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RunningFool

Space Shuttle Endeavour Over Disneyland - An Eye-Witness Report

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While I did not have a chance to personally visit Disneyland to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour's flyover last week, one of my dear friends did have the thrill of being there. Here is his eyewitness report - it sounds like it was an incredible experience and one to be remembered.

Ladies & Gentlemen, boys and girls, turn your attention high above the skies...

For those of us old enough to remember the introduction to Disneyland’s fireworks (until 2000),

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, wherever you are in Disneyland, we invite you to turn your attention high above the skies of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle where…you too may see…

The space shuttle…

Ok…the original spiel ended with “…Tinkerbell, as she lights this evening’s edition of Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks…’

It won’t surprise you that my chosen venue for viewing Endeavour was Disneyland. I told myself that this was about the experience – and not necessarily ‘the photo’. That was the right attitude because, regretfully, the view, and the photo were pretty poor. Endeavour flew absolutely, positively above me…giving me a great ROAR and a great view of the belly of the 747… almost no glimpse of Endeavour itself. But… the experience was still: priceless.

When I arrived at 9:30 (2 hours before scheduled arrival), the train station was already nearly full. Signs greeted guests at the turnstiles announcing that today would be special.

NASA had chosen to keep the exact route of flight secret. A quick check of Disney sources produced 5 different answers regarding route. Cast Members were initially told from the south, due north, straight up Main Street – several CM’s produced that answer. Another CM said south to north up Harbor Blvd with a sweeping turn that would start over the Park. A member of Disney’s fire department told me that NASA had assured the safety team that the route would be North-to-South down Walnut Street (2 blocks west of the park- perhaps avoiding safety issues of a park flyover but making any photo impossible). Huge crowds already topped the Mickey/Friends parking structure. News crews were setup in Cars Land (uh, oh – it’s always better to be where the news guys are).

45 minutes prior, the local CBS TV released a NASA map showing a route that would be North to South over Angel stadium – avoiding a direct path over Disney at all (double uh, oh). Finally, a Cast Member appeared at the train station (T minus 15 minutes) indicating that this was not a ‘Disney event’, that they truly did not know the route of flight and that they had been informed that the ‘…castle would not be involved (her words) in any NASA photos…’ (triple uh, oh). The trains station crowd was, understandably, confused. As everyone attempted to use the web on their smart phones, often problematic at Disneyland, data connectivity shutdown.

At T Minus 6 minutes, Disney ran a park-wide PA announcement inviting guests to ‘turn your attention to the skies..’ – truly very similar to the old fireworks intro. Attractions drained, Main Street packed – any chance of smart phone data connectivity was lost. Over a cast member radio, I heard a command to shutdown steam train operation during the flyover. The doors to the train station behind me immediately locked. In the absence of data connectivity, several folks were texting or calling local friends watching on TV – someone called out ‘over Norwalk’ – OMG, this wasn’t consistent with ANY of the forecasted routes – brain races to think about moving my position. Seconds later, a giant roar – but nothing visible. The 747 emerged from behind trees, traveling out of the west, northwest and flew directly over the train station towards Santa Ana. (So, from the train station, imagine the 747 emerging from those giant trees behind City Hall).

An absolutely terrible view… the crowd roared with pride… the loudest I’ve ever heard … a jammed Main Street all applauding and hollering –and it was a PERFECT experience!!!! About 2 minutes later, Endeavour made a second pass, this time east-to-west near the convention center – not in view if you were in Disneyland.

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Comments

  1. Gone2Disneyland's Avatar
    I was there that day as well, arriving at the parking structure just before 10am. From the parking lot, I saw folks up on the top level of the structure. I figured I'd give the park a chance first and if it was crazy crowded inside, I'd have time to return here and join them up on the roof.

    You're last paragraph sums up my thoughts as well. Well, except for the "PERFECT" part since I REALLY wanted a shot of the shuttle with the castle. I was standing in the hub and for two hours with the rest of the folks around me. There was never any CM contact with us while we were there, so we'd all talked to each other and by the time the noon hour arrived, we'd talked ourselves into believing heresay and fantasy rumors that the flight path would roll directly across Main Street USA.

    HA!

    Here's video from my point of view. I padded it out with earlier scenes just so I could show the castle. Still missing the chance for that "perfect" photo. But still, I can say "I was there!"

  2. Andrew's Avatar
    Endeavour flew low almost directly over my house in Palo Alto on its way to the flyover at NASA-Ames / Moffett Field in Mountain View. I've been lucky enough to witness two Shuttle launches (both from WDW) and now this. Incredible.
  3. RunningFool's Avatar
    Thanks for sharing your Endeavour stories! It must have been the most memorable of experiences that neither of you will forget.

    I did have a very cool Shuttle experience a few years ago when the Alaska flight I was on heading down to Orlando diverted enough where we could literally see the Shuttle just after takeoff coming through the clouds. It was incredible!