Disneyland Space Mountain Designer Bill Watkins Takes One Last Ride

last ride on space mountain bill watkins

Can you imagine your last ride on Space Mountain?! The man who designed Space Mountain – and took the inaugural ride – had the opportunity to take his last ride this week.  Bill Watkins, 87, engineered that 2,267 foot track that rises to 68 feet and takes up 1.8 million cubic feet of indoor space over 40 years ago and not much has changed since then.

When Kyle King, 29, who recently befriended Watkins – and with who he shares a love of rollercoasters with – learned that it had been over 13 years since Watkins had ridden the mountain he played an integral part in creating, he knew he had to give him one last spin.

On February 7th,  Watkins walked through Disneyland with the assistance of a cane.  And while he needed a wheelchair, he got up the ramp that leads to the ride he created all those years ago.  Then he took his last ride on Space Mountain.

The staff turned the lights on during Watkins’s ride so he could see his handiwork in action. When the ride ended, he told the cast members he felt “fine.”  But then he asked the question we know we would all ask when facing our last ride, “Can we go again?”

So the cast members at Space Mountain turned off the lights and Watkins, and King, rode one more time.  This time experiencing the ride as millions of Disneyland guests have since it opened – in the dark!

“This will probably be my last ride,” Watkins said. “I suppose it’s goodbye.”

Source: The Orange County Register

Photo Credit: Rob Sparacio, Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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