is very tame and family-friendly.

As I said at the beginning of this post, seeing the track in the daylight would alleviate 99% of most guests’ worries.

Recommended Age

The recommended age for riding Space Mountain is about 5 years and older, but any child that meets the ride’s 44″ height requirement will be allowed to ride. Most children that meet the height requirement will enjoy the ride, but parents should use caution with kids who fear darkness or speed.

Space Mountain’s ride page on Disney’s website details the ride’s height requirement and recommended age groups.

Based on my experiences and observations, here’s a breakdown to help you decide if Space Mountain is a good fit for your group.

For the Kids: Space Mountain’s intensity is more psychological than physical, making it a ride that many kids find fun and thrilling rather than outright terrifying. Children who enjoy a good “boo!” moment during play will probably embrace the nature of the ride. For the kids who are still wary of the monster under the bed, it might be better judgment to wait a year or two.

Teen Thrill-Seekers: This age group will have no problem at all with the ride, unless an individual is particularly thrill-averse. The darkness and twisty-turn-y is perfect for the in-betweeners who are already hyped enough.

Seniors: Space Mountain is plenty safe, but it can and will shake riders up a bit. If you or someone in your group has back/neck issues, they could find the ride uncomfortable. Nothing crazy, but it’s not the smoothest voyage you’ll ever take through space.


The ride is heavy on the dimly-lit “Space” theme. This is evident the moment you walk into the line queue. The walkway leads you through a series of dark pathways with fluorescent blue lighting until you get to your vehicle. I definitely wouldn’t describe the lighting as fear-inducing, but it’s totally possible for little ones to get an eerie vibe from it.

A soundtrack playing ambient music and space noise plays throughout the experience. This helps the otherworldly feel to the ride in a way that isn’t creepy.

All in all, don’t worry too much about Space Mountain’s theme or environment unless your child has a hard time dealing with the dark. The line queue does a great job of setting the stage for the ride, so it’s a good way to gauge how you feel about the whole experience. If you feel that the line queue alone is overwhelming your child, you can expect for the ride itself to be a more intense version of this.


Space Mountain has a maximum speed of 28mph, but most of the ride is slower than that. There aren’t many straightaways on the track and the constant turns keep the average speed fairly low. The beauty of Space Mountain is the illusion of speed created by the ride environment.

You won’t be able to see much at all for the majority of the ride. You’ll just barely be able to see some of the track’s infrastructure during the fast parts of the track. The low visibility can sometimes make you feel like you’re going to hit your head on low-hanging cross sections, but rest assured that you’re completely safe.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to folks who are scared to put their hands in the air on Space Mountain because they feel that they will hit something. The darkness makes you feel like everything is a lot closer than it really is. In reality, you could be a giant and still couldn’t stretch far enough to make contact with anything.

That said, it’s hard to resist the urge to duck your head when you can just barely make out the details of a fast-approaching bar that looks like it’s only a couple of feet above you. Kids don’t get this sensation quite as much though, as most of them don’t sit high enough to see everything. I got an extra dose of this sensation when I was holding my camera up in order to film the ride.

I’ve had the opportunity to ride Space Mountain with the lights on and I can tell you firsthand that it feels much slower that way. But it’s actually a bit more unnerving with the lights on because you can clearly see all of the areas of the track that are right above you as you zip by.


Space Mountain doesn’t have big drops. Both of the ride’s tracks only have a few small drops, but it’s a stretch to even call them “drops” in a traditional roller coaster sense. They’re more like quick dips in the track.

From beginning to end, the coaster keeps moving, meaning there aren’t any suspenseful pauses before any of the tiny drops. All of the drops happen within the general flow of the track and they’re over before you really have a chance to feel like you’re truly falling. I’ve never seen an official measurement, but I’d guess that none of the Space Mountain drops could be much more than 20ft.

If you’ve ever been on Splash Mountain, then Space Mountain’s drops will be laughable by comparison.

Ride Vehicle

Space Mountain’s uses a single-file 3-seat vehicle. This means that you don’t share your seating area as you do on many other coasters that put you side by side with another guest.

The seating layout is a bit cramped, but it’s nice not to have to share a seat. This can be a bit of a problem if you have a child that is nervous about sitting by his or herself, but you’ll still be close behind them. As long as you’re in the same vehicle, you’ll only be a few feet in front of or behind your fellow rider.

My advice would be to put any anxious riders in the middle seat, especially if they are children. The middle seat will help prevent them from seeing straight ahead (toward upcoming sections of track) and that should help them feel a little more secure.


Hopefully you now have a better idea of whether or not Space Mountain is a good idea for your group. The ride may be intimidating at first glance, but that’s really only because of the dark space theme. The track itself is actually pretty tame for a roller coaster. Honestly, you’d probably even be underwhelmed if you saw the track with the lights on.

My best advice for anyone on the fence would be to make the jump and try it out! It really is one of Disney World’s best rides. The design has held up through the years and it still does an awesome job at using a dark atmosphere to make a slow (for a roller coaster) track feel faster and more exciting.

Let us know how it felt when your family finally conquered Space Mountain!