Back in "the day," everyone's** Space Mountain experience began with
their first sight of the huge white (it used to be clean) cone that looms over
Tomorrowland like Mount Fuji hovers above Tokyo. Whether it was from the monorail,
ferryboat or on foot, the sight was ultimately unavoidable. At the base of
the attraction was the one-story entrance building that was preceded by a 153
foot tall white pylon atop which were three backlit red RCA logos. Further
down the tower, one of
the original four-seat ride vehicles (rocket jets) was suspended on a long,
white twisting tube. Inside the jet, two adult and two child-size astronauts sat
frozen in a state of prolonged excitement.
Below the pylon, in the planter, was the attraction's
dedication plaque. It read: "ONE GIANT STEP... Dedicated
to the men and women whose skills, sacrifice, courage and
teamwork opened the door to the exploration of man's
exciting new frontier...outer space. Because they dared to
reach for the stars and the planets, man's knowledge of his
universe, earth and himself has been greatly
enriched. Presented by missile, space and range
pioneers. January 15, 1975."
With that parting glance toward the facts of space
exploration, guests passed through the entrance portal and left reality behind.
They would now meet Disney's and RCA's combined vision of space, which was a
little less somber and a lot more fun.
Just inside the
stepped onto the
descending entrance ramp. For several years they were greeted at this point by the
sight of RCA's fox terrier mascot, Nipper, sitting in a flying saucer in the middle of the
room. Beneath the saucer's bubble dome, Nipper's head was cocked toward his
ever-present phonograph. As guests passed further along into the narrow entrance
corridor, they heard the jubilant strains of RCA's Space Mountain theme song, "Here's
To The Future And You," blaring from overhead speakers.
Along the right-hand side of this first descending tunnel, the Star Corridor, were a
series of static, space-themed displays behind convex windows. One scene portrayed
an astronaut riding a moon buggy across a lunar surface, another a satellite
transmission beamed from the Coliseum in Rome. Where the corridor began to
ascend just a little further on, there were a series of backlit displays on the guests'
left-hand side. These panels promoted various RCA products and services, such as
their SelectaVision video discs, and were updated numerous times over the years.
Then the hallway leveled off and began its next phase, the "Zig-Zag Corridor." Here
the RCA song faded out and gave way to the ambient background noises of outer
space, as engineered by Disney circa 1974. And a new series of displays lined the
sloping walls. Through horizontal convex windows guests viewed a series of
animated space vignettes: asteroids spinning across the cosmos, spiraling galaxies,
spacecraft, astronauts servicing satellites, planets, shooting stars and finally guests in
rocket jets zipping through the ride ahead. This corridor remains much the same as it
used to be. But missing now are the original voice-overs for the five sets of
windows. These brief spoken segments, three by a man and two by a woman, were
vaguely related to the subjects guests glimpsed through the windows.
For example, the first
segment corresponded to
the window with the
outer space, in the great
gap between Mars and
Jupiter, in a solar orbit,
tracked by precise
developed by RCA
aboard explorer ships,
scan and analyze space
At the end of the Zig-Zag Corridor, guests came to the warning film. Today this film
is in (at least) its third version. During the ride's early years, it was positively corny. A
lady stood at one of the ride's unload points as a rocket jet pulled in. "In case you're
wondering what the rocket ride through space is all about, here comes astronaut
Gordon Cooper. Well, how was your ride, astronaut Cooper?" Cooper, in his southern
drawl, went on to describe the ride in as folksy a manner as possible ("really exciting,
super-fast and a real thrill") while the screen flashed images of wide-collared '70s
couples screaming through the cosmos. "And remember, things float around in space,
so be sure to hang onto anything that's not fastened down: eyeglasses, hearing aids,
hats, and even wigs."
