Christmas Build - Space Mountain

Time for an emergency Christmas build. I got a couple of model kits as gifts, though one of them is not like the others. In fact, I’m 99.99999999999% sure this is my first non-Bandai kit, though you might not believe who it’s from instead:

This here is the official Disney model kit of Space Mountain.

About Disney Model Kits

So yeah, Disney occasionally makes model kits out of some of their iconic theme park buildings. I have no idea how many they’ve made, or if they have plans to make more. I have no idea if they contract the design and manufacturing out to some third party, or if it’s all done in house.

Really, the only thing I know about them is that they exist.

Oh, and I previously bought one of these for Mrs. Wolfe as a gift a few years back. I didn’t write about it at the time since it technically wasn’t mine, and because I didn’t build it (at most I helped out with a couple of parts). But here it is in case you’re curious:

About Space Mountain

Space Mountain is my favorite Disney ride. I know it’s not really all that fast, and I know what it looks like with the lights on, and all that other jazz. Still doesn’t change my mind. If you let yourself be immersed in the ride, nothing else quite feels like it.

It also looks amazing. It’s little bit like a prog rock album cover come to life; I guess I ’d say that nothing else quite looks like it either.

Finally, I think it’s bit of an engineering miracle, what with it cramming two tracks into a small enclosed space.

It’s just a cool ride.

About the Model Kit

I don’t have much to say about this specific model kit, other than this one super specific, super nit picky factoid - this is a model of the Disneyland version of Space Mountain, rather than the Disney World version. The main tell is the antenna on the top of the structure; the Disney World one is taller and more intricate:

Space Mountain in California

Space Mountain in Florida

As a Disney World kind of guy, I know which one I’d prefer, but I’m not going to complain.

Disney VS Bandai

Ostensibly, these kits aren’t different than building a Gunpla. You snip parts off of runners, snap them together, etc. However, there are a lot of little differences to the experience that all add up. Bandai might not be perfect, but building this Disney kit showed me just how many things they get right, things that I’ve come to take for granted.


When you open up a Bandai model, you immediately notice that they put multiple runners in a single cellophane bag. In a kit with, say, nine runners, they might come in 3-4 bags.

On the other hand, Disney’s kits put each runner in its own bag. This seems entirely wasteful and unecessary.

Also, Bandai shoots a puff of air into each bag before sealing it up, creating a literal air cushion that (in theory) protects the parts (in practice, I’ve still had parts pop off, so I admit it only does so much good). The Disney kits do no such thing. The only purpose I can think of for their cellophane bags is to keep parts in place if any break away.

Runners and Gates

Bandai’s runners are all very clearly labeled. For example:

The Disney runners … not so much. The letters are simply printed in tiny font somewhere in the center. You have to really squint in order to see which one is which.

Furthermore, Bandai (generally) tries hard to make the gates as small as possible (and on more expensive kits, they’ll use undergating to obscure any potential sprue marks).

On the other hand, the gates on Disney’s kits are huge. If you don’t use the double snip method, you’re guaranteed some nub marks or stress marks on the finished model.


Reasonable minds can disagree, but I feel like Bandai’s engineering is more precise. Parts fit together perfectly while still being easy to attach.

In contrast, sometimes the parts on the Disney kits don’t quite fit flush. In other cases, they only fit flush if you apply a great deal of pressure. It makes it feel like you’re fighting the model as much as building it.

None of these are dealbreakers, but it does mean that the assembly process was not quite as pleasant as working on a Gunpla. But what about the actual results?

Building this Kit

Here are all the runners for Space Mountain:

It’s not a lot, but it doesn’t need to be. The shape of Space Mountain is such that it is easy to build together in layers, which is exactly what this model does.

Building the Top

By far the trickiest part of the build is assembling the top. You have to attach all the little spiky bits around the perimeter (as well as the antenna on the top), and it turns out that they don’t like to stay in place (I may end up gluing them in at some point).

As you can see, the top section is actually a big cylindrical piece. Once it’s complete, we simply add each of the bottom layers one at a time:

And then it’s done!

A Punny Name

All of the parts have to be oriented in a certain way in order for them to fit together, so there's no way of screwing anything up that might force you to take it all apart.


Space Mountain doesn’t need much in the way of detailing, perse, but I do think it could use a bit of help.

First, I did some panel lining around the white girders:

It certainly doesn’t look worse, but I’m not sure if it looks dramatically better.

Next, I applied a top coat. This model is made of extremely shiny plastic, which is arguably it’s greatest flaw. Space Mountain is a big, white, matte slab of materials, and it just doens’t look right with a glossy sheen.

I used one of my old leftover cans of Krylon clear coat, despite not knowing how it would interact with this particular kind of plastic, as well as forgetting how well (or not) it interacted with grey Gundam Marker. There was a chance the marker would bleed and/or it would eat away at the plastic, but in the end it all worked out okay:

That looks infinitely better.

Final Verdict

As I said before, you have to be very careful when snipping out these parts, lest you wind up with very notable stress marks.

Additionally, I found that you have to press down very hard on all the parts in order to prevent the different layers from separating and revealing gaps in the model. And even if you do that, there are places where the parts may not line up perfectly, causing it to look uneven at the seams.

And then there’s the fact that as an out of the box build, it just doesn’t look right with that shiny finish. Clearly this isn’t a problem for a veteran hobbyist, but if I were a non-model-kit-building Disney fan, I’d be pretty bummed out with how it looked.

So those are the cons - but what about the pros?

First, I’d say that it’s a pretty great model of Space Mountain. It’s the right shape, and as far as I can tell everything is in the right scale. If you’re willing to put in the extra time and effort to spruce it up and give it a matte coat, it’s going to look fantastic.

It’s also an extremely easy build, meaning anyone of any skill level should be able to put it together. For something as mainstream as a Disney model kit, that’s important.

Really, this is a situation where you get what you put into it.