What’s the next best thing to experiencing a Disney attraction for the first time?
Watching someone else take a first spin!
On the team’s last visit to Walt Disney World, we had a member who had never ridden Astro Orbiter. Since nothing inspires our group more than doing something that’s never been done, we decided that instead of following the trend of hitting the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Space Mountain at rope drop, we chose to queue up for Astro Orbiter (which at 7:45 a.m. turned out to be the shortest wait to travel the solar system that anyone on the team had ever experienced).
As the most prominent structure inside Tomorrowland, Astor Orbiter probably gets photographed more than it gets ridden.
The retro tower stands three stories in the air and has colorful, swirling planets and orbiting rockets. There’s no denying that Astro Orbiter serves as a Disney “wienie”.
Without spoiling too much, here’s what Astor Orbiter riders can expect.
The adventure begins at ground level in a queue that starts right behind The Lunching Pad restaurant. The wait is a standard/boring back and forth and an elevator ride to an outdoor platform on the rooftop of the PeopleMover.
When it’s time to ride, guests load into one of Astro Orbiter’s 12 rockets. Each holds one or two people (although Disney may let you squeeze in a third).
Style-wise, the attraction is considered an aerial carousel-style ride (like Dumbo). Guests sit in a rocket connected to a center structure that rotates in a circle. A joystick controlled by a guest moves the vehicle up when pulled and down when pushed. Riders reach a height of about 80 feet with the whole experience lasting between a 1 ½ to 2 minutes. We couldn’t find a verifiable mph, but it feels like the speed of a casual bike ride.
Surprisingly, Astor Orbiter is more thrilling than an on-the-ground aerial carousel, mainly because of the added height and slight tilt of the rocket. The bird’s eye view of the park is beautiful, especially at night.
Astro Orbiter has no height or age restrictions. It is accessible to those in a wheelchair, but only for those who can transfer from a wheelchair into the ride vehicle. The wait for the attraction can be incredibly long, mainly because it holds so few people.
Bottom line. The team recommends giving Astor Orbiter a try, especially if you get in line first thing in the morning or right before park closing.
And for all of you that get to experience Astro Orbiter for the first time, we have only one thing to say. We’re jealous!
Astro Orbiter Fun Facts!
- A version of Astro Orbiter exists in 5 Disney parks. Hong Kong Disneyland’s features flying saucers rather than rockets.
- Astro Orbiter travels 600,000 miles per year, 122,290 miles farther than a round trip to the moon.
- The attraction opened on Nov. 28, 1974, and was named Star Jets. In the 1990s it was redesigned and has been known as Astro Orbiter since 1995.
Sources: Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, by Dave Smith and Steven Vagnini; A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth by Kevin Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini; The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom by Aaron Wallace; Walt Disney World 2022 The Official Guide for Kids by Birnbaum’s; and Wikipedia.
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