After double-checking their wigs, guests moved on to the load area. The realms
from here to the unload point have changed just a little since the early years. The
most obvious differences are in the redesigned control tower, cast member costumes,
the video monitors over the queue areas, the three-seater ride vehicles that debuted
in 1989 and the large FedEx packages that are stacked in what was once open floor
space. Also, the left and right hand sides of the ride lost their old nicknames "Alpha"
and "Omega," which were used frequently in debates over which track ran faster. But
the best still lie ahead, once we'd already been jostled through space, climbed out of
our rocket and learned to cope with gravity again. From here all paths led to...
> > > RCA's
Home of Future Living < < <
experience began with guests stepping onto the
same Speedramp (the long black moving Goodyear belt) that still shuffles people out of
Space Mountain today. But what a different show they were getting in those
early years: this original post-show spectacle combined
voyeurism and out-of-this-world 1970's visuals to create a view of
that was irresistible.
Once guests were on the moving sidewalk, their attention was drawn to their
where the first scene of future life unfolded. Here, on the home's outdoor
patio, the father figure reclined on a lounge chair.
He wore the latest in blue
polyester jumpsuits, and his hair was blue too. In front of him was a
small briefcase-size TV screen propped up on a pedestal. He was in the middle of
a two-way closed circuit business meeting with a female associate ...
comfort of his own relaxing home terrace. In the display's later years
switched over to a videodisc player.
The next scene took guests "into" the house itself, via a convenient cross-section
view that put everything in plain sight. The house was a series of elongated white
hexagonal modules that rested against each other and were joined together by
stairways. Each room was done up in vibrant designer color schemes, most of
which employed a lot of white, with putrid yellows, oranges and browns and other
combinations that my family had on its furniture by 1978, so this truly was ahead of
its time by three or four years. The side walls of all the rooms were sharply
angled, hence there was a wide variety of custom-built cabinetry and other
fixtures that fit into the home's unique contours.
The first room in the house
was the nursery, where a toy
clown held a camera pointed
directly at a baby, which stood
up in its plexiglass crib just
across the room. The signal
from the clown's camera was
broadcast to other parts of the
house so the family could keep
a constant eye on the child.
In the adjoining family room, an unidentified female*** was taking a two-way TV
pottery lesson. She sat on a bench with her creation in front of her,
instructor and his work appeared on a large screen across the room. She
lamented to her teacher, "I'm afraid I've done something wrong. I made my handle like yours but somehow it looks different on
my pitcher. What's wrong?" The teacher inspected her piece on his own TV screen
and responded, "I'm afraid you've made your handle too small for the pitcher."
Above the family room was a recreation room, where a teenage boy
took in some snowskiing on a "SelectaVision" simulator and his younger brother sat at a desk
assembling a rocket model kit via televised instructions. This room was better
viewed via the WEDway Peoplemover than from the Speedramp. The
Peoplemover afforded guests a glimpse into several sections of the Home of
Future Living, much as it still allows guests to peer down into the current
post-show. The main difference would seem to be that earlier Tomorrowland
attractions, Space Mountain's post-show included, took the Peoplemover's vantage
point into consideration more so than later versions.
The next scene took place outside the home, with a view of the front door. A
young boy in an orange jumpsuit stood here with a frog in one hand and his dog
behind him. A camera, protected by a transparent glass bubble, hung from the
ceiling near the door. The boy was talking to the mother, inside the house, through
the use of another two-way communications system. "Don't you like frogs, Mrs.
Brown?" he asked.
"Sorry Billy," the mother responded, "Your dog and that frog
will have to wait outside."
Then guests passed by the kitchen, where the mother and a neighbor sat in front
of another large TV wall unit. On the screen were several different images, the
largest of which was a dishware set. The mother was sitting at a floor-mounted
control console, where she negotiated a series of buttons to communicate with the
onscreen catalog system (this was the pre-history of home shopping channels). A
voice in the background intoned, "If you wish to order the settingware in red, push
button number one, push two for white or three for yellow." In the upper right
hand corner of the TV screen was a view of Billy at the front door, where he
persisted in his effort to get inside with the frog and dog.
On to the teenage
daughter's bedroom, done in
a wide variety of greens. Her
orange hair contrasted nicely
with the decor. As she lie on
her bed, she also chatted on
the phone with her friend
Judy and watched her new SelectaVision videodisc on a
large screen across the
room. Over the years she
perused several different
"classic" discs, from Elvis to
Kurt Russell (performing an Archies song with the
Disneyland group Sound
Castle) to Blondie. The teenage girl seemed to enjoy it all equally, telling Judy to
come right over and check it out with her.
Finally guests moved on to the last room in this incredible house, the home
entertainment center. Here a young girl and boy watched a football game on a
"wall-sized" screen. The girl was sitting at a console from which she could
record the game so the rest of the family could watch it later. After several
years of football the kids switched over to a videodisc of "20,000 Leagues Under
And you thought your family was TV-dependent? This was a house full of
cathode ray drones with test patterns for eyes. Not a window in the whole place,
not a room without at least one piece of video hardware, and all of them
constantly ON. Now you know how Bill Gates grew up.
From this point the guests' attention was drawn forward with the direction of the
moving belt. The belt was now descending at a gentle angle. Above guests' heads
were a series of RCA product promotions highlighted against starfield
backdrops. And here was that crazy RCA song again,
but this time there were
words! An excerpt:
"Here's to the future, here's to the future,
here's to the future and you
It's a world full of color, of perfect harmony, a world full of music, a living melody,
The dreams of tomorrow are beginning today, it's a world of discovery, the world of RCA"
This catchy tune, sung by a chorus and accented with brass and strings,
follow guests from this point until the end of their Speedramp run some distance
Soon the Speedramp began to bank upward again, and the attraction's final
presentation could be seen to the right. Here were Billy and his dog again, having
traded in the frog for a video camera, filming guests as they passed by. Beyond
Billy was a selection of nine different TVs (in 1975 only the actual screens were
visible against a black backdrop, but in 1980 this changed to full sets). Guests
would soon see themselves on these sets, as their images were captured by
cameras concealed in the background. In 1975, seeing one's
self on TV was not an everyday, "hey, they have that in the mall" experience. For
many guests this was actually a high point of Space Mountain.
Now guests would step off the Speedramp and exit the attraction, straight back
out into Tomorrowland and the sunlight (not today's arcade) to meet those
members of their party who didn't care to see any portion of Space Mountain.
only they had known how much fun was to be had inside that big white cone aside
from the rocket race. Their loss, indeed.
Many other elements of Space Mountain described above did change from
1975-1985. Especially within the Home of Future Living, where at least one
upgrade came along circa 1982 and prompted a change in several of the
on-screen elements. The kitchen's home shopping channel was replaced by Julia
Child giving some cooking instructions and, as noted above, the kids switched to
other programs as well. The overhead product displays right after the house were
replaced with yet more TV monitors, where a continuously running plug for RCA's SelectaVision video discs showcased scenes from films like "Saturday Night
Fever," "The Godfather" and "The Ten Commandments." The voice-over for this
section pre-empted the main RCA song with another tune, "Bring the Magic Home
By the time Space Mountain reopened from its Fall 1985 rehab, most of the
things talked about here were modified drastically or removed. The Home of
Future Living was gutted and replaced with RYCA-1: Dream of a New World. This
tableau, which is still around in a slightly altered format, was a somewhat more
sparse vision of someone else's future on a planet other than earth. The majority of
the pre-show images, and many of the sounds, were also scrapped in favor of
updated presentations. Some of these things lingered on into the early 1990s, like
the Zig-Zag Corridor voice-overs and the original pylon sign at the entrance, but bit
the dust prior to or concurrent with the arrival of FedEx's sponsorship in 1993.
In spite of all the disappearances, two descendants of RCA's Home of
Future Living can still be found lingering about the post-show. They are the robot
boy (formerly Billy) and dog who, from 1985 to 1995, continued to film guests for
their TV "appearances." Now they're messing around with bones in the lab scene.
Here's to the Future and You!